The New Deal

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Libertarians cannot explain the successes of FDR's New Deal. Hence, they engage in ridiculous denialism about how effective it was and attempt to undo New Deal progress. They greatly fear revisiting and extending the New Deal as FDR envisioned.


New Deal Denialism [More...]
Amity Shlaes (in The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression) and others attempt to discredit FDR's successful and popular polices for relief, recovery and reform by cherry-picking and misinterpreting data.
The New Deal Wasn’t What You Think [More...]
The new deal worked in large part by encouraging capitalism, and channelling private investment into publicly desirable investments. It innovated new systems of insurance to guarantee loans, and delivered profits to businesses in peril during the Depression. Unionists, farmers, and consumers benefited as well, all without the government needing to spend a dime of taxpayer money.
Category Archives: new deal denialist truth squadding [More...]
Eric Rauchway's "The Edge Of The American West" articles on New Deal denialism.
Debunking the myth that FDR prolonged the depression [More...]
Among the most common claims is that the New Deal program failed to bring the Great Depression to an end, and that rather, government intervention harmed more than it helped. Unfortunately, you have to be quite resistant to facts or unaware of them in order to draw this conclusion.
FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression (book) (1 link)
A classic of cherry-picking and misrepresenting history to suit ideology. Demonizes FDR, who then stands for all that libertarians hate. Four legs good, two legs baaaad.
FDR’s New Deal Worked. We Need Another One. [More...]
"Claims that the programs adopted in the 1930s lengthened the Great Depression don’t hold up."
First, She Realized There Was a Problem [More...]
"Elizabeth Warren has drawn inspiration from FDR’s labor secretary, Frances Perkins, whose genius lay in spotting an injustice—and framing it as something government action could fix." Thus 40 hour workdays, fire safety, unionization rights, social security, unemployment insurance, abolition of child labor, minimum wages, etc.
Fiscal Stimulus (2 links)
A Keynesian policy libertarians hate because it is government spending that is both an effective government policy and because it requires taxes eventually. They have invented many wild arguments against it (which have proven wrong) such as "crowding out".
Four Freedoms (4 links)
Franklin Roosevelt's inspirational freedoms that we fought for in WWII. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. Far superior to the libertarian idea of economic freedom that benefits corporations and the rich.
Franklin Delano Obama? [More...]
"Now, there’s a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse. So it’s important to know that most of what you hear along those lines is based on deliberate misrepresentation of the facts."
Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal (book)
"The titans of the National Association of Manufacturers and the chemicals giant DuPont, together with little-known men like W. C. Mullendore, Leonard Read, and Jasper Crane, championed European thinkers Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises and their fears of the “nanny state.”"
It Took Decades, But The Anti-New Deal Crusaders Have Triumphed [More...]
"But law and economics as a scholarly approach would have had a much more limited impact if it were not for another product of right-wing philanthropy: the Federalist Society, a club for right-wing law students that would produce reliable ideological cadres to staff positions in the courts and state and federal bureaucracies to help put these ideas into practice."
Learning From the New Deal's Mistakes [More...]
"The most important thing to know about Roosevelt's economics is that, despite claims to the contrary, the economy recovered during the New Deal. During Roosevelt's first two terms, the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent, with the exception of the recession year of 1937-1938. As economist Christina Romer (now director-designate of the Council of Economic Advisers) writes, these rates were "spectacular, even for an economy pulling out of a severe recession." "
Lessons from the New Deal: Did the New Deal Prolong or Worsen the Great Depression? [More...]
"We argue that initiatives in these policy areas [(1) regulatory and labor relations legislation, and (2) government spending and taxation] probably did not slow economic growth or worsen the unemployment problem from 1933 to 1939, as claimed by a number of economists in academic papers, in the popular press, and elsewhere."
Misrepresenting the Recovery from the Great Depression [More...]
"Though not wrong in every detail, the version of events offered by Cole and Ohanian is still a shocking distortion of what happened before FDR took office in March 1933."
Murphy on US and Canadian Unemployment during the 1930s: A Critique [More...]
Robert Murphy's claims that Canada had a much better recovery without government intervention during the Great Depression are based on comparing apples to oranges.
New Deal Denialism (Rauchway) [More...]
"Recovery was only one-third of the New Deal’s three Rs, along with relief and reform, and for some New Dealers not necessarily the foremost."
The Connection Between Work and Dignity [More...]
An efficient economy leaves unemployment high: some inefficient but useful jobs can alleviate unemployment and create dignity for the workers. "If we work hard and produce something of tangible value, we tend to feel a sense of self-worth when society rewards us for it with a decent, middle-class life."
The Second Bill Of Rights: FDR's UNfinished Revolution-- And Why We Need It More Than Ever (book)
FDR proposed 8 economic rights: employment, with a living wage; food, clothing and leisure; farmers' rights to a fair income; freedom from unfair competition and monopolies; housing; medical care; social security; education. A foreshadowing of the Capability Approach.
Was the New Deal Contractionary? [More...]
"Can government policies that increase the monopoly power of firms and the militancy of unions increase output? This paper studies this question in a dynamic general equilibrium model with nominal frictions and shows that these policies are expansionary when certain “emergency” conditions apply. These emergency conditions–zero interest rates and deflation–were satisfied during the Great Depression in the United States. Therefore, the New Deal, which facilitated monopolies and union militancy, was expansionary, according to the model. This conclusion is contrary to the one reached by a large previous literature, e.g. Cole and Ohanian (2004), that argues that the New Deal was contractionary." A very technical paper.
With Tyler against the strawmen and conservatives. [More...]
Eric Rauchway points out Tyler Cowen's subtle insertion of unspoken claims about the New Deal. When did you stop beating your wife, Tyler?


[...] here in America "libertarianism" is a Frankenstein's monster that got its lightning-bolt juice from massive resistance to the Civil Rights Movement. Dismantling the New Deal and rolling back the social insurance state were not ideas that had much potential political-economy juice back in the 1950s and 1960s. But if the economic libertarian cause of dismantling the New Deal could be harnessed to the cause of white supremacy—if one of the key liberties that libertarians were fighting to defend was the liberty to discriminate against and oppress the Negroes—than all of a sudden you could have a political movement that might get somewhere. And so James Buchanan and the other libertarians to the right of Milton Friedman made the freedom to discriminate—or perhaps the power to discriminate?—a key one of the liberties that they were fighting for in their fight against BIG GOVERNMENT. And this has poisoned American libertarianism ever since.
Brad DeLong, "A Lazy New Year's Eve Morn on Twitter..."
The funny thing is that whenever sensible policies produce episodes of full employment, as in the late 1990s, the long postwar boom, or the World War II economy, the supposedly feckless poor get decent jobs and their incomes go up.
Robert Kuttner, "David Brooks's Worst Column Ever"
Now, there’s a whole intellectual industry, mainly operating out of right-wing think tanks, devoted to propagating the idea that F.D.R. actually made the Depression worse. So it’s important to know that most of what you hear along those lines is based on deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.
Paul Krugman, "Franklin Delano Obama?"
Large-scale government social-insurance programs are the best way we have found to achieve major and important public purposes. There has never been a private marketplace offering unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance program works quite well: It gets money to people who have previously paid for it when they need it. Edward Filene’s welfare-capitalist notion that defined-benefit pensions offered by employers and more recent hopes that defined-contribution 401(k)s could provide old-age pensions more efficiently and effectively than Social Security have not covered themselves with glory over the past generation: Too many defined-benefit private pensions have not been paid out in full as promised, and too much wealth invested in 401(k)s has been skimmed off to enrich the princes of Wall Street. In health care, despite extraordinary administrative inefficiencies and little ability to improve quality and cost-effectiveness, the private insurance marketplace works—unless you are old, sick (and happen to be out of a job), or poor. Yet it is the old, the sick, and the poor who need health insurance most—hence, Medicare and Medicaid.
Brad DeLong, "Shrugging off Atlas"