Monday, September 22, 2008

History Repeating Itself?

A Live Journal friend of mine posted an interesting entry about the Great Depression and the possibility of history repeating itself. Although I'm usually reluctant to post political entries, I am more than willing to talk about history. And I feel I must take the discussion a step further and point out how Herbert Hoover's reaction to the Great Depression is eerily similar to certain policies today.

After the stock market crash of 1929, Herbert Hoover's administration proved slow to react to the crisis. Being a firm believer in individual freedom, Hoover personally preferred private charity over a federal unemployment agency and public-works projects.

Hoover did little to try and counter the damage caused by the collapse on Black Tuesday. The result - Hoovervilles, shanty towns that sprang up all over the country after families lost their homes because they couldn't pay their mortgages. Sound familiar?

The current Republican administration would prefer to do nothing to help the people losing their homes, their savings, their livelihoods, and only acts to avert the looming disaster with grudging reluctance. And when they do act, it's usually in the interests of big business, not the common man. The current Republican candidate for president has even declared that the fundamentals of our economy are strong even as more and more Americans face financial ruin. Tent cities (also here) are starting to crop up across the nation. Hoovervilles of the 21st century, perhaps?

Hoover's policies failed the people miserably. He was resistant to do what needed to be done. After Hoover finally took a few steps in the direction of government involvement, Franklin D. Roosevelt came to office and instituted his famous "New Deal", proposing public-works programs and other relief programs, programs necessary to drag the USA out of the worst of the Great Depression. Roosevelt knew that the federal government needed to use its power to get the country out of the Great Depression. The Depression did go on, but the various government programs and policy changes of the New Deal seemed to lessen the impact.

There is total resistance to doing what really needs to be done in this country today, and the policies currently in place keep failing the people. Yes, history does have a tendency to repeat itself.

Perhaps what this country really needs right now is another FDR. According to the powers that be here in the USA, Socialism in the form of using the government's power to take care of the needs of a nation's citizenry is a bad idea, even though most other "western" nations don't seem to have a problem with it. Why is that?

On a final note, I am not saying that the current economic crisis is another Great Depression. What I am suggesting is that a shocking similarity exists between the various Depression-era Hoovervilles and the current tent cities. To deny this ignores the lessons history taught us. It would turn a blind eye to the human factor, the real tragedy of the situation. We may not have had the economic equivalent of Black Tuesday 1929, but we already have the social equivalent of the Hoovervilles of that era.

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