FDR’s Alphabet Soup

“FDR’s alphabet soup put real soup into the bellies of millions of hungry Americans.  And his “New Deal” would slowly bring the United States out of the Great Depression.”

I have never been more disappointed in my kids’ history book, than when I read this at the end of the section about Black Tuesday and the New Deal.  Part of me was glad it was in there.  They should be familiar with the standard version of events that most Americans are taught.  Although, there is also the version that WWII got us out of the Depression, so why they settled on the New Deal, I’m not sure.

I am not an unbiased teacher.  I moaned and groaned that the book would put forth such a false version of events.  I whined that they should not have stated that the New Deal relieved the Depression, and just printed what FDR, and his predecessor Hoover had done in an attempt to quell the depression.

To the book’s credit, it didn’t paint Hoover as a do-nothing, like he is frequently portrayed, and mentioned the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that was created to lend money. But then they said that he didn’t go far enough.  Nope, we need FDR for that.  They credit FDR with CCC, WPA, and the AAA, which led to the alphabet soup spiel.

Where to start? where to start?  I wondered as I contemplated how to explain to the kiddos that FDR didn’t get the US out of the depression, but most likely prolonged it.  Briefly, I thought, I shouldn’t just go into history winging it like I do, reading what the book says for the first time as I read it with the kids.  If I would prepare beforehand I could already have a strategy when it says stuff that is misleading or false. Too late this time.  At first, I think the Fed,  I should explain how Central Banking, fractional reserves, and credit expansion was behind the stock bubble, bank failures.  It seemed like too long of a conversation for the amount of time we had that day.  I settled on the AAA, part of that stupid alphabet soup saying.

The AAA, stands for the Agriculture Adjustment Act.  Wikipedia says this “The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was a United States federal law of the New Deal era which reduced agricultural production by paying farmers subsidies not to plant on part of their land and to kill off excess livestock. Its purpose was to reduce crop surplus and therefore effectively raise the value of crops”

I told the kids this in my own words, which I don’t recall exactly what I said, but the above is the gist of it.  I was incredulous as I pointed out that the book was saying that FDR was putting “real soup into the bellies of millions of hungry Americans” with something like the AAA, when it was actually keeping food from being produced and keeping the price of food artificially high, to where it was more expensive for the hungry to obtain it.  Orwellian, it is.