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‘Fortuitous and wasteful mitigations . . .’


In this fin de siècle moment – or is it closer to a mood of Depression? – the Keynesian idea of expanded government spending is much in vogue. We have been here before. As Shannon Lee Dawdy notes, part of Roosevelt's New Deal in the USA was the famous Civilian Conservation Corps, who performed much archaeology and related work (Maher 2008; Paige 1985). It seems particularly appropriate, then, to repeat a famous quote of Keynes: after all, archaeology comes surprisingly close to that much-derided Keynesian remedy. It was in his General theory of employment, interest and money that he wrote, ‘“To dig holes in the ground,” paid for out of savings, will increase, not only employment, but the real national dividend of useful goods and services’ (Keynes 1936, 220). What is less often quoted, though, is the subsequent comment: ‘It is not reasonable, however, that a sensible community should be content to remain dependent on such fortuitous and often wasteful mitigations’.

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1 Gallup Poll, May 2006: ‘A recent Gallup Poll shows that almost half of Americans (46%) believe that human beings did not evolve, but were created by God in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so . . . There has been surprisingly little change over the last 24 years in how Americans respond to this question. Between 44% and 47% of Americans have consistently agreed with the third alternative, that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so. Between 35% and 40% agree that man evolved with God's guidance, while between 9% and 13% believe that man evolved, but with no guidance from God’ (Newport 2006). Gallup Poll, February 2009: ‘On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don't have an opinion either way. These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity’ (Newport 2009).

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Archaeological Dialogues
  • ISSN: 1380-2038
  • EISSN: 1478-2294
  • URL: /core/journals/archaeological-dialogues
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