Thursday, July 08, 2010

How'd That Work Out For Ya?

It is uncanny to hear conservatives, mostly Republicans, try to take us down the same path as they did in the 1930’s. The arguments are all there…YES to bank bailouts but NO to employment benefits, No to banking regulation, No to more stimulus, No to immigration reform. Laissez-faire then, as now was their answer to everything.

They harped then, as now, that deficit spending would bring us down but said NO to tax increases on the wealthy as part of balancing the budget. They argued then, as they do now, that the states and local governments should do the heavy lifting, when then just as now budget cuts at those levels were deepening the recession.2009-02-16-USUnemployment_1930_1950d

Even after falling from power in the US, their counterparts worldwide slowed recovery for a decade by letting off the stimulus too quickly and obsessing about deficits.

But back then, the country, having heard their arguments when they were in power, disregarded them. The public then was very clear on whose policies had brought about the problem.

Could be President Obama was simply elected one year too soon or we wouldn't be hamstrung by partisan block voting.

Today, we’ve forgotten the Republican arguments that led to repeal of those '30's bank regulations in the ‘90’s and the devastation it has caused. We’ve forgotten the wars that hastened this recession, one now 9 years running.

But there are three huge differences between then and how.

  • Progressives made up a good portion of Republicans in the '30's, preventing petty block-voting partisanship from styming experimentation, innovation and recovery.

  • Fireside radio chats reached people and people were eager to listen, while today's radio talk shows just as often cocoon people from hearing anything with which they might disagree or getting the full story.

  • Humility. We haven’t been humbled enough. Our unemployment of 10% (4% among college educated) pales in comparison to the nearly 25% during the 1930’s. The pain isn't universal now so there isn't as much empathy or urgency to try new things.

Required reading for journlists and voters prior to the November election should be, Nothing To Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle And The Hundred Days That Created Modern America .

"Those who cannot learn from History are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana

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