From the acclaimed author of New Deal or Raw Deal?, called “eye-opening” by the National Review, comes a fascinating exposé of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s destructive wartime legacy—and its adverse impact on America’s economic and foreign policies today. Did World War II really end the Great Depression—or did President Franklin Roosevelt’s poor judgment and confused manageFrom the acclaimed author of New Deal or Raw Deal?, called “eye-opening” by the National Review, comes a fascinating exposé of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s destructive wartime legacy—and its adverse impact on America’s economic and foreign policies today. Did World War II really end the Great Depression—or did President Franklin Roosevelt’s poor judgment and confused management leave Congress with a devastating fiscal mess after the final bomb was dropped? In this provocative new book, historians Burton W. Folsom, Jr., and Anita Folsom make a compelling case that FDR’s presidency led to evasive and self-serving wartime policies. At a time when most Americans held isolationist sentiments—a backlash against the stunning carnage of World War I—Roosevelt secretly favored an aggressive interventionist foreign policy. Yet, throughout the 1930s, he spent lavishly on his disastrous New Deal programs and slashed defense spending, leaving America vastly unprepared for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the challenge of fighting World War II. History books tell us the wartime economy was a boon, thanks to massive government spending. But the skyrocketing national debt, food rations, nonexistent luxuries, crippling taxes, labor strikes, and dangerous work of the time tell a different story—one that is hardly the stuff of recovery. Instead, the war ushered in a new era of imperialism for the executive branch. Roosevelt seized private property, conducted illegal wiretaps, tried to silence domestic opposition, and interned 110,000 Japanese Americans. He set a dangerous precedent for entangling alliances in foreign affairs, including his remarkable courtship of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, while millions of Americans showed the courage, perseverance, and fortitude to make the weapons and fight the war. Was Roosevelt a great wartime leader, as historians almost unanimously assert? The Folsoms offer a thought-provoking revision of his controversial legacy. FDR Goes to War will make America take a second look at one of its most complicated presidents....
|Title||:||FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America|
|Number of Pages||:||384 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America Reviews
FDR Goes to WarBy Burton W. Folsom, Jr. & Anita Folsom © 2011A book report (not a “review”) by Ron HousleyAre you one of those who was told that FDR got us out of the Great Depression by taxing, borrowing and spending? that he was therefore a hero?Were you also taught that FDR was the hero of World War II?And have you always been taught that FDR did a great job in prosecuting the War? Well, please stand back and re- think these conclusions.The same problems which prevailed in the 1940s prevail in the 2010s: only today, the amount of borrowing and spending is greater and the promise for a “correction,” if even possible, is far more ominous. But the voices of warning are the same and those voices are ignored and vilified today, just as they were decades ago.It is a crime that over a span of decades now, our government schools have systematically rewritten the history of America. Luckily, there still persists a body of work capturing much of the detail which the Progressive educational establishment has worked so hard to suppress, minimalize, or outright discredit.Burt Folsom, a Ph.D. college professor at Hillsdale College, is clearly on the establishment hit list.He has been clear in showing us the role of the Federal Reserve in creating and sustaining the Great Depression; on showing us how the regulations and taxation and wealth redistribution of the 1930s deepened and extended that depression; on showing us how America didn’t begin to emerge from the Great Depression until AFTER World War II, when Congress finally repealed some of the New Deal’s most onerous regulations and taxes.Yet even today, our rulers in Washington continue to embrace the notion that the long-ago debunked approach of high taxes, crushing regulation and redistribution of other people’s wealth is somehow a key to prosperity(!).FDR won a third term as President in spite of having presided over the worst economy in American history. And so, the playbook for Barack Obama was written.FDR even put Republicans into key cabinet positions (Secretary of War/Defense), just as Obama did, thereby gaining considerable political advantage.Wendell Willkie said in the 1940 campaign, “...the President had unleashed a flood of federal spending...” that actually made things worse. Willkie was right, but FDR got the votes anyway.Today, just like then, the voters cast their ballots, not based on pocket-book considerations, but based on what they feel is morally right: in this case, supporting those in need, nevermind that producers are throttled from coast to coast.Here is a book which summarizes the essential issues at play. It is a short book, a mere 313 pages; but it took me awhile to finish because of the time required to process my deep concern over how my country continues to undermine its potential by its pursuit of a utopian tyranny.I was enlightened in a number of areas, so I have made chapter titles of my own to set apart the main points that I learned.FEDERAL SUBSIDIES USED TO BUY VOTESFolsom tells us about the workings of the WPA, how $4.8-billion in handouts were distributed to key political districts in 1935 (roads, buildings), “using Democratic projects to make votes for the Democratic Party” (p. 43)It’s not all that different from what they do today; the WPA was used back then just like Food Stamps, welfare, Section 8 housing subsidies, etc., are used today.At election time, “...each state could be reminded that keeping the Democrats in power keeps the federal faucet running.” (p. 43) FDR virtually pioneered the corruption of using billions in tax money to buy votes for himself.THE LYNDON JOHNSON CORRUPTIONI loved hearing the story of how FDR gave $25-million, at Johnson’s request, to build a large naval base at Corpus Christi; and the bid was given to Brown & Root because they had loyally funded Johnson’s political campaigns. Millions of those dollars found their way back into Johnson’s control, so that he could further his own political career by helping Democrats in close races try to win their House seats.The scam was a kissing cousin of how FDR used the WPA. Johnson “....had become fascinated with the way federal subsidies could be used to win votes.” (46) He amassed so much power buying elections for fellow Democrats, the he would ultimately become President himself.INTERNMENTIt is widely known that FDR ordered massive internment of Japanese Americans during the war. What is not so widely known is that FDR refused to do anything about the 600,000 Italian aliens, since he needed the ethnic Germans and Italians to win the next election.WAR PREPARATIONSDid you know that FDR spent lavishly on New Deal programs but refused to strengthen and modernize the military? Not everybody knows that during the 1930s, defense budgets were cut to the bone. “Roosevelt squandered billions of dollars on pet New Deal projects in the eight years leading up to Pearl Harbor while allowing the military to languish with archaic equipment...” (p. 97)But Roosevelt became the favorite of historians nevertheless, even above George Washington. Roosevelt as a “great president” is at the center of today’s government school teachings. Rarely is it mentioned how he deceived the public, how he used tax funds to buy votes, and how he skirted around the Constitution in order to advance his big government schemes.The centerpiece of his 1940 campaign was the fake promise that he was thecandidate of peace: “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” (p. 49) While he was telling this to the voters, he was working behind the scenes with Winston Churchill to plan for war.FDR told everybody that he would send our boys to war only if we were attacked. The stories are legend on how he schemed to provoke that attack.The parallels with present day are eerie: appeasement as the operating principle; deliberate slashing of military preparedness; endless strategic decisions favorable to the enemy (such as keeping the fleet at Pearl Harbor and sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the Muslem Brotherhood in Egypt); totally unconcerned as the enemy built up its arsenal (Hitler & Japan then, Iran & Korea now).THE 1942 MID-TERM ELECTION: DEMOCRAT LOSSDo you know what was different about the 1942 election, that would explain the Democrat loss to Republicans?For the first time in FDRs presidency, due to the war’s demands for bi- partisanship, FDR had to conduct a campaign without the advantage of using government funds to buy votes. “Fewer and smaller New Deal programs meant fewer Democratic votes over all.” (p 139)Just like “Stimulus Dollars” today are siphoned to politically favored groups, so also were the massive WPA funds of the New Deal siphoned to capture Democrat votes in districts where they were needed. “The main source of the Republican gains (in 1942) was the almost complete disappearance of the WPA.” (p 139)If FDR was going to win the war, he knew that he had to stop denouncing businessmen, because these are the heroes who had to be counted upon to produce the tools of war. No longer demonizing businessmen in conjunction with no longer redistributing their wealth to Democratic voters, the natural result was a Democratic loss at the polls.The point that astounds me is the degree to which today’s low information voters remain blind to this long-established vote buying strategy — practically institutionalized in the New Deal, and resurrected today. An entire generation has been indoctrinated, this phenomenon carefully excluded from curricula.ENTREPRENEURSHIP DURING WW-IIIt is not widely acknowledged, particularly in schools today, that the entrepreneurs rescued the Allies by inventing and producing radar, penicillin, DDT, landing craft, and liberty ships.The most amazing story is of the many entrepreneurs (Kaiser, Higgins, Simplot) who labored day and night, 7 days per week, all during the war — they labored under the need to expand and produce, but always with the obstacle that they couldn’t expand because the IRS was taking 94%, on the pretext that FDR didn’t want any war profiteering.These men worked themselves to the bone year after year, until the war was won. And what was their reward at war’s end: FDR sicked the IRS on them, with multi-million dollar fines, for the audacity to throw their “profits” into growing their businesses, the only way they could feed the troops and provide the ships needed to win that war.These men literally won the war for the U.S. But even back then, when the horror of losing to Germany and Japan was a real possibility, the majority attitude was that they should be held down by bureaucratic regulation rather than allowed to prosper.Personal prosperity was considered immoral, even then; even when it was clear that their personal prosperity would win the war for America(!).TAXES DURING WW-IIHatred of the rich was rife in the FDR administration. They hated the rich as much or more than the Obama administration does today.The Democrats actually saw nothing wrong with forcing the rich to pay more than 100% of their income in 1943. “They can pay it from their saved accounts,” FDR would quip. FDR unashamedly tried to get Congress to pass a 100% tax on income over $25,000.The war years saw a frenzied attack on the wealthy: again, just like today.When reading about the launching of income tax withholding (1942) for the first time, forcing employers to pay the cost of collecting the cash and sending it to Washington, I could feel the glee that administration officials must have felt, as they schemed to vastly expand the lowly income tax. Touted as a war-time measure, FDR’s ultimate prize was the knowledge that the quicksand of withholding would last forever.In the end it was clear that nobody in the FDR Administration had any concept of how business heroes created wealth, not to mention millions of jobs.\FDR's COURTSHIP OF STALINFor me, the most repulsive element of the FDR story was his undying love for Stalin, the world’s most prolific mass murderer.With a President so favorably disposed to a violent dictator, it is no surprise that even high ranking American military officers could not stop the wholesale give-away of American secrets to the Soviets, even when they *knew* that secret technology was being shipped right under their noses to outstretched hands of an awaiting Stalin.The reason for FDR’s affinity to Stalin: FDR was fooled into concluding that Stalin shared FDR’s worldview — a peaceful society with no intent to dominate other sovereign nations. “They all seem to really want to do what is good for their society instead of wanting to do for themselves,” (p.232) FDR said.￼The naiveté underlying FDR’s war effort was the root of what happened afterward: the Soviet juggernaut intent on dominating the entire world. It is easy to see how in the current day, the present American president is walking in FDR’s footsteps.FDR wrote the book from which today’s rulers continue to draw: stimulus to allegedly improve the economy (even though it never worked); and the leader’s belief in his ability to “charm” dictators into rational action, resulting only in more damage to America.“FDR believed he could charm Stalin” (p 237) and the result was to give Stalin and the Communists all of Eastern Europe.FDR’s Tehran compromise with Stalin, to allow Stalin to take over Poland and to have dominance in the Baltics, was largely influenced on what votes he was expecting in the 1944 election. FDR was willing to let Stalin take Poland, as long as the deal wasn’t made obvious until after the election.If it weren’t for electioneering combined with FDR’s love for Stalin, the prosecution of the war may very well have included a drive through Italy and the Balkins into Berlin, a year before the Normandy invasion. This was the pathway favored by Churchill and the other allies.I was shocked, all these many decades later, to learn the EXTENT to which FDR deliberately turned over large chunks of the world to Stalin’s mass murdering regime.The entire Cold War suffering and national incarcerations of the 50s, 60s and 70s was the direct result of FDR’s methodical, pro-communist, pro-Stalin concessions during WW-II.Nearly every concession that Stalin wanted Stalin was given, by an adoring FDR(!). The concessions ranged from lavish Lend-Lease give- aways, never to be repaid; to secret documents; to refusing to listen to listen to Whittaker Chambers about the massive government infiltration into the American government (about this McCarthy was right).What we have here is a side of FDR never included in the curricula of today’s schools. In order to become a Harris-Perry or a Chris Matthews, the FDR story requires serious censoring.The concessions to Stalin manifested right up to the end: it was a deliberate decision to not let Eisenhower march into Berlin before Stalin could get there and loot the city and countryside of much of its industrial equipment. (p. 247)In the end, millions were killed or imprisoned because FDR insisted that Stalin could be counted on to partner for world peace, even though most of FDR’s advisors thought to the contrary. In the end, we got the horrors of the Cold War for many decades to follow.THE MYTH THAT WW-II ENDED THE DEPRESSIONThe 1945 debate in congress is highly instructive — if only today’s low information voter would take a look at what happened back then....Millions were still unemployed; more were about to be discharged from the military.With the national debt becoming astronomical, Congress cut taxes for the first time since the 1920’s, in spite of Democratic insistence on keeping taxes high. The Democrats claim, wait for it, that we can’t have tax breaks for the wealthy(!).Progressives wanted to retain the high taxes because, just like today, they felt that it was morally wrong for the wealthy to be wealthy — if others are poor. They would rather have everyone poor than allow the rich to be rich — never mind the lower standard of living for everyone.Progressives are not moved by the argument that you can’t get a golden egg from a dead goose.Ultimately, Congress REDUCED taxes and reduced regulations (including price controls). Productivity soared; unemployment plummeted; and by 1946, 60-million were employed (which was FDR’s goal in 1932, a goal that was never achieved until the New Deal taxes and restraints were repealed).The Progressives predicted that cutting taxes would result in 20% unemployment; what quickly came about was 3.9% unemployment.But even this stunning lesson was ignored by the Progressives then, just as it is ignored by the low information voter today. It is ignored by the education establishment; it is ignored by the politicians; and it is ignored by the journalists.The party line which has emerged is that FDR got us out of the Great Depression by winning the war.SOME FINAL THOUGHTS....This is a story of relentless corruption and relentless double-dealing — all verifiable, but not previously on my personal radar screen these past six decades.I blame the government schools and I blame the philosophy which has so dominantly infected the education establishment —from the Ph.D. level all the way down into pre-school. With entire generations of collectivists and altruists, it is no surprise that the value of Constitutional government has fallen into low regard; it is no surprise that liberty and freedom have been put in second place behind coercive government programs; it is no surprise that the dreadful legacy of FDR has been entirely whitewashed.Today, FDR is revered, not only by the Progressive left, but by Ronald Reagan himself. FDR is honored as one of America’s top presidents — when his deserved place in history is closer to traitor.Americans still love FDR, in spite of all the damage he did. The more he sewed the seeds of destruction, the more he was loved.But FDR didn’t merely fall short; he deliberately opposed the principles underpinning our nation’s founding.￼
FDR Goes to War, by BW Folsom and A Folsom, with an introduction by M. Stanton Evans was described as "an expose of FDR's destructive wartime legacy and its impact on Americas economic and foreign policies" in the book blurb. It continued by saying "Roosevelt seized private property, conducted illegal wiretaps, tried to silence domestic opponents and interned ....Japanese Americans"In the introduction, Evans implies that fragments of information concerning FDR's culpability have emerged piecemeal over the years, and the authors have brought the fragments all together.The book contains, without detail, a very brief introduction to the New Deal program and its policies then immediately plunges into FDRs administration during the war years of WWII. This takes up the majority of the book with only the last few chapters addressing the premise of the introduction and the book.Frankly, I am amazed by the superlative reviews this book received. Some of the arguments if they had been better presented may have been worthwhile, but as an example of the pervasive structure of the book, the authors use the same quotes for different purposes in multiple locations. Such as, the same quote by Henry Stimson appears on pages 55 and 168. First to show how New Dealers and Big Business clashed on defense. And then again on page 168 to discuss the inappropriateness of taxes for businessmen, this in the context of FDRs so called 'reluctant' concessions to businessmen.Also, footnotes were omitted in various spots throughout the book. On page 69, when I would have liked a verification or at least a context of the comment "FDR thought democracies need not fear Soviet expansion..." there was no reference to how this statement was obtained.Furthermore, various theses were inconsistent and self serving. On page 97, the authors say "FDRs incompetence in both foreign policy and military planning contributed to the disaster (at Pearl Harbor)." The country had been isolationist since WW1, as the authors themselves said earlier in the book. He could not build up the military because the people of America wouldn't allow it. But projects in the New Deal, which were ridiculed by the authors, were easily converted to war production once we were officially involved. The authors, on page 35 recognize that Wendell Wilkie agreed to and supported FDRs behind the scenes defense build up, and then on page 97 criticizes his failure to prepare, then again on page 120 says he took too much authority for the build up.I could continue with these inconsistencies, but there are so very many, almost as many pages as the book itself, that I'll stop. There are a few more failures I'd like to bring up. While the authors briefly mention that President Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and the implementation of martial law (which was also used in ancient Rome), they excoriate FDR for doing exactly the same thing. With regard to taxes, in 1862 Congress initiated the withholding of wages, income taxation, to finance the Civil War. It was a graded taxation with those making more paying a higher percentage of their income. There was no mention of this in the book. In 1913 the 16th amendment gave Congress the authority to levy income taxes and in 1918, because of WWI, the top income tax rose to 77%. And yet the authors are outraged at Congress' implementation of 83% for higher income persons during WWII.Ultimately, I say this was a poorly crafted book. A while ago I read a book about an event which took place where I live. The author of that book made several place errors. Even though the book was exceptionally well written with well documented notation, those few errors destroyed the authors credibility. In this case, the book is not well written, the notations are inconsistent and self-serving and the argument is poorly developed with little or no reference to 1) historical precedence and 2) subsequent utilization of the same executive branch authority over which FDR is challenged.My take is that it is by the 1% for the 1%. Sewing together fragments does not make whole cloth.byBurton W. Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom (no photos)
Burt and Anita Folsom give us a well-researched volume that essentially documents the second phase of the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency from 1939 to 1945. In it, the Folsoms give us a briefing on how FDR got us in the war by taking sides in the war in Europe and denying Japan certain materials for its war efforts that were sure to spur a reprisal that enventually took place on December 7, 1941 and events that took place afterward. M. Stanton Evans introduction in the book quoted Randolph Bourke's classic dictum that "war is the health of the state." With our entrance into the Second World War, the rate of growth of the state took on mammoth proportions. The Folsoms illustrate this over the course of 300 pages by remarking on the creation of numerous agencies like the War Production Board, the Office of Price Adminsitration and the National War Labor Board. Other examples of state expansion include the government engaging in unwanted expansion into the area of civil liberties with FDR launching unceasing raids into the private affairs of the president's supporters and opponents via wiretaps, punitive IRS audits and other means of surveillance and the calling for the imfamous interning of Japanese Americans and held them for over two years in concentration camps. Taxes were also raised to stratospheric levels to the point of lunacy. Finally, FDR fell under the spell of Joseph Stalin and readily yielded to his demands notwithstanding his contention that could "handle" Stalin. Throughout the last part of the Roosevelt Adminsitration, the president continued his vote-buying tactics from the New Deal era, but with somewhat lesser success due to the war.What I like about this book is that it is well researched with information taken from such sources as the Congressional Record, prominent newspapers like the New York Times and scholarly historical works of that period. The book also does not trash FDR in every aspect of his administration as the Folsoms do give him credit for readying America for the conflict after Pearl Harbor by suspending his New Deal mentality for the duration of the war and giving private business free reign to pursue profits and maximizing output. The conclusion of the book beginning at page 302 provides one with a good summary of the entire book and can be read by one who wants to read a "bullet points" summary of the book. I contended in other reviews that one had to wait until the major players of a history book are safely dead before one can make a fair assessment of events or a presidential adminsitration. As those players are now long gone, we can now consider the evidence and safely say that FDR's adminstration has benn weighed in the balance and has been found wanting. A great tome for those who want to read something other than hagiographies. The book has 312 pages of text plus numerous endnotes and an index. No biblipgraphy however. Five stars
FDR — er, Franklin Delano Roosevelt — hero, right? He brought us out of the Great Depression and presided over our successful involvement in WWII, right? Not so fast. Read FDR Goes to War and your opinion of FDR might change just a bit. FDR was quite anxious to go to war with Japan from the time he took office, but isolationist feeling among the general public reigned him in. Once Hitler invaded Poland and the US could no longer ignore the conflict, things began moving fast — and were more than a bit scary. While FDR originally favored war with Japan, US military forces were woefully unprepared and underfunded (FDR had preferred to spend on his massive New Deal government employment plans). He began courting private companies, “the malefactors of wealth,” to fund military innovations. This seemed strange coming from FDR, the premise of whose New Deal plan had been that private business had failed and that government should direct much of the economy out of the Depression.Of course it’s easier to see all this in retrospect, but FDR’s opposition to taking in European immigrants seeking to flee the Nazis seems especially unforgivable. To her credit, his wife Eleanor wanted to take in the largely Jewish group, meeting with her husband about this for 20 minutes at the White House, and then threatening to urge other leaders to rent a ship to take on refugees: “if necessary the ship will cruise up and down the East Coast until the American people, out of shame and anger, force the President and the Congress to permit these victims of political persecution to land.” FDR apparently feared that many of those seeking to come to America “must be troublemakers — probably ‘Reds’ or Nazi spies.”Another interesting tale, and tie-in to my life, was Wendell Willkie. He was a businessman who had been a Democrat, but became a Republican in response to FDR’s anti-business stance. He ended up running against FDR for President in 1940, which was shocking at the time because he had no political experience, only business success. He ran noting FDR’s failed New Deal policies (unemployement remained around 18%, 10 years after the Great Depression began, and the government had taken on massive debt to implement the New Deal). The whole thing reminded me a lot of the 2012 election of Obama vs. Romney. Also, this was interesting because as a freshman at IU I lived in Willkie dorm. Now I know the story behind the man!Willkie argued that the government had never managed a business effectively, using the postal service as an example. “I say that we must substitute for the philosophy of distributed scarcity the philosophy of unlimited productivity,” he said. For a time, he was ahead in the polls, but as war loomed as a bigger possibility for the US, the populace veered back to the comfort of the familiar FDR. Also, FDR poured millions in WPA jobs and projects to districts that were shaky in their support of him (some things never change!). “In this country there are 18,000 on WPA. With an average of 3 in a family you have 54,000 potential Democratic votes. Can anyone beat that if it is properly mobilized?” asked a New Jersey congressman of the day. After the election — surprise! — many WPA workers were laid off because they were not needed until the next campaign, thereby cutting some federal spending and making the deficit appear smaller. Additionally, four days prior to the election, the secretary of agriculture revealed a new program offering free milk to the children in the swing state of New York. Honestly, so many parallels to today: I thought immediately of the Obamacare “perk” of allowing kids up to 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policies (even if those policies won’t offer access to many doctors).One key politician rewarded with money from FDR’s coffers was Lyndon Johnson, a young congressman from Texas.This book reinforced many things I read in Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath, which suggested that FDR tried to provoke Japan to push the US into WWII. “Everything was to be done to force an incident,” wrote Winston Churchill. To his credit, I suppose, FDR greatly underestimated Japan’s military power and never expected such a massive strike. He felt that the Japanese would not be able to attack US Navy ships by air (“My God! How did it happen? I will go down in disgrace,” a White House staffer recorded FDR’s reaction). When the Naval commander in Hawaii complained to FDR about the lack of resources at Pearl Harbor (in 1940), FDR replied, “You just don’t understand that this is an election year and there are certain things that can’t be done, no matter what, until the election is over and won.” After he won the election, FDR still failed to beef up resources — and he fired the commander as well.Once the US was involved in the war, FDR used war developments as reasons to vastly expand his executive powers (similar to Obama’s “never let a crisis go to waste” mentality).I hadn’t realized that the US military was so underfunded and ill-equipped to go to war back in 1941. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, it was bad news to US forces in the South Pacific as they then had no US backup anywhere nearby to help supply them. The press didn’t help either, trying to shore up the public by falsely leading to the belief that the US was doing better than it really was. For instance, each time a charge was dropped by a naval ship, the press reported that a German sub had been hit — even though that was rarely the case.In war time, FDR found himself forced to change some policies. He needed businesses to cooperate for the war effort, but they were leery of his history of limiting their profits and slapping taxes on them. To his credit, he made concessions to business (albeit reluctantly). As the tide turned in 1943, it was interesting to read how many industries worked together voluntarily to ramp up production and innovation. “No central authority in Washington … could have integrated the various divisions of industry, large and small, simple and complex, as effectively as these free Americans did of their own volition,” said the head of the War Production Board. “Voluntarily — in opposition to the policy of coercion which had made our enemies strong — voluntarily, they consolidated their skills and their energies in the interest of the commonweal, and in the end they won, hands down.” I found myself wishing this could still happen.Similar to Obama, FDR used the IRS for political purposes (FDR’s son Elliott said that FDR was the first to do this). After WWII, the president directed the IRS to fine businesses by levying back taxes. And WWII, 1942 specifically, was the beginning of mass taxation and withholding of taxes from paychecks. FDR saw the vast power he could garner for the federal government through tax revenue, and exploited this as far as he could. As the authors state, “If redistributing wealth is a major goal of public policy, then the tax code is bound to become a complex instrument for social engineering.” FDR’s high tax rates on individuals (over 90%), and businesses led to lobbying by those businesses for tax breaks and loopholes. The whole FDR era was the beginning of our incredibly complex tax code.Check out this propaganda masterpiece, written by Irving Berlin (of “White Christmas” fame) and sung by Danny Kaye. It’s called “I Paid My Income Tax Today,” and the Treasury Dept. urged radio stations to play it frequently. Here’s one verse:I paid my income tax today.A thousand planes to bomb Berlin:They’ll all be paid for, and I chipped in.That certainly makes me feel okay.Somehow, I feel compelled here to state that I am not making this up. It’s on page 189 of the book. That’s not all. The government persuaded Walt Disney to produce an 8-minute film to be shown before movies. It was called “The New Spirit,” and features Donald Duck filling out his tax forms, relieved that he can claim deductions for nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Democrat Wilbur Mills explained, “Only by collecting taxes — heavy taxes — can we do the job. Now that people have more money than ever before, — more than can be spent on the scarce available goods — is the time to collect taxes. To forgive taxes is to present the taxpayer with increased purchasing power. The public, with money in its pockets, will inevitably try to use this money to buy what it wants, what it needs.” Heaven forbid!FDR also used wiretapping extensively, at first to keep tabs on enemies under the excuse of war, but eventually on his friends, and even on wife Eleanor. Sometimes the spying got him into trouble: one spy mission ended up finding a company financing Lyndon Johnson’s campaign for Senate had made some illegal dealings. Since Johnson was a supporter of FDR, no action was ever taken against the company, nor was Johnson’s involvement in the deal made public.Roosevelt liked to keep a tight reign on the media as well. He could do this more effectively with radio than with newspapers. He put into force a law wherein radio stations had to renew their licenses every six months, versus the prior three years. This put stations on notice that they had better curtail their criticisms of the president or risk having their licenses suspended. By 1940, journalist Quincy Hower noted that “all regular radio news broadcasts gently, firmly, and consistently support Roosevelt to the exclusion of any other point of view.” I wonder if this was the beginning of journalism’s liberal tilt?Perhaps FDR’s most grievous abuse of civil liberties was his decision to intern thousands of Japanese-Americans (many of them US citizens) in camps during WWII. Many have wondered: why did FDR intern Japanese in camps, but not Italians or Germans? The book posits that most Japanese Americans lived in one state, California. Since many native Californians supported the internment, FDR would retain his support there. However, German- and Italian-Americans were spread throughout many Eastern states, and FDR could not afford to lose all their support. Another point is that, if FDR truly feared Japanese Americans, it would have made more sense to intern those living in Hawaii than in California. Yet this was never considered, because Hawaiian officials needed these people to harvest crops, and there were also too many of them to confine. The California Japanese, according to spy John Franklin Carter, were “pathetically eager to show … loyalty.” Yet, in a move decried by the liberal ACLU as “the worst single wholesale violation of civil rights of American citizens in our history,” FDR sent 120,000 of them to relocation centers with no habeas corpus and no protection of property.The book seems well-documented. Time after time, I’d have to wonder about some of FDR’s decisions. For instance, yes, he was anti-Hitler. But, he cozied up to Stalin. In fact, early in the book there was a quote that yes, the US helped bring down Hitler, but we did it at the expense of propping up Stalin. You don’t hear as much about Stalin, but he was a bad guy. Bad, bad, bad. As in, murdering thousands of his own and other people. One of FDR’s advisers counseled him against his courtship of Stalin (whom FDR called “Uncle Joe”), saying basically that hardly anyone supported Naziism. However, many did support Fascism because, at least at first, it seemed like a good thing (think of socialism, with all the “fairness” and “sharing”).Stalin was particularly brutal against the Polish people, sending hundreds of thousands of them to labor camps in Siberia. He had over 10,000 Polish military officers executed in Katyn Forest by shooting them in the head and burying them in mass graves. This was hushed up, but a US spy informed FDR. FDR got another spy to give him a “second opinion.” When the second spy confirmed the massacre, FDR removed him from office and exiled him to Samoa. All this on FDR’s “hunch” that Stalin could be trusted: “I don’t dispute your facts,” said FDR. “They are accurate. I don’t dispute the logic of your reasoning. I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man (a bad guy).”Interesting bits of trivia — did you know that FDR announced a change in the date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday (thereby increasing the number of shopping days before Christmas)?Did you know that fashions changed during WWII due to war rationing? Specifically, the book mentioned women’s clothes became slimmer and more form-fitting — less full skirts — because fabric was needed elsewhere. Interesting, although I’m wondering what war effort needed fabric. Uniforms? Just seems odd to think of fabric being in short supply.FDR died in April 1945, just as the war was winding down. His VP, Harry Truman, was not up to speed on events and did not even know about the atomic bomb development going on. He did preside over the bomb’s use, though, and finally the war came to an end. Then, he tried to continue FDR’s big-government spending programs, proposing his “Fair Deal” as a continuation of FDR’s “New Deal.” Like FDR, he advocated an “economic bill of rights” which guaranteed all Americans housing, healthcare, a job — you name it. This would have been hugely expensive, and Congress vetoed it.Despite all this, despite historians like Thomas Bailey saying, “Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor … He was like the physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient’s own good …” FDR continues to be highly rated as a President (a 1996 poll of historians ranked him as a “great President,” higher than even George Washington). FDR’s memorial in Washington, DC, is huge — a walk-through almost more like a small theme park than a simple edifice. This may be fitting, though, given FDR’s view that he “was always the hero of his own life.”
This book should be required reading in high schools, colleges, and universities. The information helps put into perspective some of the perceived accomplishments of FDR.
How could this be such riveting reading; but it is. I started reading this afternoon and couldn't stop. The Folsom's exceptionally well researched book tells many unknown details about this leading up to and during WWII. A fascinating read for one who heard all these names and initials as I was a child during that time. I learned so much about our history through reading this book.
I didn't think I could have a lower opinion of FDR until I read this book. FDR makes Richard Nixon look like an Eagle Scout Altar Boy. This book is a great read. Everyone interested in WWII, the great depression and the US Governments infringement on civil liberties should read this.
Enlightening, illuminating, revealing and frightening - bad news President, just like the present character
Actually Listened to the Audio Book, It was very informative. Amazing that they don't teach all of this in History classes
Excellent book of how FDR took control by his executive powers to get the U.S. into WWII without declaring war...just wait for Pearl Harbor.