An Electronic Magazine for Thinkers

FDR & History

    Economist Gary North raised some hackles recently when he published his commentary  The Book on FDR That Doesn't Exist.   It is critical of Franklin Roosevelt.  Wrisley.com published a link to the article and received some stern e-mails in defense of President Roosevelt.  

   The general view of FDR is that the country was in desperate economic straits when he was elected in 1932 and he rescued the nation from certain collapse by creating an alphabet soup of social and economic agencies that saved  the USA and restored it to the top of the heap as the world's wealthiest and most powerful country. 

   As the Oldtimer said on the "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio show, "That ain't the way I heerd it!"

   Any competent historian knows that Roosevelt was elected in 1932 under false pretenses and began at once in March of '33 to turn the Constitution on its ear.  He repudiated the Treasury Department's obligations and debased the people's currency.  He erected endless tax and subsidy schemes and confiscated citizens' gold as a "temporary measure in a national emergency."  

   FDR took plenty of heat for expanding the role of the federal government far beyond the framework of the U.S. Constitution.  H.L. Mencken never tired of pointing out what a scoundrel he was.  Garet Garrett, A.J. Nock  and other social commentators of that day tried to counter the propaganda machine of the Roosevelt administration., but the popular news media generally followed the publicity handouts from the White House without asking serious questions.  A few bold publications fought back.  The Administration tried hard to find a way to muzzle the Saturday Evening Post because of its anti-New Deal articles, but failed. 

   If you are younger than seventy you have either a very sketchy recollection of the Roosevelt era or none at all. Those of us born in the "Roaring Twenties" clearly remember FDR, but most of us were not following the intricacies of national politics and had our views shaped by our parents and other adults.  The only way we can get a realistic handle on the presidential campaign of 1932 is to look at the transcripts of speeches and political platforms. 

   These words were uttered several times in public by FDR on the 1932 campaign trail:

"I  accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all American history - one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people.  Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer.  We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary.  In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving the people."  

   It was true that President Hoover was frantically try to jump-start a flagging economy which was crashing as a result of the post-war boom of the twenties.  Hoover, in fact, was clearly the father of the New Deal and the idea of government rescuing a wobbly economy.  This is not the version we were taught in school. 

   Nor were we told that these were the first three planks of the 1932 Democratic Party platform:

"We advocate:  

      "1/  An immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 percent in the cost of Federal government.  

      " 2/  Maintenance of the national credit for a Federal budget annually balanced,

     " 3/ A sound currency to be maintained at all hazards."

   The people bought the message and elected Franklin Roosevelt in a landslide.  Roosevelt promptly went to work doing the exact opposite of what the Democratic platform promised and set the nation on a course toward socialism that the U.S. Constitution was designed to prevent. He devalued the currency, multiplied the number of federal agencies, and instituted programs that made Americans dependent on the Federal government to a degree never envisioned by any of the Founding Fathers.  

   Once,  people were responsible for government. The concept was turned on its ear with the Roosevelt Administration.  It showed us how government would become responsible for the people.  Nobody ever explained the long-range consequences of creating such a large nation of dependent people.  

   Examine the Federal government balance sheet and wonder how we got into such a fix.  You'll find the answer on a headstone in Hyde Park, New York.    

July 28, 2007  


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Hucksterism Gone Wild
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