The Great Depression and the growth of government

Roosevelt's New Deal is hailed by textbooks and journalists as the pathway to a new and vibrant economic republic, but current texts such as FDR's Folly by Jim Powell and Amity Shlaes' book The Forgotten Man offer less than glowing reviews and analysis.  Also, there are many who would agree that World War Two had something to do with revitalizing the American economy and confidence. 

FDR broadened the reach of government by the creation of a number of programs and agencies, which included the FDIC, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which was created to not only electrify, but modernize the core of the south.  The TVA provided Roosevelt and the Democrat party immense political power and influence through the creation of a large Federal agency right in the middle of the Old South.

What was there to stop FDR and his New Deal and how far could he go?  In running for his second term, he swept away the Republican candidate, Alf Landon, who only took two states in that 1937 presidential election.  The Democrats also garnered insurmountable majorities in both Houses of Congress. 

In the following year, FDR's great economic recovery plan required another five billon dollar extension on his 1935 Emergency Relief Appropriations Act as late as 1938.  Keeping this in mind, one must remember that the initial flashpoint for the entire economic crisis was the 1929 Stock Market Crash, almost ten years previously.   What we do know from those years is FDR's policies solidified the Democratic Party's political power for decades.    

Retrospectively, one wonders, if not for the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry into a global war already raging, how far would have FDR gone

On January 11, 1944, in the midst of World War II, President Roosevelt spoke forcefully and eloquently about the greater meaning and higher purpose of American security in a post-war America. The principles and ideas conveyed by FDR's words matter as much now as they did over sixty years ago, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center is proud to reprint a selection of FDR's vision for the security and economic liberty of the American people in war and peace.

"The Economic Bill of Rights"


Among these [rights] are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

This wish list of new ‘rights' comes across as a veiled scheme of social justice delivered through a process of redistribution, which should make us shudder to think of what Franklin D. Roosevelt had in mind.  Add to his influence the global political power acquired by the successful conclusion of the war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, FDR's economic plans would have been unstoppable. 

Roosevelt signaled that he would have advanced his social-economic agenda outlined in his Economic Bill of Rights.  It would have been possible for him to utilize American's newfound economic success as the treasure chest to pay for the bestowing of his "Second Bill of Rights."

The Great Depression presented grand opportunities to a popular president facing no possibly of an electoral recall.  FDR's governmental intervention, or rather intrusion, into the economic life of the United States, may have kept the economy in turmoil prolonging the Depression, while manipulating the sentiments of the American society making it more susceptible to social-economic engineering.