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Letters to the Editor

FDR's Good Deal

| Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When we speak of "OPM" (Other People's Money), the OP represents the "Forgotten Man" writ large.

Readers can be grateful to "The Forgotten Man" author Amity Shlaes for resurrecting the nearly forgotten political economist William Graham Sumner, who coined the expression the "Forgotten Man," which FDR craftily purloined and then stood on its head ("A tale of political economics," Q&A, June 16 and PghTrib.com).

That said, Ms. Shlaes seemed a bit too facile in dismissing FDR's New Deal.

I'd have liked to ask her if she's read Robert Caro's harrowing descriptions of the Texas Hill Country, whose people were Lyndon Johnson's people. One New Deal program alone, the Rural Electrification Act, ended the unrelieved drudgery and mind-numbing tedium that summed up their lives.

The attitude of the private utilities was not that rural electric service could not be profitable, but that it would not be as profitable as urban service. Because they wouldn't take the capital risk, Roosevelt acted through the REA.

After the lights went on in 1939, the farm women in Johnson's Hill Country had electric washers, electric irons and an antidote to boredom: the radio. They began to name their babies for LBJ.

Bob G. Wyeth Homestead

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