Monday, October 20, 2003

WE'RE GOING TO OPINIONJOURNAL TO HISS ROOSEVELT! Since being pastured to make room for younger idiots, the Wall Street Journal's Bob Bartley has been taking a long view of things. Now his wormy hand reaches back to smack around FDR. The New Deal, per BB, prolonged the Depression. "He was originally elected to cure the Great Depression; how did he do there?" he asks. "Unemployment was still above 17% on the eve of war in 1939. Most of Roosevelt's acolytes settle for saying he lifted the nation's spirits."

Bartley fails to mention that in 1933 unemployment had been at 24.9.

This kind of flimflam is common among the new breed of anti-New Deal authors. The folks at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, for example, write:
The unemployment rate during the 1933-1940 period averaged about 18 percent and was as high as 28.3 percent in March of 1933. By the end of 1938, on the eve of World War II, the U.S. unemployment rate still hovered at 18 percent, as high as it was in 1933, FDR's first year in office.

Follow that paragraph around the block and you'll see that it's trying to shake you. The author hopes the seven-year figure will distract you from noticing that he has called 18% "as high as" 28.3%.

It's always good to revisit and reassess historical figures and events, but I see bad faith here. Given the hideous mismanagement of our present finances, we could lapse into a new Great Depression presently, and if that happens the Bartleys and Institute boys don't want a New New Deal, in which the rich would be buggered ("Above all Roosevelt raised taxes on 'the rich,'" Bartley notes with horror) and jobs handed out like candy to lucky duckies in the hinterland. "Jobless recovery" is what they're all about -- the uniquely modern notion that the continued enrichment of corporations is more important than the self-sufficiency of citizens. There'll be no "lifting the nation's spirits" with jobs in construction and reclamation that would improve everyone's quality of life, as Roosevelt's programs did -- not if it means an estate tax, by Gad!

Despite the frat-house antics of Jonah Goldberg et alia, today's conservatives still have roots in some old, discredited traditions. They're essentially the same people that created the John Birch Society, protested fluoridation, tried to impeach Earl Warren, and went to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt.

Bartley also takes a swipe at Andrew Jackson, using a Daniel Webster quote to imply that the seventh President was the founder of class warfare in the U.S. I, too, would like to think so. Jackson is a good model for the kind of guts we'll need to kick these assholes from their seats of power.

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