Letters to the Editor
Readers write about whether President-elect Obama can become another FDR – and if he can, whether or not he should.
Can (or should) Obama be another FDR?
Regarding the Nov. 24 Opinion piece, "FDR saved capitalism – now it's Obama's turn": If author Robert S. McElvaine really wants President-elect Obama to save capitalism, then he should suggest that the first thing Mr. Obama do once he takes office is eliminate the Federal Reserve system and fractional reserve banking practices. This is the cause of our current crisis and it was the cause of the Great Depression, as well.
Central banking is a socialist institution and it is not possible for free enterprise to coexist with this centralization of our capital markets. So, unlike Mr. McElvaine, I am hoping that the banking system cannot be saved.
McElvaine and others continue to blame the people's economic liberty for this crisis. They are wrong. It is the Federal Reserve system that is to blame.
It was the Federal Reserve that caused the current recession, through inflationary monetary policy. FDR turned the recession of his era into the Great Depression, which lasted 15 years, by not allowing the market to correct the mistakes made by businesses before the recession. It's the same thing that is happening today.
Capitalism is not the problem. It's the government and central banking that are the problem.
Mr. McElvaine hit the nail on the head, and I hope that this history lesson is learned well by our incoming president.
President-elect Obama seems to have the same connection with the people that FDR had. I hope he uses this as a tool to enact policies that reflect what the majority of people in this nation want – a sustainable yet free economy. For almost eight years, we have been subject to the whims of a vocal minority who either have all the money, or falsely believe they can acquire it through the policies of a neoconservative administration. They share the same fervor for deregulation that led us into the Great Depression.
I hope that our leaders take McElvaine's suggestions to heart. More important, though, I hope that, in the future, it doesn't take disastrous outcomes like the current crisis to make people take a more careful look at history.
As philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Professor McElvaine's revisionist history of the Depression reinforces notions about capitalism that seem prevalent today.
While the idea of FDR's "saving" the US from the Depression continues to thrive in popular American mythology, the facts speak for themselves. By 1938, the only industrialized country with higher unemployment and lower industrial output (compared with 1929) was France. The explanation of why the US finally emerged from the Depression is clear – the imminent outbreak of World War II made the president realize that he needed the full output of America's industries to fight the war and that he would never get it by continuing anticapitalist policies.
No reasonable person doubts the need for adequate oversight in a capitalist economy. But the government's intervention was over the top during the Depression and it's heading that way now, primarily as a consequence of Congress's conviction that it is more capable of "fixing" the economy than the marketplace itself.
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