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Ms Schlaes’ account has the sole defect of failing to explain why FDR was twice returned to the White House in peacetime and why the narrative she wants to debunk remains fixed in popular memory. The man was beloved not because he succeeded but because he tried. A strong argument can be made (and has been made by Conrad Black among others) that Roosevelt saved the social fabric of America at a moment of great danger. Americans believed that the President was doing all within his power to alleviate their suffering.

Republicans, to be sure, refer to Ronald Reagan’s presidency as their benchmark for success. One should not expect Reagan-like economic performance under a Trump presidency. When Reagan took office in 1981, the top marginal tax rate stood at 70 per cent, and the impact of a reduction to 40 per cent was enormous. Public debt was just 30 per cent of GDP, compared to 110 per cent today. America had a monopoly on capital for startup businesses. Ambitious Asians came to Silicon Valley to raise money, for there was nowhere else to go. Today it is easier to raise money in Shenzhen. China in 1980 had just emerged from the Cultural Revolution with its universities in ruins; today China grants twice as many science and mathematics PhDs as the United States. Some are of dubious quality, but most are not.

Most importantly, America’s R&D infrastructure was unrivalled in the world, and a cornucopia of new technologies was available for commercialisation: inexpensive semiconductors, personal computers, optical communications, and other inventions that transformed daily life. Federal R&D spending was 0.7 per cent of GDP compared to 0.4 per cent today, and several major corporations — the Bell System, RCA, IBM and General Electric — maintained their own major research laboratories. All these are gone.

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ancient briton
January 29th, 2017
2:01 AM
Bearing in mind the distribution of IQ along a normal bell curve, there will always be a substantial group of people who can't cope with IT, indeed who may be functionally illiterate.Such people always had manual jobs in factories, farms, and local government cleaning the streets and so on. It is a very callous and foolish society that casts such people, many of whom have estimable qualities, aside, to survive on handouts. They form a part of the group who feel themselves displaced or worse forgotten by an establishment obsessing over BLM and LGBTQ rights and so on. Other better qualified people see their factories being transferred to low-wage countries, and know through every trip to Walmart that manufactured goods which could well be made in the States, are coming in from overseas. These conditions didn't exist under Roosevelt who governed an almost completely insulated economy and who had no thought of black rights, never mind LGBTQ etc. Reagan presided for the most part over a prosperous manufacturing country, although the rust belt was beginning to emerge. Many of those residents became Reagan Democrats. I see the Trump effect as being not dissimilar but now nationwide as the famous red map shows. Voters want a lot less by way of political correctness, and a lot more by way of making America the home of mass production once again. It's a tall order, but Trump is the only one who has it in him to recognize the problem, talk openly about it, and at least try to get things done. Scepticim at this early stage is just a little premature.

Hayward
January 23rd, 2017
11:01 PM
Reaganomics, that which started the US economy on the current slippery slope. The figures say it all, taking the USA from a creditor to a debtor nation. In 1981, shortly after taking office, Reagan complained of "runaway deficits" that were then approaching US$80 billion, or about 2.5%GDP Within only two years, however, his policies had succeeded in enlarging the deficit to more than US$200 billion, or 6 % At the end of the Reagan/Bush era it had was down to US$150 billion, still almost double what it had been under Carter. However the National Debt had climbed from US$995 billion, when Reagan took office, to $4 trillion by the end of Bush1's presidency, Under Reagan and Bush Republican Administrations it climbed as a % of GDP from 26% to 42%. Clinton managed hold/wind back both of them in returning the budget to a surplus of some US$280 billion and reducing the National Debt to 35% of GDP. But George, The Faux Texan and late encumbrance in the White House even managed to outdo "The Gipper" and his own Dad. He has set another unenviable record. The deficit was to be $482 billion in the 2009 budget moving from black to red ink in the order of US$750 billion from the end of Clinton's term. Lest We Forget The Faux Texan Folly of the Three Trillion Dollar Wars, The Iraq Fiasco and the Afghanistan Imbroglio followed now by the resultant wide spread conflict with Daesh. It is interesting to note that from 1978-2005 under Democratic Presidents, Federal Spending went up by 9.9%. Federal Debt by 4.2%, GDP by 12.6%. Under Republican Presidents Federal Spending was up 12.1%, Federal Debt by 36.4% , GDP by 10.7% So which is the big spending, big debt and drag on the economy party?

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