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Reagan and Roosevelt

October 12, 1986

The letters (Oct. 2) regarding Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt cannot go unchallenged. In toto, the six letters were the greatest combination of biased hogwash and aspersions I have read for quite a while.

The writers apparently don't know history or perhaps they choose to ignore it in their blind glorification of F.D.R. Their vilification of Reagan, however, is despicable.

First, a bit of history. As everyone should know, the Great Depression dragged on for years under F.D.R. Not until 1940 did employment reach the same level (approximately 46% of the potential labor force) as before the 1929 financial crash.

From 1940 and into 1946 the United States was in a wartime economy, first in preparation and later as an active participant in World War II. Employment skyrocketed, but it was geared to destructive and not constructive objectives.

Interpretation of what occurred during the period varies widely, but there are many lessons to be learned. First and foremost, the government failed to fulfill its primary function of protecting the United States from foreign aggression. One can make a very good argument that that failure resulted in the Japanese attack and even the German transgressions.

Secondly, it was a period of relatively rapid development of the concept of regulation and control of the economy by the central government. Its failure is very obvious today; we are having great difficulty in maintaining our competitive position in the world market.

Thirdly, it was the start of the welfare state, which was well-intentioned, but which now has mushroomed into a horrendously expensive "the-world-owes-me-a-living" philosophy among many of us.

Comparisons of Reagan with F.D.R. or any other president may be interesting, but they are irrelevant because of rapidly changing technology and world politics. However, having lived during both administrations and having been a student of politics for these many years, I can't agree with anything in the Oct. 2 letters.

In my judgment, F.D.R. was a great communicator, a master politician, and a frequent fabricator. In those areas, Reagan doesn't hold a candle to him.



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