I have seen a fair number of articles recently suggesting that–if elected–Biden should pattern his economic approach on that of FDR.
Historians tell us that FDR was no ideologue; to the contrary, he was pragmatic. When he assumed office, he was faced with an economic situation for which there were no obvious remedies, and as David Brooks recently reminded us,
New Dealers were willing to try anything that met the specific emergencies of the moment. There was a strong anti-ideological bias in the administration and a wanton willingness to experiment. For example, Roosevelt’s first instinct was to cut government spending in order to reduce the deficit, until he flipped, realizing that it wouldn’t work in a depression.
“I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is,” one of his top advisers admitted. That pragmatism reassured the American people, who didn’t want a revolution; they wanted a recovery.
One of the things about Joe Biden that I personally find reassuring is precisely that lack of rigid ideology, and what I perceive as a willingness to respond to the challenges of the moment. Sometimes, a proper response will be ambitious, sometimes cautious.
There are two very different approaches to economic policy displayed in the comments readers post to this blog. There are those who have a favored economic system that they insist is “the” answer to every problem, and there are those who– recognizing the ambiguities and complexities of economic life– have come to terms with the fact that neither capitalism nor socialism is a one-size-fits-all answer to what ails us. Both systems are subject to distortion and capture, and both are destructive when they operate in economic areas for which they are unsuited.
Every successful economy currently operating is a mixed economy. That includes Scandanavia, which on several measures has a more robust free market than the U.S. According to research from the World Happiness Report
What exactly makes Nordic citizens so exceptionally satisfied with their lives? This is the question that this chapter aims to answer. Through reviewing the existing studies, theories, and data behind the World Happiness Report, we find that the most prominent explanations include factors related to the quality of institutions, such as reliable and extensive welfare benefits, low corruption, and well-functioning democracy and state institutions. Furthermore, Nordic citizens experience a high sense of autonomy and freedom, as well as high levels of social trust towards each other, which play an important role in determining life satisfaction. On the other hand, we show that a few popular explanations for Nordic happiness such as the small population and homogeneity of the Nordic countries, and a few counterarguments against Nordic happiness such as the cold weather and the suicide rates, actually don’t seem to have much to do with Nordic happiness.
The benefits of a comprehensive welfare state–the “socialism” element–are well documented. A reliable “floor” gives citizens a basic sense of security that research tells us mitigates crime and conflict, among other things. Taxes are high (although not as much higher than ours as Americans think), but citizens get real value for that money–they save what Americans must pay for education and health care, for example.
As economists will confirm, other than their generous welfare states, the Nordic countries are mostly free market economies–in fact, they rank high on several indexes of economic freedom. Businesses are not run by the state, nor are their employment practices dictated by the government. (That isn’t to say that there isn’t reasonable regulation of Scandanavian markets–the sort of reasonable regulation that America has largely abandoned.)
The bottom line is that any successful economy must be a mixture of appropriately-regulated capitalism and judiciously socialized public goods.
As I have noted many times, in order to operate properly, a market requires a willing buyer and willing seller, both of whom can access all information relevant to the transaction. We “socialize” police and fire protection and infrastructure provision, among other things, because that description doesn’t fit those services. (It doesn’t fit medical care, either.) It does fit the production and purchase of consumer goods.
The challenge facing Joe Biden (and hopefully, a Democratic House and Senate) in the wake of the Trump administration’s destruction of both the economy and social trust, is to strengthen the social safety net and return a level playing field to a market that has been corrupted by crony capitalism.
That’s harder and more complicated than one-size-fits-all economic ideology. But properly implemented, it works.
32 thoughts on “A Fair And Balanced Economy”
Well said, thank you for finding a middle way in this argument. I have often thought that the reason that Socialism seems to an attractive alternative to the current expression of Capitalism is that the younger Americans have only ever seen the worst that Capitalism has to offer, the ultimate result of which is the rise of “Trumpism” to power. This idea of a “blended” economy, where social services are properly regulated and consumer goods are subject to market forces, seems like a reasonable idea.
I remember (but cannot locate) an old quote — something like:
“FDR Saved Capitalism with a dose of Socialism”
Sounds right to me. Sorry that is not the exact quote.
Biden gets it. As with FDR, he will be a pragmatist too. Once FDR heard about John Maynard Keynes, investing in job-creating infrastructure saved capitalism from its mindless lurch to the right in THOSE days too.
Today’s Republicans are so corrupt and so ideological, economically, that they are blinded by their own nihilism, arrogance and corruption. Of course, this bleeds over into the Democrats. What else would one expect with the DNC being led by someone without a clue – Tom Perez.
Now, it will be Biden’s turn to retrench the “blended” economy to the point where our citizens will at least have a good shot at making a living.
This is not the nation FDR swore his Oath of Office to protect and serve and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America; this is a crumbling, “deconstructed” government, to use Bannon’s term. This is not the pending world war situation FDR stepped into; this is a cold but quickly warming 2nd American Civil War with the escalating Covid-19 Pandemic added to the vast corruption of the Trump mis-administration since January 20, 2017.
“Historians tell us that FDR was no ideologue; to the contrary, he was pragmatic. When he assumed office, he was faced with an economic situation for which there were no obvious remedies,…”
Joe Biden, IF ELECTED, will be facing the economic situation we watched as it was brought about by Trump and his administration, fully supported by the entire Republican party, which we have watched develop due to avarice and greed. The Trump & Co. destruction is known world wide. Joe will also be facing the effects of Trump’s repeal of past presidents and administrations protective progress which will need to be reenacted to stabilize the foundation of this government before he can begin any “New Deal” he and his administration may seek to put in place. Joe will have to reestablish our years-long diplomatic relations with our many foreign allies and try to placate the destructive measures put in place by Trump to further distance our enemies. Russia will have to be reinstated to the top of the list of our foreign enemies and their agents rooted out from our election system and our very government.
Joe will be forced to recreate the United States of America as once again the most powerful and trusted nation on earth. Obviously, the Scandinavian countries did not allow their economic and government systems to deteriorate to the levels we are now living with which began under the Nixon administration and were thought to be trivial and only in that administration. Before any of you start harping that it was also Democrats who helped bring the current conditions about; it was the ego of the changing administrations which allowed it to gradually slide into oblivion. Just as it was the ego of all administrations who believed no foreign country was brave enough to attack us on on homeland which allowed 9/11 to happen. It was Trump and the GOP who pushed us over the edge of their flat earth society into oblivion.
But Joe Biden will only be faced with the current conditions IF ELECTED.
Wall Street Joe being “pragmatic” and embracing a “New Deal” approach is almost comical. Brooks should have spoken up for Bernie Sanders long before the primary elections.
Noam Chomsky has called Bernie a New Dealer many times. The problem in the USA is both political parties have become owned entities of the Oligarchy. They are two sides of the same capitalist coin. Heads we lose, tails we lose.
The significant difference between the 30s and today is the percent of the working class who were part of a union. A union served many purposes back in the 30s.
There was also an element of communism as a result of unionized workers. FDR went to the Oligarchs and told them if they wouldn’t approve of the New Deal that capitalism may be lost forever. Workers had that much power.
Today, as a result of both captured and spineless political parties, unionized workers have been dwindling from 80% to 12%, which has effectively neutered the working class. The negative consequences of this can be seen in everything from purchasing power, wages, inequality, democracy, policies at both state and federal levels, and laws preventing unionization.
Both Trump and Biden have track records in Washington. Neither of them has done anything for the working class. Obama/Biden had an excellent opportunity to fix the economic problem or at least correct the imbalances but failed to do so after eight long years. As a result, we got the “outsider” called Trump, who was going to “drain the swamp.” LOL
Brooks is a phony just trying to help the DNC candidate win the presidency. He’s a hack and wants to keep his access to a major media outlet, much like Krugman. If they genuinely supported the people in this country, the Oligarchs would have blackballed them from their media pages and forced them onto the dark web.
We certainly need to get away from the blatant ignorance and racism of Trumpism, but thinking a Wall Street captured candidate is going to fix anything with our economic system is farcical.
I agree with this pragmatism and a mixed economy as a good start. To really get to sustainability and fairness while retaining the dynamic creativity of capitalism, I highly recommend Regenerative Economics. Developed by John Fullerton, it is based on years of rethinking economics to work With nature’s creativity instead of against it, and incorporates years of research into what actually works to achieve greater inclusivity, robust levels of participation, creativity, and sustainability. It’s the most exciting proposal I’ve ever seen, and Fullerton’s Capital Institute is working with companies all over the world to prove its value.
Might I suggest that we start with some new anti-trust legislation? If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. We have stood by and watched as a handful of companies get bigger and bigger and control more and more of their markets. It seems as though we need more than one Roosevelt to pull us out of our current situation. We absolutely need a trust buster like Teddy. I hope Joe is listening to Elizabeth Warren.
No, Todd. Biden’s platform is NOT comical, not even “almost”. He and Sanders hammered it out together. Imagine that. As many journalists do, you are creating a story where none exists.
Sorry Vernon, but you’re getting played and have fallen for the DNC’s never Trump campaign. Progressives were conned by Obama/Biden once before — shame on them. If I believe the con a second time — shame on me.
If the Wall Street owned DNC wanted Bernie’s policies, they would have endorsed him as opposed to throwing Biden into the mix and then getting all the other Democratic candidates to drop out and endorsing Biden over Sanders.
Bernie is also getting played by the DNC because he wants Trump gone, but anybody expecting progressive policies from the DNC/Biden, smoke one for me. 😉
Many years ago, as a philosophy major, I was taught that Pragmatism, a la Charles Peirce, was the one true “American” school of philosophy. If so, we could attribute that “ideology” to the New Deal.
At least since Reagan, the Republican party has been as obsessively anti-FDR as Trump is anti-Obama, only not so overtly. They have tried to undo everything related to the New Deal and are still trying to destroy social security. Their FDR-envy manifested itself in renaming anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down for Ronald Reagan, including National Airport. However, some parents gave the name Roosevelt to their children for years after FDR, but if a child is named Reagan, you can count at it being the Irish nature of the name and not the President that the decision is based on.
Gerald Ford is remembered for bringing “normalcy” back to the White House after Nixon, not for his supposed clumsiness, or the fact that he was the first President to enrich himself by charging huge fees for speaking after leaving the White House. Previously they just wrote memoirs.
Joe Biden might certainly be remembered for bringing “normalcy” back, if he wins, but we can hope he will use the occasion to move the country forward to better days. The hard part may be the idea that “taxes” weren’t invented by Satan, and that you need to pay for the “free” society we live in. A more equitable tax structure might help people feel that paying their “share” is a “fair” thing, knowing that everybody is paying their “fair share”.
Too many things for Biden to do, but renaming Washington National Airport is right on the list — about number 8,763, give or take.
If everyone believed as Todd does, then there is no answer available to us as there is no third party. In that case nothing matters about politics anymore, the war has been lost.
That’s extremism. That’s ideology. That’s the kind of blind faith that creates and maintains uber-loyal audiences for entertainment media pundits.
Most of the electorate now has experience with the consequences of electing extremism instead of capable thoughtful collaborative politicians and the country is collapsing around us as intellectual robots tell us their way or the highway. Trump and Pence personify rigid rule based non-thinking and it simply doesn’t work. Obama showed us what must be done but was hamstrung by extremism in Congress.
If we are to recover, empowering a single thoughtful party in government is necessary as a temporary recovery fix just like more national debt is a necessary but temporary recovery fix.
I have faith that the GOP will learn from their mistakes and so will the electorate. To do so though requires a temporarily unemployed GOP and a very active electorate. That answer is far from perfect but also far from the chaos that now defines our government.
Pete, you may want to expand your research because there are many progressive and socialist candidates winning across the country against chosen Democratic candidates. I believe there was one yesterday in a primary.
AOC also won against a heavily-funded Wall Street candidate, and now faces a heavily-funded Wall Street opposition candidate BECAUSE the Republican and Democratic Parties are corrupt institutions.
AOC ran as a Justice Democrat and Democratic Socialist within the Democratic Party.
But, as you said, the two parties have done everything in their power to restrict viable third party and independent candidates. Just voting straight republican or democrat isn’t enough. Just moving from republican to democrat candidates isn’t enough. We’ve witnessed 40 years of that nonsense.
Your excuse for Obama is just a rationalization for a pro-Wall Street administration. Obama/Biden’s policies further widened the wealth and income inequality gaps, but what should you expect from a Citibank chosen administration where all the corrupt bankers saw NO jail time and the so-called healthcare adjustments came from a conservative foundation which gave Massachusetts RomneyCare.
All the evidence is plain to see…we didn’t get to this collapsing moment with just Republican leadership or Donald Trump. It’s been occurring for decades regardless of who occupies the statehouses or Washington.
Pete: “If everyone believed as Todd does, then there is no answer available to us as there is no third party. In that case nothing matters about politics anymore, the war has been lost. ”
Really? Exaggerate much? You act as if this country has had nothing but 2 parties since 1775. Hogwash. You are right, however, about one thing, the “war has been lost” with the so-called two party system for decades going back to at least 1980.
What country have you been living in? The so-called two party system has done the job of the Corporate Class, a job they had been seeking to complete since 1932 when they were calling FDR a …wait for it….. a bad “socialist!”
Please tell me what Democrats have done for the Working Class since Reagan??? I will wait.
Whatever crumbs they may have left under the table, what they HAVE DONE (as a matter of record) more than negates anything they did.
Clinton brought us Welfare Reform. Wow. Guess he showed the GOP he could be tough on the “Reagan Welfare Queen” too! What a guy.
Clinton brought us NAFTA. My goodness, I never knew he had such a hard on for Corporate practices outside the country much less in it! My bad.|
Clinton brought us the repeal of Glass-Steagall. As we all know, the Glass–Steagall legislation described four provisions of the United States Banking Act of 1933 SEPARATING commercial and investment banking. Yes, Sep-arat-ion. Hmmmmm. Many awake economist think this one act of Clinton might have been the key link to the 2008 Crash where millions lost their homes and decent jobs. What a guy! I bet he “felt their pain” on that little piece of business!
Obama. Oh my, where to start.
He made the 2001 and 2003 Bush Tax cuts PERMANENT! Do you take cream and sugar in your coffee? Why thank you, I’m glad you asked!
Obama INCREASED our military footprint (and expenditure) across the globe, but especially in the middle east and Africa. Holy smoke. He sure showed the GOP he was no chicken little when it came to being a bad ass war hawk!!!
Obama (with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Merritt “Hank” Paulson Jr., a former Goldman Sacs CEO) brought us the 900 Billion TARP “deal” that saved millions of jobs and created jobs…. no I’m kidding… it saved Wall Street and the Big Banks!
Obama, also, oversaw the persecution of hundreds of Wall Street and Bank executives who created the ….. no I’m kidding again. NOT ONE significant executive in finance went to jail for causing the so-called Great Recession. Remember, Obama TAUGHT law, so surely he knew there was nothing to be indicted over!!!
Speaking of going to prison, we had whistle-blowers Snowden, Manning and Assange who all EXPOSED the lies of Bush’s Iraq war, the abuses of our military and it’s budget and many other CORRUPT practices of our government. Instead of getting the highest medal for bravery to tell the truth, Obama made sure they would be hunted down like dogs for the rest of their lives!!! Hawk indeed. The GOP loved it all.
Ok. You must get it.
We DO NOT HAVE a “two party system.” We have THE MONEY PARTY. A one party (and yes, they do like to party, especially at Epstein’s island, but I digress…) “system” that serves the INTEREST of the Money Class (cxorporate, wall street, banking, the military system, etc).
Trying to “reform” Capitalism is like saving one’s virginity by having sex. Absurd. And yes, Vern, COMICAL.
Most people have eyes, ears and a brain with MEMORY. Most of us have seen this “economic system” work for the privileged few for WAY too long. Capitalism was saved by FDR, but it has been saved EVERY TIME whenever there has been a recession, a depression, inflation, etc. |
How many times has this FOR PROFIT SYSTEM (because that is its PRIMARY reason for operating) go south??? Look it up. Google is your friend. And some can say with a straight face that it is reform-able???? Yes…that is a joke.
If Democrats insist candidate Biden should embrace Bernie Sanders-style socialism, I guess we should get used to four more years of Donald Trump. Seriously, the Democrats are on the verge of an historic realigning of the parties as the suburbanites leave the GOP leaving the Republican Party the party of rural America where only a fraction of people live. It seems Democrats are eagerly trying to screw that up.
In the economic realm, if Biden doesn’t do anything about income inequality his (hoped for) administration will have been a failure. On the political side, millions of Americans will be longing and working for the return of their twisted and moronic savior, Donald Trump, and will do everything in their power to disrupt and defeat anything resembling progress. Biden must find a way to appeal to these people’s patriotism so they stop doing their best to bring down the nation. On the racial front, Biden will be judged on his ability to build on this moment when, for the first time, racism in America looks vulnerable.
You can at least say a bit in defense of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover who preceded FDR, they were not egoistical – self centered incompetents like The Trumpet. Coolidge and Hoover had the magic of the market belief that Capitalism provided all the answers and would correct itself.
I spoke with several Danes a few years ago at a Medicare 4 All rally here in downtown Indianapolis. I was amazed at the list of social supports they had from birth to death, child care, day care, college – trade school education and health care provided to all via taxes.
Here in the USA we have an ala carte approach if and only if you can afford it.
It would be interesting if there was a list of the social supports and services the Danes, and other Western European countries have vs the USA.
One thing must be and has to be addressed is taxation here in the USA. Profitable companies should not be able to dodge or avoid through various subterfuges paying taxes. Get rid of the depreciation and depletion expenses that used to reduce taxes. Do not allow companies to take their sales and profits “offshore” to some post office box in somewhere land.
Touching on what Todd had to say about Noam Chomsky, I found this interesting and what he had to say about the current state of affairs concerning the upcoming election; >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
“Going back to this election, that’s the reason why it’s the most dangerous, the most significant election in history, why Trump is in fact — this may sound outrageous, but it’s true — Trump is the most dangerous figure in human history. The Republican Party today is the most dangerous organization in human history. You can compare Trump to, say, Hitler. The Wannsee Declaration in 1942 called for killing all the Jews, tens of millions of Slavs, not destroying organized human society. There has been nothing like this. Nothing.”
Now, I’m not a huge fan of philosophers, because usually philosophy comes from an individual’s perspective and their life’s experiences therefore their knowledge and wisdom! And, there have been some very intellectual philosophers throughout history, but they all have major flaws. But I think Chomsky hit the nail on the head with his statement. And, like Chomsky brought out, not philosophically mind you, that the Koch brothers were basically the precursors are progenitors of this current state of affairs concerning the dismantling of society and demonizing intellectuals, scientific and otherwise.
This brings us to being an ideologue, the progenitors of Trump, were ideologues, and therefore, he decided that it could accomplish his goal, to be the supreme authority! Although, to be a supreme authority, you would have to have a certain amount of wisdom and knowledge, you also I would have to have empathy and compassion, you would have to have quite a bit of intellect on top of everything else, and be self-deprecating and humble, our currant POTUS does not possess one iota of any of these traits, he is a hollow shell packed with evil. Some could say insanity, but are those who are power-hungry and insane, evil? Or do they and just need to be locked in a padded cell and treated humanely? I think the 1st question would be more appropriate as a description, the last question is trying to close the barn door after the horse sprinted into the next county! It doesn’t do any good.
But for Todd to claim Chomsky’s opinion on Biden is no different than Trump, well, that’s not the case! Chomsky does not consider Biden an ideologue, he does consider Biden a more pragmatic type of individual. So one would have to say, or ask the question, would Biden improve things over the situation right now? Well, we know that he definitely would do that. Let’s face it, humanity and human society is not perfect, so there is no perfect solution coming from humanity whatsoever. Because humanity has been doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, the only thing that changes, are the faces of the next generation, and they are all bound and determined to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.
Ironically, Chomsky basically parrots Scripture, and I’m sure he’s familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures, he parrots the prophecy in Daniel! The prophecy is of an immense image and the history of mankind rests on the feet of iron and clay! The mixture of iron and clay in the feet of the great image graphically illustrates the condition due to be manifest in the final expression of political world domination. Clay is elsewhere used metaphorically in the Scriptures to stand for fleshly men, made of the dust of the earth. (Job 10:9; Isaiah 29:16; Romans 9:20, 21) Daniel’s interpretation thus appears to equate the clay with “the offspring of mankind,” the mixing in of which produces fragility in that which is symbolized by the image’s feet and toes. This points to a weakening and a lack of cohesion in the ironlike strength of the final form of world domination by earthly kingdoms. (Daniel 2:41-43) The common man would wield greater influence in affairs of government.
And let’s face it, there is no common ground in society right now, it’s either my way or the highway! Unfortunately, as Jesus Christ said in Matthew 12:25 “Knowing their thoughts, he said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself comes to ruin, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
So here’s a case of philosophical opinion lining up directly in unison with scriptural teachings!
But hey, are we going to believe Scripture about anything? Because I know it’s considered ridiculous by atheists, but every moral boundary we have is based on Scripture, almost every law on the books is based on Scripture, being a steward of the planet, relating to your fellow man, even how you relate to your enemies, if that’s the case, then obviously society is based on a lie according to atheists.
Just to introduced another note about Roosevelt and his on-going popularity among some elements of the populace, may I share this? The “sacred steel” tradition grew from an Indianapolis-based religious movement. https://youtu.be/fplRXc2zoDM
Todd; Pete’s comment about President Obama being hamstrung is history; history which we watched as it happened. McConnell let bills and judicial nominations sit on his desk until the Obama administration was gone then quickly, with no research into their qualifications, he began filling federal judgeship vacancies as fast as he could sign the bills. He has returned to allowing his desk to pile up with bills from the Democratic House and sending all Senators home on extended recesses and three-day weekends to prevent action being taken.
I don’t condemn the two party system on the basis of observable outcomes, because outcomes are the effect of many forces NOT under the command of EITHER party. Therefore, it is WEAK to say the two party system fails us because outcomes — including unintended, accidental, bungled, inevitable, misread, poorly measured, etc. — APPEAR to indicate some conspiratorial relationship with larger forces, such as Wall Street banking.
However, I DO CONDEMN the two (or less) party system on the basis of FUNDAMENTAL MATH. Three or more functional political parties offers a much higher PROBABILITY that inter-party cooperation and collaboration will be forced to happen; it has to happen in order for government to function, which is why several parliamentarian governments call new elections to fix the failure to form a working inter-party coalition having a large enough majority to get things done.
In a two party system, enacting policy gets done only when one party is temporarily dominant by virtue of its majority, and (at least half the time)when one party is dominant only ONE INTEREST gets served. But in a three or more party coalition, policy has to serve multiple interests or a majority cannot be formed and the policy proposal will fail enactment.
But we’ve been taught to grade all things by their outcome and to write all scholarly papers citing sources and outcomes.
Well, Socrates and Aristotle DID NOT teach us that. The assholes that taught us that had a grudge against fundamentals and basic reasoning–THEY SOLD OUT TO THE NOTION THAT citing select references and grossly miscalculated outcomes will permit us to sell any lie.
I’m convinced the great underlying forces that compel long term outcomes are fundamental forces, usually mathematical, recognized more by logical reason than by the illusion of apparent outcomes.
Fundamentals though are a difficult sell, especially to consumers who incline toward laziness and love of shiny objects like references and data.
So, I am sold on the idea of a multi-party system of government, but my purchase was not persuaded by the usual display of shiny objects like references and data.
I don’t know where you get your information, but myself and people like me HAVE NOT BEEN PLAYED. Nor are we lifting up our sheets every night to find a new bogeyman.
Yes FDR saved capitalism with a dose of socialism. Germany turned to Hitler and fascist (authoritarian) socialism. The U.S. thankfully turned to FDR and trickle-up socialism.
The GOP for decades has excoriated socialism when it helps the poor and middle class but LOVES socialism when directed to their corporate donors and Wall Street.
The current economy has survived the tremendous economic distortions caused by COVID because workers’ purchasing power had the safety nets of unemployment benefits and moratoriums on evictions, mortgage foreclosures, and utility turnoffs. Unfortunately too many businesses also benefited by stimulus funds intended to keep people employed but which did not. (This from the business man in the White House who supposedly knew how the private sector worked.)
Thank God for the funds and safety nets directed at the jobless. I’ll take trickle up over trickle down every time.
I am old enough to remember during the depression that movies were ten cents (eleven cents after FDR’s ten percent luxury tax) and that we picked blackberries at ten cents per gallon so that we could go to the movies. Usually there was a short before the main show and it was what was called MovieTone News. I more than once saw uniformed communists and Nazis with their hammers and sickles and swastikas marching in New York City in such shorts. I was too young then to understand what I understand now, i.e., that a hungry nation was on the verge of revolution and that we needed the pragmatism of a New Deal or some kind of deal to rescue us from angry mobs who worried less about political posture and more about eating, a dangerous and sometime revolutionary combination.
The New Deal was neither right nor left, it was new and necessary in order to avoid falling into Hitler’s and Stalin’s then prospering authoritarianism, and those who now retrospectively complain about FDR’s use of government to do what the “system” was failing to do need to rethink their position since, if something hadn’t been done, we would live in a different world, or not, depending upon post-atomic politics. Whining about what could have been ignores the reality of what was, and any attempted political solution will yield to retrospective inspection, though I for one think the New Deal (as a move away from the laissez faire Republican 1920s) stood the test of time up until Reagan (who put the finishing touches on its destruction).
So as to Biden and a reinstatement of New Dealism – This is not 1933, and Biden’s New Deal cannot match FDR’s New Deal details because the ground has shifted with time and targets. Biden’s new New Deal will start in recession and (I hope) not depression and his targets will be to end such evils as wage inequality while ending the preferred tax status of the rich and corporate class, and especially the investor sub-class within that grouping. The internal revenue and bankruptcy codes will likewise be targets for reform, as will a redo of our foreign policy. I look forward to the formation and application of such reforms to the nearly ruined economy and democracy we are currently enduring under a man who (literally) does not know what is going on, and in any event, doesn’t care.
Please note: Todd is historically wrong about unions having great power in the 1930s. It was 1935 before the Wagner Act was passed. Strong unions then became possible, but only after immense organizing efforts against them. WWII and its aftermath made the unions a force in the nation. That force has been weakened by the same factors that have weakened capitalism: individual ego and organized greed, together identified as “human nature.”
Much like it’s “definitely” not “definately”, it’s “Scandinavia” not “Scandanavia”.
Silly, I know, but it kept bugging me. 🙂
Vernon, I like very much the steel you put into words, often clothed in velvet; ahhh, the “velvet hammer”. It temps me to read your novels.
I thought that one of the points that Sheila made with her usual clarity is that the US, and I will add most of the rest of the modern world as well, have mixed economies: capitalism where regulation sets the rules and real competition can be maintained and socialism where the means of production are owned by all of us, otherwise. They both have to work in order that all stakeholders in business, customers and workers and supply chain partners and investors and the environment and communities are justly served.
Social services are a separate matter that prepares and maintains the people setting in which the economy functions. When the economy is free falling like in ‘07 and ‘08 and now social services has to pick up the slack but when the economy is humming more people depend on their jobs to provide instead of relying on social services.
One of the reasons that black and white ideologies don’t contribute is that for a successful nation all those things have to work and that requires effective means to shift priorities with the times. That was the success of Obama and the failure of Trump.
Entertainment media thrives on loyal audiences created by extremism and divisiveness and works hard at creating them by propaganda/advertising.
We will either learn to resist that extremist black and white propaganda or continue to spiral into oblivion.
The biggest cause of political failure here and now is our arcane campaign finance system which requires billions to be spent on entertainment media in order to be elected. There’s simply no benefit to that approach other than creating a marketplace to unbalance the competing interests that vie for political attention.
Mr. Vernon Turner,
I enjoyed your comments, of course you come from a different approach than I would, but it’s still works very well. And, I don’t think that a person is looking under the sheets to see if the bogeyman is there, they’re looking to see if something else is still there, LOL. Maybe check under the bed or the closet!
JoAnn, very nice!
Pete, good comments also.
Perhaps in the Progressives’ ongoing debate with Regressive Conservatives, we should demand that “regulated Capitalism” tends to enable fair competition and a balanced schedule, meaning most of the capitalists in the game are of sufficient strength to compete, and that makes life interesting for all.
Then maybe we should demand a narrower definition of Capitalism (without modifiers) and focus its meaning to that of an economic system which tends to enable the unimpeded rise of monopolies and by logic the inevitable death of competition.
And within those two definitions lies the major difference between US Democrats and US Republicans. Most of our other issues of difference–social, environmental, etc. –grow out of that one.
The business of defining terms is not something that should be left up to others, not dictionaries and not authorities; not in politics. That entity which first and most definitively defines the issues, the terms, and the opponent’s character almost always wins. Republicans seem better at this than Democrats, who always find themselves on the defensive because they let others define the terms.
A proper definition of Capitalism properly and consistently applied could drive Republicans out of all positions of power.
I started reading the essays in the NY Times 1619 Project, and one of them touches on what is at the root of “American Capitalism”. It is a good read.
James at 6:41 AM: I like the mandolin! Brand? Come down South and pick with us when Covid-19 is just a bad memory! If that day ever comes.
John H at 2:16 PM: Agreed. Those are common misspellings. And oh, that excessive misuse of semicolons. Whew!
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