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The New Deal
- A Little Astonishing Background - COMPARE

The New Deal in all its regulation, makework, micromanagement, bureaucracy, and ultimately, taxes -

Note that (A) the New Deal, for all its intervention and bureaucracy (down to 14% unemployment at its best), failed to solve even half the Depression (25% unemployment) - it took timesizing (19% to 10%, 1938-41) and World War II (1.9%, '43) to solve the Depression, and (B) Roosevelt himself admitted he made a mistake - in 1935 he "voiced regret that he did not get behind the Black-Connery Thirty Hour Week Bill and push it through Congress" while the political climate was right (Labor, Oct.8, 1935, cited in Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work, p.29 and Roediger & Foner, Our Own Time, p.252-53). (B+) John Maynard Keynes, too, admitted that the New Deal's massive government intervention that became synonomous with his name (Keynesianism) was strictly temporary. In a letter to The New York Times in 1934, he wrote, "I see the problem of recovery in the following light: How soon will normal business enterprise come to the rescue? On what scale, by which expedients, and for how long is abnormal government expenditure advisable in the meantime?" (cited in Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, 6th Ed., p.277).

Keynes admitted we were waiting for something to enable us to quit the abnormal government expenditure. We've now been waiting 64 more years. Phil Hyde maintains that what we were waiting for was an idea that was already present in 1932 in a book and in 1930 in corporate practice. In 1932, Arthur Dahlberg recommended a 20-hour workweek in his book, Jobs, Machines, and Capitalism and in 1930, the Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek, Mich. instituted a 30-hour workweek. At first they cut pay to the 35-hour level but they had it back up to the 40-hour level by 1935. See Ben Hunnicutt, Kellogg's Six-Hour Day (Temple: Philadelphia, 1996).

‡ All page numbers refer to Benjamin Hunnicutt's wonderful history of the Great Depression, Work Without End (still available in paperback from Temple U: Philadelphia, 1988). This was the first history of the Great Depression that Phil Hyde had ever seen that did not give him the impression that the author had failed to really get to the bottom of it and had instead gone into suspension at some shallower level and been bewitched by the chioscuro of FDR's charismatic head tossing and chin jutting against the spreading hopelessness and despair of the Depression, not to mention by the truly massive propaganda campaign that FDR's brainstrusters proceeded to unleash on the nation (pp.172, 174, 175, 189, 240, 241).

For more details, see our campaign piece, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from * and at the Harvard Square Harvard Coop, 3rd floor, Mgmt and Economics sections, Cambridge, Mass.

Comments, questions, suggestions?  E-mail us or phone 617-623-8080 (Boston).

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