Here’s a picture of me by the water in Brooklyn, with Manhattan in the background. The Schechters walked near here while they were on trial for violating the NRA code for the poultry trade. Manhattan, where their lawyer Joe Heller worked, was mere backdrop for Brooklyn action.
One of the things we’ve been thinking about at the Council is the meaning of the New Deal and its impact on the Great Depression. We also talked a lot about it in my course at NYU/Stern. I get the impression some colleagues believe that the professional consensus is that the New Deal worked, economically. At Newsweek Daniel Gross sounds pretty certain of himself when he mocks those who are skeptical about the New Deal. Daniel writes that I, “George Will, and assorted libertarians cling bitterly to the notion that the New Deal didn’t work, that FDR’s policies of regulatory reform and sharply increased government spending were an abject failure, that the economy didn’t turn around until the day Japanese bombers dropped their payloads on Pearl Harbor. They believe Keynesian-style stimulus didn’t work in the 1930s, so it won’t work now.”
One reason the Obama stimulus package is less bad than many feared is that it is less random than expected. There’s lots to critique in an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the changes the plan will spend on. But at least that forty percent of the stimulus package that is tax cuts will be identifiable and set. That leaves only sixty percent of unknowables, outlays that can be truly random spending by Washington — those bridges to nowhere.