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New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America Paperback – November 17, 2009
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"History books and politicians in both parties sing the praises for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency and its measures to get America out of the Great Depression. What goes unappreciated is the fact that many of those measures exacerbated and extended the economic downturn of the 1930s. New Deal or Raw Deal? is a careful documentation and analysis of those measures that allows us to reach only one conclusion: While President Roosevelt was a great man in some respects, his economic policy was a disaster. What's worse is that public ignorance of those policy failures has lent support for similar policies in later years. Professor Burt Folsom has produced a highly readable book and has done a yeoman's job in exposing the New Deal." -- Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University
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Top Customer Reviews
Folsom corrects many common misconceptions about the New Deal and the Great Depression in this book. The first misconception is that President Hoover was a principled advocate of laissez-faire capitalism. In fact, Folsom argues, Hoover was a big government Republican. Consider the Smoot-Hawley Act, which imposed unprecedented tariffs on thousands of imported items. Not only did this drastically increase the prices of U.S. imports (hurting U.S. consumers), but it also encouraged European nations to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports (hurting U.S. producers.) Furthermore, Hoover responded to the early onset of the Great Depression with disastrous economic regulations. He endorsed the Federal Farm Board, which issued over $500 million in cotton and wheat subsidies only to have the massive surpluses dumped on an oversaturated world market. Hoover also supposed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which spent over $1.5 billion on bailouts to failing banks and industries.
Another major point of Folsom's book is that many of FDR's programs were struck down as unconstitutional. These include the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). The NIRA imposed economy-wide price controls and production regulations on domestic manufacturing. The AAA was similar in spirit, except it focused on price and production controls on agriculture.Read more ›
The book is hard to put down even as you recoil in horror at the lunatic economic policies of the era and the blatant turn to fascism. If you tried to design a program to extend the Great Depression indefinitely, you could have done little better than FDR did. The economic incompetence and unintended consequences which are detailed in all their frightening glory is mind boggling, but it is only part of the story.
The book also demonstrates the endemic political patronage and vote buying that resulted from the concentration of money and power in the hands of the federal government. State and local politicians who supported Roosevelt were rewarded with a cascade of federal dollars, those who opposed him were frozen out and inevitably lost subsequent elections.
Citizens who opposed FDR were set upon by the IRS or the NRA. The use of government power to persecute and intimidate dissension is chilling. There are several quotes or diary entries from even Roosevelt's supporters and cabinet members that point out both the insanity of the policies and the dangers of FDR's abuse of power.
With our government setting out on what's been called the "New New Deal", this book should be required reading for every citizen so they can understand both the failure of the New Deal as an economic cure and the abuse of power and vote buying that the huge transfer of money and independence from the private sector to the public sector caused and will undoubtedly cause again.Read more ›
Roosevelt helped create major rifts between those who were wealthy and those who were poor and middle class. He even indicated he did that to win the election rather than pursue what was best for the country. He tried to stack the Supreme Court and used the IRS to harass his major critics.
I've had to remind myself repeatedly that this is not a fictional work and that it is about a president in the USA rather than a dictator in some distant country. For example, the New Deal's birth of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 was bizarre. "It allowed American industrialists to collaborate to set the prices of their products and even the wages and hours that went into making them. Leaders in all industries, from steel and coal to shoulder pads and dog food, were invited to sit down and write codes of fair competition that would be binding on all producers in their industry. Laborers were often allowed to organize, and anti-trust laws were suspended." (pp. 43-44) The result was that many big companies could easily take business from smaller companies because the larger companies controlled the price fixing. An example Folsom uses is Jacob Maged of Jersey City, NJ. After 22 years of running a successful small business pressing clothes, Maged's reputation was one of quality work at a reasonable cost. The NRA then demanded that he charge 40 cents to press a suit instead of 35 cents.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After reading "A Patriot's Guide to US History", books on Coolidge, Truman, George C. Marshall, and some economics books, I have to say this is one of the best... Read morePublished 3 months ago by JOELLA
Good information and clearly states the reality of government programs instead of letting things run a corrective course. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John Quisenberry
This book is a hack job. The author is neither a scholar nor journalist. It is an ad hominem attack on FDR, seeking to defame his legacy by attacking his intellect, painting him as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Richard K.
If, you are interested in where this Country's Freedom and Rights were lost you need to read this book. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Pepper's Keeper
I read this book a few years ago, but it seems more topical today than ever. What I like about this book the most is the challenge to the conventional wisdom regarding the Great... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Carl Allan Barnes
The author really opened my eyes to FDR's tenure as POTUS and the errors of centralized government. What was most disturbing was FDR's complete ignorance of basic economics and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Chris
More gossip than facts. The author's one-sided critic of the New Deal leaves out any and all evidence that contradicts his thesis. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Paul Walliker