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How a Brooklyn butcher KO’d FDR

The Brooklyn Paper

A Brooklyn Heights author told a gathering at the Heights Casino last week how a kosher butcher in Brooklyn, playing David to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Goliath, faced off against the federal government and won.

Amity Shlaes delivered a talk from the pages of her bestselling book, “The Forgotten Man, A New History of the Great Depression,” puncturing the aura that in many New York salons still envelop FDR’s economic policies.

The 1930s showdown pitted a hallowed figure in the Democratic pantheon against some hometown boys, the Schechter brothers, a brood of kosher butchers who beat the price-fixing, anti-market policies of the New Deal’s National Recovery Administration, in a historic Supreme Court case in 1935.

At one time, the Heights Casino, a social and squash club on Montague Street, might have been the roost of New Deal–criticizing capitalist buccaneers, but these days, the conventional thinking on FDR has been soaked up even by Brooklyn’s upper crust.

“We all sort of had this rosy view that the New Deal was what pulled us out of the Depression,” said Casino President Franklin Stone. “She’s shown a more complex view.

Shlaes’s portrayal of the four-times-elected chief executive as economically wrongheaded is, for many, a fresh approach to Depression-era history.

She said it’s the perfect Brooklyn story because it has “that outsider sense that’s always skeptical of government — whether it’s on the other side of the bridge or in Washington.”

That plotline made it hard for anyone to root for FDR.

“It was fun that she picked a story that showed the spunk of the Brooklyn entrepreneur,’ said David Wenk.

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William "the Butcher" Poole from Park Slope says:
I really have to applaud The Brooklyn Paper. Your coverage of this event is exactly the way objective reporting should read. You did not prejudice the piece with the ubiquitous disclaimer “conservative author" Amity Shales. You did not call her view of the New Deal outside the mainstream or revisionist. You reported on the event and her thesis, as well as some comments from those in attendance. I have no doubt that Ms. Shales found the coverage refreshing. Well-done. Now, if only The New York Times would follow your lead . . . .
Jan. 30, 2008, 1:03 pm
Reg Thatcher from Gulf Shores, AL says:
Author Amity Shlaes is furthering the education of the public
regarding the truth about FDR and the New Deal. May I suggest the following books for your inquiry into what has been hidden from us. Please read: Pearl Harbor Redefined by Timothy Wilford. Beyond Pearl Harbor by James J. Martin. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace by Harry Elmer Barnes. Thank God for the Freedom of Information Act and the Congressional Records.
Dec. 18, 2008, 10:01 pm
Andrew from Harlem says:
I'm starting to read "The Forgotten Man". From what I've read so far, Shlaes seems to be arguing in defense of those we now refer to as the one percent. If the one percent is to be given greater consideration in economic policy, as she argues, does that mean accepting the increasing economic bifurcation of our society? Is there no common good that transcends the interests of the top one percent? Is there a way to dialogue with Ms. Shlaes?
Nov. 19, 2012, 2:41 pm

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