Monday, September 20, 2010

Sobering Lessons from Post WWI Germany

In this sobering and enlightening essay, Jim Powell argues that "Germans have had much more in common with Americans than we might realize."

The similarities are so striking, in fact, that if we were to keep certain proper nouns unidentifiable we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Post-WWI Germany and the United States today:

During World War I, the German government expanded rapidly and gained pervasive control over the economy. This was the "war socialism" that inspired Lenin and his comrades in Russia. After the war, the German government retained most of its costly bulk. Municipalities were subsidized by it; similarly, many of today's financially hard-pressed states are lobbying Washington for bailouts. There were government-run pensions not unlike the unfunded pension liabilities our federal and state governments are struggling with. The German government provided health insurance for increasing numbers of people. It supported 1.5 million disabled veterans. It subsidized artists. There were government theaters and government opera houses. The government owned many businesses, including those producing margarine and sausages, and they lost money. Government-owned railroads were bankrupt because, among other things, freight rates weren't increased fast enough to cover soaring costs. All those programs were aggressively defended by interest groups who benefited from them.

What is scary about Germany's past situation is the social collapse. When people who are unprepared to survive an economic crisis turn to immorality just to survive; stealing from those who have effectively prepared for the crisis:
Farmers tried to keep the food they produced, rather than give it up for worthless paper money. That led hungry city people and gangs of unemployed coal miners to plunder farms.

As this crisis continues to unfold, I pray for the Lord's blessing and protection not only for myself, but for others as well.

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