Adrian sent me this link a few days ago. His alma mater, Grove City College, publishes semi-regular articles of interest - on current issues, politics, economics, etc. - via The Center for Vision and Values. Grove City is really big into the Austrian school of economics, as is not surprising from this article. Anyway, I'd highly suggest the article; it's a very interesting read. "On Economic Depressions, Then and Now?" is a discussion of depression-era government intervention, and how FDR did more to hinder the U.S. economy than to help it, and how World War II did not bring us out of the great depression.
This article is great stuff, but here's the problem: Americans are too stupid and driven by feeling instead of facts for such truths to take effect. We feel like Bush is to blame for the economy, so he must be. We feel like government intervention will help, so no matter how much good, solid reasoning is thrown our way, it won't change our minds. For that matter, it can't possibly change our minds because we won't even bother to read it.
This is why an unliterary society with popular election is so dangerous! If the discontented and uninformed populace is personally electing officials, they will disgruntingly vote out incumbents who make informed-but-unpopular decisions, because the public wants the congress to cater to their whims. That puts us much closer to a democracy than the original intended republic. Which is why it was a major mistake to change our constitution to allow the popular election of senators. But I digress. . .
By "stupid Americans", I mean we are unliterary. We don't read, or we don't read deeply. We choose ignorance; it isn't thrust upon us. Americans form opinions from the news media, largely, and the media is driven by sensationalism and what the public wants to hear, not by common sense and trying to intelligently change the public's minds. Can you imagine a media effort to convince the public of the facts in the GCC article? Yeah, right! That would be really popular. Why? Because it's not what the public wants to hear.
The public wants to hear that our recession is the result of political mistakes or a few unwise large businesses. They don't want to hear that the solution is for the people to work out the problems themselves via good entrepreneurship, wise spending habits, personal efforts to teach the poor to fish (instead of just feeding them fish), etc. They don't want to hear that their own godlessness in the form of chasing the idol of consumerism is the real problem. It's so much better to think that someone else (read: "Uncle Sam") is the only solution. Whining is much more fun than action. Only thing is, where do we think Uncle Sam gets his funds?