Is serious left criticism of government’s share of GDP possible? (4)
Continued from here.
On the way back from the nail salon this morning, I stopped to fill the tank in my Lincoln Navigator – which, as you can imagine, was a bit pricey, but, fortunately, not as pricey as filling my twin his and her stretch hummers – when it occurred to me, “Hey, what is all this corn in my gas?”
Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, someone, somewhere, decided I not only need decent nail care, but also corn in my gasoline.
Nobody, so far as I know, did a market survey of American consumers, asking us if we are getting our daily requirement for corn-laced gasoline. Nobody, so far as I know, asked me, or, for that matter, you, whether we would like to get our daily minimum requirement for corn in the form of a gasoline additive. Nobody, so far as I know, asked us how much we were willing to pay for this additive to our clean, pure, pristine gasoline – with all its healthy, Global Warming, hydrocarbonic goodness.
MMMMmmmm! Corn Laced Gasoline, makes my mouth water – of course, when it seeps into the water table, it also makes my water make my mouth water, or something like … cancer – it’s all a bit complicated.
In any case, someone decided we all needed corn-laced gasoline, because, getting our corn the old fashion way, by eating it, or, by eating the animals who were eating it, just wasn’t getting the job done.
So they passed a law declaring, henceforth Americans can get their daily requirement for corn by drinking their gasoline.
About this time, Haitians started enjoying another delicacy – dirt cookies.
It is quite difficult to trace the connection from a law in Washington mandating the addition of corn ethanol to gasoline and the impact on the price of food in Haiti. In fact, it is difficult to trace the impact of any law or mandate made in Washington to prices generally.
But, like obscenity, we all know it when we see it.
Take World War I for instance – you have to go back to a time before world wars had numbers (according to Admiral Woolsey, we are up to IV. He doesn’t like dirt cookies, by the way, and, more’s the pity since, as a player in Washington, dirt cookies are one of his special products.)
Back then it was just called the Great War, and it has a complete write up here, if you have been living in a box, or, are a graduate of a typical American public school system.
Actually, it wasn’t all that great – by the standards of World War II, it was just so-so.
But, it was pretty revolutionary for its time: by the end of the war, economic growth exploded in the United States, Britain and Italy, and, the government’s share of the economy rose to 50 percent in Germany, France and Britain.
As the Wiki explains:
One of the most dramatic effects was the expansion of governmental powers and responsibilities in Britain, France, the United States, and the Dominions of the British Empire. In order to harness all the power of their societies, new government ministries and powers were created. New taxes were levied and laws enacted, all designed to bolster the war effort; many of which have lasted to this day.
Huge numbers of working age men could be forcibly withdrawn from the labor force and marched face forward into the ferocious, lethal, lead filled winds of machinegun lines of fire; entire towns could be massacred, laid waste, pillaged, and set to the torch; and – this is truly bizarre, although you will not think so – ECONOMIC OUTPUT GREW!
Technological progress swept like a storm across the vast structures of industry, and, it became more productive!
Government could reach in and not simply impress millions of hale youth in forced death marches, but, also reconfigure entire industries to meet its wartime needs for everything from bullets to butter!
War was good for business.
But, business was even better for war.
But, before you get all giddy with excitement over how masterful your public servants in Washington were at promoting economic growth – albeit, at the expense of a good portion of the populations of all major nations – we should tell you there was a cost.
The Wiki notes:
Work stoppages and strikes became frequent in 1917–18 as the unions expressed grievances regarding prices, alcohol control, pay disputes, fatigue from overtime and working on Sundays and inadequate housing. Conscription put into uniform nearly every physically fit man, six of ten million eligible. Of these, about 750,000 lost their lives and 1,700,000 were wounded. Most deaths were to young unmarried men; however, 160,000 wives lost husbands and 300,000 children lost fathers.
Inflation raged, alcoholism rose, the population was worked to the point of exhaustion, a generation of young men were destroyed, “Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths.“
And, the fatherless children in all major nations looked to their nation’s leaders and asked plaintively: “Are you my daddy?”
To be continued