Jay Reding.com

Failing To Learn From History… Correctly

Mitch Berg takes a rhetorical baseball bat to a Star-Tribune op-ed calling for a new New Deal. Columnist Bob MacLean thinks that the US badly needs a make-work program to “rebuild infrastructure”—a theory which Berg manages to tear apart with aplomb. The columnist suggests the following:

Let’s use the $150 billion currently proposed for rebates and corporate welfare to instead fund an 18-month infrastructure and government-efficiency initiative. This initiative — call it IGE — would be a contemporary version of the indisputably successful WPA program launched in 1935 by presidential order to cure economic depression.

First of all, the idea that the WPA was “indisputably successful” is wrong—in fact, there’s been a significant amount of economic research supporting the contention that the New Deal in fact made the Great Depression worse by preventing the normal market mechanisms from restoring normal employment. In fact, throughout the Depression and the height of the New Deal, unemployment remained incredibly high. For those who could get jobs, wages were propped artificially but that came at the expense of wider employment—the lowest the unemployment rate ever got during the New Deal period was around 14%, and in fact unemployment peaked again in the late 1930s despite all of Roosevelt’s programs. What truly ended the Great Depression was not the New Deal but the outbreak of World War II.

Even if we ignore the data and take the popular view, MacLean’s argument still doesn’t make much sense. Berg points out the obvious: do we really want unemployed mortgage brokers and software engineers either doing engineering inspections or digging ditches? Either you’re taking skilled labor and making it do unskilled work or taking skilled labor and putting it into a position where all those skills are wasted. It makes absolutely no sense, and it’s why such programs are completely worthless as an economic stimulus. How do you advance an economy by taking skilled labor and turning it into unskilled labor? The short answer is you don’t. Digging ditches does not prepare a worker for competing in the 21st Century.

Then there’s the fact that this is an 18 month program. If the real purpose is to reduce unemployment over the long term, then what’s the point? You’ve taken people with marketable skills and taken them out of the skilled labor pool for 18 months, putting them even further behind. The fatal flaw in this theory is the completely ridiculous assumption that the amount of productive work in digging ditches for 18 months is greater than the amount of productive work that people could get in the free market. That’s not a very intelligent argument, and it belies the kind of economic illiteracy seen frequently from the left.

If the goal was really to reduce unemployment, there’s a case to be made for funding worker retraining programs to increase the pool of skilled workers. If the goal is to increase domestic employment in unskilled or semi-skilled labor, the quickest way to do that is to start enforcing immigration laws—the effects of that alone would be a dramatic increase in the number of open jobs.

Instead, this is an example of trying to return America to the days when Fabian socialism was an active part of American politics—which is why we constantly hear the drumbeat of economic despair from the left. If there’s a crisis, then their radical ideas can have more of a purchase. When things are looking up, there’s less of a need for radical government intervention. Ironically, the party that once said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” now has an economic position that requires scaring the American people into accepting radical policies.

6 responses to “Failing To Learn From History… Correctly”

  1. Mark says:

    “First of all, the idea that the WPA was “indisputably successful” is wrong—in fact, there’s been a significant amount of economic research supporting the contention that the New Deal in fact made the Great Depression worse by preventing the normal market mechanisms from restoring normal employment.”

    It’s shocking how allegiance to free market orthodoxy can produce such laughable inanities from its jihadists. The public works programs of the 1930’s was INDISPUTABLY the framework from which America’s World War II and post-World War II boom was built upon. The multifaceted expansion of the infrastructure and publicly financed efforts to bring tens of millions of Americans out of the dark (literally) made possible our ability to effectively fight World War II as successfully as we did and to create a tremendously more efficient means of transportation and communication to ride out the economic boom in the decades to come. Had FDR relied on “normal market mechanisms”, Ma and Pa Kettle would have still been reading next to the oil lamp and the steel used to make bomber planes would be chugging along crowded and crumbling two-lane roads while American troops were getting killed in Europe and Japan. Are you seriously so intellectually challenged that you’re gonna stand by the argument that the New Deal was anything other than the 20th century’s most economically beneficial undertaking?

    I can just see you 10,000 years ago….railing against the caveman government for wasting time and resources hiring people to perfect that silly little invention called the wheel when “normal market mechanisms” insisted they’d be better off foraging for grubs and berries.

    “the US badly needs a make-work program to “rebuild infrastructure”—”

    You’re basically saying that any attempts to build or repair our infrastructure, however badly needed, necessarily constitutes a “make work program”. Even on this blog, you discussed the crumbling American infrastructure after the Minnesota bridge collapse. But now, faced with the terrifying prospect of American workers getting well-paying jobs to fix that infrastructure you admit is crumbling, you do a quick turnabout to reclassify infrastructural repairs as “make work programs”.

    “For those who could get jobs, wages were propped artificially but that came at the expense of wider employment”

    Classic Republican thinking. “Them’s lowlife blue collars is making too much money!!!!” I can see why you hate Mike Huckabee so much, with him being the spokesman for the plurality of GOP voters who don’t abide by the ethos that we’d all be better off if only more people earned less money.

    “What truly ended the Great Depression was not the New Deal but the outbreak of World War II.”

    Which we would have been ill-prepared to fight if the New Deal hadn’t expanded and streamlined America’s fledgling industrial and infrastructural base.

    “do we really want unemployed mortgage brokers and software engineers either doing engineering inspections or digging ditches?”

    Better for them to be without a paycheck for months longer? And are there really that few unemployed or underemployed low-skill and semiskill workers in America that only mortgage brokers and software engineers would be applying for “ditch digging” jobs? Here’s a wild concept for you. When the “ditch diggers”, who happen to be providing the necessary public service of fixing our crumbling infrastructure, earn enough money to buy computers, perhaps the software engineer will find a new job in his field!!!!

    “How do you advance an economy by taking skilled labor and turning it into unskilled labor? The short answer is you don’t. Digging ditches does not prepare a worker for competing in the 21st Century.”

    Again, the only conclusion I can surmise from your comments is that road repairs should NEVER be done….because doing so would insufficiently endanger the ranks of semiskilled jobs in America. I’m really interested in hearing how you defend the idea of America’s era of building and repairing roads as being over.

    “If the goal is to increase domestic employment in unskilled or semi-skilled labor, the quickest way to do that is to start enforcing immigration laws—the effects of that alone would be a dramatic increase in the number of open jobs.”

    Ironically, your desire to revoke prevailing wage rates for government jobs ensures that the ONLY people willing to work for whatever the low-bid contractor was willing to pay would be illegal immigrants….just as happened in New Orleans 28 months ago.

    “Ironically, the party that once said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” now has an economic position that requires scaring the American people into accepting radical policies.”

    Yes….better for us all to take the advice of the party that wants us to constantly piss our pants about THE ATTACK OF THE ARABS!!….while we’re bouncing on the potholes on our unrepaired highways.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    It’s shocking how allegiance to free market orthodoxy can produce such laughable inanities from its jihadists.

    Silly ad hominem #1.

    The public works programs of the 1930’s was INDISPUTABLY the framework from which America’s World War II and post-World War II boom was built upon. The multifaceted expansion of the infrastructure and publicly financed efforts to bring tens of millions of Americans out of the dark (literally) made possible our ability to effectively fight World War II as successfully as we did and to create a tremendously more efficient means of transportation and communication to ride out the economic boom in the decades to come. Had FDR relied on “normal market mechanisms”, Ma and Pa Kettle would have still been reading next to the oil lamp and the steel used to make bomber planes would be chugging along crowded and crumbling two-lane roads while American troops were getting killed in Europe and Japan. Are you seriously so intellectually challenged that you’re gonna stand by the argument that the New Deal was anything other than the 20th century’s most economically beneficial undertaking?

    I’ll stand along with the majority of economic historians who have dispassionately studied the record. The New Deal made the Great Depression worse by artificially producing high unemployment. Normally, when jobs are shed the cost of labor declines which allows industries to spring back and re-hire new employees and when the economy recovers the price of labor returns to a sustainable level. What FDR did was to artificially prop up the price of labor so that the unemployment rate never dipped below the double digits. In fact unemployment increased in 1937-1938 when the US was hit with another depression created in large part by the cartelization of the New Deal. The paper I linked to analyzes the data in great detail.

    I can just see you 10,000 years ago….railing against the caveman government for wasting time and resources hiring people to perfect that silly little invention called the wheel when “normal market mechanisms” insisted they’d be better off foraging for grubs and berries.

    This is a silly argument.

    No, I said no such thing. Spending on infrastructure is fine, but it doesn’t provide short-term stimulus. You seem unable to grasp this distinction.

    Classic Republican thinking. “Them’s lowlife blue collars is making too much money!!!!” I can see why you hate Mike Huckabee so much, with him being the spokesman for the plurality of GOP voters who don’t abide by the ethos that we’d all be better off if only more people earned less money.

    Ad hominem #2.

    Which we would have been ill-prepared to fight if the New Deal hadn’t expanded and streamlined America’s fledgling industrial and infrastructural base.

    Except the New Deal didn’t really do any of that. America’s manufacturing capacity wasn’t effected by the New Deal at all. The US didn’t rapidly industrialize until much later in the 1930s when the US was engaged in the Lend-Lease Act with Britain.

    In fact, not only did the New Deal fail to expand the US industrial base, the cartelization under the National Industrial Recovery Act caused a contraction of industrial capacity. (If the link doesn’t work the journal cite is Jason E. Taylor, The Output Effects of Government Sponsored Cartels During the New Deal, 50 J. Indust. Econ. 1, 1–10 (March 2002).)

    Better for them to be without a paycheck for months longer? And are there really that few unemployed or underemployed low-skill and semiskill workers in America that only mortgage brokers and software engineers would be applying for “ditch digging” jobs? Here’s a wild concept for you. When the “ditch diggers”, who happen to be providing the necessary public service of fixing our crumbling infrastructure, earn enough money to buy computers, perhaps the software engineer will find a new job in his field!!!!

    Again, you miss the point. It is economically better to have a programmer unemployed for a few months longer and actively seeking employment than to put them to a less productive use digging ditches or doing construction. Skilled labor is more valued, which is why you don’t put skilled labor doing unskilled tasks. T

    Again, the only conclusion I can surmise from your comments is that road repairs should NEVER be done….because doing so would insufficiently endanger the ranks of semiskilled jobs in America. I’m really interested in hearing how you defend the idea of America’s era of building and repairing roads as being over.

    This argument again completely misses the point. There’s always going to be a pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor. There are people who enjoy doing construction work. However, it’s foolish to send someone who A) has no construction skills and B) is more productive doing something else to do menial labor just to temporarily lower unemployment. It’s what’s called “economic waste.”

    Ironically, your desire to revoke prevailing wage rates for government jobs ensures that the ONLY people willing to work for whatever the low-bid contractor was willing to pay would be illegal immigrants….just as happened in New Orleans 28 months ago.

    Except that Davis-Bacon wasn’t rescinded long enough to have any effect and is in place today. So your argument that prevailing wage standards are necessary to prevent illegal immigrants from working on construction job fails because prevailing wage standards didn’t prevent illegal immigrants from working on construction jobs.

    So instead, the rational response is to scrap Davis-Bacon and enact strict controls on hiring that makes hiring illegal immigrants a crime and cause of rescission of government contracts. Except we both know how popular the idea of effectively policing our borders is with the party that you constantly claim stands up for the rights of the American worker.

    Yes….better for us all to take the advice of the party that wants us to constantly piss our pants about THE ATTACK OF THE ARABS!!….while we’re bouncing on the potholes on our unrepaired highways.

    Isn’t that typical? Can’t answer an argument? Then change the topic. Too bad such deficient rhetoric only works against those who use it.

  3. Mark says:

    “I’ll stand along with the majority of economic historians who have dispassionately studied the record. The New Deal made the Great Depression worse by artificially producing high unemployment. Normally, when jobs are shed the cost of labor declines which allows industries to spring back and re-hire new employees and when the economy recovers the price of labor returns to a sustainable level. What FDR did was to artificially prop up the price of labor so that the unemployment rate never dipped below the double digits. In fact unemployment increased in 1937-1938 when the US was hit with another depression created in large part by the cartelization of the New Deal. The paper I linked to analyzes the data in great detail.”

    None of this steaming pile of Friedman-esque (Milton, not Tom) feces addresses my key point. Were it not for the public improvements that came from the New Deal, the nation’s capacity to support the World War II effort and the post-World War II economic boom would not have existed. It was the New Deal, not “normal market mechanisms” that vastly expanded a highway system allowing for the quicker and more efficient transportation of goods and services in the next generation’s economy. It was the New Deal, not “normal market mechanisms” that delivered millions of rural Americans from the darkness of the 19th century by lighting up their homes with the electricity of the 20th century.

    So even if all of your pointy-headed evaluations on the New Deal’s effect on unemployment is true, it’s a fool’s errand to suggest that America’s long-term economic growth capacity would have been better served by staying the course of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover public works policy and insistence that infrastructural improvements constitute “make work programs”.

    “Ad hominem #2.”

    Your direct quote was….“For those who could get jobs, wages were propped artificially but that came at the expense of wider employment”. What other perception could I extract from that comment other than you believe America is better served by an economic policy where more people earning less money.

    “The US didn’t rapidly industrialize until much later in the 1930s when the US was engaged in the Lend-Lease Act with Britain.”

    You’re playing right into the hands of my argument that the public investments of the New Deal made America a better place to do business.

    “There’s always going to be a pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor. There are people who enjoy doing construction work. However, it’s foolish to send someone who A) has no construction skills and B) is more productive doing something else to do menial labor just to temporarily lower unemployment. It’s what’s called “economic waste.””

    Which would be a fair point…..if we both didn’t agree that our infrastructure needs an upgrade (provided that you still stand by your August post on the issue). If the work needs to be done, it’s not economic waste….and we’re fools not to do it.

    “Except we both know how popular the idea of effectively policing our borders is with the party that you constantly claim stands up for the rights of the American worker.”

    I’ve been more than willing to call the Democratic Party out for their unacceptable position on illegal immigration.

    “Isn’t that typical? Can’t answer an argument? Then change the topic. Too bad such deficient rhetoric only works against those who use it.”

    Actually, I answered the argument very definitively. You were the one suggesting, without a hint of irony, that Democrats are the party of fear because they support public works improvements even as you support a party that shamelessly reminds us every opportunity they get that not voting for them increases your chances of having your family killed by terrorists.

  4. Jay Reding says:

    None of this steaming pile of Friedman-esque (Milton, not Tom) feces addresses my key point. Were it not for the public improvements that came from the New Deal, the nation’s capacity to support the World War II effort and the post-World War II economic boom would not have existed. It was the New Deal, not “normal market mechanisms” that vastly expanded a highway system allowing for the quicker and more efficient transportation of goods and services in the next generation’s economy. It was the New Deal, not “normal market mechanisms” that delivered millions of rural Americans from the darkness of the 19th century by lighting up their homes with the electricity of the 20th century.

    So when you can’t argue a point, you insult the argument. In poker, that’s called a “tell.”

    Again, the New Deal produced an economic contraction. It reduced American industrial capacity, and it produced a secondary recession in 1937–1938 that saw unemployment hit 20%+ for the second time.

    The argument that without the New Deal there would have been no highways or rural electricity is untrue—those things would have happened on their own eventually—and at less cost to the overall economy than the New Deal.

    So even if all of your pointy-headed evaluations on the New Deal’s effect on unemployment is true, it’s a fool’s errand to suggest that America’s long-term economic growth capacity would have been better served by staying the course of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover public works policy and insistence that infrastructural improvements constitute “make work programs”.

    Except the New Deal was expressly a “make work” program. I know you either are disingenuously misreading my argument or still don’t get it, but thinking the New Deal was a bad set of programs does not equate to opposing all infrastructure improvements. Perhaps that’s too fine a point for you, but you’re just embarrassing yourself by coming back to the same tired talking points over and over again.

    Your direct quote was….“For those who could get jobs, wages were propped artificially but that came at the expense of wider employment”. What other perception could I extract from that comment other than you believe America is better served by an economic policy where more people earning less money.

    How about the assertion that was intended—that the New Deal propped up wages at the expense of wider employment, meaning that the privileged few got jobs while others did not.

    The way you normally get out of a recession is by having a temporary fall in wages which then restores wide employment followed by wage growth. Roosevelt artificially propped up wages which didn’t allow the cycle to happen, meaning that the privileged few got jobs while others stood in bread lines.

    And the next time you propose raising taxes on the rich to make transfer payments to the impoverished, I’ll remind you that you apparently think it’s a bad thing to believe that America is better served by an economic policy where more people earn less money.

    So much for that much-vaunted liberal egalitarianism then. Your argument supposes that it’s perfectly good policy to follow FDR’s example and create government-backed cartels that ensure that only certain people get jobs.

    You’re playing right into the hands of my argument that the public investments of the New Deal made America a better place to do business.

    Except for the part where the Lend-Lease Act wasn’t part of the New Deal, but came much later. Except for the part where the New Deal actually caused an economic contraction.

    Which would be a fair point…..if we both didn’t agree that our infrastructure needs an upgrade (provided that you still stand by your August post on the issue). If the work needs to be done, it’s not economic waste….and we’re fools not to do it.

    OK then, let’s take the worlds 100 top scientists and have them build a new bridge in Minneapolis. After all, infrastructure repairs are important, right? And the work needs to be done, so it’s not economic waste.

    Of course that’s a silly argument. You don’t have heart surgeons digging ditches because they’re more beneficial when they’re using their skills. The economic term is specialization, and once again your argument ignores concepts that should be taught in high school civics.

    I’ve been more than willing to call the Democratic Party out for their unacceptable position on illegal immigration.

    Which is great, except it’s a distinct minority view with the Democratic Party and just one of the positions in which the Democrats stand against the interests of the “peasants” you claim to care about so fervently.

    Actually, I answered the argument very definitively. You were the one suggesting, without a hint of irony, that Democrats are the party of fear because they support public works improvements even as you support a party that shamelessly reminds us every opportunity they get that not voting for them increases your chances of having your family killed by terrorists.

    No, I suggested without any hint of (or need for) irony that the Democrats are the party of fear because they shameless pander to irrational economic fears. You think that the Democrats don’t do this? Have you listened to John Edwards in the last few years? Watched any of the debates? Read any liberal blogs lately? It’s always been about fear. “Two Americas,” the overheated rhetoric about how President Bush is leading this country into “fascism,” how we’re “losing our civil liberties,” the list goes on. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the GOP’s national security position is based on a rational caution while the Democrats are playing on irrational fear. And the argument that it’s the GOP who is running scared from terrorism is just silly—which party is it again whose chosen counter-terrorism strategy involves declaring the war lost and running away and which party not only confronted al-Qaeda, but has now given it the greatest series of losses in its history?

  5. Mark says:

    “So when you can’t argue a point, you insult the argument.”

    You presented an argument that had nothing to do with my point. I don’t care what Ayn Rand said about the New Deal’s effect on unemployment rates in 1935 and 1936. My point was and continues to be that the instructural foundation that the New Deal provided the basis for which our economy experienced an historic boom in the 1940’s and 1950’s that would not have been possible if we deferred public works projects for several decades as you suggest we did in the interest of abiding my “normal market mechanisms”. You really don’t have a leg to stand on here, Jay.

    “Again, the New Deal produced an economic contraction. It reduced American industrial capacity, and it produced a secondary recession in 1937–1938 that saw unemployment hit 20%+ for the second time.”

    Yawn….irrelevant when factoring in the long-term benefits of post-New Deal America compared to what would have existed if we had maintained Coolidgeism and Hooverism (aka scant public investment).

    “The argument that without the New Deal there would have been no highways or rural electricity is untrue—those things would have happened on their own eventually—and at less cost to the overall economy than the New Deal.”

    Why would have it cost less to the economy if we had waited decades longer to build up an efficient highway system and bring a plurality of the country out of the outhouse? Would we have been as able to fight WWII as efficiently? Would the unprecedented post-WWII economic boom been even half what it was if we were still in the process of slow-motion infrastructural improvements that the New Deal took care of a generation earlier? Very doubtful. And you are seriously undermining your credibility by suggesting otherwise.

    “Except the New Deal was expressly a “make work” program….Perhaps that’s too fine a point for you,”

    Only if you assume the country would have better served with an additional two decades or longer of inefficient highways and tens of millions of people living without electricity….but that logic flies in the face of the basic laws of civilized society.

    “that the New Deal propped up wages at the expense of wider employment, meaning that the privileged few got jobs while others did not.”

    Which is a fancy way of saying that more people earning less money for their labors is a good thing.

    “So much for that much-vaunted liberal egalitarianism then. Your argument supposes that it’s perfectly good policy to follow FDR’s example and create government-backed cartels that ensure that only certain people get jobs.”

    Wow…and all I wanted to do is pay a few Americans good wages to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Had no idea I was propping up “cartels”.

    “Except for the part where the Lend-Lease Act wasn’t part of the New Deal, but came much later. Except for the part where the New Deal actually caused an economic contraction.”

    Except for the…..except for the…..you do realize you say that all the time, right? Talk about a “tell”. You can’t get it through your thick head that had the New Deal not occurred and vastly improved mobility, efficiency and quality-of-life across America, the Lend-Lease Act and any other would-be factors in the late 1930’s reindustrialization of America would have been mired in a less dynamic nation and the means from which they could generate the economic growth rates that ultimately transpired would have been vastly diminished with a Hoover-era infrastructure holding them back.

    “OK then, let’s take the worlds 100 top scientists and have them build a new bridge in Minneapolis. After all, infrastructure repairs are important, right? And the work needs to be done, so it’s not economic waste.”

    As Mr. Obama said, “it’s silly season”. You’re invoking your own absurd strawman that engineers would be forced to dig ditches if America embraced a new public works revolution, and then suggesting that I’m the one calling for scientists pouring concrete on the I-35 bridge. Jay, things will have to get MUCH more dire than even the worst economic doomsayers are predicting if engineers and surgeons are the ones pouring concrete and digging ditches. You know that….but you’re playing the only weak hand you have in this pissing match of reclassifying the New Deal as a failure.

    “The economic term is specialization, and once again your argument ignores concepts that should be taught in high school civics.”

    Luckily, the only one talking about surgeons digging ditches is you in your feeble and delusional attempt to discredit a necessary renaissance of infrastructure investment.

    “Which is great, except it’s a distinct minority view with the Democratic Party and just one of the positions in which the Democrats stand against the interests of the “peasants” you claim to care about so fervently.”

    Well, it’s a “distinct minority view” among elected Democratic officials pandering to a microscopic Latino vote. But it’s not necessarily so obscure among the Democratic rank-and-file. You can even stir up a sea of Kossacks with an eloquent dissent against “comprehensive immigration reform”. Clearly, that’s why so many Democrats who originally supported McCain-Kennedy ended up voting against it at the 11th hour last summer.

    “No, I suggested without any hint of (or need for) irony that the Democrats are the party of fear because they shameless pander to irrational economic fears. You think that the Democrats don’t do this? Have you listened to John Edwards in the last few years? Watched any of the debates? Read any liberal blogs lately? It’s always been about fear. “Two Americas,” the overheated rhetoric about how President Bush is leading this country into “fascism,” how we’re “losing our civil liberties,” the list goes on. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the GOP’s national security position is based on a rational caution while the Democrats are playing on irrational fear. And the argument that it’s the GOP who is running scared from terrorism is just silly—which party is it again whose chosen counter-terrorism strategy involves declaring the war lost and running away and which party not only confronted al-Qaeda, but has now given it the greatest series of losses in its history?”

    Yes Jay. Democrats “scare” voters by raising pesky facts about growing class inequalities and loss of liberties by overreaching G-men…..and Republicans scare voters by telling them voting for the other party will end your life and your children’s. The evidence seems to be in based on the election results of 2006 and party affiliation advantages in 2008….and your scare tactics are turning off more voters than ours.

  6. Jay Reding says:

    You presented an argument that had nothing to do with my point. I don’t care what Ayn Rand said about the New Deal’s effect on unemployment rates in 1935 and 1936. My point was and continues to be that the instructural foundation that the New Deal provided the basis for which our economy experienced an historic boom in the 1940’s and 1950’s that would not have been possible if we deferred public works projects for several decades as you suggest we did in the interest of abiding my “normal market mechanisms”. You really don’t have a leg to stand on here, Jay.

    Then you’re just plain wrong. The New Deal contracted the US economy. It failed. The evidence makes that clear. You keep coming up with different ways of saying the same line, but it doesn’t match the facts. World War II brought forth the rapid industrialization of the 1940s. Eisenhower built the highway system, not FDR. Your history is wrong and no matter how many times you repeat the same argument, it doesn’t get any better,

    If the New Deal was so great, why did the economy contract in 1938? Why did unemployment never return to anything close to normal levels? Why did GDP continue to suffer until after World War II? If you’re so right, why does all the actual evidence go against your point?

    Yawn….irrelevant when factoring in the long-term benefits of post-New Deal America compared to what would have existed if we had maintained Coolidgeism and Hooverism (aka scant public investment).

    Which assumes that New Deal was the only way to industrialize. Which is wrong—the nation went through even more significant periods of industrialization without the need for Fabian socialism. I know this doesn’t seem to register, but government isn’t the only force that expands an economy.

    Why would have it cost less to the economy if we had waited decades longer to build up an efficient highway system and bring a plurality of the country out of the outhouse? Would we have been as able to fight WWII as efficiently? Would the unprecedented post-WWII economic boom been even half what it was if we were still in the process of slow-motion infrastructural improvements that the New Deal took care of a generation earlier? Very doubtful. And you are seriously undermining your credibility by suggesting otherwise.

    The New Deal had nothing to do with any of that. Would the Hoover Dam have been build without the New Deal? At some point, yes. Would roads have been built without the New Deal? Absolutely. Did the New Deal contribute to our victory in World War II, again no. The New Deal contracted the economy. The evidence is clear on that point, no matter how much you bluster to the contrary.

    Which is a fancy way of saying that more people earning less money for their labors is a good thing.

    Fallacy of composition. More people earning less money is a good thing when an economy is trying to recover from a depression. To use your logical fallacy, I will assume that you would rather have a very few number of people earning a great deal of money. And you’re the one who calls me a “plutocrat?”

    Except for the…..except for the…..you do realize you say that all the time, right? Talk about a “tell”. You can’t get it through your thick head that had the New Deal not occurred and vastly improved mobility, efficiency and quality-of-life across America, the Lend-Lease Act and any other would-be factors in the late 1930’s reindustrialization of America would have been mired in a less dynamic nation and the means from which they could generate the economic growth rates that ultimately transpired would have been vastly diminished with a Hoover-era infrastructure holding them back.

    Except for the fact that isn’t true.

    Again. look at the evidence. The New Deal did not reduce unemployment to anywhere close to a normal level. In 1938, when the war in Europe was inevitable, the US was going through an industrial contraction. As Taylor’s article noted, the New Deal produced government-run cartels which greatly diminished American industrial output.

    You keep going back to the same point that’s already been debunked. The New Deal did not do what you think it did. Your whole point isn’t any more valid the more times you present it.

    As Mr. Obama said, “it’s silly season”. You’re invoking your own absurd strawman that engineers would be forced to dig ditches if America embraced a new public works revolution, and then suggesting that I’m the one calling for scientists pouring concrete on the I-35 bridge. Jay, things will have to get MUCH more dire than even the worst economic doomsayers are predicting if engineers and surgeons are the ones pouring concrete and digging ditches. You know that….but you’re playing the only weak hand you have in this pissing match of reclassifying the New Deal as a failure.

    That whizzing sound is the point flying right over your head…

    It’s called a “thought experiment.” Now I know the concept of thinking confuses and frightens you, but it goes to Mr. MacLean’s article, which he said that we should reduce unemployment by building bridges. That doesn’t work because not all unemployed people are engineers or bridge builders. It is economic waste to take an unemployed stock broker and make him dig a ditch. That’s why his plan will not work.

    Yes Jay. Democrats “scare” voters by raising pesky facts about growing class inequalities and loss of liberties by overreaching G-men…..and Republicans scare voters by telling them voting for the other party will end your life and your children’s. The evidence seems to be in based on the election results of 2006 and party affiliation advantages in 2008….and your scare tactics are turning off more voters than ours.

    Which ignores the fact that class “inequalities” in this country are irrelevant and America’s civil liberties are hardly in danger, especially not in comparison to the excesses of the “War on Drugs.”

    The difference is that while the problems that Republicans endeavor to solve are real the problems that Democrats endeavor to “solve” are largely of their own imagination and are designed to advance their radical agenda.