Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Isn't It Ironic?

The more I read, the more I am struck by the irony of the title of the Stephen Moore article in the Wall Street Journal that inspired my reading in the first place: Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years.

When Rand wrote the book, it was complete fiction. America was enjoying a time of unprecedented prosperity in the 1950's despite the ascendancy of the "looters" and "moochers" that Rand so despised. Strong unions and a 90% top marginal tax rate did not destroy the economy or cause industrialists to close their factories and disappear.

In the last thirty years, however, American manufacturing has declined precipitously and the United States has gone from the biggest creditor in the world to its biggest debtor. All this happened as American economic policy turned in favor of Rand's "prime movers" with tax cuts for the wealthy and union bashing.


  1. The key question is always "why."

    "a time of unprecedented prosperity in the 1950's"

    Because of the post-war boom or because of liberal policies? The former, I think.

    "American manufacturing has declined precipitously"

    Because of the favorite sons of the liberals -- unions and environmetal lobbies

    "the biggest creditor in the world to its biggest debtor"

    Largely because of spending on liberal programs. No, I'm not going to deny that the military buildup of the 80s was involved, but that was necessary while, as the late 90s showed us, the spending on the welfare, etc, was not.

  2. There would not have been a post-war boom without liberal policies that allowed broad participation in the economic prosperity.

  3. I've heard the assertion before. Never seen any evidence.

  4. Are you looking for evidence of the economic prosperity or the liberal policies?

  5. Evidence that "there would not have been a post-war boom without liberal policies."

  6. Look at the figures for poverty and unemployment before and after the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid, for example. It's stark. Of course, you could argue that it's coincidental, but then I'd suggest you should put forward an alternate proposition as to what really drove the downward trend in poverty and unemployment.

  7. Government spending built the interstate highway system, rebuilt Europe, put GI's through college giving America the best-educated work force in the world, and gave GI's the wherewithal to buy houses. The strength of unions created a middle class where families could live well off of a single income. What do you think that post-war boom was if it wasn't a middle class having the ability to buy the things that American manufacturers produced?