Ed Driscoll

The New Dealers' War

Rand Simberg on the end of Depression — the 1930s version that is; not our would-be FDR retread’s current economic woes:

I should add (as I have before) that it’s important to understand just how and why WW II ended the Depression. The conventional wisdom from the Keynesians is that all of the federal spending grew the economy, but that didn’t really happen — wars are in fact ruinous for economies, even for those economies that win them. Much of the production that occurred during the war was consumed in the war, or scrapped afterward, while there was rationing of food and goods on the home front. The real reason that we recovered was that once the war was on, FDR was too distracted by it to continue to tinker with the economy, as he had during the thirties, keeping it continually sick (much like a medieval doctor continuing to bleed a patient). He had to get arms production up and could no longer afford all of his random pet nostrums. Beyond that, unemployment plunged because so many men were drafted, taking them off the rolls, and then the women were put to work in the factories.

Had Roosevelt lived, after the war, he probably would have returned to his damaging tinkering, and in fact Truman wanted to, but the new Republican Congress that came in in 1946 wouldn’t let him, and so finally, after a decade and a half of disastrous Democrat policies, the economy finally recovered, and even boomed. But it doesn’t mean that the solution is a war, or even the “moral equivalent” of one. It means that the solution is sane government. I hope that we’re less than a year and a half from that.

[Update a while later]

The leftists can’t make up their minds about it.

And from the “Miracle of the 1940s,” as Krugman would put it, we go to the postwar era: Jay Cost demands that today’s “liberals” — who have pushed the political center of gravity much further to the left on every issue than the original New Dealers and Great Society mavens ever did — “Leave Ike Out of It!”

(Headline inspired by Thomas Fleming’s 2001 book; read Brian Lamb’s C-Span interview with Fleming here.)