The unemployed will always be with us. Or so we seem to be reminded by
the current recession, as the unemployment rate surpasses 7 percent, its
highest level in more than five years. But why should this be the case?
After all, government at least since the New Deal has assumed
responsibility for combating unemployment. Yet the American economy
appears no more free of the sharp unemployment peaks that accompany
recessions and depressions than before the 1930s.
Could it be that government, far from being the solution, is actually
This is the sober conclusion of The Independent Institute’s new
Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in 20th Century America.
The authors are Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, both
Professors of Economics at Ohio University who have served on the Joint
Economic Committee of Congress. With a foreword by Martin
Bronfenbrenner (late Professor of Economics, Duke University), this
volume amasses relentless and devastating empirical evidence that the
major cause of high unemployment during the twentieth century in the
United States, both cyclical and secular, is government itself.