Story by Makaylee Pettit
Floyd Norris, New York Times’ chief financial correspondent said that the government is following 1920s secretary of state Andrew Mellon’s philosophy. Because of this the government is backing away from the economy’s problems instead of trying to fix them.
Norris said during the Great Depression in 1929, Mellon’s advice was, “The government should keep its hands off and let things work out by themselves.” The solution was to, “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers and liquidate real-estate.” He thought this would make people work harder and live a more moral life.
In Mellon’s eyes it was a persons own fault if they were wiped out by the depression, explained Norris as he spoke at the University of Utah in October about what’s wrong with the economy.
University of Utah student Stephen Blomquist said he agreed with Mellon’s advice. He said, “I think that capitalism and the free market is what made America what it is today, and that the government should not get involved and just allow the market to play out.”
Presidential candidate Herman Cain has similar views. He recently said, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich blame yourself.” Norris said, “That attitude that it is the fault of the poor that they are poor has never gone away completely, even through poverty programs and the creation of the unemployment service.”
Utah Valley University student Krista Shipp does not agree with Cain’s statement. She said, “[The government] can’t blame anyone but themselves. So I think it’s their fault.” She feels they should be responsible for cleaning up the mess.
Norris said that while many still have the belief that if the government can get their own spending under control it will restore confidence in the rest of the nation, the Mellon view has caused the willingness of the government to pull away from trying to deal with problems. We used to take for granted that the government should try and improve the economy.
Norris said, “There are signs that at least some governments are backing away from the Mellon philosophy, and the idea of letting things work themselves out.” But on the contrary, “We really don’t have a lot of faith in government right now. That lack of faith may have been earned.”
According to Norris only 10 percent of people in the United States that think the government can always be trusted, or at least trusted most of the time. When asked about her trust in the government, University of Utah student Laurie Carlson said, “I trust our government, not a ton I don’t think, but I do trust them.”
Norris said, “Part of the problem is the government is focusing on what they thought they learned from the Great Depression. His theory is, “Knowing what they did wrong is not the same thing as knowing what would have happened if they had tried something else.” He, like Shipp, said the government needs to find a solution, but there is a stumbling block with only 10 percent of the nation trusting them.