did indeed make a difference, though probably not the sort of difference for
which the country had hoped. He started off on the wrong foot when, in his
inaugural address, he blamed the Depression on "unscrupulous money changers."
He said nothing about the role of the Fed's mismanagement and little about the
follies of Congress that had contributed to the problem. As a result of his
efforts, the economy would linger in depression for the rest of the decade.
Adapting a phrase from 19th century writer Henry David Thoreau, Roosevelt
famously declared in his address that, "We have nothing to fear but fear
itself." But as Dr. Hans Sennholz of Grove City College explains, it was FDR's
policies to come that Americans had genuine reason to fear:
In his first 100 days, he swung hard at the
profit order. Instead of clearing away the prosperity barriers erected by his
predecessor, he built new ones of his own. He struck in every known way at the
integrity of the U.S. dollar through quantitative increases and qualitative
deterioration. He seized the people's gold holdings and subsequently devalued
the dollar by 40 percent.
Frustrated and angered that
Roosevelt had so quickly and thoroughly abandoned the platform on which he was
elected, Director of the Bureau of the Budget Lewis W. Douglas resigned after
only one year on the job. At Harvard University in May 1935, Douglas made it
plain that America was facing a momentous choice:
Will we choose to subject ourselves — this great country — to the
despotism of bureaucracy, controlling our every act, destroying what equality
we have attained, reducing us eventually to the condition of impoverished
slaves of the state? Or will we cling to the liberties for which man has
struggled for more than a thousand years? It is important to understand the
magnitude of the issue before us. ... If we do not elect to have a tyrannical,
oppressive bureaucracy controlling our lives, destroying progress, depressing
the standard of living ... then should it not be the function of the Federal
government under a democracy to limit its activities to those which a democracy
may adequately deal, such for example as national defense, maintaining law and
order, protecting life and property, preventing dishonesty, and ... guarding
the public against ... vested special interests?