I'm reading Obama's Audacity of Hope and although I think it is interesting in how it shows Senate politics from the other side (such as showing the necessity of fund raising for elections) there are parts I disagree with.
One has to do with FDR's New Deal. Obama seems to think that the economic prosperity experienced by the US after the 1930s and upto the 1970s was directly a result of the New Deal. Although I think it was a bold move and my liberal tendencies embrace the creation of at least some sort of social net, I think it had shit all to do with America's economic rise. He makes no mention of WWII in his analysis. I think America's boom had less to do with the creation of a welfare state and more to do with the fact that in the 1940s and the next few years the developing world had not yet entered so much as the industrial revolution and the rest of the developed world was either bombed to pieces and/or bankrupt. My proof of this is my own country, Canada. Before the war, although we were a bit more than mounties and lumberjacks (maybe not much more), we were hardly a world power. Yet after the war we were, and still are, one of the world's largest economies. We didn't have FDR. Mind you, we do rise and fall with America's economy but only to a point. Therefore some else caused our star to rise and I think it was the same thing that caused America's (although, given its pre-war power, America rose much further and faster).
FDR's stewardship of the American economy was an unmitigated disaster. Whatever you might like to say about welfare, & there is a very strong case to be made for it in a democracy, installing it seems to destroy most regimes; those that survive do not come out stronger, they just seem to ignore the changes welfare introduces into the legal & political dangers to business--although, of course, Social Security is only now coming to show its most serious consequences; I'm told its unfunded liabilities are a thing to behold.
Read Powell's 'FDR's folly' or Amity Schlaes's 'The forgotten man' for the history & the economics. Of course, this is hotly contested--usually, liberals cannot find it in them to argue that FDR was only good at managing foreign policy, because they do not care about that as much as about his domestic policy, & they find it hard to argue that it was good despite its economic disasters... But I think even liberals agree that throughout the 30's, unemployment never went below double digits, that FDR's average on unemployment was nearly 18%, & that there were new recessions or depressions after FDR's first term. (You might call sending millions of boys & young men to war a reduction in unemployment, but I'd rather not.) The boom was a post-war affair. It's not hard these days to find some of the most famous new dealers declare against what they had done. Cold comfort for a lost decade, & in a way damning of FDR's brand of liberalism--which was again balloted just last week...--but it is a useful lesson, because unlike so many of the people that worked for him, FDR was a masterful politician, one of the best to rise to the presidency.
As for Canada lacking a New Deal, so did Britain in the '30s. The welfare system & nationalization (the other part of the New Deal) were only installed there after WWII, & that led to three decades of decay; it was a disgusting affair that ended with Britain asking for IMF funds.
"Whatever you might like to say about welfare, & there is a very strong case to be made for it in a democracy, installing it seems to destroy most regimes; those that survive do not come out stronger, they just seem to ignore the changes welfare introduces into the legal & political dangers to business--although, of course"
To which I would retort that you are demonstrably incorrect, as every single first world nation had some form of social safety net ("welfare") instituted in the 20th century, and along with the explosive economic growth of the last century, the citizens of those nations enjoy a higher standard of living than has ever been experienced in human history.
What, pray tell, is your evidence that it destroys "regimes" ?
Because barring some sort of example from antiquity, every single modern welfare state is doing exceptionally when compared to the alternative that preceded it - including nations like Greece and Portugal.
I think you meant to say something, to finish what you were saying--you were cut off by the programming?
At any rate, the point about the regimes: The regimes that were destroyed by Nazis, fascists, &c., including several first-world nations, as you call them, were everywhere & always destroyed because the left had become the biggest political force, then fascists came in & the rest was an unmitigated disaster. That's the worst kind of situation I have in mind. Of course, the fascists had as big a hard-on for the welfare state as the left. & the regimes that replaced the fascist regimes after WWII installed welfare states as well, but these are not real regimes: They have never been tested in any way. They were created under American arms, with American approval & of course massive American funds, in the face of Soviet arms, defended by troops still stationed there. Not much to say to recommend them.
Intermediary cases of regime failure: All the populist little oligarchies & tyrannies of South America. Mostly leftist, especially the ones that bankrupted the country. All of them have welfare models they cannot possibly afford. The last massive case: the Argentine went bankrupt around the turn of the century; the Peronists are again bankrupting the country one decade later: They've got to some nationalization & it's almost impossible to legally change the peseta into foreign currencies...
A somewhat less disgusting case of welfare threatening to destroy regimes is underway in several appalling regimes in former communist Eastern Europe. The unfunded liabilities & the miserable welfare bureaucracies are something to behold...
Also, to look at the great EU, welfare destroyed Greece. It's happening as we are speaking...
We will have to see how welfare works in Spain, with unemployment past 20%, & in Portugal. I am not sure Ireland will survive with the state it has bought, but not paid. Of course, all these states bought welfare systems for which they did not pay. But they will pay, because that's how the world works. Like that guy said, if something can't go on, it won't. If these welfare provisions really are killing economies & nations, as I suspect, this crisis will be as bad as the several bankruptcies in South America. Or I'm wrong-
Lesser cases of regime failure: Look at post-war Britain, how she ended up asking the IMF to intervene in the '70's. Surely, the regime was falling apart because of the welfare & nationalization combo the '45 Labour gov't started installing.
So how are you enjoying Bill Ayers' book?
He makes no mention of WWII in his analysis.
Of course he doesn't. It doesn't fit his theory so he leaves it out.
Yet when Obama says "you didn't build that" the leftists still want us to believe Obama isn't placing government at the center of small business success.
I would characterize it as a supporting role, not the center. The small business owner/entrepreneur is the center. But like Archimedes and his lever, you need a place to stand on in order to move the earth (sic).
"You didn't write that!"
Well gentlemen, what would you have expected from a partisan, political book? In his first term, President Obama successfully co-opted the rhetoric of the New Deal, particularly that of the WPA.
"A New Deal", aka "Hope and Change" circa 1932?
Is that the essential thesis statement?