Early this evening, the U.S. House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – Obama’s $819 billion stimulus package – by a vote of 244-188.
NOT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTED FOR THE BILL.
Why can’t we learn from history and use it to predict the future?
That modern-day marvel of a historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, can be relied upon to give us superbly documented evidence that history does, indeed, repeat itself.
Right now I am listening to Talking Books of biographies I’ve read along the way – a refresher course, if you will, in what history has to teach.
Few sources offer a clearer picture of the stock market and the forces which led to The Great Depression than Goodwin’s “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.” At least not in a readable and entertaining format.
Joe Kennedy, patriarch of America’s premier political family, was an adviser aboard Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign train in 1932 as it criss-crossed the country. In the context of the Kennedy biography, we get a glimpse of what FDR promised Americans. More importantly, we learn what Americans were desperate for in this direst of times.
While there was no Rush Limbaugh, blasting away on the airwaves, calling for FDR’s failure, there were plenty of naysayers.
During the long train ride, the crippled FDR found rallying crowds at every stop along the tracks. Almost daily he received telegrams of encouragement from people across the nation. Herbert Bayard Swope, former executive editor of the New York World, suggested the presidential hopeful “must prove that liberalism is not radicalism, that reform of the capitalist system did not mean its abolition.”
“Capitalism,” he wrote to FDR, “is the wagon in which we ride to such measure of happiness as it is possible to humanly achieve. It has been a reasonably good vehicle for several hundred years and in it we have gone ahead. Now, it is creaking and in places worn out. This does not mean we must abandon the wagon, that we must climb out and destroy it, and then search for another conveyance or travel through the bogs afoot. It means we must repair it. That we must replace the worn-out parts with new ones. That we must continue to make the wheels go ‘round. That we must see that those riding in it are given reasonably good chances at good seats. After all, capitalism is not an end in itself, but the means to an end.”
Once more our nation faces a time of recovery. Limbaugh, with his microphone, aspires to be the self-proclaimed leader of the right-wing naysayers.
The right-wing would have you believe the stimulus package, aka recovery plan, the House has adopted is throwing your money to the wind and will neither stimulate the economy nor create new jobs. Republicans in the House have continued to beat the Bush drum of permanent tax cuts as the only solution in sight.
Suddenly, the party which spent like drunken sailors has had an acute attack of frugality. Conservatives just love the status quo and quiver in their Guccis at the threat of socialism. They could give a damn about the words of a Tom Joad.
Economic crises and economic recoveries come in cycles, haven’t we learned that? This nation is still a capitalist democracy. Studying past remedies will teach us even more.
Several years ago I went over to meet my new neighbors in the townhouse next door, two young single girls, one very, very pregnant. In the course of the conversation, I asked them what their jobs were. The very, very pregnant girl replied, “I test condoms.” I burst out laughing. I could not help myself!
One of the Republican talking points of the last few days is to claim the stimulus package (ahem!) would provide millions of condoms, presumably to prevent AIDS and other STDs. Knowing this will appeal to the lowest common denominator among us, they have insisted this will not create jobs.
My young neighbor was working for Schmid Laboratories, which has a large plant here in Anderson, South Carolina. Schmid produces condoms, and, yes, it provides jobs.
NOW, THE LESSON FROM HISTORY:
Start with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, 23 September 1932: LINK