President Obama has taken his fair share of flak for not following through on campaign promises--from renegotiating NAFTA to reforming immigration to ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But there’s a slightly more obscure pledge--one he made at a March 2008 town hall meeting in Greensburg, Pennsylvania--that he may want to revisit. “I will seriously consider eliminating the penny,” then-candidate Obama said, in response to a voter who questioned the wisdom of producing coins so worthless that vending machines (and some stores) no longer accept them.
Until last September, when the banking industry came crashing down and depression loomed for the first time in my lifetime, I had never thought to read The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, despite my interest in economics. I knew that John Maynard Keynes was widely considered the greatest economist of the twentieth century, and I knew of his book's extraordinary reputation. But it was a work of macroeconomics--the study of economy-wide phenomena such as inflation, the business cycle, and economic growth.
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression By Amity Shlaes (HarperCollins, 464 pp., $26.95) Herbert Hoover By William E. Leuchtenburg (Times Books, 208 pp., $22) Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America By Adam Cohen (Penguin Press, 372 pp., $29.95) A generation ago, the total dismissal of the New Deal remained a marginal sentiment in American politics. Ronald Reagan boasted of having voted for Franklin Roosevelt. Neoconservatives long maintained that American liberalism had gone wrong only in the 1960s.