Patriot's History: Great Depression and FDR, 1929-45 (Chap 16)

Beans Bacon and Gravy, Pete Seeger, 1930s
Best Things in Life are Free, 1927
Foolish Man Blues, Bessie Smith, 1920s
Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland, 1939
Sixteen Tons, Paul Robeson, 1920s

Well-meaning, FDR took government
to record heights of spending. The extent
of years of anti-business policy
would lead to welfare-based dependency.

He never ran a business, scoffed at commerce, blamed
the whole Depression on financial errors, claimed
the businessman was "stupid." This was FDR.
"New Deal" defined his reckless, knee-jerk repertoire
of programs giving people's jobs to government
instead of letting private business implement
solutions. Franklin Roosevelt's men were "Keynesian"
(big spending), making government custodian
of human needs. In Roosevelt's first "One-Hundred Days"
this social-minded rule expanded in a blaze
of alphabetic glory: A.A.A. for farm
reform, and T.V.A. for dams; another arm
of government was job creation: C.C.C.
(Civilian Conservation Corps), its guarantee
of work apparent in the welfare atmosphere
of Public Works, Works Progress, and a most severe
pro-union Act of "National Recovery":
along with price controls, its generosity
to unions gained a lot of votes. But C.I.O.
(a union group) upheavals hurt the status quo,
and so the Wagner Act for Labor-Management
Relations came to be the latest testament
to government intrusion, rampant spending, waste.
With all the welfare options, there was little haste
to kindle business competition. Overall,
New Deal enactments did some good -- the overhaul
of banks and stocks, the unemployment rate was down.
But long-term flaws leave FDR in less renown:
his spending added debt and raised the deficit;
gave people (mostly blacks) the faulty "benefit"
of welfare. Painfully, another consequence
of central power was the sale of influence
to business. Yet, with "fireside chats," and nothing feared
but "fear itself," the wily President appeared
relaxed and confident. But soon, by '39,
as Dorothy, Oz, and Rhett and Scarlett built a shrine
to Hollywood and people clung to fantasy,
the voters sensed an FDR autocracy,
and business leadership was looking to restore
its role as we began preparing for a war.

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