Monday, January 19, 2015

Why We Need A New Deal Museum (part 4 of 10): A beacon of hope after our national ethical collapse

(More than anything, the New Deal was about making policies and programs that benefit everyone, not just the wealthy few. Sadly, our policymakers today have brushed aside New Deal principles, in slavish devotion to their super-wealthy campaign donors. So, as a result, more than half of America's public school children are now living in poverty. WPA poster by artist Vera Bock, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)   

As more and more American children become homeless, and as super-wealthy Americans keeping vacuuming up more and more wealth (leaving little behind for anyone else, in our new zero-sum economy), and as Republicans obsessively work to cut taxes for rich families who have given them enormous amounts of campaign cash (bribery money), and as celebrities & billionaires gather for a "willfully oblivious mix of greed and altruism" at the annual, and poverty-exacerbating, "World Economic Forums," a New Deal museum would be a beacon of hope.

In 1938, after jumping down another rabbit hole, former President Herbert Hoover argued that the New Deal was leading the United States towards fascism. Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA, replied:

"Is it dictatorship to try to operate a government for all the people and not just a few? Is it dictatorship to guarantee the deposits of small depositors, and keep phony stocks and bonds off the market? Is it dictatorship to save millions of homes from foreclosure? Is it dictatorship to give a measure of protection to millions who are economically insecure and jobs to other millions who can't find work? Is it dictatorship to try to put a floor under wages and a ceiling over working hours?" ("Hopkins denies relief waste in reply to Hoover on fascism," Washington Post, May 9, 1938.)

A New Deal museum, while certainly not a lobbying firm or a think tank, would, by its very nature, show Americans that there are policy alternatives to the nightmarish status quo that we have today; alternatives that Hopkins described in his reply to Hoover. They would see white collar crime handled seriously, environmental problems addressed in novel ways, job programs for the unemployed, infrastructure investments that laid the foundation for our post-World War II economic prosperity (infrastructure that we are still using today), and much, much more. 

Today, America has become a land of limited opportunity, where the super-wealthy are routinely pampered and the less fortunate are routinely insulted, even if the former commits fraud and the latter is laid off. Fueled by trickle-down economics and a wide-eyed fascination with Ayn Rand's promotion of selfishness, our morals have been turned upside down. 

A New Deal museum would be a beacon of hope after this national ethical collapse.

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