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FDR’s New Deal Legacy Is the Life of the Lie


The change that took place in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s was as remarkable as the Russian Revolution which had taken place decades before. Through his domestic and international New Deal philosophy and programs, President Franklin D. Roosevelt revolutionized the political and economic system of the United States.

It is impossible to overstate the unusual nature of American society for more than 100 years after the inception of the federal government in 1787. There were no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, drug laws, occupational-licensure laws, income taxation, gun control, public schooling, immigration controls, travel restrictions, and foreign aid.

Our ancestors believed that (1) it is morally wrong to use government to take money from a person to whom it belongs in order to give it to someone to whom it does not belong; (2) a person has the right to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and decide what to do with it; and (3) people have the right to engage in any peaceful enterprise and to travel and trade anywhere in the world.

That is what it once meant to be an American, notwithstanding the tragic and ultimately costly exception of slavery. That is what it once meant to be free.

Roosevelt’s New Deal constituted a total rejection of that philosophy of freedom. Unfortunately, however, Americans refuse to confront that truth and to recognize the enormous moral and political consequences of what they have done through their adoption of the welfare state. They live what might be called “the life of the lie” or the life that denies reality. The words of the great German thinker Johann Goethe perfectly capture their plight: No one is more hopelessly enslaved than the person who falsely believes he is free.

In their ardent devotion to their paternalistic welfare state, Americans simply ignore the severe immorality of using government coercion for “charity” and “compassion.” They also block out of their minds that the velvet glove of their paternalistic welfare state — which now has the power to take care of them, school them, feed them, provide their health care and retirement, and equalize their wealth, and which purports to protect them from incompetent hairdressers, drug purveyors, and terrorists — envelopes an iron fist that protects the interests of the welfare state.

Some of the traces of this iron fist are: Syphilis experiments on unsuspecting black men and radiation experiments on unsuspecting U.S. servicemen. Deadly and flammable gas used on adults and children at Waco. Bullets into the head of Vickie Weaver and into the back of her teenage son as well as the feds’ perjury and obstruction of justice during the criminal prosecution of Randy Weaver.

Tens of thousands of people killed or jailed in the decades-long war on drugs. Millions of American taxpayers terrorized by the Internal Revenue Service with what IRS officials describe as a “voluntary” tax system.

The capture and repatriation of Cuban refugees into communist tyranny and the construction of a Berlin Wall on America’s southern border. The refusal to permit German Jews to immigrate to the United States from Nazi Germany.

World War II concentration camps for innocent Americans. The deliberate targeting of civilians at Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. The “liberation” of the Polish and Czech people through their delivery to Soviet communist domination, which lasted for more than 50 years.

Complicity in the cover-up of the Soviet Union’s World War II murder of thousands of innocent Polish military officers (Internet search term: “Katyn Forest”). Active participation in the post-World War II murder of an estimated one million innocent Russian people (Internet search term: “Operation Keelhaul”). The wrongful execution of World War II Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita (www.washingtonpost.com: “Vengeance Did Not Deliver Justice” by Stephen B. Ives Jr.).

Formal partnerships with nasty, brutal people, such as Soviet communists, German Nazis, and American and Sicilian Mafiosi.

Assassinations and ousters of foreign leaders, some even democratically elected. Active training and assistance provided to brutal right-wing regimes that torture, terrorize, and murder their own citizens.

The killing of hundreds of thousands of foreigners in violation of law through the waging of wars lacking the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. The killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including children, with a decade-long warlike embargo and blockade.

Decades-old files of the CIA and the military-industrial complex kept secret in the name of “national security.”

And Americans blithely go along with it all, either supporting it, or ignoring it, or convincing themselves it’s all just a series of isolated mistakes or errors in judgment rather than accurate reflections of the mutated, abusive, perverted government into which Roosevelt’s welfare state has metastasized.

Today, when Americans say, “Freedom is under attack,” they mean the “freedom” of FDR’s “superpower” welfare-state empire to do whatever it wants to whomever it desires anywhere in the world. It is not the type of freedom to which our Founders and ancestors subscribed.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.