A Grammar of American Politics: The National Government

By Wilfred E. Binkley; Malcolm C. Moos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX
GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY

by ARTHUR M. ROSS


DEVELOPMENT OF A MIXED ECONOMY

TO DEPICT the economic programs of the Federal government in any meaningful way is difficult indeed. With the possible exception of military preparedness, the most important functions of the Federal government are those which lie in the field of economic activity. One might make an inventory of several hundred bureaus, boards, commissions, divisions, administrations, authorities, and services which regulate, promote, and participate in economic life. One might catalogue an even greater number of statutes and administrative regulations in pursuance of which these agencies carry on their activities. One might list the number of their employees and add up the amount of money they spend. All of this would be an impressive demonstration, but would not convey any real understanding of the extent to which governmental and business activity have become interwoven. Therefore, as we attempt to describe the role of the government in economic life, the reader will have to call upon his imagination for assistance. He will have to visualize the biologist in the Department of Agriculture attempting to breed a hog that has less lard and more meat; the commercial attaché in the State Department investigating warehouse facilities in Ecuador; the trial examiner of the National Labor Relations Board endeavoring to learn whether a worker was discharged for drunkenness or for labor-union activity; the engineer in the Reclamation Bureau deciding whether an irrigation canal should run to the right or the left of a village lying in its path; the official of the Federal Trade Commission making a judgment about whether the makers of the ABC Kold Kure are guilty of false advertising; the pilot at the wheel of a Mississippi River barge owned by the Inland Waterways Corporation, a

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