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Remembering Days When the Government Wasn’t Run by Evil People

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A good rundown of the WPA Federal Art Project, which is also a reminder that government can actually do good things for people when it is not run by fascists.

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  • science_goy

    Wasn’t that a product of the same government that put 100,000 Japanese-Americans into concentration camps?

    • Dennis Orphen

      Are you angry because we didn’t gas them?

      • science_goy

        What on earth is that supposed to mean? And who said I was angry?

        I’m grateful for the New Deal, but it’s a bit simplistic to say “the government wasn’t run by evil people” at the time.

        • Describing the FDR government as “evil” seems like… a stretch. Was LBJ evil because of the Vietnam War? The Great Society and the civil rights legislation of that era did innumerable good for too many people to count. Was Truman evil for dropping the atom bombs on Japan, despite the large number of similarly beneficial policies his government enacted? In my opinion, the word “evil” should be reserved for uniquely horrible people without a shred of good intentions. A government that passes some malicious but a large number of beneficial policies doesn’t qualify. Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil. Cheeto Caligula, probably, is evil. FDR wasn’t evil.

          • Right.

            • To be clear, I’m fine with having lower standards for describing specific acts/policies as evil. It’s fair to say that internment was evil, for example, but that doesn’t make FDR evil overall, just the same as telling a lie doesn’t make it fair to characterise a person as a liar. (Hillary Clinton may have told a few falsehoods, for example, but overall she’s one of the most honest politicians in modern America, and fact-checking reflects that, even if journalists don’t. Characterising her as a liar when her opponent was Tangerine Trujillo is emblematic of the false dichotomy that ruins so much of our media coverage).

              To put it another way, with attacks on people you’re going to have a higher standard of proof than you are for specific acts of those people.

          • libarbarian

            Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?

            • John Revolta

              Ho! Ho! Ho Chi Minh! NLF is gonna win!

              *snif* We were so young…………….and so horny!!11!11!1!!

        • Crusty

          Not a dime’s worth of difference between FDR and Trump.

          • What do we know about FDR’s stances on email management practices? That could be crucial in deciding which one would be preferable.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              OMG! We need to look into Hillary’s telegram practices!

              • efgoldman

                We need to look into Hillary’s telegram practices!

                Do the kewl kidz even know what a “telegram” is?

  • Harry Hopkins: “Hell, artists got to eat, just like other people.”

  • efgoldman

    The WPA also built a hell of a lot of infrastructure, much of which is still in use.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      We see a lot of it when we visit national and state parks. The legacy of these workers, many of whom had never done this kind of work before, is stunning.

  • ThresherK (KadeKo)

    Erik, I want to add these kickin’ Lester Beall WPA posters to the list, while this country still has an infrastructure.

  • BGinCHI

    On the bright side, the posters we do get will be in that cool Soviet style.

    http://www.sovietposters.com/

    • Vance Maverick

      I’m confused by your future tense. The USSR is long dead. And WPA art did have aesthetic connections to Socialist Realism.

  • keta

    In the 1930s as is the case today, partisan politics resulted in plenty of opposition to the Federal Art Project from Republican Congressmen such as Representative Dewey Short. Short told Congress that good art was the product of suffering artists while “subsidized art is no art at all,” as DeNoon notes in Posters of the WPA.

    Republicans have certainly made great strides in keeping up with the times. Make America Great Again, Motherfuckers.

  • YRUasking

    So were people just intentionally mowing down deer in the 30s?

    • rea

      The Trump Administration’s “Kill All the Deer!” posters will be coming out soon.

      • You say that as a joke, and yet, with the record of satire in the past year, that will be happening in all seriousness within a year.

        • Jordan

          Where I live it would probably be a good thing (albeit, not via cars, which is one of the main problems).

          • One of my high school teachers remarked (in the midst of a lecture that had nothing to do with this) that if you hit a moose, your car would be totalled. This has always seemed like good advice to bear in mind.

            • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

              On the other hand, I hit squirrels fairly often with no damage to my car whatsoever.

              I’m at a loss to explain how this difference never affected the relationship between Rocky and Bullwinkle.

            • ScottK

              Back when they still made Saabs, I saw a video of their safety testing where they simulated a moose as a suspended bundle of steel cables. If you hit a deer it has a good chance of bouncing off the front of the car. But a moose is higher, so you’ll cut under it and then 800kg of moose is going to ride right up the hood into the windshield.

  • Cheap Wino

    Erik, I thought you might be interested in this that was sent to our graduate school generic email address the other day:

    Strike! Union Strategy Board Game.

  • Bruce Vail

    I have nothing interesting to add to this thread. I just really, really like the deer poster.

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