Abuse of History

I remember what a total reorientation it was the first time I read Paul Johnson's Modern Times, back in my undergrad days. At the time I considered myself mildly leftist, convinced that the smart people could fix everything if only those dumb yokels would stop clinging to their guns and religion. Well, reading that book put me on a very different track towards understanding public policy. One of the most startling things to my world view was his variant opinion on FDR and the Depression. I mean, of course Roosevelt was a great president! Of course the New Deal brought us out of the Great Depression! Those opinions were taught as fact in my public schools. Well, I'm glad to have had my eyes opened on those points along with many other shibboleths that Johnson challenged in his book (living under a post-Iron Curtain Socialist government in Central Europe went the rest of the way towards opening my eyes).

History's verdict on the New Deal is clearly on Johnson's side over that of the public school text books. Amity Shlaes has a terrific book out (that I mentioned in this post) on the New Deal that demonstrates how government intervention crowded out alternative solutions to the crisis and then screwed the pooch in implementing its own solutions. If you won't take the time to read her book, then please at least read Jonah's short article to get the summary points. All this is pretty much right on to a person with my particular reading history and ideological groundings (thanks again Mr. Johnson), but then my views on our political system (along with Thomas Jefferson's) are now considered to be extremist and practically anti-social!

But most Americans still view the 1930's through the lies they were sold in public school. Thus go unquestioned the pathetic mischaracterizations by Schumer, Biden, et. al, of the current liquidity crisis on Wall Street as a market failure; a consequence of 'deregulation' that only government intervention can cure.

Palin's response to this crisis in the VP debate was the most pathetic of all, however. Clearly the American people are so sold on the progressive lies that the McCain campaign has calculated that countering the anti-market idea is a complete political loser. So their tactic is to run against the market too! Her string of non-sequiturs about regulation, corruption, and abuse were just a bunch of populist BS because that's what the people want to hear. The people not only don't know any better, they don't want to know better. Much safer to stick with the simple, comfortable lies they were taught in school. There is no home for Reason.

UPDATE: I reworded some of this after rereading it sober, but the point is the same.