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Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy

Overview

Taking a close look at the dense fabric that our government weaves between war, state power, and economics, this collection of essays reveals the growing authority—and corruption—of the American state. Covering topics from the Lyndon Johnson presidency to the provocatively titled article “Military-Economic Fascism” on the military-industrial-congressional complex, it argues that the U.S. government consistently exploits national crises and then invents timely rhetoric that limits the rights and liberties of all ...

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Overview

Taking a close look at the dense fabric that our government weaves between war, state power, and economics, this collection of essays reveals the growing authority—and corruption—of the American state. Covering topics from the Lyndon Johnson presidency to the provocatively titled article “Military-Economic Fascism” on the military-industrial-congressional complex, it argues that the U.S. government consistently exploits national crises and then invents timely rhetoric that limits the rights and liberties of all citizens for the benefit of the few, be they political leaders or various industrialists in the areas of defense and security. As its title suggests, this book presents a clear narrative of trends and events—from the United States’ entry into World War II to the origins of income tax—causing individuals to question whether those in power are truly blind to the effects and causes of their policies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An important book for our time on the nature of political power. Robert Higgs describes the government’s use of wars and real and fabricated crises to expand its power. It is history well-told and should be thought-provoking to all, whatever their political preferences.”  —Stanley L. Engerman, John H. Munro Professor of Economics and professor of history, University of Rochester

“There is no economist today who has thought more seriously than Robert Higgs about the relationship between the state and the economy. His examinations of the state are grounded in historical scholarship, rigorous analytics, and in a lively and blunt style. In the process, the reader will see many historical myths exploded and sacred cows skewered. Delusions of Power is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the permanent-war economies that have been created in the 20th and 21st centuries.”  —Peter J. Boettke, professor of economics, George Mason University

“Even James Madison asked throughout his lifetime ‘In a free society, what is the proper relationship between individuals and the state?’ Few scholars in American history have contributed more to the freedom side of that inquiry than Robert Higgs . . . .  In Delusions of Power, Professor Higgs has assembled a lifetime of wisdom and analysis about this continually-asked question; and future generations will look here for the courageous intellectual fire-power with which to challenge the federal beast that consumes our freedoms every day.”  —Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, senior judicial analyst, Fox News Channel

“Lively throughout and based on deep historical knowledge, Delusions of Power can be read profitably by anyone interested in the fundamental controversies of economics and politics.”   —Timur Kuran, professor of economics and political science, and Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598130454
  • Publisher: Independent Institute, The
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 796,739
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Higgs is senior fellow in political economy for the Independent Institute and the editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal, The Independent Review. He is also the author of several books, including Against Leviathan, Competition and Coercion, Neither Liberty Nor Safety, Resurgence of the Warfare State, and The Transformation of the American Economy 1865–1914, and the recipient of numerous awards, such as the Gary Schlarbaum Award for Lifetime Defense of Liberty and the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty. He lives in Covington, Louisiana.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction 1

Part I The Nature of the State, Democracy, and Crisis Policymaking 9

1 If Men Were Angels: The Basic Analytics of the State versus Self-Government 11

2 Do Slavery and Government Rest on the Same Rationalizations? 25

3 Democracy and Faits Accomplis 34

4 Blame the People Who Elected Them? 47

5 The Song That Is Irresistible: How the State Leads People to Their Own Destruction 51

6 A Dozen Dangerous Presumptions of Crisis Policymaking 68

7 The Political Economy of Crisis Opportunism 75

8 War Is Horrible, but… 98

Part II Closer Looks at Key Actors and Critical Events 113

9 Who Was Edward M. House? 115

10 How U.S. Economic Warfare Provoked Japan's Attack on Pearl Harbor 125

11 Truncating the Antecedents: How Americans Have Been Misled About World War II 130

12 Wartime Origins of Modern Income-Tax Withholding 139

13 A Revealing Window on the U.S. Economy in Depression and War: Hours Worked, 1929-1950 143

14 The Economics of the Great Society: Theory, Policies, and Consequences 154

15 Nixon's New Economic Plan 171

Part III Economic Analysis, War, and Politicoeconomic Interactions 175

16 Recession and Recovery: Six Fundamental Errors of the Current Orthodoxy 177

17 Benefits and Costs of the U.S. Government's War Making 187

18 To Fight or Not to Fight? War's Payoffs to U.S. Leaders and to the American People 193

19 Military-Economic Fascism: How Business Corrupts Government and Vice Versa 204

20 Caging the Dogs of War: How Major U.S. Neoimperilalist Wars End 225

21 Cumulating Policy Consequences, Frightened Overreactions, and the Current Surge of Government's Size, Scope, and Power 242

Part IV Review of the Troops 269

22 Review of War, Revenue, and State Building: Financing the Development of the American State Sheldon D. Pollack 271

23 Review of New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America Burton Folsom Jr. 278

24 Review of Churchill, Hitler, and "the Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World Patrick J. Buchanan 281

25 Review of the Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable George Victor 284

26 Review of Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex James Ledbetter 287

27 Review of Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Military Procurement and Technology Development Vernon W. Ruttan 290

28 Review of After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy Christopher J. Coyne 294

29 Review of Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy from Korea to Afghanistan Derek Leebaert 304

Index 311

About the Author 323

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