Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America

By Richard Vedder; Lowell Gallaway | Go to book overview

Preface

Somewhere about one-third of the way through the twentieth century, the world abandoned an approach to business fluctuations and unemployment that had previously governed human behavior. In the world of economic ideas, the halfheartedly-believed theory that excessive wages were the root cause of unemployment was overthrown. The Keynesian Revolution led the economics profession down an unproductive, destructive path for decades. In our judgment, even today the corrosive impact of the intellectual ferment of the 1930s prevents most students of economic ideas from learning some simple but very powerful verities about the way things work. While the world has increasingly appreciated the power of markets in allocating goods and services, it has failed to grasp that the same market forces work equally well in providing jobs for those seeking them.

The Keynesian Revolution's influence, however, was not simply confined to misguiding a few academics. It provided the intellectual corner‐ stone for an alteration of the role of the state in modern society. It led to profound public-policy changes. It unleashed a world of unrelenting inflation, continuing budget deficits, and increased governmental intervention in previously private decisions involving resource allocation and income distribution. It inflamed a politics of envy and ultimately slowed the great economic engine that had propelled the American economy to becoming the mightiest in the world.

This book is about these intellectual and policy shifts as they relate to a great concern of citizens of the twentieth century, namely, unemployment. First and foremost, this book is a history of changing unemployment patterns in the United States, written from a labor-market perspective. Second, it is a critique of public-policy developments that have shaped that labor market and impacted on unemployment. It develops the thesis that the state has increased, not decreased, the magnitude of unemployment in

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Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Out of Work *
  • About the Authors *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword viii
  • Preface xii
  • 1 - The Unemployment Century 1
  • 2 - Unemployment in Theory 13
  • 3 - The Neoclassical/Austrian Approach: an Overview 31
  • 4 - The Gilded Age 53
  • 5 - From New Era to New Deal 74
  • 6 - The Banking Crisis and the Labor Market 112
  • 7 - The New Deal 128
  • 8 - The Impossible Dream Come True 150
  • 9 - The Gentle Time 176
  • 10 - The Camelot Years 194
  • 11 - Pride Goeth before a Fall 209
  • 12 - The Winds of Change 226
  • 13 - The Natural Rate of Unemployment 246
  • 14 - Who Bears the Burden of Unemployment? 268
  • 15 - Unemployment and the State 288
  • Appendix 298
  • Bibliography 308
  • Index 329
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