“FDR is Dead: Time to Move On,” by Jonah Goldberg, National Review, http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200412170916.asp, 17 December 2004.
FDR, Destroyer of the American Economy and negligent to the loss of million of lives worldwide, might be on President Bush’s side in the pension wars:
Of course, liberal mythology about the New Deal legend is, uh, legendary. Still, it’s worth noting that the New Deal surely prolonged the Depression and did far less for poverty than the textbooks claim. The first point is not even particularly controversial. The second is debatable. But what isn’t in dispute among scholars is that it was World War II, not the New Deal, that served to pull America out of its economic doldrums.
But in all the propaganda about FDR, a more salient point has been conveniently lost. It would be entirely in keeping with FDR’s legacy to rip apart the Social Security system if there was even a chance that it could be improved. The overarching theme of FDR’s entire governing philosophy, constantly touted by virtually his entire Brain Trust, was “experimentalism.”
When Raymond Moley, a leading early Brain Truster, was asked to provide a philosophical justification for FDR’s approach to government, he — along with nearly all of the New Dealers — cited Pragmatism. Moley even noted that FDR had studied under William James, the founder of Pragmatism, at Harvard. The historian Eric Goldman wrote of FDR, “he trusted no system except the system of endless experimentation.” FDR himself made this point time and time again. “I have no expectation of making a hit every time I come to bat,” he explained in a fireside chat. At Oglethorpe University, FDR declared, “this country needs bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” And always and everywhere, FDR emphasized the important thing was to take action first, and fix the problems later.
First, we might only save a trillion or so, and now President Roosevelt is on board. SS Reform is looking worse and worse all the time…