By all modern measures the recession is over. Unfortunately, some segments of our economy are still feeling the effects. Unemployment is still an issue, especially among lower-skilled jobs. And growth in the manufacturing sector lags well behind the ideal. Most of the political-speak from Washington, D.C., these days ignores both the reality of our situation and our history. I believe in history. History is the only reality available to us for future planning. We must study history, as they say, or we are doomed to repeat it.

Some say that we can solve our problems by cutting taxes and slashing government spending. However, taxes in the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) are at their lowest level since 1950. The countries of today’s world with lower unemployment and higher rates of economic growth all have much higher taxes than the USA. Germany and Denmark are good examples.

Others espouse that the government should withdraw from various aspects of the economy to create a “free market.” Yet the fastest-growing economy in the world is China, which has almost total governmental control of its economy. Governments are the only entities with the capability to “position” countries in the international marketplace. Both Sudan and Brazil are good examples of countries with little government involvement, and they have runaway economies and very high inflation.

Most would identify the “cut taxes” and “free market” solutions to our current problem as based on “conservative” thinking. Conservative theorists Edmund Burke and writers William Buckley and George Will would disagree, based on knowledge of the history of our economy and that of the rest of the world

Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Tax Policy Center show that for the past 60 years, whenever tax rates were the highest, more jobs were created than when the tax rates were the lowest, as they are now.

In a time of previous economic difficulty, with multiple Republicans (Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Reagan) in the White House, the response from Washington was very different. From 1957, the year of Sputnik, to the early 1980s when U.S. taxes were significantly higher than now, the government created the interstate highway system, made massive investments in education and science, created small-business incubators and built bridges to the rest of the world for trade. The result was major development in science and business, major improvements in the education and health industries, 50 years of economic growth, and the highest living standard in the world.

Getting control of government spending may be helpful in solving our current crisis, but cutting taxes is not the route to a healthy economy. Every time we have cut taxes in recent history we have moved further from a healthy economy and deeper into debt. History speaks to us. We should listen.

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.