Krugman argued that inflation would address our debt problem by reducing our bill in current dollar terms and that the Second World War was a giant stimulus plan that actually worked. Thankfully, he added the refrain, “Hopefully we don’t need a world war to get there,” but I sensed a tinge of regret in his voice. After all, the Keynesian economist’s favorite pastime is seeing people waste their lives digging holes in the ground or sacrifice their lives in war. Both acts create economic growth according to the topsy-turvy logic of men like Krugman.
The truth is that wars are a miserable misallocation of capital and usually leave financial ruin in their wake. The US did not boom in the ’50s because we fought World War II, but because we resoundingly won. It was the byproduct of having an unscathed manufacturing base, solid infrastructure, an intact military, most of the world’s gold, and the only reserve currency.
Not all work is work you want. What you’re allocating capital toward matters.