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FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression
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※Admirers of FDR credit his New Deal with restoring the American economy after the disastrous contraction of 1929〞33. Truth to tell每as Powell demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt每the New Deal hampered recovery from the contraction, prolonged and added to unemployment, and set the stage for ever more intrusive and costly government. Powell*s analysis is thoroughly documented, relying on an impressive variety of popular and academic literature both contemporary and historical.§
Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate, Hoover Institution

※There is a critical and often forgotten difference between disaster and tragedy. Disasters happen to us all, no matter what we do. Tragedies are brought upon ourselves by hubris. The Depression of the 1930s would have been a brief disaster if it hadn*t been for the national tragedy of the New Deal. Jim Powell has proven this.§
P.J. O*Rourke, author of Parliament of Whores and Eat the Rich

※The material laid out in this book desperately needs to be available to a much wider audience than the ranks of professional economists and economic historians, if policy confusion similar to the New Deal is to be avoided in the future.§
James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate, George Mason University

※I found Jim Powell*s book fascinating. I think he has written an important story, one that definitely needs telling.§
Thomas Fleming, author of The New Dealers* War

※Jim Powell is one tough-minded historian, willing to let the chips fall where they may. That*s a rare quality these days, hence more valuable than ever. He lets the history do the talking.§
每David Landes, Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University

※Jim Powell draws together voluminous economic research on the effects of all of Roosevelt*s major policies. Along the way, Powell gives fascinating thumbnail sketches of the major players. The result is a devastating indictment, compellingly told. Those who think that government intervention helped get the U.S. economy out of the depression should read this book.§
David R. Henderson, editor of The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics and author of The Joy of Freedom


The Great Depression and the New Deal. For generations, the collective American consciousness has believed that the former ruined the country and the latter saved it. Endless praise has been heaped upon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for masterfully reining in the Depression*s destructive effects and propping up the
country on his New Deal platform. In fact, FDR has achieved mythical status in American history and is considered to be, along with Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents of all time. But would the Great Depression have been so catastrophic had the New Deal never been implemented?

In FDR*s Folly, historian Jim Powell argues that it was in fact the New Deal itself, with its shortsighted programs, that deepened the Great Depression, swelled the federal government, and prevented the country from turning around quickly. You*ll discover in alarming detail how FDR*s federal programs hurt America more than helped it, with effects we still feel today, including:

??How Social Security actually increased unemployment
? How higher taxes undermined good businesses
? How new labor laws threw people out of work
? And much more

This groundbreaking book pulls back the shroud of awe and the cloak of time enveloping FDR to prove convincingly how flawed his economic policies actually were, despite his good intentions and the astounding intellect of his circle of advisers. In today*s turbulent domestic and global environment, eerily similar to that of the 1930s, it*s more important than ever before to uncover and understand the truth of our history, lest we be doomed to repeat it.


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • It's easy to be a critical with a full stomach
    Hindsight is always 20/20. People critical of the New Deal
    have no idea of the fear and hopelessness that the average
    American was facing in the 1930s. The New Deal/Roosevelt
    were not without flaws, but look at our modern response to
    war and natural disasters. Seventy years later people are still affected by the depression. This author of this book needs to loose his life savings and go hungry before being critical of
    the New Dealers.
    ...more info
  • UTTER NONSENSE
    Anyone who takes this book seriously has obviously not read any other books about FDR. It could be called "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" because Powell introduces a kernal of truth, then goes off the deep end trying and failing to mark FDR as a menace. Powell is an ideological, silly writer trying to create the illusion of scholarship. It would take another book to expose the author's gaps of knowledge and odious leaps of faith. It must take an awful amount of hate to present such drivel as truth, but Powell summons the energy- all to smear the greatest president of the 20th century. A fool's errand! ...more info
  • The Raw Deal
    If recent event's hadn't made the New Deal such a deadly serious topic, I would have suggested that Jim Powell's book should have been titled "the FDR Follies." The book addresses the depressingly perverse effects of Roosevelt's policies with understated good humor. But with the current government doing its best to resurrect every wrong-headed appeal of the New Deal, one can only hope that people will give the most serious attention to the economic history of the Great Depression.

    FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression has been derided as revisionist history. It is not. In fact, Powell's generation grew up with no serious history of the Great Depression. We were presented only with the most callow hagiography of Roosevelt and his cronies.

    Powell's book is essentially free of invective and personal judgement. The book simply describes the planning, implementation, and outcomes of the major New Deal economic policies. It is left to the reader to conclude that FDR's administration was well-meaning, but tripped up by the same arrogant mindset that infected Roosevelt's European contemporaries. ...more info
  • Great discussion
    Briefly, a very good book about the history of the times and the actions taken... ...more info
  • FDR's Folly
    Content wise, FDR's Folly is much like reading today's newspaper. It points out the lack of economic wisdom during the New Deal. FDR was not the economic genuis described in the history books we all grew up with. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said of him: "He has a second rate mind, but a first rate temperment." He had no concise plan for ending the depression, and a deep resentment of the moneyed class.

    The titles could be more engaging. Everything starts with a question, which makes it come off more like an examination as opposed to an analysis of a critical era of American economics. All in all, it is a good companion to Amity Shales' "The Forgotten Man."...more info
  • trying to decide....
    I haven't actually read this book. I've just been reading the reviews trying to decide if I'd like to read it. It seems that most of those who rated the book highly gave very thoughtful reviews with a lot of examples to substantiate their viewpoints, while the majority of those who didn't like the book just wrote 2 or 3 sentences insulting the author's intelligence and calling him names. I have the impression that they haven't read the book at all and that they just want to discourage people from reading this book, and for that reason I am going to buy this book!...more info
  • Economic Orthodoxy verses Social Achievements
    FDR was the BEST U.S. PRESIDENT

    Powell is a misguided economist.
    "Too many of us have forgotten, or never learned, what kind of country America was under the conservative rule that preceded the century of liberal reform. And too many of us have no idea whose ideas and energy brought about the reforms we now take for granted." Joe Conason, Big Lies, p. 3

    A bias but excellently written book. While it exposes the many of the downfalls of a socialistic economy within a capitalistic framework, its one sided bias fails to address the social issues and for this I remain a left and socialistic thinker. This is because while many of Powell's arguments against the New Deal are valid, as in relief to swing states and anti-trust paranoia, the solutions to the economic problems at the very end of the book, I do not agree with. The book itself is a very convincing and I think adequately backed up with factual analysis, but it fails to balance between economic liberty and government regulatory provisions for the oppressed and the environment. Instead it advocates the old capitalism with a two-class oppressive system. It is important to understand both sides of this situation. To claim socialism is valueless trash is ignorant and to condemn all free market economy is equally ignorant.

    This book tells of the economics of FDR and the New Deal, of its attempt to reform economic liberty into government controlled equalitarian practices and its negative impact on free market capitalism. "Whenever there is dictatorial power over an economy, whenever economic liberty is denied, people are sure to be suffering agonies of the damned." p. 266

    What Powell convincingly employs is that of the policies of the FDR and the New Deal is its economic control, preventing the economy from recovery, and even further, in reforming the economy to inferior performance, with high taxes, tariffs (the Smoot-Hawley Tariff from Hoover), unfair anti-trust suits, mandatory union membership (allowing them to dictate and monopolize), all this crushing private investment, severely diminishing the benefits of a free market. It was here individual rights, private property and economic liberty were fiercely attacked.

    What Powell does not speak of, and this is just as important, is the extremity of the social ills that permeated the American culture prior the 1929 crash - its ills from it's inception up until the New Deal. And this is why it is important to have both sides of the story! Howard Zinn's Peoples History tells of the peoples struggles, the social side of this story from severe repression, that of the wealthy and the oppressed, and the tremendous economic and civil struggles of the working people and the poor, which only improved under years of revolutionary fights - this is where unions are crucially important. Powell misses this in his analysis, however this book is on economics more than anything else and it gives the other side of the story in the abuses of dictatorial government - of government monopoly and labor union monopoly, of the many regulations, taxes and law suits limiting competition, controlling acts that both caused the second crash of 1938 and it's subsequent constraint on economic growth for years to come.

    Here was a world of that in it's attempt to compensate for social ills of the poor and the crash, looked for someone to blame. And the elevated idea of the evils of big business dominated thinking. And while there was some truth to this, it was out of hand, unbalanced to the degree that simply being big meant a possible law suit and penalties. "It was a world in which actions designed to limit competition are branded as criminal when taken by businessmen, yet praised as "enlightened" when initiated by the government. It was a world in which the law is so vague that businessman have no way of knowing whether specific actions will be declared illegal until they hear the judge's verdict - after the fact." p. 261

    While I partially agree with Powell in suggesting Lazzaire-Faire treatment of decreasing government spending and allowing the economy to stabilize on it's own, it is with Powell solutions in no higher taxes for the rich (naturally), no wage control - no minimum wage, and illegality of protests and critical voices of the workers, is where I strongly disagree. Despite free market legal violations, it's the spirit of the law, the mathematically irrational part that values human lives. And these conditions, socially and in labor, and the hours spent, are of crucial importance. Here I remain a socialist, and with socialism, it only occurs when the people (the majority) support it, otherwise it ceases to be, when conditions speak out for themselves. It's just a shame the New Deal attempt at socialism was never socialism at all (true socialism is democracy), but was the same non-democratic monopolistic control of the entrepreneur now transferred to the government and unions, anotherwards a transference from business monopoly to government and union monopoly. True democracy are people's majority governments and unions, which was not the case. History shows what the United States was like socially in working conditions, in hours, wages and human treatment and in the abuses of the environment; a horrendous record prior to New Deal policies, as erroneous as they were for the economy.

    And so, my only criticism is this: the author of this book shows that he deeply and compassionately loves the free market society, but unfortunately he loves it more than he does the working people. Again, to be well informed, to attempt freedom from ignorance and see the larger picture, this book is outstanding when read with the other side of the story, as in Noam Chomsky in propaganda and foreign policy and Howard Zinn and the common people's voices of struggles in our society....more info
  • A heavy read, but well worth the effort
    (Note: I own and have READ all of this book) (...)
    Short review:
    A heavy read for us simple bears, written by an accomplished academic. It's bursting full of information, and very thought provoking. I like the lay out of the contents, where each of the 19 chapters asks a question, so you know what you are getting into. A must read for anybody willing to seriously set aside prejudices, and look at the underlying facts of FDR's often bizarre and haphazard "experimenting" with the US economy. I urgently need to go read an admiring book (any suggestions?) written by somebody who thinks FDR was a great president, because the more I read about him, I increasingly get the impression he was somewhat of an "economically uninformed klutz" and basically just a shrewd and manipulative bluffer. Who,behind the rhetoric and the "fireside chats" didn't give a hoot about anybody except (votes for) himself. Who only got saved by the distraction of the "crisis" (he provoked?)of Pearl Harbor and WW2. And whose policies and shadow haunt us to this day.
    (Sorry, apologies to FDR lovers; I have looked at the dissenters' comments, who absolutely hated this book, and I AM shopping around for some PRO-FDR books. Let's check out the opposition's story...) (Bernanke's essays?)

    Long review:
    I put the book down a few times, and read other stuff. I went back to it again, and eventually finished it. That tells you either that I'm a dimwit who struggles with words with more than two syllables, or that it's just highly concentrated, heavy-heavy-heavy, with constant new names, dates and places, and lots of leafing back and forwards to follow the plot. Well worth it though. Some quotes for you, to get a taste of the goodies:
    (page 57) "A major effect of deposit insurance was to transfer the cost of bank failures from depositors to taxpayers. The full consequences of federal deposit insurance didn't become apparent until the 1980's, when bailing out savings and loan associations cost $519 billion."
    (Page 71) "FDR imagined he could fix the world gold price from his bedroom"
    (page 75) "From the very beginning of his administration, FDR attacked investors and employers". This theme shows up clearly throughout the whole book.
    (page 75) "The business community... was pitifully inept when FDR launched his moral crusade against free markets." FDR certainly interfered with the free markets, but he did so haphazardly, and seemingly on an ad-hoc,improvised, "Hey! Let's try THIS idea" experimental basis. The man, if nothing else, was remarkably high handed and conceited, it seems to me.
    (page 77) "Like FDR, Mussolini believed that individualism was old fashioned, an obstacle to progress."
    (page 79) "Confiscation of wealth may satisfy the vengeful in us. It may sooth a retaliatory spirit. But it is the path of national suicide.... There must always be the reward motive."
    (page 82) "...FDR delivered a speech that again demonized investors and employers. He employed one attack after another..."
    (page 86) "...in a November 1941 Fortune poll, 93 per cent of employers said they expected their property rights to be undermined and also anticipated the possibility of dictatorship". One wonders how much FDR maybe admired Stalin and Mussolini?
    (page 87) "FDR tax adviser Randolph E.Paul had acknowledged much worse, that FDR's tax policies "intensified the depression they were working to correct". Shades of... January 2009?
    (page 93) "Invariably, politics influenced the way PWA money was spent."
    (page 185) "Experience everywhere indicates that politicians will hardly be able to keep their hands off such easy money".
    There truly is a staggering amount of information in this book. The pace is relentless. What amazes me is that so much of the content is -intensely- relevant to the big debate going on right now, January 2009, in the incoming Obama administration. Some of his devotees come out with policy statements, and express "Big Government" "Federal" attitudes, that have an eerie similarity to some of the content of this book. If you read this book, here are only a few of the issues for you to assess, and take a view on:
    1) that the debate issues raised in "FDR's Folly" are as topical today as ever. Supremely relevant.
    2) Too many politicians, who delight in the sound of their own voices on national television, never read History or Economics, and never seem to learn from past US policy mistakes. They rarely seem to refer to History. And when they do, they come out with either vague generalizations, or really sweeping statements ("We need a NEW New Deal"), which make this bumpkin nervous. The implication seems to be that everything about the New Deal was GOOD. And that everybody AGREES. Right? Duh...
    3) It's serious; are we once again going to see a US President and his "experts" prolong this depression by trying the SAME past failed remedies? Surely not. Mr Obama, please, you are way smarter than that, right?
    4) And this is just my impression: Isn't it amazing how FDR had all sorts of people cheering wildly for him, when in fact there is so much evidence in this book and others that he basically...err... shafted them? That's a neat trick: get people to vote for you, and love you, whilst you cynically... spend that public money where it will get you the most votes? I know that doesn't sound kind, but DO read the book.
    There's maybe more -much more- to FDR than many worshipful devotees would have us believe.
    Just one of many examples in this book: so much money went to the richest states, because they were seen by FDR as 'swing votes'. The poorer states, which were already loyal to him, got a fraction of the funds. Seeing as we are dealing here with empirical evidence, (cold facts) I don't see how FDR lovers can explain that one away, but I'm more than willing to listen, ya hear?
    5) FDR had complete contempt for the black race. That comes out with his treatment of the black tenant farmers, and above all his refusal to back an anti-lynching law. That amazes me. That alone paints a somber picture of the man who many revere as one of the greatest US presidents. Where was his "compassion" there? It seems FDR's colleagues were trying to prod him into action. From what I can see, he just thought it was funny. That is backed up by some contemporary private diary entries... Hard to avoid the conclusion that deserving black people, anxious to enter mainstream America, were treated with a cynical disregard. Simply... horrible. I will be reviewing some of those diaries in due course.

    Good book. I shall be using it a lot as reference material. Now to look at what the "other side" says about it all. We MUST always keep challenging our own beliefs. Heck, maybe FDR WAS a great president. I just don't quite see HOW yet, but maybe somebody who is wise and patient will help this bumpkin into the New Deal light...
    Peace. Enjoy the read.
    PS: Please 'comment' constructively if you feel I am missing the point somewhere, or if you feel you can point me to further useful reading material to broaden my understanding of this time period, or to correct flawed reasoning - thanks......more info
  • It's about time...
    For years, I have been seeing that our current economic and societal issues stem directly from the poor decisions made during the enactment of FDR's New Deal. However, finding an intelligent, informed and well-researched study on the subject was not easy.

    I purchased this as an audio download, and am thrilled at the information contained in the book. I will certainly be listening to the recording several times in the future, since it is difficult to catch everything on the first hearing. But overall, I felt it was an excellent book, and one that I will share with others....more info
  • A challenge to the deification of FDR
    "FDR's Folly" is essentially a conservative's talking point guide to refuting any alleged "success" of FDR's New Deal policies of the Great Depression. The structure Powell uses to direct the reader along its points was very effective--each chapter title is a question that is then answered in the body of the text.

    This is a relatively short book, but contains an enormous amount of statistics and factoids. While I agree in principle that many of the issues raised by the author, I hesitate in a full 5-star rating due to the extreme anti-FDR/Liberal slant. By this I mean that the author finds essentially no 'positives' from any of what was done. Although in the aggregate the New Deal policies were not efficient in allowing the free market to adjust to the economic downturn of the Depression, I think the author should've acknowledged some of the positives that have come out of that era to add some balance to his arguments. Overall, however, it is a very informative read that I still recommend to anyone wishing to understand the mechanics of the New Deal in greater detail....more info
  • If the New Deal is liberal and socialist,...
    then how does Powell explain the Economy Act of 1933, which reduced federal employees'(including Congress) salaries by $100 million and veterans' pensions by $400 million? The Roosevelt Administration actually CUT federal spending and reduced the bureaucracy!

    What about repealing Prohibition to bring in additional revenue?

    What about Roosevelt resisting efforts by Southern and Western agrarian Senators to devalue the money supply and enact the free coinage of silver?

    What about the Revenue Bill of 1938, which repealed an onerous undistributed-profits tax?

    Much of the New Deal aided business. The Emergency Banking Act restricted unsound banking practices, just as the Securities Exchange Act did for the securities market. The Home Owners Loan Act bailed out the lender as well as the loan recipient.

    It's funny how modern conservatives forget that FDR faced opposition from the left as well as the right. Evidently Mr. Powell is not familiar with Huey Long (he of the "Share Our Wealth" clubs).

    When pseudo-academics like Powell apply terms like "liberal" and "conservative" to past events and people without providing some sort of historical context, the result is a distortion like FDR's Folly.

    And why lay all the blame at FDR's feet? Congress authored and enacted much of the so-called New Deal legislation attributed to Roosevelt.

    This is bad history. I never trust an author who reveals his agenda so transparently, whether it is excessively harsh or excessively fawning.

    ...more info
  • Every American should read this book.
    Generations have been fed so much cookie-cutter history and brainwashed by so much myth that we've come to gloss over what's on the surface. If the country was in such economic straits where did the New Deal get the money to pay all those people? It's never explained. And if FDR was so committed to the American people why would he choose to ally with Joseph Stalin, one of the most disgusting dictators in the world? And allow him to get us involved in several years of war?
    This book pulls together the missing pieces of the puzzle. The plain fact is that FDR defied the Constitution by getting government involved in the country's economy and meddling in the political affairs of other countries. As Mr. Powell proves, FDR was an economic delinquent and obsessed with his own power.
    Despite what you may hear some ever-so-grateful senior citizens say, you need to read this book and learn about what you are not supposed to know....more info
  • Reactionary claptrap
    Powell's analysis takes place in an economic vacuum, where all Americans had to do was wait out the four years of economic collapse, and the roaring twenties would have reappeared. The simple truth is that Roosevelt and the New Deal saved capitalism (that out to set off some of you, I'm sure). By 1933, capitalism had fallen into disrepute; only by regulating its excesses, and providing a safety net for its victims, is a part of it in existence today....more info
  • Excellent for the target audience
    There is some truth to the reviewers' assertions that there isn't much new information in this book. The more important issue, though, is whether the existing information -- well presented by Powell -- is known by the public. The answer is a resounding no, and this book is a good corrective for a general audience. Unlike Milton Friedman's or John Flynn's books, this one is likely to find some audience in a land where "new" is a powerful word. Jim Powell is a capable writer, and he knows his stuff. This a book you can comfortably give to a friend who might read a history book, but isn't a hard core politico. It is unreasonable for highly informed political junkies to knock it because it doesn't suit them. They aren't the target audience. It deserves to be recommended and read. Somebody should send copies to Arthur Schlessinger, jr. and virtually all current historians. Everything in the book will be news to them. Don't overestimate how little most people know, especially if they have tenure....more info
  • Seems skewed: Calls Recession of 1937 the Depression of 1938
    FDR's Folly is an interesting read but lacks a cohesive story that proves the negatives of the New Deal. I found that the biggest conceptual hole was the assumption that the Fed could have prevented the Great Depression. Some of the scholars he quotes out of context as supporting this view either never did or currently do not think the Fed could have prevented the Great Depression. Current aggressive Fed actions have been unable to prevent the Crisis of 2008 which is felt to be definitive proof that Fed actions by themselves cannot stop the effects of asset deflation. Without this assumption Powell's argument loses most of its traction.

    The biggest question I had of the facts in the book is why the Recession of 1937(or FDR's recession as it was called at the time by opposition politicians) was rename the Depression of 1938. The official NBER dates for this recession are May of 1937 to June of 1938. I couldn't find why this was moved to 1938 or any part of his argument on why he wanted to do this.

    Overall this is an interesting book that gives useful background material on the Great Depression but its conclusions are of limited validity in light of current events....more info
  • Long overdue economic analysis
    While FDR was a strong negotiator and foreign policy savvy (I don't buy the conspiracy theory that he knew about the Pearl Harbor attacks) his economic policies weren't the huge success touted to be...more info
  • Good Read
    This book is worth a look for anyone who is interested in economics. It proves that humans are not perfect and therefore we should follow the constitution closer to prevent economic failure in the future. If we do not realize that power of federalist can cause problems, then we are willing to cause the whole nation to sink under a few political ideas. ...more info
  • In line with NeoConsevative propaganda on FDR
    Amity Schlaes, Powell and others have only one goal in pushing their thesis trying to distort the facts about the New Deal. The government is bad...period! Regulations shouldn't exist if it'll help ordinary people. In the vein of Grover Norquist, the want the power of government to be reduced to nothing else than being a conduit for the powerful.

    They must be very well financed to have so much time on their hands just to try to falsify the historical record.

    Cui bono?...more info
  • History from another viewpoint
    I thought this book hit the nail on the head. It takes the government to task for it's involvement in the creation and worsening of the Great Depression. For those who are still not convinced, you must also read "A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II" by Murray Rothbard. It fills in the history up to where this book pics up. If you are truly interested in an alternative view and are open-minded, this book is a must read....more info
  • One Sided Argument
    New Deal Keysian economics revealed that governmental pumping of money into the economy, raising taxes to form relief programs which were slanted politically, inflating the economy and raising and lowering interest rates, ended in not socialistic economics at all, but rather a transference from one monopoly to another - an entrepreneurial monopoly to government and union monopolies. Democracy - democratic-socialistic economics (democracies and democratic unions) are when the popular consent of the majority as s whole determines the ebb, tide and flow. Elected representatives are not the decision makers for everyone else.

    Lazzaire Faire treatment of the economy - free market non-Statism-"live and let live', maintain an autocratic society and was the precursor to the New Deal. While Lazzaire Faire economics may temporarily solve the flow of unemployment and cure it's surplus capital, (which in reality it does not - that's why there's imperialism) it both creates and maintains a severe unbalance of a two class system. One a wealthy controlling minority, the other a poor majority of the working class, working under deplorable conditions from competition between employers - 16 hour days, poverty level wages, abusive child labor and environmental callousness. If Lazzaire Faire economics of nonintervention were working, even if unitary bank laws did not restrict banks of diversifying and in both lending and investment, the New Deal would still be in need of an attempt to address the worldwide growing discontent of free market economics under capitalism and it's horrendous human abuses. So even if FDR was dictatorial and used economically unsound Keysian spending approaches which were failures, what Powell totally ignores is what the New Deal accomplished: stopping child labor, raising the minimum wage, lowering working hours, aiding farmers - as bias and partisan as it they were.

    Jim Powell relates how an earlier economic depression occurred before the 1929 crash in the panic of 1837 and how President Van Buren applied Lazzaire Faire treatment of non-intervention, restoring the economy in four years, (page 268), but what he does not mention is how deplorable and miserable it was the working and social living conditions were under these economic values employed by the American system. The status quo of economic non-intervention does not change abusive conditions and does not consider the need of the proletariat resistance - the majority....more info
  • MOM & DAD WERE RIGHT
    When I was in high school I told my parents that we were being taught that Franklin Roosevelt rescued this country from the depression. They scoffed and said World War II was what got this country out of the depression, not Roosevelt. Although Jim Powell seems to concur with my parents he also believes it did not have to be that way.

    Several years ago I attempted to read a book about Herbert Hoover and how his efforts to ease the pain and suffering from a recession in 1929 actually resulted in the depression. The book was written by some economist in the late 50s or early 60s and, for a non-economist, was virtually unreadable. It was around 5 - 600 pages and I struggled through the first 100 pages before tossing the book. But the gist of his argument was that prior to Hoover the nation went through a recession maybe once every ten years. Although unpleasant the market forces eventually worked itself out and the recession would end. Contrary to popular belief, Hoover was not a passive president and when things started to slip in 1929 and 1930 his administration became very proactive to the point that his policies actually did far more harm than good. Franklin Roosevelt actually inherited and adopted many of his predecessor's policies and that kept the depression going until a little adventure called World War 2 happened and the US build up in preparation actually revived the economy.

    Unlike the book about Hoover, though, Powell's book was readable and easy to understand. He explains the bank failures and the Roosevelt administration's gold policy, how his policies increased inflation and taxes that took money out of circulation that may have been used to rebuild economy and increase employment. Powell blames Roosevelt's union policies as undermining industry and even minorities. Roosevelt's various new programs that were supposed to help the people actually hurt them and extended the depression. His distribution of benefits, according to Powell, were based largely on politics. The south, for all its poverty, did not receive a fair proportion of benefits as Roosevelt knew that region was safely Democratic but other regions not as safe did receive greater benefits.

    Powell's arguments are undoubtably conservative and goes against the mainstream liberal mantra about how great the New Deal was and how the Democratic Party is dedicated to bringing back this utopian dream. But his arguments are sound -- at least to the lay person -- and he does not fall into the rantings of a conservative zealot that I have had the displeasure of reading from time to time....more info
  • Some historians are finally starting to tell the truth
    If one has a suicide wish, then perhaps going to Mecca and publicly defaming Allah or Mohammed would fulfill it. Or maybe walking into a fundamentalist church and debunking Jesus would do the trick. Probably the surest method, however, would be to attend a conference of American liberals and criticize Franklin Roosevelt. FDR is the liberal "God," that's all there is to it. Everyone has to believe in something, and someone, and since liberalism, on the whole, has, since the late 19th century, rejected traditional religious beliefs, the state has become the vehicle of utopia--the liberal "god." And, of course, FDR represents that more than anyone else on this earth.

    Thus, when writers, such as Jim Powell, point out the incredible flaws and failures of the New Deal, liberals go absolutely catatonic. But the evidence is there. FDR knew virtually nothing worthwhile about economics or how a market economy works, and as Powell demonstrates--TOO briefly, actually--the New Deal policies, by overburdening business and capital--extended the Great Depression far longer than necessary. But "utopia" had to be created, and it had to be created, through the state, by secular intellectuals. If anybody believes we are living in that "utopia" today--a "utopia" created largely by FDR and LBJ, with a nod to the earlier "progressives" (along with Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton)--then they aren't living in the same world I'm in. Legally stealing people's property through excessive taxation to support a do-nothing welfare class--or worse, to support the richest group of Americans, the elderly--is not exactly fair, just, or utopian. I'm tired of shelling out my hard-earned money to support people who have no right to it. Thank you, FDR (and LBJ, "progressives," Lincoln, etc.).

    Powell is weak on the causes of the Great Depression; if that is what you are looking for, don't go here. But, that's not the purpose of his book. He has ample information proving that FDR had absolutely no clue about economics (like Roosevelt sitting in bed arbitrarily determining each day the price of gold; how incredibly idiotic), and thus, his policies extended the Depression far longer than necessary. It's only a common sense that no liberal has ever displayed--if you increase the price of doing business through taxes, minimum wage laws, regulation, labor legislation, Social Security, you're only going to hamper a capital-based business recovery. But, again, a state-based utopia had to be created, and "planning" was the watchword of the era. It didn't get us out of the Great Depression and it hasn't created heaven on earth to this day.

    Incidentally, can anybody tell me what people did for thousands of years before Social Security?

    And one more thing, folks--World War II did not end the Depression. Ask any commoner living in that age who had to ration many items to support the "war effort." Yes, the dollar value of production reached 1929 levels by 1941 (and not before). But is producing things to kill people really ending a Depression? And many, many consumer goods were simply not available until after the war. Once the war ended, and Americans had long-term, decent jobs based upon the production of consumer goods, did the Depression actually end.

    So, thank you, Jim Powell, for helping debunk some myths. More and more historians are beginning to demonstrate that, while Franklin Roosevelt was an absolutely brilliant politician, he was an absolutely horrible president, policy-wise. Ask the hundreds of millions of people who had to live under Communist tyranny in Eastern Europe what they thought of Roosevelt's handling of Stalin. But that's another story. That, fortunately, is starting to be told as well....more info
  • Great economic popular history
    This is an angry book. The author is passionate about the subject and the accuracy of his thesis, that much is transparent through the text and every chapter title. That is not a bad thing in itself, but I believe most of the negative reviews here were more influenced by the tone of the book than by its content.

    The central theme of the book, that the New Deal was mostly a failure to revert the Depression, is a very valid thesis and is very well presented here. The assertion that the economic realities of the Great Depression and the New Deal have been mostly overlooked in "normal" history books is also well lucidly and clearly presented (I would no be so quick to extend this to academic writing, but from the general's public point of view it is accurate). Give this book to anyone who has not studied this time-period, but history buff in general, and he will be surprised at the scope and ambitions of NIRA and other measures. Of particular impact are the quotes from public officials that are completely different from our modern way of thinking, both from the average general public and from public figures.

    In my opinion the book dwells a bit too long on the Supreme Court and its interaction with the New Deal's legislation, but given the importance of that interaction the author may be warranted for elaborating the point extensively.

    Given that this is a very accessible book on a rarely covered topic for a general audience (namely the economic ramifications of the New Deal policies), and the current economic crisis, I can only recommend it as a great read. Even for those who disagree with general economic liberalism as a theory, the clear presentation of the New Deal policies and the government's rationale behind these policies will be of value, if they can stomach the author's passion and conviction for his thesis. This is a very valuable book, and with the current economic crisis, timelier than ever for both sides of the political spectrum.
    ...more info
  • Agenda pushing and altogether not interesting
    First, this book definitely has an agenda to push. It's not balanced look at the New Deal, the people behind it and what it did do right. It's an attack on FDR. Political, self-serving books that pose as history lessons are bad to begin with.

    But that aside, I jsut found this book to not be alltogether that well written. It went on and on at times, citing endless research, but never striving to drive the point home. Instead it wanted to point out problems in the New Deal using numbers and statistics that have been debated over and over. ...more info
  • More need to read
    There needs to be more discussion about FDR, and the socialistic policies he put into place that still effect us today. This is a good book and well cited for further readings. Focuses on the economic history, and not just the political asspects on the surface....more info
  • OK, Where's the Tables?
    For those who enjoyed this book, take a look in the index for "GDP". No mention of GDP. Flick through the book, try to find a graph or table of GDP growth under Roosevelt. Nope, not there.

    Possibly the reason for this omission by Powell is that, from the start of 1934 (using a 12-month policy lag time) to the end of 1941, real GDP grew *at a mean rate* of over 8% per year. Just for comparison, no GOP president has managed a growth rate matching this for a calendar year.

    Why should one take seriously a book about economic policy that doesn't discuss real GDP growth rates under the period in question?...more info

  • FDR DE-MYSTIFIED
    As a History Teacher, sometimes I get agitated by textbook information that is at best erroneous, and at worst deceptive.
    Such is the case for FDR. Most school textbooks paint him as the one who led us out of the Great Depression. They naively think that his new programs like welfare, unemployment, higher taxes, government controlled utilities, anti-trust lawsuits, the FDIC and Social Security saved our country.
    Fortunately, Jim Powell paints a more accurate picture. The policies FDR implemented (mostly through Executive Orders and Court Stacking) actually backfired, worsening unemployment. With businesses and individuals taxed higher, they had less money to invest in new ideas, save, and spend.
    Too many Americans have the idea that FDR's policies pulled us out. They, like the typical Democratic Progressives, mindset really do not understand how a market economy works.
    Government growth and expansion held our nation back, and continues to do so at an exponential rate. When privatization and de-regulation is used, like it was in the 1920's, the 1960's and the 1980's, it always leads to economic growth, more jobs and expansion.
    I will not contest FDR's war policies during WWII--and neither does Powell. However, his greatness in handling the Great Depression has been truly demystified. Hopefully, more people will understand this.
    ...more info
  • Right Wing Propaganda
    That's all it is. It has become fashionable among the ditto heads and fox news fans to hammer home the idea that the New Deal was harmful to America. This is their sole mission. They want nothing more than the elimination of all social programs, including social security. The campaign is similar to the disinformation campaign pushed by the so-called "Intelligent Design" lobby. Repeat the lie often enough and eventually people begin to believe it.

    This is propaganda. Save your money....more info
  • Not so much "folly" as "malicious idiocy"
    Other reviewers have made the comparison with John T. Flynn, particularly his priceless The Roosevelt Myth. It's an obvious comparison, but also a very apt one. In "FDR's Folly," Jim Powell does for FDR's economics what Flynn did for his politics. Combine these two books with Thomas Fleming's The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II and you'll have the ultimate "revisionist" trilogy for deconstructing the most unjustly inflated reputation in American history (and that's without anyone even mentioning the words "Pearl Harbor"...).

    Admittedly, Powell's book may not be for everyone. It's about economics and economic policy. Discussions of monetary policy and the Federal Reserve, consumer confidence, antitrust theory, and the like can have a very high MEGO ("my eyes glaze over") factor for many readers. But I encourage them to motor through the rough parts anyway. Powell notes at one point that many New Dealers acted as if they believed all the economy needed to get back on track in the 1930s was enough bureaucrats in Washington ordering it to do so. Amid the economics are interesting and educational insights on politics, personalities, and -- most importantly -- the high costs of bad policy.

    Obviously, there is a lot of applicability here. The lessons the 1930s taught so painfully about government intervention in the economy are far from universally understood today. On everything from minimum wage and forced-unionism laws to government restraints on competition and attempts to punish the successful though litigation and taxation, echoes of New Deal nostrums still echo today.

    But even if you're less interested in modern debates, and are just searching for a worthwhile historical study, this title has much to recommend it. Powell has not, perhaps, blazed new trails in historical research. But he has done a remarkable job of synthesizing economic and political evidence and making a strong case for the high price "That Man" and his woefully-misnamed "brain trust" extracted from the American people. Repeat to yourself that clich谷 about "the lessons of history," and then study this book closely....more info
  • Will history repeat itslf?
    Excellent and, as it turns out, timely review.

    Many do not realize that their blind devotion to BHO will make FDRs' creation of the welfare state pale in comparison....more info
  • FDR- Not as Great as You're Told!
    Want a counterpoint to the conventional wisdom that FDR was a great president? Get this book!

    Jim Powell informs us, in a conversational style that is free of long quotes of statistics and economic data, just how far down the path to a socialist system that the USA trod during FDR's disastrous presidency. The facts in this book will be discounted by every blind FDR-ophile, but the plain facts are undeniable: FDR nearly destroyed this country with his domestic policy.

    One thing I would caution, however, when discussing FDR. Yes, he was a horrible president for US domestic policy. He subverted the Constitution, he tried to destroy private business, and he created a class of Americans that exists to this day who grew to imagine that the government was their nanny, but he did do all of this with the voting public behind him.

    More importantly, he was practically alone in his desire to enter WWII among the political class of this country circa the 1930s. FDRs insistence on taking the US to war against Japan and Hitler was undeniably the right course of action, but it was one that nearly every public figure in both parties wanted to avoid. He pushed the war aim even as he lied to the public that this wasn't his goal. For this he deserves supreme credit.

    But, for the most part FDR was not a good president.

    -FDR did NOT care about "the people". His sole goal was to be re-elected.
    -FDR knew nothing of the Constitution, government's role, nor matters economic nor did he care a whit about these subjects.
    -FDR was not an honest president

    With that taken into account, the historical record of FDR must be corrected and Powell does an admirable job toward this end. ...more info
  • Free market enlightenment, a cure for the econony.
    The book was never sent. Inexplicably I received a refund. I was sending this to my son in Wash D.C. He never received it and I got a refund. I have already read this book and it was excellent....more info