Franklin Delano Roosevelt



The real roots of the Great Depression, John McCain’s record on national security, and scientists who hate dissent.

A regular feature of The American Culture, highlighting items that reveal trends in American society and culture, compiled by TAC correspondent Mike Gray.


What Made the Great Depression So Great?

The current economic crisis ("Crisis is the friend of government"—John Stossel) has everybody thinking about the Big One of 1929. Back then the social engineers (community organizers on the grand scale) went ape—and, as is the way of the world, made things much worse.

Forty-five years ago the great economist Milton Friedman published a book that explained just What Went Wrong. Not surprisingly, the Great Depression was found to have the fingerprints of many power-hungry yet paradoxically well-meaning social planners and big government acolytes all over it.

In an excellent article from Policy Review in 2001 ("The Fed’s ‘Depression’ and the Birth of the New Deal,"), Lawrence M. Stratton and Paul Craig Roberts provided a persuasive summary of the case:

"Why should Russians have all the fun of remaking a world?" asked Stuart Chase in his book, A New Deal, published in 1932. Like other progressives, Chase was convinced by Soviet propaganda of the efficacy of government planning. During the 1920s Chase and Lewis Mumford led the Regional Planning Association, a group of economists and engineers enamored of social management of unified geographic areas.

Planning quickly became the intellectuals’ solution to unemployment and idle factories. Indeed, there was such a predilection for planning that the intellectual class, whose job it was to analyze the situation, remained willfully blind to the drastic monetary contraction before their eyes. On the eve of the new regulatory era and birth of the administrative state, no progressive was going to admit or acknowledge that the first foray into control by experts—monetary management by the Federal Reserve—had quickly produced the worst depression in history.

With a planning and regulatory agenda waiting in the wings, it was convenient to blame the Depression on the breakdown of the unregulated market, on private property and private profit, on "cutthroat competition," on an unequal distribution of income, and on distrust of government.

Progressives were quick to invoke science in behalf of their planning and coordination schemes. The few skeptics were promptly branded "stupid men." Rule by wise elites, Chase thought, "may entail a temporary dictatorship." Chase dressed it up as "the Third Road" between dictatorship of the red (Communists) and the black (Big Business). In his inaugural speech, [Franklin] Roosevelt actually threatened Congress with a dictatorship if all else failed in the "war against the emergency."

Yet the New Deal achieved a diminution in rights, not in unemployment. This became apparent by 1942, when Ohio dairy farmer Roscoe Filburn was prosecuted successfully by the compassionate federal government for violating the Agricultural Adjustment Act by growing grain for his family’s direct use. In a unanimous decision, the now-tamed Supreme Court ruled that Filburn had engaged in interstate commerce by not engaging in it. Filburn, the Court ruled, should have purchased the grain with which he fed his cows, chickens, and family, not raised it himself. . . . In order to permit the federal government a wide range of action, New Dealers destroyed the doctrine of enumerated powers.

This constraint on federal power had to be removed if New Dealers were to deal with the "national emergency" by expanding Washington’s reach. The removal of this constraint meant that federal power came to occupy territory formerly inhabited by individual rights. Principal among these lost rights are the protections the Constitution gives to property and to contracts. The result has been an explosion in economic regulation and uncompensated takings of various uses of private property. With the onset of the New Deal, government abandoned its function of securing property and began violating it in the interest of redistribution and "worthy goals." Today property rights are tenuous. They are gradually diminishing as government regulation increasingly dictates an owner’s use of property.

The New Dealers put their trust in government, not in the Founders’ Constitution.

Perhaps you’ll agree with me that the framers of said Constitution made a huge mistake when they changed "life, liberty, and property" to the vaguer, weaker, and highly frangible "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in composing our Declaration of Independence.

The current situation, a five-trillion-dollar crater in what was a fairly healthy economy, is a perfect pretense for liberal fascism—totalitarianism with a smiley face—to reassert itself. Social planners, like all ambitious understudies, are always waiting just offstage for their chance.  

We have nothing to fear but the eagerness of governments to fix what their previous intrusions broke in the first place.

One nagging question still remains: Was the Great Depression deliberately engineered for political ends, and could the current crisis have been precipitated for the same reason—or did all this "just happen"? How you answer that will probably depend on how much trust you repose in your fellow man.


America’s Hobson’s Choice

Is choosing the lesser of two evils a good idea when it comes to the presidential election? A man who lost his son on 9/11 when the Twin Towers collapsed doesn’t think so:


The major political parties again have failed us. They have thrown up two presidential candidates unfit for the office.


Concerning the Democrat Party’s selection:

In saner times, every fact of this man’s political life would by itself be sufficient to render him unfit for any responsible position.

So what about the Republicans’ choice?  Surely he is the better candidate because he

claims America can rely on him to ensure national security. This is a lie. McCain’s record shows that he willingly increased America’s vulnerability to future 9/11s because he placed a higher priority on protecting illegal aliens. And to gain this perceived political advantage, he actually used the September 11 terrorist attacks as cover.

According to this author, when offering legislation that ostensibly would make America safer from the terrorists, the senator from Arizona weasel-worded his proposal in such a way as to nullify its intent:


Can it be that the Republicans, John McCain chief among them, still entertain the dubious notion (truly an instance of unrequited love) that by giving 12 to 20 million illegal aliens amnesty they can overcome the erosion of their conservative base and deliver 12 to 20 million freshly-minted Republicans to the voting booths?



The Obama-Darwin Connection

Among the elite intelligentsia, who do you think is more likely to vote for the Democrat candidate and against his opposition? An author puts forth the thesis (scroll down to the headline, "Darwinists Root for Obama: 09/28/2008") that the ones most likely to benefit by electing the senator from Illinois would be

scientists who are largely supported by grants, and thus . . . stand to profit directly from the level of funding a President supports.

Since the preponderance of such scientists believe in Darwinian evolution as Holy Writ and insist that it be taught that way to all chi
ldren educated in schools financed by taxpayer dollars, it should be obvious that among these scientists a bias automatically exists against any candidate who would gainsay their philosophy.

As a result, whenever these scientists deliver political pronouncements in writing to the public,

[t]heir views tend to be overtly pro-liberal, pro-Democrat, anti-conservative, and anti-Republican. It’s noteworthy that they do not hesitate to apply the label ‘far right’ to Republicans, but never apply the opposite phrase ‘far left’ to Democrats."

Of course, people have a right to their opinions, but when those people are dependent on taxpayers’ money and their claims are conducive to continuing and increasing the flow of that money, a healthy dose of skepticism is in order. And when the intention and effect of their proposed policies is to shut down investigation into and legitimate debate of scientific theories, they are not acting as scientists at all, but instead as thugs—and should be treated as such.

Thus the article concludes:

We hope several things are evident from this story: the lack of objectivity among scientific institutions; their far-leftist leanings (they adore Obama, who is the most liberal member of the Senate); their obstinate refusal to distinguish between intelligent design and creationism despite years of clarification by ID advocates; their illogical conflation of scientific literacy with acceptance of Darwinism; their identification of Darwinism and atheism with their political persuasion; their ability to lie with impunity in print about what ID leaders advocate in education; and the level of vitriol they can display toward religion. They might barely tolerate a theistic evolutionist who prostrates himself before the Shrine of Darwin, but will explode in wrath against any member of the meaningless class labeled ‘People of Faith’ who dares to suggest that a Designer (no matter how vaguely characterized) might interact with the world in any way."

For a taste of just how brutally coercive these people can be, the article includes an interesting side trip to President Lyndon Johnson’s supremely un-American "gag order" issued against pastors in their pulpits.