Boom-and-Bust Goes Bust

A 1999 study by Christina Romer, who now works in the Obama Administration, found that the average length of recessions from 1887 to 1929 was only 10.3 months, with the longest lasting 16 months. Recessions lasted longer during the supposedly enlightened post World War II era (prior to 2000), with three of them lasting 16 to 21 months.

Now wait a minute. Government intervention in the economy really took off in this country after 1929 — after the Administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt began in 1933, launching the welfare-regulatory state as we know it, in earnest. Every Administration since Roosevelt has either dramatically expanded the welfare state or at least maintained it. If government entitlement programs and regulations are so good for the economy, then how come recessions became longer and nastier since they came into existence? All the government regulation of the past 75 years didn’t do much to prevent the Great Recession that began in 2007 and is still going strong in 2010. What gives?

Maybe we actually need less government intervention in the economy. Much less. Or, better yet — maybe the government should get completely out of the economy. Some claim this would mean a worse economy. But how much worse can it get? The latest unemployment figures suggest the recession is expanding, and we’re now in the fourth year of it! Starting with Bush and now with Obama, government has never been so involved in the economy and has never transferred the amount of wealth (hundreds of billions under Bush, now trillions under Obama) from the private sector to the wasteland of government offices.

Could Obama be right that we need change, only 180 degrees the opposite of what he’s giving us? And isn’t it time to face the fact that neither party in power has any intention, or desire, of curbing their own power in order to give Americans the change they need to thrive and survive?