IntroductionWe have already noted that there is a significant contradiction between a simple model of the market system and the factual history of the American experience. The United States has always relied to some degree on the government as a creative economic agent. On the other hand, it has also always had some degree (at times a very large degree) of distrust of the competence of government. Labor, agriculture, the small firm, the large corporation, the Federal Reserve System and the government have all interacted to produce a variegated economic system.
What we have presented here has been mostly the historical record as explained by reason, theory and past experience. But what of the future? Predicting the future in any area, much less the dynamic, volatile field of economics, is a risky occupation. Doubtless the future is influenced by the past, but even the past is not without its contradictions. Furthermore, the future does not have to rely on the past. No one knows what new ideas, inventions or technical applications are around the corner. In the past, such developments (and the effect on productivity rates they can induce) have had far-reaching consequences for the economic world. They have provided the answer to such questions as: Which industries will flourish or fail? What kinds of jobs will be made available? What will be the standard of living for those who hold those jobs? And if it seems futile to speculate as to the specifics of these changes, it might nevertheless be useful to discuss the context in which they will take place.