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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter 1937)

The first and most obvious aim of planning in electricity is to increase general economic productivity by integrating the electrical units with regard to production and distribution. A second incentive to planning in electricity is the general policy of developing and protecting natural resources, and closely connected to this is a third reason: the general economic policy that aims to influence the business cycle. Thus initiatives for the construction of dams and development of national resources are brought forth not only for reasons of conservation but also for broader economic motives. These may include, in times of depression, the occupation of large numbers of unemployed and in times of wavering prosperity, the stimulation of other business by big orders and increasing of consumption power through increased employment. The fourth main purpose of planning economy is the nationalistic economic policy of autarchy. In electricity this means such measures as developing the use of a special type of coal or saving coal for other purposes, even if the nation is thereby burdened with high capital obligations and higher prices. In the various countries it is the special combinations of these four main goals of planning in electricity which determine the extent and characteristics of the different planning systems.

In this paper I shall try to perform the task imposed on business cycle theory by the instrumentalistic approach, that is, to analyze the different mechanisms coupled in various combinations by the monistic theories, and to develop a theoretical framework with the help of which the different, equally possible, combinations of economic variables and constants could be understood. Which of them has been realized in any historical moment is a matter of quantitative analysis; that one of the other will recur could be shown only be a general sociological-economic analysis of the properties of capitalism. Anticipating the results of my following analysis, I would deny that a decline in the spending quota would create deflationary anticipations and would terminate investment in all circumstances. Investment activity is not tied up only with the course of demand; it is contingent upon the relation between price and costs. Thus the decline in the spending quota would produce the alleged disastrous effects only if it were supported by additional dynamic factors or if it were great enough to produce a shock effect.

That Napoleon Bonaparte was the military genius of his age needs no repetition. Less well known, yet by no means less momentous, are his performances in the purely governmental sphere, by which he ranks among the greatest political organizers in history. His rule over France is appropriately termed a dictatorship because it reveals all the features familiar in latter-day dictatorial governments, for which it serves--let it be noted here--as an unequaled example. He successfully eliminated the rivaling political factors within the state, he skillfully destroyed the distribution of powers among different power-agencies, and he thus gained and maintained the monopoly of political ascendancy.

The following considerations are meant to be a contribution to what I should like to call an 'ontology of society.' They are an attempt at a structural analysis in terms of the function that the 'rational' and the 'irrational' may exercise in building up human society. The presupposition upon which they rest is the recognition that human society is a phenomenon sui generis, independent of its various manifestations, having a structure of its own, and the conviction that, accordingly, studies can and should be made in evolving the specific character of this structure.In order to be able to decide what function the 'rational' and the 'irrational' may exercise in the framework of human society it is first necessary to inquire into the problem of what constitutes society. For it is in the answer to this problem that the clue to an understanding of the specific problem of the relationship of the rational and the irrational in society is to be found.

Even now the heads of the provincial [Chinese] governments, though nominally subject to the orders of the National Government of the Republic, may as a matter of fact do largely as they like, to an extent not found in other countries of our time excepting the modern dictatorships: so deeply has the type of conqueror’s government impressed itself on the Chinese concept of government. Foreign observers of Chinese government naturally have always been struck by the phenomenon of a government stopping its organization at the district (hsien) magistrate, for some of these districts had more than a million inhabitants, in other words, clearly required a governmental organization of some kind below the magistrate. The general assumption has been that in these lowest stages of administration there existed a type of idyllic rural self-government, a basic democracy.

Now that the most formidable resistance to social insurance in general has been overcome, the improvement of health provisions for low-income groups has become the focus of public interest. In order to prevent hasty legislation a discussion of all problems involved is necessary. Harry Millis’ book, Sickness and Insurance, concise and pleasantly written, is a valuable contribution to this discussion. After a study of the economic and sociological aspects of the problem, of the health insurance systems in Germany, Great Britain and France, of the movement in the United States, the opposition to it, the model bill and other suggestions, Mr Millis proposes his own plan, which is in general agreement with the majority of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care but deviates in two important points: he considers it necessary to include maternity help in a government program of medical care, and he considers compulsion in health insurance a necessity…

In October 1936 the citizens of the canton of Basel-Stadt legalized a program of measures that fixes their business cycle policy for many years to come. The central point of this program is a novel use of collective bargaining as a means of economic stabilization. As the surrounding conditions are typical and afford an opportunity to verify theoretical assumptions which is seldom present under more complex conditions, the experiment is of interest also outside of Switzerland.

Review of book by Edwin G. Nourse. Washington: Brookings Institution. 1934. 608 pp.

Review of book by Harold Loeb. New York: Viking. 1935. 180 pp.

Review of Report prepared under the sponsorship of the New York City Housing Authority and Works Division of the Emergency Relief Bureau, City of New York. New York: City Housing Authority. 1935. 358 pp.

Review of book by Reinold C. Noyes. New York: Longmans, Green. 1936. 645 pp.

Review of book by Harold J. Laski. New York: Harper. 1936. 327 pp.

Review of book by Freda Utley. New York: Norton. 1937. 392 pp.

Review of book by Karen Horney. New York: Norton. 1937. 299 pp.

Review of book by John D. Lewis. University of Wisconsin Studies in the Social Sciences and History, no. 25. Madison. 1935. 185 pp.

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