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The New Deal is New Again
America faced an economy ravaged by the great depression. Unemployment stood at 25%, and banks were frozen by money shortages. Environmental catastrophe stalked the land -- the dust-bowl consequences of unregulated farms. Foreclosures were at an all-time high.
Roosevelt's solution in 1933 was the "New Deal" -- for the government to print new money, and convert it into jobs for rebuilding America.
Mencken denounced Roosevelt as a dictator and a socialist. He wrote that Roosevelt has "only one new and genuinely novel idea: whatever A earns really belongs to B. A is any honest and industrious man or woman; B is any drone or jackass."
"There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing whatsoever to deserve them."
A grateful nation would elect F.D.R. to three terms of office, and Mencken -- often considered the most skillful writer since Mark Twain -- eventually wilted under accusations of anti-semitism. Nevertheless, Mencken never wholly surrendered his arguments, which still seem fresher than today's talk radio. (Mencken also showed considerably more style while smoking a cigar.)
Mencken's favorite writer Mark Twain wrote: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
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