By Sayuj Panicker

After having read Scott Farner’s submission ("Democrats don’t
deserve credit for economic boom," Viewpoint, March 8), I feel
compelled to clear up a few glaring inaccuracies that I found.

I don’t care to tear apart Farner’s main claim that the nation’s
current prosperity was brought about by Republicans. I think that
such an argument is moot considering that in this election year,
each party will use "facts" and supposedly incontrovertible
evidence to prove once and for all that it created the healthy
economy, just as Farner did in his submission. I won’t waste my
time debating the accuracy of such claims.

But in trying to flesh out his argument with historical
precedents, Farner makes a number of errors, which I will try to
clarify without sounding condescending. But I won’t make any
promises.

First, Farner contends that The Federalist Papers laid the
framework for limited, decentralized government. There are several
things wrong with this statement. The Federalist Papers were
extra-constitutional documents that may have influenced the
drafting of the Constitution, but yet possessed no binding legal
authority in and of themselves.

So, to pass off The Federalist Papers as sovereign documents is
rather specious. Furthermore, by definition, federalism is a system
of government in which powers are divided between the national and
state governments. In implementing a federal system, the founding
fathers were moving away from a confederate system of government,
as created by the Articles of Confederation, wherein the states had
almost complete sovereignty.

After only six years, the founding fathers realized that a
confederacy was a woefully inefficient system that had to be
changed. In this regard, they were not "trying to leave a
centralized government behind," but rather, they were trying to
create a more centralized one.

Near the end of his submission, Farner includes a diatribe
against the reforms of the New Deal, which he calls, without
qualification, "socialist." He uses this word quite liberally
throughout the submission though I wonder whether Farner knows its
precise meaning. My problem with this interpretation of the New
Deal is that Farner provides no historical context for his
assertion, and thus makes it seem as if historical events transpire
in a vacuum.

The era in which New Deal reforms were enacted was an
extraordinary time in American history. During the Great
Depression, millions were out of work and suffering greatly.
President Herbert Hoover’s laissez-faire response to the Depression
was a failure, and so when Franklin Roosevelt took office, he
expanded the power of the federal government to combat the
Depression’s ill effects.

The New Deal was by no means a panacea for the nation’s
problems, but it provided at least a partial recovery. But the
legacy of the New Deal is much more important. Social Security,
which Farner seems to regard as socialist, provides a safety net
for elderly citizens. Prior to this, people either worked until
they died, or if they were lucky, they had a little something saved
for retirement. The benefits of Social Security were expanded under
Republican President Richard Nixon. And the call to save Social
Security today is not sounded by Democrats alone, but also by
Farner’s conservative hero, Sen. John McCain.

More than anything, this reflects the continued relevance of
Roosevelt’s legacy, and the importance of his New Deal policies.
For Farner to call a New Deal program such as Social Security
"destructive" reveals a certain ignorance, since such a claim
overlooks all the good that Social Security does.

It is unfortunate that Farner sacrificed historical accuracy in
order to advance his silly argument that one party was better than
the other. I would suggest that the next time Farner decides to
write an opinion piece, he spends less time perusing right-wing Web
sites, and more time reading historical texts.