Comment 26613

By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2008 at 03:29:34

This has gone way too far off topic, so I'm going to bring this back to Hamilton.

"Since military spending is usually not considered as being helpful for the average citizen, I make this distinction when referring to "social spending". If you disagree with me on this point, I will try to show you why i feel this is relevant , especially during WWII."

Isn't military spending helpful if it gives the average citizen a job? I'm not an enthusiast of the military-industrial compliex, but in the strictest sense, public dollars appear to have operated much as Keynes predicted (not that I'm his publicist - although his theories represent an enormous advance over their nineteenth-century counterparts in accounting for an element of rationality in everyday economics, they are still somewhat simplistic and idealistic) - as an economic pump primer. Public dollars, in other words, injected into the economy to promote private investment.

Again, we're dealing with correlation, not necessarily direct cause and effect, and there are definitely a multitude of other causes of economic recovery that we hopefully do not have time to debate.

Of course, as the fallout from the disastrous WWI demobilization shows, the mass employment of millions by the government in the event of war could never be more than a temporary stopgap measure. Hence the much greater relative success in re-integrating munitions workers and soldiers after 1945 - through education, housing and other items. This more astutely directed government investment is part of what made the 1950s a much more successful and optimistic decade than the 1950s.

I see no reason why public money in Hamilton could not act in a similar way (to prime the economic pump and stimulate reinvestment in the city core) without requiring a war. A more efficient transit system would be one judicious investment - transportation can entice private investors away from the high rents in places like Toronto or Vancouver. Good education also strikes me as a wise investment for the young, and planting/maintaining trees along public thoroughfares, for instance (even if they grow in front of empty buildings in which nobody has any interest), might encourage more people to walk the city's sidewalks, and in turn make these neighborhoods more conducive to private risktaking - Otherwise, why not take your risks elsewhere, where you're more likely to succeed?

Personally, while I agree that a more efficient private sector is in many ways desirable, the mixed economy, broadly-speaking, appears to have been fairly successful so far. It is rather significant here that post-secondary business schools - which promote competitiveness more than anything else - are actually largely publicly funded. Scandinavian countries have a welfare state proportionately much larger than either Canada's or America's, and yet have managed to achieve a higher standard of living. We are all generally living longer, healthier, stronger, and, by virtue of these, more economically productive lives than our forebears a century ago. The fact that a wealthy factory-owner can no longer build the polluted, dangerous industrial buildings he was once able to, and pay his workers a poverty wage (it wouldn't have mattered if they fell sick or even died), thus creating a dangerous urban environment more conducive to crime - The fact that he is now answerable to public authority for these aspects of his enterprise - represents a considerable advantage over the past. I suppose that in the most abstract sense imaginable, it might be possible for these things to occur without what we know as government involvement. Government investment in these aspects of urban health and safety for rich and poor alike, however, strike me as having been a worthwhile investment thusfar, and I see no reason why it should be terminated.

Permalink | Context

Events Calendar

There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools