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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Recent history and the U.S. economy

  • The proposed solutions to our high unemployment and low economic growth problems that come from Washington DC these days leave me mystified. Most of the politic-speak ignores both the reality of our situation and our history. I believe in history, that history is the only reality available to us for future planning, that proj...
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  • The proposed solutions to our high unemployment and low economic growth problems that come from Washington DC these days leave me mystified. Most of the politic-speak ignores both the reality of our situation and our history. I believe in history, that history is the only reality available to us for future planning, that projections into the future without the benefit of a study of the past will not succeed, that if we don't study history we are doomed to repeat it.
    Some say that we can solve our problems by cutting taxes and slashing government spending. However, taxes in the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) are at their lowest level since the 1950s. The countries of today's world with lower unemployment and higher rates of economic growth all have much higher taxes than the USA. Germany and Denmark are good examples.
    Others espouse that the government should withdraw from various aspects of the economy to create a "free market." Yet, the fastest growing economy in the world is China that has almost total governmental control of its economy. Governments are the only entities with the capability to "position" countries in the international marketplace. Both Sudan and Brazil are good examples of countries with little government involvement. Both have run away economies and very high inflation.
    Most would identify the "cut taxes" and "free market" solutions to our current problem as based on "conservative" thinking. Conservative theorists Edmund Burke and writers William Buckley and George Will would disagree. These theorists were pure conservatives who knew well the history of our economy and that of the rest of the world. They know that there must be a certain amount of government control or our economy will bounce radically from "hot" to "cold."
    My primary concern is the knee-jerk reactions of our "on-the-stump" politicians whose ideas seem to be drawn from abstract principles with little regard for reality or the history of our situation.
    In a time of previous economic difficulty, with a Republican in the White House, the response from Washington DC was very different. From 1957, the year of Sputnik, to the early 1980s when U.S. taxes were significantly higher than now the government created the Interstate Highway System, made massive investments in education and science, created small business incubators and built bridges to the rest of the world for trade. The result was major development in science and business, major improvements in the health industry, fifty years of economic growth, and the highest living standard in the world.
    Getting control of government spending may be helpful in solving our current crisis but cutting taxes is not the route to a healthy economy. Every time we have cut taxes in recent history we have moved further from a healthy economy and deeper into debt. History speaks to us. We should listen.
    Page 2 of 2 - Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for GateHouse News Service and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges in universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at present@present.net.

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