My post today on Jerry Voorhis' The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon (copyright 1972, 1973) will focus on economics, yet it will also get into national defense policy. The topics of this post will overlap with those in my post on Voorhis' book a few days ago----in which I listed a number of Voorhis' criticisms of President Richard Nixon's policies----but today's post will be a little more detailed.
portrays the Nixon years as a time of high unemployment, inflation, and
slow growth, and Voorhis cites statistics to argue that things got
worse once Richard Nixon became President. (Nixon in his memoirs
acknowledges that high unemployment was a problem during his
Administration, but he believes that he solved the inflation problem, at
least for a time.) What were Voorhis' ideas on how to improve the
economy? Voorhis was essentially for increasing demand, thereby
stimulating production of products and creating jobs. Voorhis was for
the government creating permanent public sector jobs, as well as tax
cuts for the middle-class rather than the wealthy. For Voorhis, it was
important to get money to the middle and the lower economic classes,
since they would spend it. Voorhis, like a number of liberals today,
held that cutting taxes for the rich and expecting that money to trickle
down not only was unrealistic, but it also created economic problems,
Voorhis criticizes President Nixon's economic plans on a variety of grounds.
First, Voorhis says that President Nixon has raised interest rates in
an attempt to tame inflation, but the effects of that have been
counterproductive. Not only has it slowed down production and thus the
supply of goods (thereby contributing to inflation), since many
businesses are reluctant to borrow money when interest rates are high,
but the businesses that do borrow money from the banks end up passing on
the cost of the high interest rates to their consumers.
Second, Voorhis critiques Nixon's support for monopolies and
oligopolies, which suppress competition and thus contribute to high
prices----since monopolies and oligopolies refrain from producing that
much and keep prices high in order to maximize their profits.
According to Voorhis, if price ceilings were put on these companies,
then they would have to keep their profits up in other ways, ways that
are more beneficial to the American people, such as by producing more.
Then did Voorhis support President Nixon's wage-and-price controls?
Voorhis expresses a number of problems with them, such as their
exemption of certain companies (i.e., utilities), and Voorhis notes
that, in some areas, inflation has continued to go up even with the
Voorhis has problems with
President Richard Nixon's policies on national defense, on economic and
other grounds. Overall, Voorhis maintains that Nixon's national defense
policies are fiscally irresponsible because they increase government
spending, contributing to deficits, and Voorhis considers a high
national debt to be bad because defaulting on that debt could be
deleterious to the economy. While Nixon portrays himself as a
budget-hawk and the Democratic Congress as spendthrifts, Voorhis states,
Congress is actually more fiscally responsible than Nixon when it
opposes Nixon's spendthrift agenda on national defense. But
could not higher defense spending create jobs? Voorhis acknowledges
that there are many Americans who work within the military-industrial
complex, but, overall, he does not believe that increased defense
spending stimulates the economy. Rather, for Voorhis, it creates only a
few high-paying jobs, does not put goods on the market, and diverts
production to an area that has waste (and Voorhis quotes conservative
Senator Barry Goldwater's criticism of waste in military spending).
Voorhis thinks that it is wrong for the U.S. government to spend so
much on the military, when there are schools in the U.S. that are
Voorhis has a problem with the arms race, which he
argues is continuing, notwithstanding SALT. Nixon wants for the U.S. to
negotiate with the Soviets from a position of strength, but, as Voorhis
says, the Soviets probably have the same mindset! And how many arms do
both sides even need, since it takes only a few arms to wreak
destruction? Then is Voorhis for unilateral disarmament. My hunch is
yes. On page 174, Voorhis refers to a time when the U.S. Government
(under pressure from UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson) decided to halt the
"testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere" because it was "spoiling
air, water, and food", and "to challenge the Soviets to do the same."
The Soviets agreed, and the result was a nuclear test ban treaty. I
vaguely recall reading right-wingers, however, who alleged that the
Soviets violated that treaty.
Richard Nixon in his memoirs said
that the U.S. Government under his Administration was spending more on
meeting the needs of humanity than it was on defense. Voorhis contends
that Nixon is basing this on a faulty calculation, and that the U.S.
Government is actually spending more on the defense under Nixon.
Voorhis argues that support for veterans should be considered spending
on defense, and he also says that Nixon counts as domestic spending
programs that he had nothing to do with creating and that have their own
source of revenue, such as Social Security. (At least I thought that
Voorhis made that point about revenue.)
more point. In reading about Jerry Voorhis in biographies about Nixon,
I learned that Voorhis was in favor of nationalizing the Federal
Reserve. It will be interesting to read what John Bircher Gary
Allen says about Voorhis in his own biography of Nixon, since the John
Birch Society, while being conservative, has actually been quite
critical of the Federal Reserve! (And, peeking into that book,
Allen does not seem to be particularly negative about Voorhis, or Helen
Gahagan Douglas, for that matter.) Voorhis talked some about the
Federal Reserve in my latest reading of The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon. To be honest, I did not really understand what he was saying. He's not entirely
like Ron Paul, who endorses the gold standard and dislikes the Federal
Reserve because it creates money out of thin air to support a growing
government. Voorhis seems to think that having a Federal Reserve is
preferable to economic panics, and that some deficit spending may be
necessary at times. Moreover, Voorhis says that Nixon was probably
right to undermine the gold standard. And yet, Voorhis also appears to
criticize private interests creating money out of thin air and demanding
higher interest rates as a condition for purchasing government bonds.
Moreover, Voorhis, like many critics of the Federal Reserve, points out
that the Constitution says that Congress has the power to coin
money. But Voorhis also makes a point that I don't understand: that the
Federal Reserve regards as debt what actually is credit. I'm not sure
what he's talking about there, but he does promote nationalizing the