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  • kewal sethi

what makes united states go

what makes united states go

i was one of those quasi-keynesian who became convinced, shortly after we entered the second world war, that great depressions were most unlikely in the american future, as i occasionally overstated matters to my economist friends: "john tabor may be able to bring on a depression by the main force of his stupidity, but it is most unlikely the country and even the republicans would allow this." my conviction was based, less on the confidence in keynesian armamentarium as politically feasible medicine, than on the surmise that the war had taught americans the lesson that wars cure depressions and are, as conducted extra territorially, less unpleasant: not a lesson to be learned in school or pulpit or even to be explicitly stated to oneself (save perhaps in lower class male circles), but rather a tacit agreement that government can control depressions, if need be, by war and preparation for war. (there is some fragmentary evidence from surveys of public opinion that in the period from 1949 to 1956, more americans have expected a major war than a major depression in the years ahead.)

it should be clear that i am not talking about the "merchants of death". such companies as du pont are much too frightened – and too responsible – to influence policy in favour of military rather than diplomatic preparations; and even the direct military producers would throw their weight in favour of "their" arm of the services out of patriotism rather than profits. domestic support for american military spending is popular, despite the outcry against high taxes, in part because it has the tacit backing of people who recognize the support it gives the economy, to their fair city; in an era when corruption is less and less a vehicle for government spending (despite what is said later about highways), this is the new, often relatively disinterested, pork-barrel, periodically supported by the ussr and its allies."

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