The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

He's Still "That Man". Thus Slate columnist Daniel Gross informs us that Republican efforts to reform Social Security are motivated by nothing more than the Elephants' desire to revenge themselves on four-term presidential icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

I know that's true in my case, because I listened to stories at my father's knee about how Alf Landon should have been elected president. Well, no, I didn't, because my dad was born in 1943*. Actually I thought I objected to Social Security because of its absurdly low rate of return, less than 2%. (Though I do confess to snickering when PJ O'Rourke's mot juste about FDR being wheeled up the disabled access ramp to Hell.)

Which reminds me, how about an examination of my motives for opposing Slate Magazine? Its writing is alternately feckless and idiotic. Here's Gross' incisive reification of the status quo:

For 70 years, conservatives have been telling us that the American economy—whether it's in recession or whether it's booming—is laboring under the shackles of the burdensome taxation and misguided regulation placed upon it by FDR and his successors. Somehow, stocks would do better if the SEC were weaker and we'd all be wealthier if seniors weren't guaranteed a minimum income, funded through payroll taxes. But America's economic mastery since 1945 has served as an ongoing and constant refutation of their most dearly held beliefs. It still does today. As George Melloan concedes, "The New Deal basically expanded the reach of government, and things worked out OK." Actually, they worked out great. Some people still can't get over it.

In 1980, after a half century of the liberal welfare state, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in the 800's. Reagan slashed regulation and lowered corporate taxes, and now the Dow Jones is at around 4550 in 1980 dollars. I don't see how this is a validation of FDR's policies.

(* Landon died in 1987, at the age of 100.)



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