Friday, June 28, 2013

New Deal Utopianism

by George Leef

Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning
by C.J. Maloney (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2011), 292 pages.
Drive south from Morgantown, West Virginia, and you soon come to the little town of Arthurdale. At the outskirts of town, there is a roadside plaque informing those who stop to read it that Arthurdale was “Established in 1933-34 under the Federal Homestead Act.” We also learn that it was a “pet project” of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and that the town was created to “assist the unemployed through self-sufficient farming and handicrafts.”
That certainly makes Arthurdale sound wholesome and quaint — proof that the federal government has the ability to improve the nation. As usual, however, there is much more to the story, and in Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning, C.J. Maloney, a writer for Bloomberg News, gives us a commendably thorough and illuminating history of Arthurdale. The town was a gigantic economic flop that was kept alive only with transfusions of taxpayer money. Far from an advertisement for the glories of government social intervention, the Arthurdale story is a testament to the social and economic damage that such intervention does.......“Those responsible for Arthurdale were like a plague of locusts, consuming far more than they gave.”...To Read More.....

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