Just Asking

by Don Boudreaux on May 26, 2012

in Great Depression, State of Macro, The Crisis, War

I’m in Sweden for a few days (hanging out, my vanity compels me to boast, with one of today’s most creative and effective classical-liberal thinkers, Johan Norberg).  (BTW, one of the finest books on globalization written during the past quarter century, in my opinion, is Johan’s In Defense of Global Capitalism.)  Discussions with a variety of people here, as well as impressions recalled from commentaries written by a number of Americans, of fiscal woes in Europe and the U.S. prompt the following impromptu question: If – as pop fiction and the opinions of many experts contend – the American economy was rescued from the Great Depression by World War II, why do a number of people today place part of the blame for America’s current fiscal woes on Uncle Sam’s unnecessary military adventures abroad?

I here accuse no individual of inconsistency.  But it does strike me as worthwhile to point out that the following two propositions are highly unlikely both to be correct: (1) massive military spending by Uncle Sam from 1940 through 1945 was economically beneficial; (2) massive military spending by Uncle Sam from 2002 through today is economically harmful.

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