Some Facts About "The New Deal" You Probably Didn't Learn in High School
The Great Depression lasted far longer than any other depression in American history.
Unemployment in 1939 was higher than in 1931, and only slightly better than the first two years (1932 and 1933) of the Great Depression.
Between 1937 and 1939, the value of the stock market plunged by half, business failures jumped by 50%, and real estate foreclosures were much higher than after FDR passed away.
The national debt increased by two and a half times during FDR's reign. The debt grew as much in the last eight years of the 1930's as it had in the previous 150 years of our nation's existence. (It's rather quaint to think that the gargantuan debt of that time was a mere $40 billion.)
Government spending kept prices of grain, steel, and many other exports artificially high, which meant that people from other countries did not want to buy them, and which ensured a longer period of high unemployment.
America's birthrate dropped significantly during FDR's administration.
Suicides were high during the entire decade of the 1930's, as were reports of "accidental deaths" such as being hit by a train.
Life expectancies for all races dropped--very significantly for blacks.
The rate of divorce increased dramatically.
From 1900 to 1960, there were only seven years where America experienced more than 10,000 murders. All seven of those years occurred during the 1930's.
Crime skyrocketed, and the number of arrests in 1939 was almost exactly double that of 1932.
According to a League of Nations study, nearly every other nation affected by the Great Depression recovered from it much more quickly and successfully than did the United States.
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I must admit that I think President Roosevelt meant well. He really didn't want the American people to suffer. So I don't blame him nearly as much as I blame the historians who whitewashed the whole "New Deal" affair.
After nearly two of FDR's terms of having tried and tried and tried to make things better, FDR's best friend and Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, said
We are spending more [money] than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous, [but] we have never made good on our promises...I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started...And an enormous debt to boot!"Almost everyone seeks for the welfare of his or her neighbor. It is wrong to suggest that just because we despise FDR's policies (for their failure) that some of us have any less interest in making sure that our neighbors are taken care of. The point is that large federal government welfare programs do not work, despite the grandest good intentions of the history book writers.
The social policies of FDR's New Deal were an unmitigated disaster. It is a travesty, then, that Washington D.C. continues to apply the same sure-to-fail policies nearly a century later.
Note: To read the details behind the sobering statistics listed above, please refer to the book New Deal or Raw Deal? by Burton W. Folsom Jr.