Joseph Stromberg, an independent historian and writer, discusses how the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and worldwide protectionism ground the US economy to a halt in the 1930s; the enduring “accordion effect” of increasing government power and decline of civil liberties during wartime; how the distribution of defense contractor jobs among key congressional districts makes cuts in military spending politically impossible; and why government rationing is more a show of force than an attempt to fix economic problems.

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