The Boys in the Boat
By David Henderson
On my flight from Chicago to Phoenix on Thursday, I finished The Boys in the Boat. It’s subtitled “Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” I highly recommend it.
Not that this is why I recommend it, but I noted two things that might interest readers of Econlog.
1. In discussing Hitler’s construction of some of the facilities for the games, the author, Daniel James Brown, writes:
In order to put the maximum number of men to work, Hitler had decreed that virtually all the labor was to be done by hand, even that which machines could do more efficiently.
I trust that readers of this blog will get Hitler’s screwy thinking about economics. His mistake reminded me of this Dwight Lee article–“Creating Jobs vs. Creating Wealth.”
2. When I advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy, the most common counterexample people cite back is the disastrous British non-interventionist foreign policy of the late 1930s. Brown reminds us that the British foreign policy was interventionist. He discusses Hitler’s move of 30,000 German troops into the demilitarized Rhineland, “in open defiance of both the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact to which Germany was a signatory.” He points out that Hitler was not ready for war and was waiting tensely to see if the French and British would react.
He needn’t have worried. In England, foreign secretary Anthony Eden said he “deeply regretted” the news, and then set about pressuring the French not to overreact.
In other words, the British government did intervene–with the French.