David Henderson on EconLog, 6 November 2011: “Tom Sargent on How the Vietnam War Made Him Skeptical of Government” writes:
“Thomas Sargent … became, in his words, “more conservative,” because of the Vietnam war. Here’s an excerpt from a July 1982 interview with Arjo Klamer:
‘Klamer: Did you go to Vietnam?
Sargent: I went through ROTC, was commissioned, and then worked in the systems analysis office of the Pentagon. It changed me in some ways, made me more conservative. I came to understand more clearly the limitations of government actions. It was a learning experience. My conclusions came from seeing the whole decision-making process by which the US got into the war: how we evaluated the situation, how we processed the data from the war, how we understood our options, what we saw as the resources and costs in Southeast Asia, and what we thought was the likely outcome. We didn’t do a very good job. There was an incredible volume of inefficient and bad decisions, which one must take into account when devising institutions for making policy.’
This is from Arjo Klamer, Conversations with Economists, 1983. This book, incidentally, is the first book I ever reviewed for Fortune [emphasis ours].”