Now if you want to say that people just wanted hope and change and there was value in that and that my rather clinical assessment of his policies from an economic perspective is too narrow; it was the reality of those clinical assessments that had the people upset in the first place. If you are going to say FDR was great because he fooled people into thinking things were better economically, OK. But my definition of success and greatness requires something more.

@ CK MacLeod:

Because I never took issue with your statement. How can I concede that which I have never denied. I merely stated, and continue to do so, that FDR's economic policies were a disaster and economically the 30s were stagnant, with no growth and high unemployment from beginning to end. That's all. Black's comment references an economic reality of a nation in total survival mode - not the product of FDR's policies. Your statements with regards to what the govt achieved during WWII was also in a war footing with the govt probably driving 90% of GDP. To both of your I state that it was unsustainable, and that the population was tiring of the sacrifices in mass as early as late 1943 after not much more than 2 years of active fighting. The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was of course a military one, but also a domestic politics issue of a nation who tasted victory in Europe and was impatent for the same in Japan. So while the accomplishments were tremendous, they were only going to last for a blip in time.

Rex Caruthers wrote:

What you fail to recognize is that gold doesn’t have a constant value either – it fluctuates in relation to currencies.
Au Contraire,Currencies flucuate in relation to Gold.
In the coming alleged economic armageddon gold will be worthless, food and water and guns and bullets will be king. How could that be?
I’m not aware of Gold being worthless anywhere in the last 4000 years, but There’s always a first time.

For most people in a barter economy, gold doesn't even exist.

@ CK MacLeod:

CK - I am not arguing that the people did not want what was served up, they clearly did. And FDR used propaganda to try and ease the angst, telling people things were getting better. But in reality, taking the decade as a whole up to WWII, it did not get better, it essentially stagnated. I am arguing that while politically perhaps progressivism was the only route to take that people chose to follow, with other routes completely out of favor, the route chosen was the wrong one. Had WWII not come who knows what might have happened and after WWII there was some immediate correction on labor laws as some politicans began to see there was a problem brewing. JFK realized the tax rate was way too high, and we began to separate what I would call economic central planning and social central planning. Though none would come out and say so, they realized that much of the economic policy of the progressives was counter-productive - they didn't come out and say so. They just did. And when Nixon pulled all his crap in the 70s with price controls, etc. we were reminded again of the fallacy of govt interference. The beauty of the current financial dust up was the melding of social justice theory with govt financial inducements to create a perfect storm. Alinsky would suggest that was the plan all along. That is why OSlash's current economic policies are looked at with the notion of is he stupid or devious?

Rex Caruthers wrote:

I can’t believe you cannot answer a simple question yet
I’ll try again,you can’t devalue gold to Zero.
We’ll worry about running out of Gold later,right now,we need to reconstruct our currency,I’d be happy with $35 Oz money,wouldn’t you?

You can't? Why? I am serious. And your non-answer to my follow on question indicates you realize it has no answer for it means economic stagnation and the loss of value of labor, for productivity is no longer rewarded.

Gold is not necessary to reconstruct our currency. Just turning off the printing presses, reducing govt spending, and quit hiring govt workers would do wonders.

What you fail to recognize is that gold doesn't have a constant value either - it fluctuates in relation to currencies. In the coming alleged economic armageddon gold will be worthless, food and water and guns and bullets will be king. How could that be?

@ narciso:

Can you direct to the passage that you feel supports your contention?

@ Rex Caruthers:

I can't believe you cannot answer a simple question yet. Gold's value has been manipulated by govt's under the gold standard as well. Is it easier to print money - sure. It is just as easy to devalue either.

Now another question for you, which I have also asked many times to not just you but to many other gold bugs. What happens when we cannot find anymore gold? We know ore is getting less and less pure, so we might actually be beyond peak gold already. So what happens then?

@ CK MacLeod:

I have conceded nothing - I have acknowledged the political environment of the times. That FDR's remedies were largely ineffective is pretty much without dispute. That I am willing to recognize the politics of the day seems strange to be some kind of concession that FDR was correct. He was not.

His legacy is farm price supports, which increasingly distort world markets while being paid to corporate behemoths, and a retirement program that while still largely popular has begun paying out more than it receives while its assets have been raided and replaced with IOUs. It will have to changed in our lifetimes pretty drastically yet when a young politician brings up some ideas the dems decry it and the GOP gets timid. I guess you could also say that his foundation laid the groundwork for medicare. You know where I stand on that. Very popularly supported, even when pased, but a disaster right now.

I will always give FDR credit for recognizing the gathering storm of WWII. However, his domestic economic programs were a disaster.

Rex Caruthers wrote:

I don’t think you can because for a long time you haven’t yet given an explanation for why gold has value that would differ from paper.
Why do the markets believe it takes 1300 pieces of paper to equal the value of 1oz of gold? It takes a very unusual person to not understand that Gold backing makes paper money more valuable.

Rex, everytime you answer the question your answer is because people BELIEVE it does. Guess what, people BELIEVE paper does too. At times they like gold, at other times they like paper. So what is the difference?

In any event - suggesting that Black's economic argument has any merit, as Rex did - I think we can all agree that FDR's economic policies in general did not work. We can argue until the cows come home if there were any other alternatives. There were, but neither the politicians nor the populace were willing to consider something that might have worked. To whitewash them of their negative consequences seems rather silly.

@ CK MacLeod:

Did you mean this?

What was the debt to GDP numbers after WWII? Come on - it wasn't sustainable and you know it. Hoover was a govt action guy by the way as even my junior high social studies teacher taught me in 8th grade. Other options? How about reversing all the progressive crap and global tariffs that Hoover imposed.

This is a handy argument - progressive politics made a bad situation - the late 20s stock meltdown - worse, so the remedy was to do more of it. That sounds like the argument for programs from today. Let's let govt screw up the health care system with medicare and then blame the private sector for the mistake 30 years later. Lets let them screw up student loans and then take it over after they screwed it up.

Your argument that the population was wildly in favor of it is a statement of fact of course, but it doens't mean any of it was particularly effective. That is like suggesting we know we are going to fail but we are going to do it anyway.

@ Rex Caruthers:
Rex - stick to what you know - every other western country had tax rates just as high and the ability to move capital was constrained by the financial logistics of the day - that is a fact. There is no value to gold beyond what we decide to give to it. Your explanation for its value is just as accurate as for paper. Your definition is worthless - you say gold has value because people say it does - try again. Why does paper have value - because people believe it does. In both cases faith, pure faith is the definition - so explain how they are different. I don't think you can because for a long time you haven't yet given an explanation for why gold has value that would differ from paper.

@ Rex Caruthers:

Rex - I have no quibbles with the emphasis of the article, but it doesn't offer any arguemtn for gold or not. What the goldbugs always forget is that by their scenerio once we cannot find more gold our currency is done, it cannot expand and so goes economic expansion with it. Once again I will ask - why is gold valuable?

To Mr. Black's column, it is one of his own biases that he reveres FDR to a fault. FDR's economic policies were a disaster - unemployment cycled between horrific and terrible thoughout his pre-war adminstration. The conditions Black notes were almost exclusively a result of the war effort. To lend them credence because of any of his policies is ridiculous. In fact as the economy shrugged off bad policies he passed more which then dipped us again. Outside of prohibition and some infrastructure he was hopeless.

CK - my comment:

to a populace that did want to believe them for very understandable reasons.

was actually meant to provide cover to the French and British politicians who were acting in accordance with a very prevalent thought in their populations - the drastic impact WWI had on their psyche. I believe Chamberlain was widely adored for the Munich peace in our time schtick. I question whether he really believed or just wanted to. Of course in less than a year there was a new Prime Minister in Britain, one who had been warning all the political class what was coming. I probably should have been more clear about which population I was speaking about. I realize that at the time the US was very isolationist as well and FDR had to combat that reality, but my comment was not referencing that situation.

Funny, but I ran across this posting in Contentions after I read the post:

"Crawshay-Williams {Churchill's private secretary - JEM ed.} wrote Churchill a meandering letter on June 27, 1940. He served in World War I, so he wasn’t a coward. But in 1940, he lacked the moral courage either to fight on or to argue straight-out that Britain had already lost the war. So he resorted to an argument that sounds familiar in the context of American declinism today: defeatism wasn’t defeatism; it was realism, and “if and when” an “informed view” demonstrated that there was no chance of victory, Britain should quit while the quitting was good. As is so often the case, the “informed view,” of course, was the pessimistic one.

In June 1940, Churchill was a very busy man, but he took the time to reply the next day. He didn’t, though, take too much time. His response, in its entirety, was as follows: “I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you — to burn & forget.” "

I believe there is a level of moral courage necessary to not think all is relative in this world, and I appreciate that this concept lies outside the norm in the political world where everything is relative. There is evil, and Israel is currently right in its crosshairs. We can quibble over Israel should have boarded the ship more heavily armed, been more prepared to share their story immediately with the press, etc. But it's errors in execution do not mean they were wrong to do so and they do not deserve the criticism they are receiving. It is a reflection of the world's notion of relativity. I think quibbling whether it is exactly this or that is insane - yes insane. I like to look at the big picture, often times bigger than most are willing to acknowledge. We are in a cultural war for our survival. And we are barely playing defense.

Nothing ever parallels the past but it can track uncomfortably close to past events on a general line and in that case I will forgive the author his perhaps overly simplistic analysis that suggests the western democracies seem to be sticking their heads in the sand because it is too difficult to either believe directly what our enemies say in broad daylight, or what our current leaders predominently say about nuclear disarmament when one nation just torpedoed another nation's ship and the other one has promised to wipe little zion off the face of the planet.

But hey, I work in the world of HR where we have to deal with the fact that all the fairy dust rules and laws don't mean a hill of beans to most employees and just work to keep bad employees on the job with a gun to their employer's head.

But, its all good - the fact that you have taken the exact opposite argument on progressives by giving the term a definition you are comfortable with, one that they never used for themselves, that's fine.

Guess what - I do believe in evil, and I believe it works to obtain power at all costs in order to lord over the rest of us. I find the parallels between now and the pre WWII era rather scary, your phrase - "Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that both sides are equally right. On the good side, it’s absolutely certain that both sides are, unquestionably, wrong." - sounds like a world unwilling to confront what is facing them in the face. I believe if you read enough British and French pre WWII history you will notice your comment paraphrased by most of the leading political figures, to a populace that did want to believe them for very understandable reasons. The difference is that the leaders had information that the population did not. Hey, but what's 50 million dead between friends, right.

To FDR's credit, he understood that.
Had he not quietly begun the mobilization effort who knows what might have happened in Europe.