Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, August 12, 2011 6:44 am

Thought for the day

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 6:44 am

… from Sir Charles at Cogitamus:

As my friend Tim Noah likes to point out, with the blessing of FDR, Harry Hopkins put four million Americans to work in four months through the Civil Works Administration.  The CWA lasted only from November 1933 through March 31, 1934.  But in that brief period, the federal government directly put to work what would be the equivalent of ten million workers today.   Hopkins then went on to run the Works Progress Administration(“WPA”), which at its height employed 3.5 million people and spent the equivalent of 6.7% of GDP in 1935.  In today’s economy, that would require spending about $938 billion annually on a comparable program.

In other words, there really is an alternative vision that could be presented to the American electorate about what to do with the problem of unemployment.  And it’s one that made the Democratic Party the natural governing majority party in the United States for a period of about forty years.

He’s just sayin’.



  1. FDR’s policies prolonged the depression for 7 years

    “Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

    “The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,” Cole said. “Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

    FDR Was a Great Leader, But His Economic Plan Isn’t One to Follow

    “The Depression tells us that public works are probably less effective than improving the environment for entrepreneurs and new companies. The president has already put forward a big tax cut for lower earners. He might offer a commensurate one for higher earners. He might expand the tax advantages he is currently offering to companies — wider expensing of losses, for example — and make them permanent. A discussion that permits the word “trillion” might also include the possibility of bringing down U.S. corporate taxes, taxes on interest, dividend and capital gains — again, permanently. The cash that a relatively competitive United States draws from abroad will move the country forward faster than any stimulus.

    So the Depression and the New Deal are both worth going back to, but for different reasons than many suspect. We may rely on the best of the New Deal, the matter-of-fact bravery our parents and grandparents showed then, to help us through today’s unexpected challenges. But we don’t have to repeat New Deal stimulus experiments, because we know that they didn’t work. “

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, August 12, 2011 1:26 pm @ 1:26 pm

  2. We tried that already, in 2001 and 2003. The result was 2001-10, the first stretch of 10 consecutive years since anything like reliable record-keeping began in 1890 in which the total number of jobs in the U.S. actually decreased.

    What prolonged the Depression was inaction on the front end followed by a premature attempt in 1937 to reduce deficits.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, August 12, 2011 1:30 pm @ 1:30 pm

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