Sunday, February 22, 2009

Testing FDR's Legacy

Talk is we are in another Great Depression. If that’s the case, we will be testing some of FDR's legacy we have not tested before – or at lease not to the extent we are fixing to test it. That is, if we are in another Great Depression.

The Great Depression tested Capitalism as it has never been tested before. The bread lines, the Hoovervills, the bank failures, the really, really bad PR pics that we can still googly up today, these all attest to the failure of our all American capitalist system in the 1930's. Communism and Fascism rose to try and take it's place, and would have had not capitalism - or at least its war fighting capabilities - proved the better system.

FDR came in and made changes, even bigger changes than today's largest stimulus package – ever. One of these was social security. Seeing seniors citizens who worked all there lives and were passed their productive, wage earning years become wards of the state – homeless in today's jargon – and everyone just knew in their bones, this wasn't right. So, employers and employees paid into a fund from which workers could draw when they got too old to work anymore. No more old farts who had worked all their lives and are now living in the parks and out past the edge of town where nobody wanted to live became a thing of the past. Sure, we still got them, but nothing like it would be if we didn't have social security.

Unemployment insurance, the economists' friend – economists love unemployment payments because when the economy get bad, they go up, and it's the government who pays for it. It's all automatic. Is this not a great country, or what? End a recession, no. Soften a recession, yes. Unemployment insurance is the legacy stimulus plan from FDR, and it will kick in long before any Obama stimulus package hits the streets.

Things like social security and unemployment insurance were put in place, or at least started by the likes of FDR and his Skywalker, LBJ, and now they will be tested like they have never been tested before.

That is if we are in the next Great Depression. If this depression is not as great as its more infamous predecessor, then it's due to the automatic system, FDR legacy, that was put in place some seventy or so years ago.

Just so you know.
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