Given all the hoopla by the mainstream press about lies purportedly issued by President Trump, one cannot help but recall two big lies issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One lie dealt with foreign affairs and the other lie dealt with domestic policy.
In the 1940 presidential race, Roosevelt, the incumbent who was running for an unprecedented third term, told the American people: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
It was a lie. Actually, Roosevelt was secretly doing everything he could to embroil the United States into World War II. But he faced big obstacles in achieving that goal.
After the deadly and destructive fiasco of World War I, the overwhelming majority of Americans were opposed to doing it again. They had no interest in sacrificing their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons in another foreign war.
Roosevelt was playing to that sentiment when he told American voters that he too was opposed to having American men die in another foreign war. But he was lying to voters, just so that he could get reelected.
Also, this was a period of time when U.S. presidents were still complying with the constitutional provision requiring a congressional declaration of war. Roosevelt knew that given the overwhelming sentiment against entry into another foreign war, there was no way he was going to persuade Congress to issue a declaration of war.
FDR knew that he had only one chance to get America into the war — by provoking the enemy into “firing the first shot” so that FDR could claim that the U.S. had to enter the war under the principle of self-defense.
After he won the 1940 election, FDR began doing everything he could to provoke the Germans into attacking U.S. vessels. The Germans knew what FDR was up to, and they refused to take his bait.
So, Roosevelt turned to the Pacific, in the hopes that a war with Japan would give him a “back door” to entering the war in Europe. FDR began provoking the Japanese into attacking the U.S., especially with a harsh and effective oil embargo.
FDR’s strategy worked. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. FDR had gotten want he wanted — U.S. entry into another foreign war.
The second big lie was when Roosevelt told the American people that his New Deal programs were to “save free enterprise.” Actually, they did the exact opposite, but the lie worked. Americans came to see the welfare state and managed economy that Roosevelt foisted on America as nothing more than a reformed and refined version of “free enterprise.”
For more than 100 years, Americans were free to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with their own money. That’s because there was no income tax, IRS, Social Security, Medicare, or other socialist programs that taxed people and then gave their money to other people.
Also for more than a century, the official money of the American people consisted of gold coins and silver coins. That was the monetary system established by the Constitution.
Moreover, for more than 100 years, the federal government lacked the power to plan, manage, control, and regulate economic enterprise. That’s why America’s economic system was called “free enterprise” — because economic enterprise was free of government planning, management, control, and regulation.
Roosevelt ended up revolutionizing America’s economic system by abandoning those founding principles. His revolution turned out to be permanent.
The welfare state, represented by its crown jewel Social Security, upended the freedom of Americans to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with it. Now, the federal government wielded the power to tax people’s income and give their money to others. It was a warped concept of mandatory charity.
FDR nationalized gold coins and ordered the American people to deliver them to federal authorities. Given that it was the type of thing the communists in the Soviet Union were doing, Roosevelt’s action still ranks as one of the most shocking and morally repugnant acts in U.S. history.
Under Roosevelt, the federal government, led by the president, became charged with the responsibility of managing the economy. The best example of that phenomenon was his National Industrial Recovery Act.
It was all done without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. Roosevelt simply told Americans that all this was to “save free enterprise.” It was one great big lie, but most Americans swallowed it, accepted it, and embraced it as truth.
That’s why, for example, so many leftists today blame America’s woes on “capitalism.” They are convinced that America’s welfare-state, managed-economy, paper-money way of life constitutes “capitalism” and that what America needs is socialism, interventionism, inflation, and regulation.
FDR’s two big lies proved to be devastating to 20th-century and 21st-century Americans. We are still living with the consequences to this day.