by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[T]he key to victory was the U.S. economy. It would eventually outproduce all the major economies on both sides of the war combined.
But how did the U.S. arm so quickly, build such effective weapons so soon, and from almost nothing field a military some 12 million strong?
Neo-socialist president Franklin D. Roosevelt unleashed American business under the aegis of successful entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company, William Knudsen of General Motors, Henry Kaiser of Kaiser Shipyards, and Charles Wilson of General Electric.
They were all given relatively free rein from New Deal strictures to work and profit without burdensome government regulations. The result was a military juggernaut that overwhelmed America’s enemies.
Politics went on, but in less partisan fashion. Republicans picked up seats in the House and Senate in 1942, while Roosevelt won a fourth presidential term in 1944. …
… Most importantly, Americans lost their fears.
From 1929 to 1938, the U.S. economy was in ruins. FDR’s New Deal could not restore economic growth or consumer confidence. As late as 1938, economic growth had sunk to negative 3.3 percent. Unemployment soared to an unsustainable 19 percent.
Only the threat of war terrified Americans into taking a gamble — to work feverishly and to ramp up industry.
By the end 1941, the early rearmament effort had spiked GDP growth to 17.7 percent. Unemployment had fallen to about 10 percent and would soon fall to about 2 percent.
Americans began losing their dread that they could do nothing against a decade-long depression. The less they feared the Axis powers, the more they restarted the economy and began to produce a plethora of goods and services.
After Pearl Harbor, Americans did not stay neutral, wait for government assistance or expect other nations to protect them.
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