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The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression Paperback – May 27, 2008
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I came away with three major conclusions.
1. For better or worse, much of the country saw the Depression as something akin to a natural disaster, and people accordingly lowered their expectations for their standard of living.
2. Economic ignorance among policymakers was much worse than I had realized. I was steeped in the myth that the reason the Depression was so bad was that only Keynes had the answer, and he had to overcome the resistance of "the classical economists," such as Irving Fisher. But the differences between Fisher and Keynes seem small when compared to the differences between the policymakers and both economists. In physics, it would be like watching an academic debate over the meaning of quantum mechanics while policymakers are unable to grasp the simple concept of gravity.
3.Read more ›
Dozens of economists, including two Nobel Prize winners, have evaluated the consequences of New Deal policies. Empirical research at many universities raises suggests that the New Deal actually prolonged the Great Depression. Consider some key questions like these:
1. Why did FDR triple federal taxes during the Great Depression? Federal tax revenues more than tripled, from $1.6 billion in 1933 to $5.3 billion in 1940. Excise taxes, personal income taxes, inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes, holding company taxes and "excess profits" taxes all went up. FDR introduced an undistributed profits tax. Consumers had less money to spend, and employers had less money for growth and jobs.
2. How much net benefit did the New Deal provide ordinary people who paid most of the costs of the New Deal? For instance, the biggest New Deal welfare programs were funded before 1936, when federal excise taxes on beer, wine, cigarettes, soft drinks, chewing gum, radios and other things purchased by millions of ordinary people, generated more revenue than the federal personal income tax and the federal corporate income tax combined. According to the standard reference work HISTORICAL STATISTICS OF THE UNITED STATES FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE PRESENT, in 1936 the federal government collected $674.4 million from the personal income tax, $753 million from the corporate income tax and $1.5 billion from excise taxes.Read more ›
Pay particular attention to Shlaes analysis of the Schechter brothers' confrontation with intellectual thugs associated with Harvard University. The author never mentions the vastly overrated works of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Nonetheless, The Forgotten Man is something of a direct attack on the late historian's less than admirable scholarship. Did Franklin D. Roosevelt save our nation? He admittedly may have done so in our fight against the fascists during WW II. Roosevelt's attempts to manage the American economy, however, almost destroyed our democratic institutions. The road to hell is sadly often paved with good intentions. We should learn form history---and never let this happen again. Regular citizens must be willing to check and balance the behavior of those most inclined toward arrogant ego-tripping and power seeking. The Forgotten Man deserves three cheers. You should obtain a copy immediately.
This is a remarkable book which will forever change your understanding of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's role and the lessons to be learned from government intervention.
Amity Shlaes makes a compelling case that Hoover and Roosevelt actually lengthened the Depression. They did this, Shlaes argues, by following bad monetary policy, which further deflated the currency, and by raising tariff barriers, which broke up world trade and reduced economic activity everywhere.
Shlaes makes the best case I have seen that business confidence is the key to economic expansion and that each step of the New Deal was a further blow to business confidence.
She also explains the view of the pre-government control entrepreneurs and investors who had created an extraordinarily successful country prior to 1929.
This is a superb book well worth reading, studying and then thinking about for a long time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you want the real story of the depression, FDR and who he surrounded himself with, this book is tremendousPublished 2 days ago by Daniel J Hudick
An excellent review of the Great Depression from a middle of the road perspective that does not glorify FDR and the New Deal unlike most of the literature on the subject. Ms. Read morePublished 5 days ago by C2CO
This is the second book I have read by Amity Shlaes, and I am currently reading another by her dealing with tax issues (The Greedy Hand). Read morePublished 1 month ago by David Ebbert
An amazing book!!!!! Absolutely a must read.....Will turn history on its headPublished 2 months ago by Daniel Tate Jr.