Was the New Deal a Raw Deal?

In the 11th episode of our Ideas in Progress podcast, we sat down with Dr. David Beito, who led the discussion on “Liberty, the Welfare State, and the New Deal” at one of our fall Advanced Topics (AT) Discussion Colloquia.

Host Dr. Anthony Comegna opens the conversation with his viewpoints on the New Deal, likening it to a cartoonish farce, to which Dr. Beito responds:

Dr. David Beito

“There’s a lot of evidence that the New Deal administration was engaging in a lot of shady practices, repressive practices, so we add that attitude to the equation as well. And part of the craziness of the period, of course, is all this money was spent, all these agencies were created, all these rules were brought in, and you have the longest depression in American history, which is lengthened – I think the evidence is pretty strong – it’s lengthened by Roosevelt’s policies during this period.”

– Dr. David Beito

“It’s a failure by all sorts of different standards,” continues Dr. Beito. “And I don’t think that Roosevelt is a very attractive historical character for numberless reasons, and the New Deal is certainly high up on the reasons.”

So how did our government reach a point where massive amounts of power were delegated to the central government? Dr. Beito points to several theories, one being an imbalance or maldistribution of wealth, another being the type of historical figures FDR admired, including his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson.

Roosevelt was involved in all of this wartime mobilization, centralization… I don’t think he had much understanding of business. Roosevelt was born to wealth, and he inherited wealth, and he dabbled in business in the 1920’s. He was never very successful in business. I don’t think he had really a good understanding of those things.

– Dr. David Beito
The New Deal
The National WWII Museum

Dr. Beito also discussed the effect FDR’s failed business attempts on his presidency. “Roosevelt was involved in all of this wartime mobilization, centralization… I don’t think he had much understanding of business. Roosevelt was born to wealth, and he inherited wealth, and he dabbled in business in the 1920’s. He was never very successful in business. I don’t think he had really a good understanding of those things.”

Listen to the full discussion and download this episode of Ideas in Progress and others by visiting our website, SoundCloud, or iTunes. New episodes are available every Wednesday. Interested in more information on IHS programs? Visit our website for additional details on Advanced Topics Discussion Colloquiafaculty and graduate programs, and funding opportunities.

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