Reading Group Guide
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: LOOKING FORWARD
1. How is the current economic crisis similar to and different than the Great Depression?
2. LOOKING FORWARD was published in March 1933 when FDR was first inaugurated. Which of FDR’s suggestions for fixing the economy outlined in LOOKING FORWARD were implemented in his presidency and which were not?
3. In the chapter on the failing railroad industry FDR states, “The problem of the railroads is the problem of each and every one of us. No single economic activity enters into the life of every individual so much as do these great carriers.” Do you think the same statement could be made about the auto industry today? Are any of FDR’s suggestions for fixing the railroad industry applicable to the auto industry?
4. In the introduction, FDR states that even in times when the nation is feeling discouraged and depressed if the quality of political leadership is right, this mood “should vanish so utterly that it will be difficult to reconstruct.” Do you think that political leaders can have this positive effect on the mood of the country? Did FDR do this for the American people? Does Barack Obama?
5. FDR states that “We must work towards the time when a major depression cannot occur again; and if this means sacrificing the easy profits of inflationist booms, then let them go—and good riddance.” Do you think that the government programs that FDR introduced in his New Deal such as Social Security, Federal Deposit Insurance, and the Securities and Exchange Commission ensure that a major depression cannot occur again? Is the prevention of depression even possible or inevitable due to human nature and the nature of economic cycles?