A friend of mine pointed me to recent piece in the American Conservative on Glenn Bleck’s historiography. Passages like this make it well worth the read:
Beck maintains that Americans stand at a crossroads between freedom and statism, much like the watershed of 1932—but this time we’ll do right and get rid of the welfare state. In promoting this idea, he is either mendacious or delusional. Americans will not be voting on the New Deal this year or in 2012 but on whether or not to expand Obama’s programs. A certain historical perspective may be needed here: FDR had a truly pressing reason for bold action, even if his policies were largely misconceived and had long-range harmful effects. The unemployment rate was many times worse in 1932 than it is now. And with few exceptions, people in the 1930s depended on single-breadwinner incomes, and the average family of four had far lower earnings than today, even taking inflation into account. Our present dependence on government is not the desperate behavior of impoverished people. It’s a habit instilled by the ideologies of both parties—by security statists and national-greatness conservatives no less than by the old Left.