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A beautiful dream

“Though challenged periodically by labor unions, Populist farmers, and Progressive reformers, business elites dominated American politics from the beginnings of industrialization in the second half of the nineteenth century. But when the economy collapsed in the 1930s, business could no longer stave off substantial regulation; and the collective effort called forth by World War II gave rise to a modicum of social solidarity. The resulting institutions of managed capitalism included labor legislation, unemployment insurance, tuition assistance through the GI Bill, mortgage assistance for first-time home-buyers, Social Security, Medicaid, a fiscal policy aimed at full employment, a structure of mainly reasonable industrial and financial regulations (along with a serious commitment to enforce them), and a decently progressive income tax; internationally, a fixed-rate currency exchange system, limits on financial capital flows, and, in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, instruments of stabilization and reconstruction for national economies in trouble. Together, these policies produced a high level of widely shared economic well-being and security. For a brief, bright interval, capitalism worked properly.” – George Scialabba, “The Squandering of America”

Published inEconomicsGeorge Scialabba

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