In the years after World War II, the U.S. had some significant economic advantages when soldiers returned from the war looking for jobs. One, of course, was that the U.S. had escaped the devastation suffered by Europe and Japan, so its companies faced only domestic competition. Labor costs, for instance, were nearly irrelevant, and unions, which played an important role in raising living standards, were able to thrive.
But another advantage, as Rick Wartzman pointed out in his 2017 book “The End of Loyalty,” 3 is that American businessmen were unusually farsighted after the war. They knew it was critically important to generate millions of jobs to prevent the U.S. from falling into another depression. And they also knew that returning fighters were owed something for defeating the Nazis. There was a “we’re-all-in-this-together” feeling that came from having been through such a terrible war.
It’s impossible to claim that the pandemic has brought the nation together the same way that World War II did for that generation. But if you looked closely, you could see companies taking actions that had nothing to do with shareholder value and everything to do with helping the country.
Can Joe Biden persuade companies to start acting in the best interest of the country, and let go of the now-discredited dogma of shareholder value? I think he can, and the pandemic will help him do it. My column: https://t.co/fvpTpToeQi via @bopinion
— Joe Nocera (@opinion_joe) January 21, 2021