Within 50 years, a $600,000,000,000 national income. That was the startling prophecy of Alvin H. Hansen, Littauer Professor of Political Economy at the "Full Employment" forum Sunday in the Old South Meeting House.
The national income is the economist's yardstick for measuring the prosperity of the nation, and as this represents an increase of $458 billion dollars over the 1944 income, Hansen's prophecy is enormous in its scope.
In accounting the method by which this increase is due; Hansen declares laissez faire obsolete and foretells more government control, more government spending, and a substantial increase in the national debt.
"In the past, we have failed to look at the business cycle and see that bad times follow good times and vice versa," he said. But this see-saw of economy is no longer necessary, maintains Hansen, for by varying the government expenditure to meet the need it will be possible to stabilize this business cycle.
With the increased spending, however, a larger national debt is unavoidable. But Hansen holds that an increase in the debt is not necessarily bad, for the national income will increase in unison with it. To prove his point he pointed out that "the debt of Great Britain has multiplied 30 times since the Napoleonic wars, while the national income has risen with the general prosperity."
Hansen went on to say that with this increased government control, individual freedom would decline, for "we cannot go back to the anarchist period of my childhood, when every man was his own boss. Society has to meet a great many problems collectively."