The Great Myth of the Great Depression

Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR. The man. The myth. The … worst president of the twentieth century. He has some competition for the title, but here are three reasons to nominate him as worst:

  1. FDR was responsible for the unconstitutional and unconscionable imprisonment of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry (over 75k U.S. citizens) during WWII.
  2. FDR was sympathetic to communism, and coddled and propped up Joseph Stalin, the mass-murdering Soviet scum responsible for 10s of millions of deaths and untold suffering behind the iron curtain.
  3. FDR’s “leadership” during the Great Depression was directly responsible for deepening and dragging out the depression much longer than it would have lasted without his inept interventions.

Particularly persistent is the perception that FDR somehow saved America during the Great Depression. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sadly, most Americans are ignorant of these three damning facts. Particularly persistent is the perception that FDR somehow saved America during the Great Depression. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is one of the great myths of the Great Depression, one which dedicated and courageous historians and scholars have been debunking for years.

Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, has written an excellent summarization of the history and related research, titled “Great Myths of the Great Depression“. I highly recommend that you read it, and pass it on to your friends and family. Here are some excerpts:

Old myths never die; they just keep showing up in economics and political science textbooks. With only an occasional exception, it is there you will find what may be the 20th century’s greatest myth: Capitalism and the free-market economy were responsible for the Great Depression, and only government intervention brought about America’s economic recovery….

The Great Depression was not the country’s first depression, though it proved to be the longest. Several others preceded it. A common thread woven through all of those earlier debacles was disastrous intervention by government, often in the form of political mismanagement of the money and credit supply. None of these depressions, however, lasted more than four years and most of them were over in two. The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions….

If this crash had been like previous ones, the hard times would have ended in two or three years at the most, and likely sooner than that. But unprecedented political bungling instead prolonged the misery for over 10 years….

The Great Depression finally ended, but it should linger in our minds today as one of the most colossal and tragic failures of government and public policy in American history…. It was not the free market that produced 12 years of agony; rather, it was political bungling on a grand scale.

Here is a PDF of Lawrence W. Reed’s article: