Myth: FDR Didn't Have a Clue About His Economic Plan

In the comments, Randy voices what appears to be a myth about FDR’s economic policy:

I don’t recall where I heard about it, but FDR was pretty much making shit up as he went along. He’d wake up in the morning and basically throw darts at a dartboard to determine his economic policy. I think this is something that I heard on NPR – This American Life, pretty much hardcore left wing people.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about the subject. I haven’t read any books on FDR or the Depression.
Please understand that this was a crisis situation, and they had to get out of it. The Republicans, just like today, had absolutely nothing whatsoever to offer. Hoover had sat on his fat ass for 3 whole years of the Depression saying over and over that we could not interfere in the sacred “Business Cycle.” My father lived through that era as a child, and he practically spit out those words “business cycle,” all the while waving his hands abracadabra like a magician when he told me about Hoover’s ideology. Indeed, Republicans of the day had turned “the business cycle” into a religious totem in the same way neoliberal idiots worship a fetish priest called “the invisible hand.”
It’s all crap. There is no magic in capitalism. Sure, it’s an engine, a powerful one at that, but unregulated it’s often more akin to a runaway freight train than anything else. No one quite knows what the unregulated market is going to do.
We do know it’s going to blow up from time to time, and maybe take the economy of the whole world down with it. Unbelievably, instead of seeing this as an obvious bug in desperate need of patching, this bug-virus aspect of capitalism is elevated to the status of a feature!
It’s as if Microsoft Word would totally blow up from time to time, destroying all your data, ruining the program itself and requiring a total reinstall. Instead of people screaming about this horrible bug, users would rave about the great auto-destruct feature, a glorious aspect of the great Microsoft World Cycle, a creation in destruction that beat all of the more stable word processors hands down. And everyone would rush out to buy the crazy program that sooner or later would Hiroshima all your data.
That’s what worship of the business cycle amounts to. No one even knows if it’s a cycle. Maybe the world economy gets progressively more and more fucked as these crashes happen. Nor does anyone know when the system will blow up. If capitalists could make a killing blowing up the system like they blew up the US financial markets, they’d probably be doing it all the time.
So there is no cycle, there is no magic hand. There’s just chaos, like a wild virus on the loose in the ecosystem that no one understands and no one knows what it will do next.
When we regulate capitalism, we take out some of the economic hurricanes and killer heat waves and thereby make the system more stable and easy to work with. But capitalists live for the killings and the crazy weather. The crazy weather that takes the gambling house down on top of the flush players grubbing through their winnings.
Republicans are the same now as they were then – insane.
Keynesianism was a new thing then, but most sane governments around the world relied on massive government stimulus deficit spending and public works projects to get out of the Depression. The greater the stimulus, the deficit spending and the public works projects, the quicker they came out of it. The Nazis came out of the Depression before anyone else with this same tried and true formula.
A lot of the projects FDR came up with were radical, even revolutionary, and no one knew if it was going to work or not. In a sense Randy’s anecdote is correct; FDR was throwing stuff up against the economic wall to see what would stick. But at least it was an activist economic regime, in contrast to the loser Republicans with their failed ideology, dead in the water then the same as today.
Republicans are just insane people. They must know that state stimulus deficit spending and public works projects are the way out of a deep depression, but they have always denied it and instead pushed for insane shit that only deepened and prolonged the Depressions. I don’t understand Republicans. They’re either liars or ideologues or insane, or maybe all three.

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0 thoughts on “Myth: FDR Didn't Have a Clue About His Economic Plan”

  1. I’m sorry Robert but I don’t know what planet you’re living in. The New Deal slowed economic recovery, it didn’t accelerate it. What you’re claiming is just on it’s face impossible historically as well as scientifically. You’re even admitting that you haven’t read anything on the subject.
    It wouldn’t matter that you hadn’t read anything if you understood the science of Economics. Economics would inform you that saying FDR’s policies accelerated economic recovery is the equivalent of saying that the reason a pig is on the roof of a building is because he flew there. Economics proves a prioristically (before we study the history) that what you’re saying is impossible logically.

    1. Furthermore, your hyper-classical economic theory doesn’t even world. Yep. Classical economics doesn’t work. At least Keynesianism works and we can prove it. Your theory can’t possibly be a science because it doesn’t even work in the first place. Theories that fail are not scientific. Look at this recent economic crash. That’s your scientific classical economics in action. Totally blew up the US economy and that of most of the world. Wow, that’s some scientific theory you’ve got there! Nice theorizing!

      1. You’re just lacking an entire understanding both historically and scientifically. Keynsianism does not work and has never been proven to work. And if the next thing you’re going to say is because there wasn’t enough spending, don’t look now but you’re basically regurgitating Milton Friedman’s take on the Great Depression, that sad little man the Republicans love to worship. Oops.
        Listen, the longest depression in US history happened when the government had implemented the Keynsian central banking practices you promote, not before. AFTER the creation of the Federal Reserve, NOT BEFORE.
        The Fed was never removed, so how can you say that is “classical” anything? Will there be no end to your revision of things that are undeniable? Sir, I urge you to buy some books on the subject of Economics. It would truly enlighten you.

        1. No! Keynesianism does work. It’s actually been proven in theory. Your classical stuff in any form whatsoever, the watered down kind or the real deal, absolutely does not work. It blows up the economy all the time.
          The closest thing to a pure classical approach was tried in Chile in by the Friedmanites early in Pinochet’s term. It was a total catastrophe and produced one of the worst depressions in Chilean history. Pinochet only got the ball rolling again through the use of state intervention and Keynesianism.
          Economics really is not a science. This is where you and the Austrians are all washed up. It’s mostly just a bunch of guys with a bunch of different, mostly ideological “models.” You choose which model you wish to believe in mostly based on your ideology. I happen to think that state interventionism and Keynesianism actually has more science behind it than most of the rest, but it’s still a dismal science. Your efforts to portray this as some form of financial physics are pitiful.

        2. Again more historical revisionism in favor of a position that can’t be sustained.
          Economics is a science. It’s the youngest of all sciences and obvious why you and most people wouldn’t understand it. Nevertheless you seemed to have picked a position that favors your ideologies.
          You can’t even group the different schools of Economics properly. If you knew anything about the Austrian school it’s that they very seldom use models, and NEVER EVER try to turn Economics into formulas and equations. That’s the other schools. You’re proving you can’t back up your claims, Robert.

  2. Well then they are truly insane. They think they are physicists studying money. Fuck em. They’re well and truly gone. Ideologues to the core. The exact opposite of a scientist.
    Of course economics is not much of a science. Any competent economist will laugh and tell you that.

    1. Ugh. I always end up having to go into these arguments and getting stuck explaining the fallacies the other side has when approaching their position…
      Economics is a science. There is no denying it. It is the science of human action. As a historicist, you cannot approach talking about a historical event through analyzing the “facts” because there are no facts available in the way the natural sciences have facts.
      History is a complex phenomena that cannot be replicated in a laboratory. Because of this, it must be approached with previous theorems of modes of acting. You can call Economics dismal, but you cannot deny that when you talk about a historical event, you incorporate modes of acting. You incorporate values of judgment.
      It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Socialist or a Capitalist. In acting there is cost. There is profit and loss. Economics deals with these things man. It is a science, and whether you like it or not, if you don’t understand it, your understanding of much more complex things will show.

      1. >In acting there is cost. There is profit and loss. Economics deals with these things man. It is a science, and whether you like it or not
        Blah, blah. Human Action has about as much intellectual and scientific credibility as Capital nowadays. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reason that practically zero economists put much stock in von Mises is because he makes trivially disprovable predictions. It’s not that they are all “too stupid” to understand his deep, perfectly logical, and 100% irrefutable utterances. You are pretty much identical to a committed Marxist who is convinced that the world is too stupid to understand the powerful and ironclad reason of Marx. You will be forever waiting patiently for the impending doom and collapse of statist welfare states just like loyal Marxists are forever patiently waiting for that darn rate of profit to fall.
        Lrn urself sum empirical studyings, son.

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