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Weekend Thought

Many contend that the 1940s and 1950s (and perhaps the 1960s) were the eras of enlightened government policy, with strong unions and a friendly relationship between business and government, with just the right amount of regulation, taxes and control prior to the Reagan disaster of the 1980s. OK, fine. Aren’t these very periods the ones environmentalists contend were most destructive to the environment? Now, I dismiss such a comment as infantile in my better moments. But the nature of the discussion among intellectuals regarding labor market policy in the 1950s and how inequality has evolved since then is no more sophisticated than the question I levy above. So, if we want to return to the equality and growth paradise of the middle of the last century, would we also celebrate the environmental policies of the time? Or, were enlightened policymakers only enlightened in regard to labor policy but not with regard to the environment? And what of today?

3 Responses to “Weekend Thought”

  1. Michael says:

    Many also contend that everything was hunky dory before the white man showed up. I found the book “A History of the Strandard Oil Company” interesting in that oil naturally polluted many of the rivers, wells, and streams in PA. (They didn’t name it “Oil Creek” for nothing.) Also we tend to forget the healthcare involved, that old men were often just left to wander off and die. There are lots of stories that contradict our ideological view; intentional fires and driving whole heards of buffalo off a cliff (and wasting a lot of the meat), just as two examples.

  2. Harry says:

    “…the Reagan disaster of the 1980’s. OK, fine.” Hmmm. Wintercow concedes a big set of points there. Just because GHW Bush took a swipe at Reagan and the Clinton Administration vilified Reagan at every opportunity, my recollection is that 1981 to 1989 were great years.

    Now, I am too young to remember the forties, and barely remember any of most of the first half of the fifties, but I do remember “duck and cover” from school. I remember Jack Paar welcoming “Doctor” Fidel Castro to the Tonight Show, and reading in National Review Bill Buckley’s views of Eisenhower. Fast forward and we had the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Gulf of Tonkin, war in Vietnam, Bretton Woods, two huge waves of inflation, a big defeat in Vietnam, two Arab oil embargoes, the return of Khomeni and the capture of diplomatic hostages at the American Embassy, to mention a few of the highlights. Oh, and Jimmy Carter handed over a deep recession to Ronald Reagan. From 1945 to 1980 we had gone from triumph to losing badly at the hands of Whiz Kids.

    Not to say there were not bright spots along the way. We could have turned out like France twenty years ago, as opposed to next year.

  3. Harry says:

    I meant the end of Bretton Woods.

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