How was it that FDR was elected
four times if his policies were deepening and prolonging an economic
catastrophe? Ignorance and a willingness to give the president the benefit of
the doubt explain a lot. Roosevelt beat Hoover in 1932 with promises of less government.
He instead gave Americans more government, but he did so with fanfare and fireside chats that
mesmerized a desperate people. By the time they began to realize that his
policies were harmful, World War II came, the people rallied around their commander-in-chief,
and there was little desire to change the proverbial horse in the middle of the
stream by electing someone new.
the holocaust of World War II came a revival of trade with America's allies.
The war's destruction of people and resources did not help the U.S. economy,
but this renewed trade did. A reinflation of the nation's money supply
counteracted the high costs of the New Deal, but brought with it a problem that
plagues us to this day: a dollar that buys less and less in goods and services
year after year. Most importantly, the Truman administration that followed
Roosevelt was decidedly less eager to berate and bludgeon private investors and
as a result, those investors re-entered the economy and fueled a powerful
postwar boom. The Great Depression finally ended, but it should linger in our
minds today as one of the most colossal and tragic failures of government and
public policy in American history.
of the Great Depression lay in the irresponsible monetary and fiscal policies
of the U.S. government in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These policies
included a litany of political missteps: central bank mismanagement,
trade-crushing tariffs, incentive-sapping taxes, mind-numbing controls on
production and competition, senseless destruction of crops and cattle and
coercive labor laws, to recount just a few. It was not the free market that produced 12 years of
agony; rather, it was political bungling on a grand scale.
Those who can survey the events
of the 1920s and 1930s and blame free-market capitalism for the economic
calamity have their eyes, ears and minds firmly closed to the facts. Changing
the wrong-headed thinking that constitutes much of today's conventional wisdom
about this sordid historical episode is vital to reviving faith in free markets
and preserving our liberties.
The nation managed to survive
both Hoover's activism and Roosevelt's New Deal quackery, and now the American
heritage of freedom awaits a rediscovery by a new generation of citizens. This
time we have nothing to fear but myths and misconceptions.