Monday, August 2, 2010

Book: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

Subtitled A New History Of The Great Depression

The title came from an essay (or here) by William Graham Sumner: “The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: ‘A’ and ‘B’ put their heads together to decide what ‘C’ shall be made to do for ‘D.’ The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that ‘C’ is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character, and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society through ‘C’s’ interests, are entirely overlooked. I call ‘C’ The Forgotten Man.”

To Roosevelt, "D" was the forgotten man.

Not exactly sure what messages the author may have been trying to present in The Forgotten Man. However, what I took from the book is that the "experiments" of the New Dealers from 1932 to 1940 were never able to reduce the unemployment to any pre crash levels of 1929. It wasn't infrastructure building that pulled the country out of the Great Depression, it was war material manufacturing.

There was a passage in the book that the author talked about the infrastructure rebuilding. Shlaes identifies it as another word for pork. Unsaid was that pork is votes. That is what the experiments of the 1930s was about.

Is it possible to learn from past history.

Don't want to read the book. Check out this review and interview at Reason.Com

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