Lessons From 1934 Revisited

New jobless numbers are out. Unemployment in America has risen to 9.5 percent, after repeated promises from the president and the White House that eight percent would be the top end, that the stimulus package and the shovel-ready projects it funded would boost the economy and provide millions of new jobs. It hasn’t.

The president is falling further and further short of the “millions of jobs saved or created” rhetoric he forced down Americans’ throats, and today he will take to the TelePrompTer for a speech on the issue. Undoubtedly, he’ll blame the Bush administration–”the economic situation we inherited was obviously worse than we originally thought”–and hold himself up as the Savior who, despite best efforts, just couldn’t do enough–”imagine how bad the jobs picture would look if we hadn’t passed the stimulus package”–just as I had predicted back in January and February.

I’m taking this opportunity to re-run one of my favorite pieces here at America’s Right. It first appeared back in April, but I want people who haven’t read it to read it for the first time – and I want people who did read it to read it again and consider again, in the wake of everything going on, the implications of it all.

Lessons From 1934
AMERICA’S RIGHT — April 11, 2009


And that’s what the power-drunk “young pinkies from Harvard and Columbia” are doing in this political cartoon, originally published in the Chicago Tribune on April 21, 1934. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Ten months before that, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation which would artificially inflate prices and wages. It was fear of decreasing prices and wages, blame for which was placed squarely on the shoulders of capitalism and the free market, which facilitated Roosevelt’s New Deal policies which, according to UCLA Econonics Department Vice Chair Lee Ohanian, “short-circuited the market’s self-correcting forces.”

In other words, said Ohanian and University of Pennsylvania economist Harold Cole, Roosevelt’s leadership at a time of economic crisis actually may have extended the Great Depression by seven years, an assessment which has since been clouded by the left’s revisionist history.

“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian back in August 2004. “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.”

The legislation signed by FDR in June of 1933, just ten months before the Chicago Tribune cartoon was run, was called the National Industrial Recovery Act. Fast-forward to 2009 and we have the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — essentially the same name, save for the word “industrial,” likely missing because it brings up the blood pressure of the global socialists masquerading as environmentalists on the left. Since Obama’s own ill-conceived stimulus policy was signed into law, we’ve seen the young pinkos in today’s federal government almost use the “Plan of Action for U.S.” in that Chicago Tribune cartoon as a checklist.

Spend! Spend! Spend! Despite decrying the $1.2 trillion deficit inherited from the similarly free market-averse Bush administration, President Obama and his Democrats spent at a rate of approximately $1 billion per hour for every hour of his first 50 days in office. At first, it was $787 for a so-called stimulus package. Then, it was $410 billion for an appropriations bill. Somewhere after that, I lost count; last I checked, we’re hovering at about $2.5 trillion, and that’s not even including the budget.

Bust the Government! It’s a record budget this year, right in there at about $3.65 trillion, accounting for a yearly $1.75 trillion budget deficit. Some are estimating that Barack Obama will add to the national debt more than has been added by every president from George Washington to George W. Bush . . . combined.

Blame the Capitalists for the Failure! My goodness, where to even begin? We’ve seen protesters load into chartered buses so as to protest in front of houses owned by AIG executives, and heard about how those same executives and their families have received death threats. We watched as the Obama administration instituted salary caps for executives whose companies accept federal bailout funds, and shook our heads as Barney Frank lobbied to extend those salary caps to all employees of such companies. And the list goes on and on.

Junk the Constitution and Declare a Dictatorship! Well, the dictatorship has not necessarily been declared yet, but we’ve certainly turned a blind eye to our Constitution. Among other examples of blatant disregard: Congress violated Article 1, Section 9 by passing ex post facto legislation which would apply a 90 percent punitive tax on executive bonuses such as those previously provided for specifically by Congress to AIG executives. And, of course, there’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner lobbying for unprecedented power and control over private organizations, allowing the federal government to buy and sell assets, a clear violation of the Takings Clause. At this point, hang up your fake parchment reproduction of our Constitution, close your eyes, and throw a dart — you’re likely to hit a clause or provision which has been, or will be, brushed aside by our president and his administration.

History, we’re seeing, is repeating itself.

“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, the Penn economist, said in 2004. “Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

Today’s Capitol Hill is the very definition of government intervention, which oddly enough even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned us about at the World Economic Forum in January.

“Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake,” Putin said. “True, the state’s increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.”

Greatest possible extent? A fortnight ago, the president of the United States essentially constructively terminated a private sector CEO, General Motors’ Rick Wagoner. I’d say our government is intervening a little bit.

Unfortunately, this administration and the Democrats currently holding power in our nation’s capital are ensuring that each and every American man, woman and child bear the consequences and burdens of leadership unable to learn the lessons from history which should have been learned long ago. This Chicago Tribune cartoon, in plain black-and-white, should make that fact painfully obvious. Spread the word.

(NOTE: Economists Cole and Ohanian also penned a more recent op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal. It can be found by clicking HERE. Many thanks to a reader who e-mailed me with the information — I had read their previous reports, but didn’t notice the WSJ piece back in February. Thank you.)

As similar as everything may be, simply looking to learn the lessons of our past without adjusting what needs to be learned by looking at the current political climate simply will not be enough. After re-reading it myself, after considering again all of the similarities in language and in circumstance, I see one very distinct, endlessly important difference:

FDR, in 1934, looked at the expansion of government as a way to recover from economic crisis; Obama, in 2009, looks at the economic crisis as a way to justify the expansion of government.

Do not think, even for a moment, that this administration’s actions since taking office in January have not been intentional. Higher unemployment increases the palatability of Barack Obama’s public healthcare option, and tighter and tighter belts at the kitchen table level increases America’s dependence on government. The liberal agenda which has been carefully crafted by the Democrat Party over the past four decades simply cannot thrive in an era of prosperity. That’s why they push cap-and-trade. That’s why they force relaxed lending standards in the name of “social engineering.” That’s why they send good taxpayer money after bad banks. That’s why they carjack our automotive industry, point the hood ornament toward the nearest tree, set the cruise control, and wait to be there to pick up the pieces afterward.

Now that the Democrats have the votes to push just about any measure through Congress, regardless of how contraconstitutional or absent common sense, the GOP is being handed a political opportunity on a silver platter. Fight everything as best we can, try our best to turn the Blue Dog Democrats or any on the left with even the slightest concern about the governmental power grab currently on the way — but, at the end of the day, we must come together and be that obstructionist party of “no.”

No matter how much grief the Republicans are given by the Democrats and the mainstream press, they must continue to just say “no.” Propose alternatives, but just say “no.” Be constructive obstructionists, if there is such a thing. Face it — the Democrats are going to do what they’re going to do regardless and, this way, we can ensure that they take full ownership of it all, and that their actions absolutely bury that party for years and years to come.

Saying “no” in 1934 could have ended the Great Depression seven years earlier. Saying “no” in 2009, knowing full well the ulterior motives of the party currently in power, may hurt for a little while, but could very well save the United States of America in the long run.

It’s going to hurt, but let’s give the Democrats just enough rope to hang themselves. Let’s allow them to dig their own grave and fall in.

Just make sure we’re there with a shovel when they’ve reached the bottom.




    Goes to Obama and his rappers throwing OUR money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You cannot have a healthy economy if you base it on debt. Economist Keynes is a traitor.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just say NO! Where's Nancy Reagan when we need her!

  4. Celia in TX says:

    I haven't even read this yet…just commenting on the picture.

    The finger in the ear is a "tell".

    Anybody else notice that?

  5. Dee says:

    I'm not sure that many of his voters will understand what he is doing. He said he would not raise taxes on those making under $250,000. He is now considering doing so. His followers will believe that he is not raising taxes on them because he does not say that this proposal or that one is an increase in your taxes. They will not see the hidden taxes as prices on goods and utilities go up. They will blame the companies but not BO. Those increased costs to all of us will be perceived by his followers as just that, increased costs, not as a way to increase taxes or to provide more money for BO. I'm not sure what it will take for them to wake up. I agree that the Republicans need to offer constructive alternatives and yet oppose this madness. Thank you, Jeff, and all those who comment.

  6. Rix says:

    How many times do I have to repeat it for the message to sink in? Many – in fact, most – of Obamabot supporters will *not* be disappointed or disillusioned any soon because what Obama is doing is in full sync with their hearts and pockets. Union members, urban trash, illegals and their ilk, city elites, tenure educators, angry Negros – none of these are going anywhere or changing their mindset any soon. These population sectors alone can deliver most coastal and Northern states in the general elections – add crisis ravaged battleground states like Georgia or Pennsylvania where half the adult population will be eating from governmental hand in a year or two, add fraud-ridden Iowa and Minnesota, add Michigan and Illinois that are (or will soon be) under full mob control, and you've got yourself a no-problem Presidency for as long as your heart desires. So if you placing your hopes in 2012 basket, consider it a wake-up call.

  7. I SWEAR says:

    Why don't Secret Service swear oath to The Constitution? anybody know the answer to that?

  8. Anonymous says:

    American voted for a "One-Eyed-Jack". Now they'll get to see the other side of his face!!

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