Michael Barone’s latest article in NRO takes a look at the old New Deal to see if the New New Deal is any different. The discouraging answer is no:
Social engineering of course is far easier when you are dealing with an economy that is frozen in place. It’s harder when you have to deal with the creative destruction, the emergence of new firms and businesses, and the decline of old ones, which as Joseph Schumpeter taught is the inevitable consequence of economic growth.
Roosevelt in the 1930s had some extremely competent social engineers, like Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes and Fiorello LaGuardia, who could enroll 750,000 people on welfare in three weeks and build an airport in less than a year. But even they could not spur the economic growth produced by utterly unknown and unconnected people, as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were in 1970.
When financial crisis looms, there is an impulse to freeze everything in place and accept what is as the best there can ever be: Barack Obama’s new New Deal. The history of the old New Deal suggests this is not a sustainable approach in the long run.
Read the entire article if you are unfamiliar with the New Deal and its results.