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In IBM's case, the Department of Justice found that their efforts were mired in failure. Unfortunately, IBM was so central to the economic operations of Germany and occupied Europe that it was necessary to preserve IBM's role in the economy of Europe so as not to jeopardize the postwar occupation.
Part II-Present Corporatist America and Comparisons with Fascist Italy-
When the Wall Street Journal, the United States' newspaper of record for financial affairs makes an explanatory note, it gives us all pause. Gerald F. Driscoll in "An Economy of Liars" takes aim at both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations when he speaks about the present economic reality and asserts "We call that system not the free-market, but crony capitalism. It owes more to Benito Mussolini than to Adam Smith ("An Economy of Liars" 2010)."
If a communist agitator on the proverbial soapbox spouted this statement, it could be easily dismissed. However, now the major economic beacons of the country are sounding in shrill alarm, realizing what has happened. They understand that the country is in deep trouble and that the initial $700 billion dollar bailout is just the beginnings of the problems.
Every administration in U.S. History wants to be perceived as outsiders and populists. Both the Obama and second Bush administrations, like Mussolini before them, have presented themselves as populist regimes that would benefit the majority of the population. Like the Fascist corporatist state of Italy, the present U.S. system is now actually a spoils system that is designed to reward the economic and political elites that elevated the political officials to prominence.
To further elaborate upon this, columnist Sean Olender in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed piece described the $700 billion dollar bailout "nothing short of a final step on the path to the end of the republic. The secretary (Treasury Secretary Paulson) claims he can only be effective if his decisions are beyond judicial review (Bailout Tests How Much the American Public Will Tolerate Theft" 2008).
If the government is now beyond judicial review, we have entered the defined zone of fascism and there is no measurable limit to how far things can be pushed. Before things go too far, we must recover the basis of liberal Western economics.
In the history of the United States, there is hope in recapturing the legislation, innovation and wisdom of the last Great Depression's leadership (yes, let us call the present economic downturn by its actual designation). FDR in a message to Congress on April 29, 1938 delivered a speech on curbing monopolies and observes:
Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people.
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism -- ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living
Once it is realized that business monopoly in America paralyzes the system of free enterprise on which it is grafted, and is as fatal to those who manipulate it as to the people who suffer beneath its impositions, action by the government to eliminate these artificial restraints will be welcomed by industry throughout the nation (Webpage).
The pathetic performance of the present Washington administration current bailout schemes against the New Deal of 1933 is stark by contrast. The administration claims to basing its policies on John Maynard Keynes and FDR's New Deal is truly specious. A quick referral to the historical record will illustrate this immediately.
For instance immediately with the first "Hundred Days," FDR's administration churned direct relief to get the speculation out of the banking system and restore confidence. We have mentioned the Glass-Steagall that eliminated speculative investment products and securities from being sold in banks. The fact that the inaugurations were then in March and not in January shows the immediacy of the New Deal program (2006, p. 305). The liberal Western model worked sixty years ago and can again now.
Part III -- the Atlantic Charter, Bretton Woods, and Financial Resurrection:
World War II grew out of the unsatisfactory resolution of World War One. The economies of the West were irrevocably molded by these world wars. For this reason, before World War II and indeed before the official U.S. entry into the war, the two Western Allies began planning the postwar order. This had two reasons.
First of all, something had to be offered to the civilians on the home front and the fighting men on the fighting fronts that they had a new world worth fighting for. Secondly, it was necessary to make sure that a new economic order was constructed that would not invite the mistakes of the past.
In essence, what needed to corrected was the collapse of economic internationalism in the 1930's. The new economic order was meant to deal with these problems and to make sure that the causes of them never happens again.
A key component of this was Keynsianism. The economic philosophy of John Maynard Keynes as expressed in the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money became an instantaneous classic at the time, but also a point of controversy. Keynes' construct was seen as a counterpoint and a middle ground between Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism. In Keynes' reckoning, the key problem of the Great Depression was due to insufficient demand. To rectify this might involve additional government expenditure or financial redistribution to raise the incomes of the potential consuming class (2006 pp. 21-30).
While Keynes was not completely original, he was the most successful of his school of economic philosophy. Both Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany were venally repugnant to Keynes. The European country closest to his philosophy is probably Sweden and Keynesians had been already anticipated in the theories of Knut Wicksell and his disciples. Agreements between unions and employers' organizations by 1938 provided the foundation for the new social harmony of the postwar world.
Wicksell's ideas contributed directly to the institution he founded the so called Stockholm School of Economics that influenced various economic "schools" in the rest of Europe and America, including the famous Austrian school. Their ruminations provided the basics for the practical crafting of agreements in many European countries, but with particular success in Sweden in 1938 (the Saltsjobaden Agreement) between business and labor. This laid the basis for a hard-won social harmony. This harmony is critical to any economic order. Both parties have to realize that growth helps both of their causes and that infighting will only compromise things (1996, p. 189-190).
Wicksell anticipated the modern central bank monetary policies when he convincingly argued that interest rates must be manipulated to control prices. He was in favor of price stabilization. This was because he was of the opinion that inflation and deflation were regressive income redistribution devices. Unfortunately, in this case, some gained at the expense of others. The economic rule was very simple. If prices rise, then interest rates are too low. If prices are falling, then rates are too high. His analysis and exposition of the quantity and marginal productivity theories give him a permanent place in the modern macroeconomic thought's development. The success of Keynesian ideas during the administration of John F. Kennedy will be considered later on in the essay.
The breakdown in the economic order that happened in the 1930's caused the old system to fall and fueled the rise of Nazi Germany's economic order negotiated and created by Hitler's economics minister, Hjalmar Schacht. While this was advantageous to the smaller nations of Europe where the troubles of Europe always seem to begin, they also brought about an almost colonial dependence upon the Hitler's fortress Europe where the captive nations were forced to buy the goods of the allies of the Axis powers (ibid, 190).
American proposals were based upon the belief that the collapse of the international economic order in the 1930's was the cause of the war. This is why they argued that only a liberal trading order could serve as an adequate foundation for the post-war order. During the course of wartime diplomacy, the U.S. began by implementing the vision that came from the Atlantic Charter, Lend Lease, the Marshall Plan and Bretton Woods flowed out of this same font.
In August 1941, the Atlantic Charter was drafted during a summit between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to implement Keynesianism. At the summit, FDR put into motion a group of ambitious goals for the reconstruction of the postwar world.…[continue]
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