I saw this over on "Time for America to get small: U.S. citizens must retrench, stop borrowing, and save their way back to prosperity," by Eric Margolis. The Smirking Chimp. February 8, 2009.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched mass social welfare schemes in the 1930s similar to ones that Obama is proposing. Roosevelt's New Deal may have staved off popular revolution but it did little for the economy. It took goading Japan into war to end the Depression.
Now, I just posted the following a day or so ago; but it bears repeating over and over until it sinks into the mainstream consciousness of the whole world. It's original with me — meaning I didn't read it or hear it somewhere else. It may have occurred to others already. I would be surprised if it hasn't. It may be written somewhere on the Internet too. I haven't though seen it, obviously. That's not helping the cause of debunking the laissez-faire crowd though. It needs to be everywhere.
Okay, FDR's New Deal dropped the unemployment rate from an estimated 25% to around 10%. That's fairly well known. The war (WWII) dropped the unemployment rate to zero. That's understood. What seems to be a major disconnect is that the war was government employing the troops. More importantly though is that the same troops rather than having been used to fight a war could have been employed by the government in much more productive work.
Here's something most people, to the best of my knowledge, don't know. When FDR went to employ the unemployed, he was forced by the greedy not to offer government-provided skilled jobs directly with direct government-provided skilled-jobs training. In case the reason isn't obvious to you, the more capitalist, laissez-faire leaning in society (who still had huge power despite the depression) knew that if the government trained up skilled workers who then did infrastructure and other work directly for the government (not under capitalist contractors), including producing goods and services at high wages and benefits and with no capitalist nation to attack the U.S. for doing that, the so-called socialist government would have wildly succeeded thereby ruining all the propaganda of the capitalists against socialism.
I write this not as one who advocates coercive socialism. I'm against coercive socialism and coercive capitalism both.
Don't let the laissez-faire crowd lull you to sleep with their stories about how laissez faire isn't coercive. They have a huge body of literature that in the end always admits, albeit in euphemistic terms, such a "Club for Protection," that they will "defend" their system with violence if push comes to shove, and even voluntary socialism competing with them is "shove" in their book. I've run into very few total pacifists who claim capitalism.
Their club is meant to sound like a nice, little, neighborhood club. In reality though, it's a deadly militia that will murder socialist for the sake of the ultra wealthy (plutocrats) who have duped the lowly libertarian-capitalist minions. They'll deny this, but they are not pacifists. You shall know them by their fruits. Who fights the way they do? Christians don't.