Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Louis Galambos's "The Creative Society"

Louis Galambos is professor of History and Editor, The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, at The Johns Hopkins University.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Creative Society - and the Price Americans Paid for It, and reported the following:
“Lacking a coherent theory that cut across the entire economy, [Rexford Guy] Tugwell, the lawyers in government, and the other professionals who were concerned with [New Deal] economic policy had to live with a series of separate solutions for each problem, for each sector of the economy, without worrying about whether they might have conflicting results. Something had to be done.” Page 99 of The Creative Society – and the price Americans paid for it drops the reader into the Great Depression of the 1930s and into America’s efforts to develop the professional expertise and ideas needed to cope with the central problems of a modern, urban, industrial society. It was not easy to learn how to live in great cities. To exercise U.S. power overseas while remaining attentive to the nation’s democratic values. To keep the economy efficient and innovative while providing Americans with the economic security and sense of equity they badly needed in the Thirties. What was “the price” of change and who paid it? Under the New Deal regime in agriculture, for instance, white, property-owning farmers came out ahead while many African-American share croppers were driven off the land. Even then, the economic recovery was slow in coming. Eventually, World War II brought an end to the longest, deepest depression the United States had ever experienced. Does this seem to prefigure our problems with the Great Recession today? Of course it does. We are still trying to achieve market-centered efficiency and innovation without sacrificing economic security and equity. We are still trying to learn how to exercise our power in the world and come to grips with urban life. The nation has changed. It is still experimental, still creative, still providing professional paths to a better life and better society. But The Creative Society also tells you not to relax, not to close off those paths to the professions we need and the leaders who can steer the experts toward solutions acceptable to a democracy.
Learn more about The Creative Society at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue