Economic Depression and War

In my previous post, I noted the role of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in forging a path out of the horrific economic depression of the 1930s.

But, as every historian knows, the onset of World War in the late '30s, and American entry into that war in the early 1940s, significantly accelerated the end of the Great Depression. Wars require uniforms, guns, weapons. Wars also spur research in science and technology. Put another way, war creates jobs, and jobs need workers, and those workers earn paychecks.

That's useful to remember that now, in 2008. We Americans can hasten our road to economic, emotional, and moral recovery by waging a war of our own: Let's declare war on the global climate crisis.

As Tom Friedman notes in his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the crisis is upon us. It's here, both environmentally and politically. And if the foul air doesn't kill us, our enslavement to petropolitics will. (*1) The United States lags other nations in reconfiguring daily life to minimize human impact on the environment; we're way behind in shifting from "dirty" energy to "clean" energy. Making that shift will require a massive investment in science, technology, ideas, and manufacturing.

In short, making that shift will be good for the economy. It will provide jobs -- high-tech, low-tech, and everything in between. So --- let's declare war on environmental degradation. It'll be good for the planet and good for the economy.

Now -- all we need is . . . a few courageous, creative leaders. Senator Obama? Senator McCain? You ready?


*1: Well, okay, it's already killing us and other human beings every day in Afghanistan and Iraq. The tragic irony, of course, is the chain of money involved. We Americans haven't got the money needed to fight this "war" on terrorism. So we borrow it -- mostly from the Chinese and from oil-rich Arab states. The oil-rich Arabs, of course, are also funding the terrorists. So -- we're borrowing money to wage a war being funded by the people we're borrowing from. Sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine -- or a Kafka novel.