the June/01 "Voices on the Quads," Studs Terkel is quoted
as saying that during the Great Depression, "big government"
saved the "asses" of "daddies and granddaddies"
of "the very ones who condemn big government today."
Terkel went on to say that the United States was suffering from
a "national Alzheimer's disease" and that "there
is no memory of yesterday."
reality, Terkel is the one suffering from forgetfulness. Big government
saved no one's
behind. The economic salvation of
the United States mostly came from the country's entry into World
War II. The war caused a massive influx of jobs-most in the military
industrial sector. By contrast, New Deal programs were manifestly
unsuccessful in creating a long-term solution to the rampant unemployment
that accompanied the Great Depression. Roosevelt's constant bouts
of experimentation with new government programs failed to bring
about an American economic renaissance, and from an economic standpoint,
World War II was needed to create long-coveted, well-paying, and
stable manufacturing jobs, lifting the United States out of depression.
is strange that Terkel does not recognize that free-market forces
are more powerful than government intervention in remedying economic
ills or augmenting modest economic growth. If there is anything
that the Chicago School of Economics, and its legions of Nobel
Prize-winners, have stood for, it is that excessive government
spending, regulation, and interference is the surest way to economic
crisis, while an unfettered free market is the chief catalyst
behind entrepreneurial inventiveness, job growth, and economic
expansion. Perhaps Robert Lucas, Merton Miller, Gary Becker, Robert
Fogel, Milton Friedman, Myron Scholes, and other U of C economists
are available to give Terkel a remedial course in economics. If
so, he should avail himself of the opportunity.
Yousefzadeh, AB'94, AM'95