Blogs > Liberty and Power > "The New Deal Worked": Why Do So Many People Accept that as "Fact?"

Jan 6, 2009 11:06 am

"The New Deal Worked": Why Do So Many People Accept that as "Fact?"

Most people, journalists included, accept the notion that the New Deal “worked” to shorten the Depression. Many economists, and to a lesser extent, historians, disagree. Why, then, do criticisms of the New Deal get met with a blank stare akin to stating that the world is flat? Recently, one pundit declared the New Deal success a fact; nay, an incontrovertible fact. To argue otherwise is “abject insanity.” Only dim-witted conservatives would believe such nonsense.

At the risk of being labeled “insane,” here goes. . .

In 1995, economic historian Robert Whaples published a survey in the Journal of Economic History asking “Where Is There Consensus Among American Economic Historians?” (Vol. 55, March 1995). Half of the economists and a third of historians agreed, in whole or in part, that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression.

For the rest, see here.

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William J. Stepp - 1/6/2009

I've only read a few things by Dean Baker, but enough to know he's not exactly a libertarian, certainly not a principled one.
He has co-authored stuff on economic policy with Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman and Jared Bernstein, all of whom never met a big government intervention they didn't love, at least when sponsored by a Democrat, so how could he be a libertarian?
He is good on the monopoly formerly known as intellectual property (he's against intellectual monopoly). Krugman also wrote a good NYT op-ed smashing it as well, the only good thing by him I've ever read.
He's also caught up in the technical minutiae of government intervention, like reforming the CPI. That's a big red flag. Libertarians don't want to reform stuff like the CPI, we want them done away with or at least done privately. If a private outfit wants to measure price changes and publish them, fine.

Keith Halderman - 1/6/2009

In 1938, fives long years after the the New Deal became an ugly reality, there were more people unemployed, more people on the dole and more families on the dole than there were in 1933 when Saint Roosevelt took office. Those are facts and have nothing to do with ideology. Your denial of these facts, however, has everything to do with ideology.

chris l pettit - 1/6/2009

so ideologues exist in economics...what a surprise!?!? Especially on these pages...

I wonder if, since there are climate change denialists (who I have also seen on this page), we can come up with a new category...New Deal denialists...

You do realize that one of your own (Dean Baker) is excoriating those who think the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression?

Look, I love you guys for your rights stances (at least civil rights), but please, put the economics away...or admit your ideological biases...that way those of us looking of objective analysis can at least look for the nuggets of wisdom that inevitably can be located within the ideological ignorance.