Not Normal on the New Deal

Readers will not be surprised to know that I am not normal.  Indeed, I have not been normal for a long time as this post from 4 years ago attests:

Roosevelt and the Great Depression

I was amused to see Conrad Black writing with shock:

Jim Powell of the Cato Institute (cited approvingly in a recent column by Robert L. Bartley) argues in a new book that FDR actually prolonged the Depression!

Of course, Powell is correct. Imagine, increasing the power of
unions to strike and raise wages during a time of mass strikes and mass
unemployment. Imagine thinking that cartelizing whole industries
thereby raising prices and reducing output could improve the economy.
Not everything Roosevelt did was counterproductive – he did end
prohibition (although in order to raise taxes) – but plenty was and
worst of all was the uncertainty created by Roosevelt’s vicious attacks
on business. (See, for example, the work of Bob Higgs especially this important paper and historian Gary Dean Best’s overlooked classic Pride, Prejudice and Politics.)
Business investment failed to recover because business people
legitimately feared a regime change like that which had occured in
Germany and Italy. Sound extreme? Roosevelt himself threatened/promised
this in his first inaugural:

…if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and
loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline,
because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership
becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our
lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a
leadership which aims at a larger good… I assume unhesitatingly the
leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined
attack upon our common problems….in the event that the Congress shall
fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the
national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear
course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress
for… the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded
by a foreign foe.


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