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Good news from 100 years ago

To the editor:

John Stossel’s refreshing column, “Naughty vs. Nice” (Dec. 24th Journal), about politicians and media vs. free Americans, prompts this brief comparison of two depressions.

Government leaders, operating on the assumption that improvement could come only if they intervened, reacted to the Federal-Reserve-caused 1929 downturn by barreling ahead with one attempted fix or program after another. The result? Three presidents, two political parties, one world war, a depression within a depression (1937-38), and nearly two decades later, this depression finally ended. It is known as the Great Depression.

Then there’s the depression of 100 years ago, 1920-21, the severity of which led those experiencing it to regard it as unprecedented. But who remembers now that period of around 18 months? Why? The government stayed out, the market was allowed to work freely, and the economy quickly recovered. One book calls it “the crash that cured itself.” The episode has thus come to be known as the Forgotten Depression. What a fabulous thing to remember for the lessons it offers.

R.E. Wehrwein

New Ulm

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