Armed with objective statistics, eye witness accounts of those in the state department, as well those so called brains trust confidants, Burton Folsom’s New Deal or Raw Deal exposes FDR, his failed New Deal policies, his social engineering, and his lust to centralize power in Washington, as the primary causes that turned the depression into the great depression.
Folsom dispels the liberal myth that capitalism caused the depression; he lays the blame at the feet of a culpable government, for national debt, the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act, and the Federal Reserve were the primary causes of the depression. Reading this book one witnesses the birth of big government, and the disastrous causality the New Deal inflicted on the marketplace, furthermore; one sees how big government legislates entitlements and favor empowering special interest peddlers and lobbyists to change our nation forever.
Folsom paints Roosevelt as a charmer, one endowed not only with a silver spoon in his mouth, but one with charisma and the gift of oration. It’s unfortunate that Roosevelt never succeeded in anything remotely entrepreneurial outside of politics, his attempts at business and law all ended in abysmal failures; is it any wonder, his new deal policies would suffer the same fate?
We learn from the onset of this book that FDR invented the role of presidential duplicity; he campaigned on tariff reform, promised to balance the budget, and promised tax cuts for all. After two terms in office he reneged on all of it. Instead of a balanced budget he doubled the national dept, delivered a 79% top tax bracket, invented the only undistributed profits tax in the world, and raped the forgotten man with excise taxes.
During those years of national crisis, with unemployment above 20%, FDR attacked the successful business men and the wealthiest Americans with rancor. Imposing burdensome taxes on production and profits, compromising their ability to invest, grow, and create jobs. He prescribed to the flawed theory of underconsumption, imposing minimum wage legislation that put many out of work, created gender and racial discrimination enhancing class warfare. When he ran short of affluent victims, He levied an excise tax, which hit the low and middle class, when excise revenues outnumbered income tax revenues; Roosevelt discovered a new windfall to fund his New Deal projects.
Folsom demonstrates how patronage kept Roosevelt in office for three terms. Roosevelt wielded his government tax fortune to favor those loyal democrats with projects for their states, precincts, and constituencies. He targeted questionable states he couldn’t carry, bought political favors, created pork barrel projects for democrats loyal to his policies and bought votes. He influenced gubernatorial races, senate races, and congressional races, all in an effort to centralize power in Washington.
Roosevelt spoke publicly of how political power needed to be centralized, and chastised those Supreme Court judges who opposed him. He tried to stack the Supreme Court with judges favorable to his New Deal, when that failed; he tried to skew the vote by adding more justices to the bench.
He often sic the IRS, like an attack dog on political rivals and fellow democrats that opposed his New Deal, the loudest dissenters where subject to harassing audits and jail time. With blatant disregard for the first amendment, he created the FCC to attack the opposition with radio censorship.
If anything Roosevelt’s legacy is one of influence, of charisma and power, duplicity and corruption. Let us not forget Roosevelt’s affection for socialism, and the communist sympathizers he appointed to his cabinet, not to mention his brains trust.
This begs the question, if this is true about Roosevelt, the man and his policies, then why is he still hailed as one of the greatest presidents of all time? The answer lies in the altruistic nature of his presidency; he was perceived as caring, his intentions sincere, his message one of hope and promise to right the financial disparity in America by wealth redistribution. The rights prescribed by the forefathers weren’t enough for the man of sincerity; he had to add “A right to a comfortable living.” In 1944 he added an Economic Bill of Rights that included “the right to a useful and remunerative job . . . The right of every family to a decent home . . . The right to a good education.” Alas the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
So the altruists are responsible for this unwarranted praise, the statists, the socialist, the liberal intelligentsia, nurtured in our bastions of higher education. To this day big government perpetuates these myths of failed social ideologies and flawed philosophical doctrine, with generous government funding. If you awoke tomorrow and discovered you spent your entire life, your entire carrier, promoting a failed ideology, an unsustainable socialist doctrine, would you discard it, or cling to it, defending it with all your immoral rectitude? Here in lies the answer.
This book is a great read, especially now as history repeats itself. The uncanny resemblance of Obamanomics and Roosevelt’s New Deal legacy is frightening. Read this book, juxtapose these two administrations, and you will be able to predict with certainty the future of our economy, our government, and our freedom.