Jonathan Zimmerman: Debt Debate: The Myth of the Good Old Days Before Big Government
Once upon a time, Americans were sturdy and self-sufficient. They didn’t rely on politicians for a handout; instead, they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.
Then along came the Big Bad Federal Government, with its needless services and regulations, softening a once-proud people into a nation of wimps. And it left us with an enormous unpaid bill, which we’re passing along to our children and grandchildren....
It wasn’t pretty, especially when the economy took its periodic dips. Every student of American economic history has to memorize the dates of these downturns, which have struck like clockwork every two or three decades: 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, and so on. And before our own era, every crisis brought with it massive social upheaval, disorder, and violence.
Consider the so-called Panic of 1837, when an estimated one-third of factory workers lost their jobs. With food prices rising – and without any sustained government assistance – Americans took to the streets to demanded “bread, meat, rent, and fuel,” as protesters chanted. And when their pleas fell on deaf ears, they rioted.
In New York, a mob raided the store of a wealthy flour merchant. “Barrels of flour were tumbled into the street from the doors, and thrown in rapid succession from the windows,” one newspaper reported. Women filled their aprons with flour, “like the crones who strip the dead in battle,” the outraged paper added....
comments powered by Disqus
- Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible
- Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Here's a look at history of 'religious freedom' laws
- ‘Hamilton’ Puts Politics Onstage and Politicians in Attendance
- Earth Tectonic Plate Simulation Reveals Our Planet Has Changed A Lot In 200 Million Years
- Historians make it easy for visitors to DC to understand the history of the Mall
- History's Grandin Wins Bancroft Prize for "The Empire of Necessity"
- Nobel prize-winning scientist writes a history of science
- Ken Burns tackles history of cancer
- If historians have their way, Americans will soon learn how important religion has been in US history