Friday, July 18, 2003


I am having a bit of a history day again today:

My post yesterday on whether Nazi Germany was economically efficient sparked a number of emails. Like many before me, I pointed out that Nazi Germany was NOT economically efficient because of the pervasive political interference with industry. A correspondent added some other details which suggest that the less politicized British bureaucracy did a better job of organizing the national war effort:

R.V. Jones, author of "Most Secret War" has an interesting perspective on the German case. You can argue that the Germans had the best scientists, industrialists and generals of any side in WW2. Where they went badly was in coordinating those resources. The British were the first to create a coordinated scientific-military-industrial complex, with science and industry working on the real problems the military was having. German science and industry was for example working on developing new super-tanks and wonder weapons, when the Army merely wanted more tanks.

The foundations of the British scientific-military-industrial complex were laid pre-war in the 1930s as a response to fear of air attack, and Britain's need for a coordinated air defence system, something the British had anticipated since their brief exposure to the Zeppelin raids of WW1. As a result the British dominated radar research and development. Radar has been called the weapon that won the war, the atomic bomb merely ended it!”



"Those of us who know some economics are used to wincing when the typical clergyman makes a pronouncement on political economy ..... So it comes as a bit of a shock to read these religious figures, avowedly concerned first and foremost with justice and Biblical standards, and find that not only are they economically literate but that in many cases their economic theory was far more advanced than many professional economists who came after them... Tomas de Mercado wrote in 1571, "We can see that privately owned property flourishes, while city- and council-owned property suffers from inadequate care and worse management. . . . If universal love won't induce people to take care of things, private interest will"."


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