This is an important discussion to have in our current crisis, and in trying to decide just how much the government should be doing, if anything, to pull us out of the recession.
Economists have spent 80 years trying to understand the causes of the Great Depression, but the debate that has gained attention in recent years centers on the reasons why it was so deep and so prolonged. America has seen many depressions, and historically, we are in and out in a matter of 2 or 3 years. But the Great Depression is so “great” because it was so unusual. The prevailing wisdom is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” policies saved us from certain economic disaster, but many critics point to these very policies—massive federal “stimulus” spending, public works projects and social safety-nets, etc.—as the very factors which pushed the depression through an entire decade, and that America would have been back on track years earlier if the market had been allowed to correct itself.
On July 9, 2010 at the FreedomFest Conference in Las Vegas (www.freedomfest.com), FEE president Lawrence W. Reed debated University of Nevada-Las Vegas economist Bernard Malamud on the subject of the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt. This is a video recording of that 50-minute debate. (link below)
I had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Reed while in Atlanta a couple of months ago, and he was very warm and welcoming. I would advise anyone interested in economics—particularly of the free-market sort—to look into one of FEE’s economic seminars. It was enlightening, to say the least.