Ed Driscoll

I Have Seen the Future, And It Works! Or Maybe Not...

Stuart Chase, too, would work on articles and a book about Russia, aimed at capturing the attention of the leaders in the established political parties. Interested in the future of cities, he was also imagining a new style of federal government far more ambitious than what had been before. The volume, published a few years later, would open with a reference to Keynes, the English economist who had approved of Hoover: “John Maynard Keynes tells us that in 100 years there will be no economic problem.” To get to that point, though, Chase reiterated, the United States would indeed have to depart from free-market models. Once again, he sketched limits. “Laissez faire rides well on covered wagons; not so well on conveyer belts and cement roads,” Chase wrote. Whatever the change that was happening, “it is going in the direction of more collectivism.” Chase argued the key to the change was Russia. It might be a dictatorship, but it was, just as Steffens said, the future. “Russia, I am convinced,” Chase said, “will solve for all practical purposes the economic problem.” Someday, the United States might begin its own experiment in central planning. The conservatives were having their day, and the planners would get theirs. After all, as Chase would ask in his final sentence, “Why should Russians have all the fun remaking a world?”

– From Amity Shlaes’ 2007 book The Forgotten Man, quoting Chase’s 1932 book, whose title, A New Deal, inspired the signature phrase of Roosevelt’s administration.

GEITHNER: You could have taken [the chart] out [to the year] 3000 or to 4000. [Laughs]

RYAN: Yeah, right. We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.

— From the classic exchange between Paul Ryan and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, which I linked to back in February under the headline, “From the Folks Who Brought You Cloward-Piven.”