You, sir, are worse than Hitler…because you aren’t spending enough

New York Times business columnist: “hey, you know who came up with a great stimulus program? The Nazis.”

Every so often, history serves up an analogy that’s uncomfortable, a little distracting and yet still very relevant.
In the summer of 1933, just as they will do on Thursday, heads of government and their finance ministers met in London to talk about a global economic crisis. They accomplished little and went home to battle the crisis in their own ways.
More than any other country, Germany — Nazi Germany — then set out on a serious stimulus program. The government built up the military, expanded the autobahn, put up stadiums for the 1936 Berlin Olympics and built monuments to the Nazi Party across Munich and Berlin.
The economic benefits of this vast works program never flowed to most workers, because fascism doesn’t look kindly on collective bargaining. But Germany did escape the Great Depression faster than other countries. Corporate profits boomed, and unemployment sank (and not because of slave labor, which didn’t become widespread until later). Harold James, an economic historian, says that the young liberal economists studying under John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s began to debate whether Hitler had solved unemployment.
Yes, stimulus works.
When governments have taken aggressive steps to soften an economic decline, they have succeeded. The Germans did it in the 1930s. Franklin D. Roosevelt did so more haltingly, and had more halting results. Even the limp Japanese recovery plan of the 1990s makes the case. Although dithering over a bank rescue kept Japan in a slump, government spending on roads and bridges made things better than they otherwise would have been.

Via VodkaPundit, who can’t believe he just read this, either.
Damian P.

5 thoughts on “You, sir, are worse than Hitler…because you aren’t spending enough

  1. sam says:

    “…the young liberal economists studying under John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s began to debate whether Hitler had solved unemployment.”
    When will Obama start confiscating all Jewish property? Wait, maybe he has already started. Now the banks and auto industry takeover starts making sense.
    And who will play Poland for Obama? Canada?

  2. Fred says:

    History worth repeating . . .
    In “Stimulus thinking, and nuance,” New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt credits stimulus courtesy of national socialism with reviving the German economy in the 1930’s. In the course of his column Leonhardt attacks Amity Shlaes’s critique of the received account of the New Deal. Leonhardt refers readers to “[t]he best takedown of Ms. Shlaes’s thesis” by Eric Rauchway, “a historian, who pointed out that her favorite statistic did not count people employed by New Deal programs to be employed.” Shlaes responds to this point here. At Contentions, Jonathan Tobin fairly characterizes Leonhardt’s column as “Liberal fascism in the Times.”
    UPDATE: Reader Jim Cratsley writes:
    The Times faills to mention serveral things that Hitler also did in conjunction with the stimulus. He called a May Day Rally in Berlin in May of 1933 and invited all the union leaders. The chairman of the Trade Union Confederation openly pledged themselves to support the Nazi regime. After the rally, Hitler had the union leaders arrested and put into prison.
    He instituted strict wage and price controls. You complain – you got put into prison. The people accepted this because they went through the wild inflation under the Weimar Republic and were scared.
    He put millions of men into the armed services, as we all know – that decreased unemployment greatly.
    The wage and price controls started to cause shortages. Hitler’s agreement with Stalin was also an economic gift – Russia sent tons and tons of supplies to Germany – right up until the day Hitler invaded.
    But the major thing was, Germany was close to bankruptcy by 1938 – there was only so much money it could borrow.
    Jonathan Tobin makes related points in the linked post. William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, available online via Google, covers some of the May 1933 events at pages 202-203, also noting that Hitler decreed an end to collective bargaining that month. Mr. Cratsley concludes: “This guy from the Times is a nitwit.”

  3. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    “And who will play Poland for Obama? Canada?”
    Mexico. Canada is the new Austria.
    Seriously for all his faults I don’t see Obama as an imperialist – although he does have that oriental despot thing going with his enormous entourage.

  4. Phil says:

    Hitler spent all of Germany’s gold reserves to build those stadiums and monuments not to mention completely destroying his own country and most of Europe during WWII.

  5. patooty says:

    Weird. I’m just reading Shirer’s ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ and Cratsley is correct. The ‘socialism’ in National Socialism was never acted upon because the crony capitalists resisted it. Unemployment was sucked up by the military, and other Nazi party employment. (The SA at its height in the middle 30’s had more than 2 million members). Most of the money came from printing presses and inflation was ruthlessly held in check by Nazi economic ‘planning’. The did this long enough that the deutschmark basically became an untradeable currency, and if Czechoslovakia had not capitulated and surrendered vast sums of its own internal currencies and backing gold the Nazi ‘program’ would have ground to a halt. Nazism was always a ponzi scheme and Hitler was always months or weeks ahead of financial collapse.

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