Tom Friedman has a new book out where the message seems to be – if only we could be more like the WW2 generation. They understood the concept of hard work and thrift. They knew how to take care of each other and sacrificed for the future of our country.
Let’s say it’s 1950 and Mao lost the civil war. Chiang Kai-shek hires some advisors from the Milton Friedman school of free market economics. Bingo, the Chinese dragon is unleashed. Truman signs a trade deal where we get to import all their goods tariff free. We are not allowed to sell them anything – after all they are a struggling underdeveloped country.
Now imagine the 50’s and 60’s without American made appliances, telephones, cars, and TV’s. All the imported stuff is dirt cheap. The Chinese will lend your family all the money they need to buy imports immediately. No need to wait or save. The Europeans have taken the money from the Marshall Plan and used it to buy Chinese goods. All the jobs making stuff in America never existed because the plants were all moved to Asia by 1952. The “greatest generation” were unemployed losers. The unparalleled creation of a middle class never happened.
Would Eisenhower and Kennedy have proposed tinkering with the corporate tax code as a solution to fix the mess?