New Deal Denialists and Blogroll Amnesty Day

Eric Rauchway has an incisive response to the Wall Street Journal‘s latest instance of the revisionist meme circulating on the right claiming that FDR’s New Deal “prolonged the Depression.”

Before I get to that, though, I’m going to switch gears for a moment and talk about Blogroll Amnesty Day. B.A.D. is the day that we smaller bloggers celebrate and recognize each other by reciprocally linking to and blogrolling each other — because if we don’t, nobody else will.

Eric Rauchway is a contributor at The Edge of the American West, a fine blog that does not get as much attention as it should. TEAW is written by a group of nine academics whose expertise ranges from English to history to computer science. From a bunch like that, you know you’re going to get both lucid, lively writing and professional chops.

For more information on what Blogroll Amnesty Day is all about (thanks, Jon!), check out these links:

Now, let’s get back to elegant take-downs of New Deal denialists:

Ronald Reagan liked to see himself in the parable of an optimistic boy who, facing a room full of manure, happily set to digging: “With this much manure around, I know there’s a pony in here someplace.”

But today we need a different parable. In this one a boy discovers a well-kept stable with a pony in it, contentedly munching hay. It’s a fine pony, though maybe in need of some brushing. There’s probably also a horse-pat in the bottom of the stall, because hey, it’s a pony. The boy fixates on these aesthetic drawbacks, and begins to complain loudly about them. A friend comes along, gives the pony a brush, grabs a shovel and removes the horse-pat and says, “there you go, son, your pony’s in fine shape.” Incensed that his complaints have been rendered irrelevant, the boy does not choose to enjoy the pony, but instead orders a cartload of manure from the local store and starts shoveling it into the stall, to vindicate his initial criticism. Left unchecked, the boy is not only going to foul the stall, but also to bury the pony.

In the behavior of this boy we see the modern New Deal denialist. The New Deal wasn’t perfect, it’s true, but noting that it takes occasional maintenance and correction isn’t enough for the denialists, they have to bury it in horse manure. And no sooner do their kindly friends clear one load of these misconceptions away than they order up another load and start shoveling it into that poor pony’s stall. Clear away the misconceptions and you find that under the New Deal, GDP was up, unemployment was down, productivity was up. Which, to reiterate, doesn’t mean the New Deal was anything like perfect; it wasn’t. But still, a pony is better than no pony, right?

If someone then comes along and says to you, yes, GDP was up and unemployment was down and productivity was up and the New Deal did lots of good and important things like Social Security and yanking the South out of poverty and bringing transparency to the securities market and saving the banks, “But the facts do not support the perception that FDR’s policies shortened the Depression…. Total hours worked per adult, including government employees, were 18% below their 1929 level between 1930-32, but were 23% lower on average during the New Deal (1933-39)”—well, you should be suspicious. Do you ordinarily judge a recovery by increase of hours worked? When was the last time you heard an economist on the news explaining to a business reporter, “Well, Tallulah Mae, perhaps we’re back to work and our productivity is up and our national wealth is up but we haven’t recovered because we’re not working the same number of hours we used to”?

Read on.

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3 Comments on “New Deal Denialists and Blogroll Amnesty Day”

  1. […] LadenPushing RopeBadtux the Snarky PenguinMikeb302000Pajama PunditMedia BloodhoundSome of NothingLiberty StreetFomaTin, Steel and RustCrooks & LiarsOnyx LynxDiary of a HereticSouthern Fried […]

  2. […] Pushing Rope Badtux the Snarky Penguin Mikeb302000 Pajama Pundit Media Bloodhound Some of Nothing Liberty Street Foma Tin, Steel and Rust Crooks & Liars Onyx Lynx Diary of a Heretic Southern Fried Science […]

  3. […] Pushing Rope Badtux the Snarky Penguin Mikeb302000 Pajama Pundit Media Bloodhound Some of Nothing Liberty Street Foma Tin, Steel and Rust Crooks & Liars Onyx Lynx Diary of a Heretic Southern Fried Science […]

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