Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Stimulus I can support

If anyone has made this argument, I haven’t seen it.

To wit: if we take seriously the contention that what really ended the Great Depression was ramping up for World War II, then why aren’t those who are willing to throw everything but the kitchen sink at our economic malaise (a word appropriately borrowed from the Jimmy Carter era) also willing to throw the kitchen sink, in this case, an expansion of our armed forces?

What better way to create government-funded jobs than to do this? People have guaranteed employment, they learn skills and develop habits of discipline that, later on, will serve them well in the civilian world, and they serve the national interest articulated so intransigently by President Obama in his Inaugural Address. What’s more, those likeliest to enlist are those who are most economically at risk.

And while we’re at it, let’s expand the array of opportunities for folks to get an education by expanding the ROTC program.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Do what you are suggesting but through a massive nationalised engineering corp to build renewable power plants and transmission lines to support them. For starters.

It doesn't always have to be about blowing stuff up.

It is my understanding that the supply of willing people is not there. Do you want a draft?

No one will do National Guard again because what was thought to be an emergency force for local needs became actual army units sent to Iraq 2,3,4 times with people losing their "real" jobs.

The Ethos is gone. It may return if there were very serious attacks but unless there is something serious a lot of people are not going to willingly join the armed forces.

Deliciously funny, Joe. Because without Hitler/Japan or the USSR, the only justification for thus expanding the military would be "Bush-ian" ones! Let's maul the Syrian, Iranian, and Burmese regimes: a war program good for democracy and bad for terrorism that will PAY FOR ITSELF via stimulative wonderfulness! National Greatness!

But it really is a serious, irrefutable argument that "FDR-was-not-all-that-great" to use on liberals. Of course, most liberals will convince themselves that the new-model FDR (Obama) is smarter (which I think is true, but not to a decisive degree), or retreat to the Louis Blanc stance that Brian Coughlan does: "national service for all!"

Nationalised does not equate to national service.

Just return to the mixed economy of the US's mid 20th century. Some things, particularly important things are either run by the government, closely regulated or run on a free market basis with the government as a monopoly consumer.

The less important stuff, of which there is plenty, can be left to the unfettered free market.

The silver lining of this credit crisis is the very welcome (and long overdue) death of Reganomics.

What exactly would this standing army do? We have seen that war is now fought with drones and high tech weaponry. Will modernized countries all volunteer to return to the days of mass infantry in order to help population control and foster a world wide sense of chivalry? Or would the troops you want be in used in conjunction with National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645.

See Martin Feldstein in Today's Washington Post.

Actually, Joe, it is a little known, and somewhat surprising fact that in his Foreign Affairs article, "Renewing American Leadership," Obama did call for an expansion of the military. More precisely, he argues that we should add 65,000 soldiers to the army and add 27,000 new Marines. And all this after withdrawal from Iraq!

How the World War II approach to solving the Great Depression could be applied today.

1. Lower the unemployment rate by drafting tens of millions of young workers and paying them below market wages and threatening to jail them if they don't go along. They could start by building Al Gore approved energy plants so that the rest of us can pay more for electricity. Everybody is a winner.

2. Impose rationing on the rest of the population so they don't unduly benefit from the skewed labor market no matter how hard they work.

3. So that the nondrafted labor force does not slack off due to the deranged incentives, let it be known that decreased productivity could indirectly lead to the early and violent deaths of their draftee relatives and friends.

But even WWII (or our new fake version of WWII) could not last forever, so how do we prevent the downturn from permanently returning whenever the government decides that the emergency is over?

1. Have the total cost of government at all levels drift back down to about 1/3 of GNP

2. Have a welfare system whose benefits would be considered barbaric by even many conservatives. Also the eligibility standards would outrage Newt Gingrich in their strictness.

3. Combine regulatory and labor laws that encourage oligopoly with rising living standards by making sure that all of your major international competitors are living in blasted rubble. This means they won't able to compete AND they will be desperate to spend what wealth they have for American exports just to survive and rebuild. There are several ways to accomplish this. The most efficient would be a limited nuclear first strike.

Or the government could just pay us all to register dead people for ACORN.

Martin Feldstein recommends, as a real stimulus, a temporary tax credit for buying cars, buying major appliances or repairing houses. That would get people out of their houses and boosting the economy.

Feldstein doesn't propose expanding the armed forces, but he has a military-related proposal:

"Infrastructure spending on domestic military bases can also proceed more rapidly than infrastructure spending in the civilian economy. And military procurement overwhelmingly involves American-made products. Since much of this military spending will have to be done eventually, it makes sense to do it now, when there is substantial excess capacity in the manufacturing sector. In addition, a temporary increase in military recruiting and training would reduce unemployment directly, create a more skilled civilian workforce and expand the military reserves."

As usual, he makes good points.

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