So, here it is, less than three weeks since the election, and already Barack Obama is scaring me. Big time.
Apparently, it really is true that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. For President-Elect Obama seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s much-vaunted New Deal. Now, I know liberal Democrats will go to their graves denying this, but here’s the truth about FDR: His policies didn’t end the Great Depression. To the contrary: They extended it far beyond when it likely would have ended.
But what about all the jobs he created, liberals say. What about all the roads and bridges that were built? The answer is: What about them? The very fact that the Depression went on for more than a decade proves that simply having the government manufacture make-work jobs doesn’t create long-term wealth or prosperity. So disastrous, in fact, were FDR’s policies that in the late 1930s — some six, seven and eight years after FDR’s election — unemployment was actually higher than when he took office. Great job, Franklin! But hey, at least we have nothing to fear but fear itself, right?
So there it is. Once and for all, let’s accept the truth: FDR’s policies did not end the Great Depression. World War II ended the Depression, as 12 million Americans went into the armed forces and millions more were put to work building airplanes, ships and other materials for the war.
Which brings us back to President-Elect Obama. Here we are in the 21st century, with a 21st century workforce, and what’s Obama’s answer to this recession? Let’s just reinstitute the same failed policies that made the real Great Depression of the 1930s even worse! What’s even more frightening is that Obama doesn’t seem to realize a very simple, basic fact: namely, that the America of 2008-9 bears little resemblance to America of the 1930s.
Back then, America’s industry was heavily based in manufacturing, with millions of Americans already employed in labor/trade positions. Not so today — yet Obama’s answer to the economic crisis is to build roads and bridges just like FDR did.
Really? Are we honestly supposed to believe that a Fortune 500 tax accountant with an MBA who’s been laid off is going to happily swing a pick axe over his shoulder and whistle, “Hi ho! Hi ho! It’s off to fix roads I go!”? How about a senior vice president for commercial lending? Or a biomed technician? Come on, people! This is not 1930s rural America. And even if it were, implementing the same policies that made things worse the first time around hardly strikes me as enlightened economic policy.
So unless Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan culminates by launching World War III, don’t count on these “New New Deal” policies to fix our economy anytime soon…