Walter E. Williams
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Roosevelt had more plans for the economy, namely the National Labor Relations Act, better known as the "Wagner Act." This was a payoff to labor unions, and with these new powers, labor unions went on a militant organizing frenzy that included threats, boycotts, strikes, seizures of plants, widespread violence and other acts that pushed productivity down sharply and unemployment up dramatically. In 1938, Roosevelt's New Deal produced the nation's first depression within a depression. The stock market crashed again, losing nearly 50 percent of its value between August 1937 and March 1938, and unemployment climbed back to 20 percent. Columnist Walter Lippmann wrote in March 1938 that "with almost no important exception every measure (Roosevelt) has been interested in for the past five months has been to reduce or discourage the production of wealth."

Roosevelt's agenda was not without its international admirers. The chief Nazi newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, repeatedly praised "Roosevelt's adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies" and "the development toward an authoritarian state" based on the "demand that collective good be put before individual self-interest." Roosevelt himself called Benito Mussolini "admirable" and professed that he was "deeply impressed by what he (had) accomplished."

FDR's very own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, saw the folly of the New Deal, writing: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!" The bottom line is that Roosevelt's New Deal policies turned what would have been a three- or four-year sharp downturn into a 16-year affair.

The 1930s depression was caused by and aggravated by acts of government, and so was the current financial mess that we're in. Do we want to repeat history by listening to those who created the calamity? That's like calling on an arsonist to help put out a fire.

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Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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