The Forgotten Man

Published 13 Jan 2017


The economic policies which harmed the United States during the Great Depression are worthy to analyze. This is because of the idea that from such guidelines, the country will be able to determine the actions to be taken in order to prevent damages. This paper aims to present the damaging economic policies during that time, the mistakes done by two presidents and the eventual implications of such blunders. In doing so, this paper ultimately aims that the public realizes that it is the American people who fell prey to the situation. Being the forgotten man, every single American should be taken into consideration and not neglected in framing out economic policies.

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The Economic Policies in the book “The Forgotten Man”

Next to the politically-motivated Civil War, a historical account which has changed the landscape of another significant system in the United States is the Great Depression. In particular, the American economic structure was negatively transformed as manifested by the collapse of the stock market when the country became part of World War II in the early 1900s. Additionally, the nation was faced with a disastrous economic struggle and the unemployment rate escalated.

History and the Americans then attributed such harmful situation to the two leaders of the country. Initially, President Herbert Hoover was attacked for being ill-advised and his apparent unsuccessful governance. Later, it became more evident that the worst part happened under the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This is primarily because with the works done by the said two presidents, people behind the federal administration have intensified their destructive dominance. In short, an increased level of intervention was depicted with Hoover and later Roosevelt dictating their ways to key systems of the government including the nation’s economy.

Roosevelt and his “new deal” era paved the way for the revolutionary conversion of the federal government and the country in general. The interventionist in Roosevelt resulted in the nation suffering the wraths of Great Depression with the economy specifically feeling the implications. These include the undeniable market crash, employment plunge, a sluggish foreign trade, flourishing of devaluation and failure of the banking system.

The above irrefutable condition which struck America was concretely presented and discussed by Amity Shlaes in her 2007 book entitled “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.” In a thorough yet realistic approach, the author challenged and corrected the traditional version of the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal. As far as the book is concern, the conservative account which stated that Roosevelt and his New Deal model made the country surpass crises and eventually stable is totally incorrect (Shlaes, 2007).

Such clarification is the daring contribution of Shlaes and her book. This is because the author, through her literary work, provided the public with a different version of the Great Depression and above all, effectively made the public realize that the conventional historical account failed to grasp the damaging yet real events of the said period (Shlaes, 2007). Most importantly, the book is best understood with its justification that the bungled economic policies committed by the two leaders undermined the benefits of effective government planning. Worst, Hoover and Roosevelt have reportedly even strengthened and extended the agonies which the two are supposed to resolve.

After a discussion on the above-mentioned pieces of information, reader of the Shlaes book is expected to ask who the forgotten man is. By principle, the forgotten man is person who was overlooked during the whole process and while everything else have subsided. Simply put, the forgotten man is the man who is supposed to be the one being considered and who is the one waiting for an outcome but turned out left out and not thought of in the end.

“The Forgotten Man,” an Overview

The difficult yet triumphant survival of America of the Great Depression is only a part of the Shlaes book. Additionally, the author’s explicit discussion on the alleged wrongdoings and miscalculations of prominent American leaders such as Hoover and Roosevelt resulted into an increased awareness on the misguided economic policies and harmful dominance of the said two presidents. From her perspective as an economics journalist, Shlaes presented the old story of the Great Depression along with the destructions it has created on the American economy as well as the domineering Hoover and Roosevelt eras. Beyond these accounts, however, the author is best acclaimed for her representation and disclosure of the real forgotten man – who turned out to be every single American.

Through the arguments discussed by Shlaes in the book, the public was provided with the fact that the economic policies then created by the two presidents as well as the New Deal model definitely worsened the event of Great Depression. Additionally, the author effectively noted that because of what has happened or carried out during the economic turmoil, it was unfortunate that it resulted into forgetting the worth of every inpidual American.

The Shlaes book clearly disputed that every single citizen, who after being used as the underlying reason for all the policies and eventually used as an excuse for the economic bungle, is definitely the true neglected inpidual who just anticipated recovery which the leaders have pursued but failed to deliver.

Detrimental Economic Policies

Great Depression is good to be considered or analyzed as a part of American history which could have been prevented if only for the inefficiency and apparent supremacy of American leaders. In order to present a clear view of the said event in the history of America as well as its evidently damaging implications to the people and the country, it is worthy to take into consideration the economic policies which, in fact, worsen the situation.

Among the significant factors regarding the existing dispute is the view that the American economic condition then is all likely to be about Keynesianism. In short, the economic conflict boils down to the issue whether both the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations’ expenditures are able to heal the ailing economy.

The said problem was also regarded in a way whether the presidents’ policies such as the New Deal model for Roosevelt paved the way for the eventual recovery of the American economy. Hence, it is valuable to comment that the price that the doubts and insecurities of the economy then have to pay was overlooked. These so-called unfamiliar uncertainties as the nature of the American economy served as the factors which led to the eventuality of the Great Depression.

Based from the book it can be surmised that the economic policies in general during that time were volatile. Coupled with the impulsive or unpredictable leaderships of Hoover and Roosevelt, the economy turned into a variable environment where both the economic players and the public manifested uncertainties. After analysis of the book, it became obvious that the American people during that critical period did not venture into investment endeavors or even gamble in a particular financial sector.

This policy or economic strategy has proven to be more detrimental than a safe and harmless decision by Americans. This is because the economic guideline wherein people preferring to delay their investment and wait until they are sure of the benefit just results into more harm. Such policy is, in fact, not a wise plan for economy players due to the principle that economy, by nature, should be inclined to gamble and take the risk in order to determine the effectiveness of the decision-making.

On a different perspective, the Great Depression has also imparted disagreeing economic ideas such as for the business or industry sector to be daring and unrelenting with its financial experimentations. By principle, such guideline is good and is aimed for the welfare of the economy. This is because someone or there will be a definite and active authority to do the job.

The said bold economic move may result into huge expenses for the country. However, the fact that the economy was able to have a feel of the playing field is enough ground for the economist financial players to consider that there is definitely something beneficial or that any kind of daring economic policy is aimed to work for the advantage of the people and the country in general.

Another economic policy which apparently worsened the Great Depression is the government’s preference to adapt the premise of considering what the public choices. This is simple to dispute due to the very obvious scenario that government tends to compete with anything and anyone. As stated in the book, the Great Depression was actually not about businesses going bad but instead the depicted the inclination of government to compete even with the private sector such as power services.

Policies to Repair the Damage

Of the above-cited economic policies, the only guideline which needs to be implemented is the bold attitude of being persistent and risk-taker in any economic ventures. Although this policy is inclined to create damage, there is still the opportunity that the anticipated financial harm can be prevented.

This can be done in such a way that the decision of economic players to gamble or take the risk is the primary consideration for a clear laying-down of safety nets or needed precautions in order to avoid eventual failure. Specifically as what the book imparted, in the competition between government and private sector over the power business or provision of utilities to the people, it could have been maneuvered in a manner that both entities will benefit and the people will be provided with the essential service. This could have been done through merging or if only the two sectors joined forces thus minimizing the expenses but maximizing the outcome.


The Shlaes book served as a concrete illustration of the true state of American economy during the Great Depression. Due to the revelation, the public realized the failures of the past leaders as far as running the economy of the country. However, beyond the damages, the book is to be commendable for its effort at identifying the real person who should have been prioritized during the economic turmoil. That is, every American should not have been forgotten because they are the very reason why the economic policies of the nation need to be effective and dependable.


Shlaes, A. (2007). The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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