…excerpted from page 20 of University of Connecticut economist Richard Langlois’s Great Future (2023) study; The Corporation and the Twentieth Century:
The mobilization of the country’s foreign competitors in the war allowed American companies to establish an artificial, if artificial, comparative advantage in mass production. For rents in the manufacturing sector until the 1960s, this created a weak electoral environment in which inefficient structures and practices, including those driven by anti-corruption policies and industry-wide unionism, persisted unchallenged.
DBXA particularly wrong-headed and cruel myth was that the American economy and people were given a huge advantage in the years after World War II by the war on the economies of Europe and Asia. The myth is a perfect example of focusing only on the visible and ignoring the invisible.
That’s it. It has been seen. It is the true growth and development of the various types of organizations and employment in America. U.S. manufacturers whose competitors have been bombed or are lying in their mass graves are thriving. And while we may be saddened by their growth, we can admire them for doing so.
But there is also the unseen.
part of that is not The goods and services shown—some for consumption, others for production inputs—were so overwhelmed by foreign producers that we Americans refused to export them. Another thing that is not seen is the entrepreneurial success, businesses and jobs – and high real wages – that existed in America at that time, but because the resources available from our trading partners were less than these. Without the devastation of war, it would never have been possible.
And as Dick Langlois points out, the postwar American economy was inefficient and continued only because competition from foreign manufacturers was then anemic.
The bottom line is this: to restore—or restore to anything else—a mid-20th-century American economy that was much less productive—and thus one in which material standards of living and economic opportunities—were far less common for ordinary people than they are today.
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