George Marshall’s Chump Change

Today marks an important anniversary.

Fifty-one years ago today, President Truman signed the Economic Cooperation Act authorizing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II. According to Wikipedia, by the time the plan had come to completion four years later, the economy of every participant state, with the exception of Germany, had grown well past pre-war level and the stage had been set for a generation of economic prosperity in Europe.

Total cost of the Marshall Plan – less than $13 billion. Even after counting for fifty-one years of inflation, that would be considered little more than a rounding error in today’s era of massive government stimulus and handouts to the big banks.

With realistic goals, a viable plan and the clear threat of communist totalitarainism as the possible future for western Europe, President Truman, Secretary of State Marshall and their team had a clear agenda and were able to achieve remarkable success investing appropriately in a truly massive recovery effort.

Today we have neither the fearful prospect of a takeover by Stalin’s Soviet empire or the massive destruction left by the bombing of World War II to focus our attention clearly. But there are some pretty ugly possibilities in our future when the wasteful, corrupt and ill-conceived Paulson-Geithner economic agenda inevitably fails. With the out of control financial agenda in Washington and on Wall Street, we need real leadership at least as much now as we did then. Neither the Republicans or Democrats seem to offer any real hope.

Where can we find the kind of bold, clear-thinking, prudent and realistic leadership offered by President Truman and Secretary of State Marshall today?

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