The rightwing claim we did well in high tax post WW2 era because Europe-was-in-Rubble excuse debunked
November 19, 2012, 8:56 AM7 Comments
The Europe-in-Rubble Excuse
Whenever I point out how well America did with strong unions and highly progressive taxation after World War II, I can count on conservatives trying to resolve their cognitive dissonance by saying ‘but it was easy then — all our competitors were in ruins!’ You can see this all over the comments on today’s column.
Sorry, guys, but that’s bad history and very bad economics.
On the history: the great postwar boom wasn’t just a few years after the war; it was a whole generation long, from 1947 to 1973 — well into an era in which Europe had very much recovered. Here’s West German GDP per capita as a share of US GDP per capita:
And anyone who reflexively reaches for the idea that we were actually better off because Europe was in ruins as a way to explain the postwar economy should take a hard look in the mirror. Did you think this through? Or were you just grabbing for something, anything, to explain away a fact that your ideology says can’t have been true?