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Thread: Hitler Favored Public Works Too

  1. #1
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    Hitler Favored Public Works Too

    [url]http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2008-12-09.asp[/url]

    Hitler Favored Public Works Too
    by Jacob G. Hornberger

    As part of his plan to revive the economy, President-elect Obama is promising the largest public-works project since the Interstate Highway System. I realize that some people get upset when comparisons are made to Adolf Hitler but wouldn’t we be remiss if we didn’t recognize that public works was one of Hitler’s core programs for Nazi Germany? And yes, I realize that just because Hitler embraced a program doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing but shouldn’t it at least raise a red flag?

    The Interstate Highway System was inspired by and modeled on Hitler’s massive public-works project know as the autobahn, which was designed to create jobs by building an extensive highway system across Germany. As U.S. troops were entering Germany during World War II, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was so impressed by Hitler’s autobahn that he later constructed the Interstate Highway System, the biggest public-works project in history, when he became president.

    While Obama can point to the Interstate Highway System as a glorious socialistic project (i.e., government ownership and management of highways), just as Hitler did with the autobahn, the dark little secret of this big public-works boondoggle is the large number of people who were damaged or destroyed by the project, either by eminent domain or by having their tourist-oriented businesses circumvented by the new federal highways.

    I described some of those horror stories back in 1993 in an article entitled “Highway to Collapse: Spending on Infrastructure.”

    I opened that article with the following sentence: “Bill Clinton believes that spending on infrastructure will bring jobs and prosperity to America — and, in the process, finally prove, after sixty years of failure, that the welfare-state, managed-economy way of life can be a success after all. But spending on infrastructure is just another highway to collapse. It will only result in higher taxes, more impoverishment, and greater destruction of people’s lives.”

    Déjà vu, anyone?

    Unfortunately, Obama didn’t clarify exactly how a public-works project is supposed to bring economic prosperity to America.

    After all, public-works projects cost money. Where is the federal government going to get the money to pay for these projects? It gets it from the taxpayers. And that has adverse consequences not only for the taxpayers but also for the people on whom they were going to spend the money that was taken from them.

    Let’s assume that a taxpayer is taxed $5,000 to pay for Obama’s socialistic public-works projects. He would have spent that $5,000 on, say, a combination of clothing, food, education, and vacation. Those expenditures would have produced an increase in demand for products and labor in those sectors of the economy.

    When Obama takes the $5,000 from you to, say, build a new highway somewhere, he will point to the new highway and proudly say, “This highway, which the federal government has brought to you, has produced jobs for your community.” But what people cannot see is all the products and services and jobs that did not come into existence by virtue of the fact that you didn’t get to spend your $5,000 the way you wanted.

    Thus, Obama’s plan cannot and will not produce wealth. It will only redistribute it. His public-works plan will take money from Peter and give it to the Paul. That’s the essence of all socialistic projects.

    Obama might respond, “No, I promise not to raise taxes to fund my public-works projects.”

    Fair enough, but then how does he propose to pay the bills for the project. After all, contractors, engineers, builders, and all their employees aren’t going to work for free. Moreover, we know that the federal government is, for all practical purposes, broke. It has no savings and it is already committed to spending much more money than it receives in taxes, especially on Iraq, Afghanistan, the massive bailout programs, the military-industrial complex, and all its welfare and regulatory programs.

    One option will be to borrow the money. Ultimately, however, that debt must be paid back, with interest. That means taxes. Moreover, the federal borrowing necessarily sucks money out of the capital markets that would have been put to uses designated by the private sector. Thus, while Obama will again be able to point to his public-works project and exclaim, “Jobs for your community!” what will be unseen are all the things that did not come into existence as a result of the diversion of capital from the private sector to the public sector.

    The third option at Obama’s disposal is the one most likely to be used — using the Federal Reserve to simply print up the money to pay the bills. That’s what inflation is all about — the inflating of the currency. That necessarily means a debasement or depreciation of the dollar. The cost of that debasement or depreciation must fall on some people in society, most likely the poor and middle class. It will be reflected by a lower purchasing power of people’s money. That will be manifested by higher prices for most everything. Inflation is just another form of taxation. It’s just a question of who’s going to pay for it.

    Ultimately, the American people are going to have to confront an uncomfortable fact: The welfare-state, interventionist economic system that came into existence during the 1930s is a failure. There is no way to revive it or save it, especially not through the adoption of such socialistic public-works projects that Adolf Hitler, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton embraced and that Barack Obama is now embracing. Such projects will only make a bad situation worse, and they will inevitably lead our nation toward more centralization of federal power and, thus, less freedom for the American people.

    The “long run” that free-market advocates in the 1930s warned about has arrived and we’re suffering under it. When will Americans finally abandon this socialistic way of life and restore our nation’s founding libertarian principles of economic liberty, private property, and limited government?

  2. #2
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    There are so many wrong-headed ideas in this article that it's hard to know where to begin.

    First question: was Hitler successful in turning the German economy around in the midst of a terrible depression? Actually, the answer is "yes." Hitler may have been an absolute monster politically and morally, but his economic plan for Germany in the 30's was effective and made him very very popular in Germany.

    Second question: Is an "opportunity cost" argument meaningful when the most critical issue in a severe recession is falling demand? The answer is "no." Temporary stimulus packages that actually promote improvement in infrastructure (which produces not only short term gain in stimulating demand, but improve safety and efficiency in our environment) are a good thing. And they have to come from the Federal government in a time of recession when State governments are tied down by their inability to engage deficit spending (yes, I know, that will be harped on as a good thing...). The author has set up a false construct: that people have a choice of spending $5000 on federal stimulus or keeping the $5000 to spend on goodies. As we saw with the previous rebate fiasco, throwing a couple thousand bucks at Joe Consumer when he's in debt will mean he pays down his credit card or saves. Ergo, no stimulus.

    Third question: Is this an economic grievance or an ideological one? I would argue exclusively the latter. The usual suspects have been trotted out: libertarian ideals, liberty, private property, centralization of federal power, etc. etc. Which is another way of arguing for the worst of all scenarios: doing nothing at all. If using 2% of GDP will jump-start the economy and create demand sufficient to trigger a reversal of a massive recessionary trend, I'd say that makes good sense, just as I would argue that giving a patient who has lost considerable blood not just a tourniquet but a transfusion will result in a better and more stable outcome. Gutting the economy and hoping it survives is very poor policy.

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    Not fer nuthin, but we're not building new highways. It's to rehab and repair the existing highways, bridges, and infrastructure in general. So there is no cutting off of tourism dollars by building new highways.

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2903202]First question: was Hitler successful in turning the German economy around in the midst of a terrible depression? Actually, the answer is "yes." Hitler may have been an absolute monster politically and morally, but his economic plan for Germany in the 30's was effective and made him very very popular in Germany.[/quote]

    I agree, this is pretty much incontravertable fact. It doesn't neccessarily guarantee Obama's plan will work here (the situations are not the same, only similar in some ways), but there is no question Hitler revived Germany's economy (pre-war) primarily through Govt. work and infrastructure programs.

    [quote]Third question: Is this an economic grievance or an ideological one? I would argue exclusively the latter. The usual suspects have been trotted out: [B][U]libertarian ideals, liberty, private property[/U][/B]....[/QUOTE]

    You say those words with such anger, such disdain. It's disturbing.

    We protect those things because they matter. They are not insignifigant, they are not meaningless. They are the cornerstone of the U.S., and they must be respected just as much as ANY other factor.

    I don't neccessarily have any issues with Obama's plan here, if the Govt. is going to spend, it should be domesticaly and on things that improve our collective lives. But it must be done in a manner than hurts those things you disrespect, liberty, freedom and personal property, as much as humanly possible.

    When you talk like this, you wonder why folsk like me get worried about teh ideals of collectivism and Socialism? Some of both is good....taking it to a point where one has such hatred for Liberty,. Freedom and Private Property, well thats taking it too far. And that is EXACTLY what I fear from Obama, and his fellow Libs.

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2903255]
    You say those words with such anger, such disdain. It's disturbing.[/QUOTE]

    Sad, isn't it? This is how the majority of people from my generation view economic and social policy by the way. Ignore what the country was built upon to further the notion of the nanny state. Quite ironic that it comes at a time where college educations are being obtained at their highest rate ever in this country.

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    [QUOTE=long island leprechaun;2903202]
    First question: was Hitler successful in turning the German economy around in the midst of a terrible depression? Actually, the answer is "yes." Hitler may have been an absolute monster politically and morally, but his economic plan for Germany in the 30's was effective and made him very very popular in Germany.
    [/QUOTE]

    A huge factor in Germany's emergence from the depression was the decision to reassemble the military and rearm in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

    This had a major impact on civilian industries and economic growth. And created jobs and even industries that really didn't exist prior to that.

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;2903255]I agree, this is pretty much incontravertable fact. It doesn't neccessarily guarantee Obama's plan will work here (the situations are not the same, only similar in some ways), but there is no question Hitler revived Germany's economy (pre-war) primarily through Govt. work and infrastructure programs.



    You say those words with such anger, such disdain. It's disturbing.

    We protect those things because they matter. They are not insignifigant, they are not meaningless. They are the cornerstone of the U.S., and they must be respected just as much as ANY other factor.

    I don't neccessarily have any issues with Obama's plan here, if the Govt. is going to spend, it should be domesticaly and on things that improve our collective lives. But it must be done in a manner than hurts those things you disrespect, liberty, freedom and personal property, as much as humanly possible.

    When you talk like this, you wonder why folsk like me get worried about teh ideals of collectivism and Socialism? Some of both is good....taking it to a point where one has such hatred for Liberty,. Freedom and Private Property, well thats taking it too far. And that is EXACTLY what I fear from Obama, and his fellow Libs.[/QUOTE]

    I wasn't saying the words themselves with disdain at all, but I was expressing annoyance that they are used in an empty and frankly false fashion to put frosting on a bad argument. The easiest thing in the world is to say: a government stimulus package will trample our fundamental liberties! steal our sacred private property! centralize power of the federal government! promote socialism! The author fails to mention that the proposed stimulus package will be directed primarily toward private industries, who will be the entities hiring all those people who might not otherwise have work. The biggest concern is the long-term cost of a stimulus package. It doesn't come without risk. But the alternative suggested by the author is to let the invisible hand fix the same mess that the invisible hand got us into without any consideration of the cost societally or in terms of economic stability. If someone wants to trot out inflaming language, that person at least has the obligation to show specifically what he means.... that's my gripe.

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    [QUOTE=RutgersJetFan;2903285]Sad, isn't it? This is how the majority of people from my generation view economic and social policy by the way. Ignore what the country was built upon to further the notion of the nanny state. [B]Quite ironic that it comes at a time where college educations are being obtained at their highest rate ever in this country.[/B] [/QUOTE]

    Another way to get fools to part with their money.

    I have a masters in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an associate degree in science from Penn State hanging on the wall of my office. Adobe and Google, with them, you can achieve anything....

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