Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Creeping Federalization - The 20th Century
The 20th Century
As the Gay Nineties gave way to a new century, the country was in high spirits. Work was plentiful, the country prosperous and people looked ahead to an unending future of continuous growth. It was this sense of “anything goes” that led to a Christian Revival (read you CAN legislate morality) and Prohibition.
WWI, was a terrible time. But, it had little effect upon the ongoing life of the country as a whole only from the perspective of federalization. In other ways, it was the worst time since the War Between the States.
The roaring twenties, while lots of fun to be sure, gave people the Speakeasy and illegal booze. Wild parties and booze and drugs (they were not yet illegal.) Crime syndicates grew, street warfare raged in large cities. Still, prosperity reigned and the “bigger fool” theory of stock market investment gave the people a sense of live hard and play harder.
Then 1929. The feel good era gave way to bread lines and massive unemployment. Prohibition was repealed in 1933. By now the carefree “individual” had become the hungry sufferer who begged the government to save him.
The New Deal. An awful lot has been written about The New Deal. Suffice it to say here that it proved unsuccessful. It proved that the government cannot be the savior of the populace with massive spending and borrowing. But, more of that when we get to the 21st Century. Let’s leave it at that government “by the people” had given way to “big government” at the expense of “state’s rights.”
Ever so slowly the country began to crawl out of the Depression and by 1940 most people had jobs and the bread line was no longer the mainstay of the American diet. “Happy Days” seemed, at least, in “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
WWII. The only thing we need to say here about the war is that WWII was the single most terrible time in our country’s history. It was costly both in human cost and money with 418,888 American dead at a monetary cost of about $304 Billion. The Korean Conflict was the first of Cold War period conflicts which, along with the Vietnam War caused an ever widening separation of two camps, the liberal - anti war group and the conservative - “There is no Substitute for Victory” group.
President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address against a Military/Industrial Complex which would lead to out of control spending and economic ruin of the United States. His words were prophetic.
The balance of the 20th century saw battles back and forth between the Reagan conservatives and the Clinton liberals. Nixon and Carter will be ignored as morally irrelevant. Carter’s Camp David Accords and Nixon’s opening of China were both of great merit. But, otherwise neither man had lasting impact on American life.
The Clinton years saw strong efforts to implement big government programs, such as National Healthcare. But, all in all the century ended with little change in the balance of power between the States and the Federal Government.
Next, the 21st Century.