Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is Obama Our Era's FDR?

"The Great Depression wasn't too bad -- as long as you had a job." (Unforunately, at any given time in the 1930s, one-out-of-four to one-out-of-five workers didn't have jobs.)

In his endless efforts at "experimentation," Franklin Delano Roosevelt did many bad things, including his "court-packing" efforts to manipulate the judiciary. Barack Obama seems destined to recapitulate all Roosevelt's worst initiatives.

Redistribution of wealth, which Obama told Joe the Plumber (Wurzelbacher) he supported, is the essence of socialism. FDR was a fervent redistributor. Why? He had discovered poorer people were more likely to vote Democratic.

Government control is another key aspect of the socialist agenda. However, the key component for socialist-inclined politicians, from FDR to Obama, is choosing what groups to favor in order to win elections.

In Roosevelt's era, the favored groups were: (1) recipients of government welfare (called "relief" in those days); (2) trade unions inclined to vote Democratic; (3) consumers of products (as opposed to producers); (4) college-age young people and high school students; and (5) Black citizens. Roosevelt's own version of an "enemies list" included: big companies; employers generally and the wealthy. Obama's "list" would be roughly the same.

FDR's National Recovery Administration (NRA) was a make-work organization designed to reduce unemployment, which, except for very brief periods, it didn't accomplish. Beyond that, it created ten thousand pages of regulations to exert government control over nearly every aspect of the economy.

To paraphrase Amity Shlaes (author of The Forgotten Man), under the NRA, government bureaucrats had the authority to curtail the production of goods (supply) in order to drive up prices. Of course, with so many people impoverished by the Depression, higher prices were not an unmixed blessing.

Also, NRA regulations determined the precise components in macaroni. Moreover, the organization determined what tailors could and could not sew. In the poultry industry, regulations barred consumers from choosing what chickens they wanted to buy.

An institution like the NRA illustrated the main assumptions of socialism: that government bureaucrats know better than producers or consumers. It emphasized consumers because there are more of them -- as voters -- than there are producers

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