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Chicagophile


LETTERS
Who's forgotten what?


In 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."

In reality, Terkel is the one suffering from forgetfulness. Big government saved no one's…um…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.

It 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.

Pejman Yousefzadeh, AB'94, AM'95
Irvine, California



  AUGUST 2001

  > > Volume 93, Number 6


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