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Letter to the Editor - Sept. 1

September 01, 2011

World War II was itself a government stimulus program


To the editor:

George Michael’s Aug. 26 article points out how two people can look at the same data and come to different conclusions. Michael takes on the issue of whether Keynesian economics is effective and parrots the conservative line that government stimulus has failed. He supports his argument citing the programs of the Great Depression as ineffective. Sen. Mitch McConnell said it from the Senate floor: “…the New Deal programs failed and it was World War II that brought us out of the Great Depression.”

What many noted economists say is, small stimulus programs don’t work. In WWII the government put 12 million people on the payroll and stimulated manufacturing in an unprecedented magnitude — a massive stimulus program that led to over 30 years of the greatest prosperity in history.

Michael says “Government spending, once begun rarely shrinks…” He is right, but it is a failure of political leadership, not Keynes’ theory. Any time the government spends more than it takes in, it is creating money and stimulating the economy. Only five times in the last 50 years has our government balanced the budget or created a surplus — all under Democratic presidents!  The rest is artificial stimulus.

It is ironic that the darling of the conservatives, Ronald Reagan, ran in 1980 on a platform that included abolishing the national debt, which he called the cruelest tax on the American people. He then began the biggest deficit stimulus spending to date, and it became the model of the Republican “borrow and spend” policies that resulted in our recent financial crisis. He got the part about spending during a downturn right, but never paid off the public debt in good times. Perhaps if they actually tried Keynesian economics for a change, we could avoid the kind of mess we are in now.


Bob Ayrer
Falling Waters, W.Va.

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