Economic Progress and Social Security

Economic Progress and Social Security

Economic Progress and Social Security

Economic Progress and Social Security

Excerpt

In 1934 I wrote a book, The Clash of Progress and Security, "the rather simple theme" of which, as one reviewer put it, was that "economic progress was impeded by resistance to change". The ideas which I there attempted to elucidate had their origin in a conviction that the belief at that time almost universal in "new" countries such as Australia and New Zealand, that statesmen there should plan for an indefinite expansion of rural population engaged in agricultural and pastoral production, ran directly counter to the requirements both of material progress and of social security for these economies. Further reflection upon this problem suggested the usefulness of a study of the causes and consequences of the widely varied influences which everywhere from time to time impede the adjustments in our economic structure without which the attainment of higher standards of living is impossible.

Whether or not this examination was well done at the time, the urgency of the problem does not, ten years later, seem to have appreciably diminished. Many, perhaps most academic economists have not been unaware of the importance of the issue involved, but the influences of fashion, which are sometimes scarcely less noticeable in the realm of economic theory than in ordinary commerce, have had the unfortunate effect that after the existence of the problem has been formally recognised, it has often been pushed on one side, and no serious attempt made to do anything about it. It therefore seemed worth while to attempt a re-statement in the light of current events and trends of thought. In so doing particular attention has been paid, first to the unhappy tendency displayed in many of the excited discussions of the new world which planning offers to us to neglect the overwhelming importance of flexibility in our economic structure, and, secondly, to the impediments placed in the way of the development of orderly and harmonious international relations by the stubborn and short-sighted determination of national economies to protect themselves from the necessity for structural adaptation. The task . . .

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