Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The Forgotten Man

Shlaes, Amity. The Forgotten Man. A New History of the Great Depression. Harper Collins Publishers. 2009.

“These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensible units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

--Gov. Franklin Roosevelt of New York, radio address in Albany, April 7, 1932

“As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or in the better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X….

What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of….

He works, he votes, generally he prays—but he always pays….”

--William Graham Sumner, Yale University, 1883.

The Forgotten Man “is the story of A, the progressive of the 1920s and ‘30s whose good intentions inspired the country. But it is even more the story of C, the American who was not thought of. He was the man who paid for the big projects, who got make-work instead of real work. He was the man who waited for economic growth that did not come.”

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