The Corner

Yes, But Did It Work?

Today in Denver we will hear from former president Bill Clinton, senators Harry Reid and John Kerry, vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden, and a score of others who have devoted their best energies to championing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the myriad of other programs intended to redistribute the wealth.  But what of their inspiration?  What of the historic effort, some seven decades ago, on which every Democrat still looks with wonder and awe?  What of the New Deal itself?

Today on Uncommon Knowledge, we pause over a simple but seldom-asked question:  Did the New Deal actually work?

Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man:  A New History of the Great Depression:

Too much attention has been paid to what political polls said about the New Deal.  Too little has been paid to two other measures….One was the unemployment rate, which did not return to precrash levels until the war.  The other was the stock market….The Dow did not return to 1929 levels until merely a decade after Roosevelt’s death.

The answer, in short, is no.

Amity explains.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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