- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I’m not sure where Nicholas Zizelis of Amagansett, N.Y., went to school, but I’ll bet it was a public school. God help us if a majority of Americans have the same foundation in history Mr. Zizelis does.

Mr. Zizelis (“Revisionist history,” Mailbox, Sunday) thinks some among us are working overtime to destroy the credibility of the new administration by revising history. Apparently we conspire to show that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s spending over eight years on an alphabet soup of social programs was not what got us out of the Great Depression. By doing so, we destroy President Obama’s rescue plan before it can even take root and grow. However, no historical revision is required.

I need look no further than the raw data to see that FDR did not lift us out of a depression with his prewar spending. Gross domestic product (GDP) was $103.6 billion in 1929, a value not surpassed for 12 years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 345 when the stock market crashed, a value not seen again for 25 years. Unemployment was less than 5 percent in 1929. It peaked at 25 percent in 1933 and flirted with 15 percent just twice during FDR’s prewar administration. It didn’t drop below 5 percent until 1942.

World War II was the event that energized our nation’s economic engine and drove us out of the depression. American industry built ships faster than our enemies could sink them. It built airplanes faster than our enemies could shoot them down. It built tanks and trucks faster than our enemies could blow them up. When the war ended, America was the only nation left standing with an intact economic infrastructure. Our cities had not been bombed. Our factories, roads, bridges and harbors had not been destroyed. The postwar world was an American businessman’s dream come true.

FDR arguably did not cause the Great Depression. I can point to more plausible causes, such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, that helped turned a severe recession into the Great Depression, but FDR’s actions from 1933 to 1941 did little to lift us out of the economic morass.

Using the FDR template again will be a serious mistake. I can only pray that it won’t take 12 years and another global conflagration to realize that fact.

PATRICK MCGINN

California, Md.

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