It has been said that here in the US, our economy works best on a "wartime" footing, and is mostly unsustainable during peace time.
Looking back to WWII, it's easy to see the basis of this position.
Despite the almost-continual crises of the civilian war agencies, the American economy expanded at an unprecedented (and unduplicated) rate
between 1941 and 1945. The gross national product of the U.S., as measured in constant dollars, grew from $88.6 billion in 1939 — while the country
was still suffering from the depression — to $135 billion in 1944. War-related production skyrocketed from just two percent of GNP to 40 percent in
In 1944, unemployment dipped to 1.2 percent of the civilian labor force, a record low in American economic history and as near to "full
employment" as is likely possible
As we emerged from the war, we were riding high. Personal per-capita income was up, vast fortunes were made (the morality of which have been oft
discussed here), the Depression was a distant memory (to be fair, there was the inevitable recession as industry came off of the wartime footing, but
nothing to compare with the Depression), we were officially a "superpower.
Fast forward to today.
Although we are involved in at least two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), and who knows how many other, lesser military involvements around the world, our
economy is obviously tanking. It looks to me that only a handfull of companies are making profit off of military contracts, keeping the money "in the
family" as it were. Large corporations are going bankrupt, unemployment is on the rise, wages are going down.
Obviously, most military production is in the hands of the high-tech world, but even there it seems to be just the chosen few who are making the
It seems to me that, even though we are at war, the economy is most definitely not benefitting from any "wartime footing". In fact, things seem to
moving in the opposite direction, with the rich getting richer and the common man getting deeper in the hole.
So the question here, obviously, is why? Why is being at war not helping the economy like WWII? Around here, the pat answer would be "because that's
how the PTB want it". That could very well be. It could also be the fact that there are more huge corporations that cover more of what the military
needs as opposed to the early '40s, so there's not so much of a "spreading the wealth" effect happening. It could have a lot to do with the way
the banking/credit industries are set up now, and their being tied more closely to those who give and get the military contracts.
It could be a lot of elements, tied together in a sinister web of greed, power, and corruption (cue "Phantom of the Opera" music). On the other
hand, it could be a reflection of the difference in public support between then and now.
Whatever the reasons (and I would be interested to hear your opinions of the reasons), those who maintain the the US economy is only viable on a
wartime basis should perhaps re-think that position, because it doesn't seem to be working out to well in these times of ours.
[edit on 26-6-2009 by subject x]