Thomas Jefferson once chimed that some government was needed, yet it should be as small as possible. He believed, as did most of the founders, that the larger the scope of the government the fewer the freedoms of it's people.
Up until the mid 20th century U.S. Federal Government was small. When the government encountered a problem, be it fiscal or domestic, the general consensus was for the government to stand idle while the free people took care of the problem. This approach worked well for every recession and depression to this time, as they were all short lived.
For some reason, however, by the mid 20th century there were Americans who pent on ignoring the wishes of the founding fathers, and the wishes of a majority of Americans who adored the founders and had similar beliefs, that a large government could do more harm than good.
Yet, on a faithful day in 1933, the Franklin Deleno Roosevelt administration, with the full support of FDR, decided that they knew more than the founders and all the people who lived in America up to that day, and passed a laws that would end up changing everything the founders stood for.
They would, in a sense, increase the scope of government, and set a precedent for future presidents that it is okay to pass laws that don't necessarily chime with the Constitution. That it's okay to ignore the Constitution and the will of the people. That it's okay to ignore these when you think you are right and the people are wrong.
With his fluent voice, FDR was able to convince the people this was okay. FDR used the new medium, the radio, and gave fireside chats that convinced the American people that the old politics no longer worked, and the new politics were needed. Because times were so desperate, the American public -- many of them -- had faith in the speaker -- too much faith perhaps.
As would Obama several years later with his Health care reform package, FDR would encourage Congress to pass a bill larger than all bills ever written. Obama's bill was 10,000 pages long, and in the end, the National Recovery Act may have been longer.
I find it interesting to note that in 1933 the FDR Administration passed the National Recovery Act (NRA), and in 1935 "a report was submitted to the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the American Bar Association noted that by June 25 of 1934, some 484 codes and 95 supplements had been approved by the president and 242 more by the Administration for Industrial recovery. In the period of a year, 10,000 pages of law had been created, a figure that one had to compare with the mere 2,735 pages that constituted federal statute law. In twelve months, the NRA had generated more paper than the entire legislative output of the federal government since 1789."
The above quote comes from "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression," by Amity Shlaes (page 202, 2007 edition).
It's scary when the government becomes too powerful. The more powerful the Fed the less power the people have. And when public officials think they know what's best for people, and pass laws to make what they want to happen, they are assuming they are right.
When they are wrong, we all suffer.