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In a very crude way, yes, this is Keynesianism (I wouldn't call Bush's spending sensible), but you're quite right -- and I'm sure that, were he not, you know, dead, Keynes would be applauding somewhere -- that the spending could have been directed to more productive activities that would've helped to prepare America for the future -- funding for research and education, rebuilding infrastructure, whatever.

Brown is spending, as I understand the party line at the Financial Times, on much more useful activities, like public investment, police, and so on.  (Britain does, however, seem to have a problem with private investment, but I don't think Brown is the cause, nor do I think it's a long-term problem.)  The "brilliant minds" at The Wall Street Journal think it's a recipe for disaster, pointing to Germany and France, as they always insist on doing.  I think Brown will be fine, if he can get a boost from the private sector reasonably soon.  If he starts slashing spending, he may do much more harm than good in the short term, depending on how fast the BoE begins lowering interest rates.

FDR did, basically, the same thing as Bush during World War II, except that FDR raised taxes.  Hiring soldiers, nurses, manufacturing workers, etc., pushed the US well beyond full employment.  The unemployment rate fell, if I remember correctly, to about 1%.  The war provided an opportunity for Roosevelt to finally justify spending on the level that Keynes and his followers advocated.  But military spending is, in general, incredibly wasteful, even though I think it's sometimes necessary (as in the case of WWII).  I don't think spending on this level is necessary, obviously.  The entire Iraq war is an unnecessary use of lives and money.  But, getting back to the point with an example, the upkeep on nuclear (or "nukular," in Bushspeak) weapons, alone, is very expensive.

Migeru is right to point out the hypocrisy of promising tax cuts, spending increases, and smaller government.  Bush might as well tell the American people that he favors bigger, but smaller, government.  Take away the "small government" bullshit rhetoric, and Bush is essentially preaching a modern Republican form of Keynesianism, with some of the "tax cuts pay for themselves," Supply-Side talking points sprinkled in.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 12:11:39 PM EST
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