Carl H. Wilken
Carl H. Wilken, one of the "Fathers of Raw Material Economics who died in 1968," was trained as an engineer during World War I. He transferred his methodical mode of thought and analysis to agriculture and economics during the Great Depression. For all practical purposes, he was the "working cog" in a group that included Charles B. Ray, Dr. John Lee Coulter, and J. Carson Adkerson. Together they founded the National Raw Materials Council, the predecessor of the National Organization for Raw Materials.
A farmer near Wall Lake, Iowa, Wilken entered into his analytical studies of the U.S. economy armed with nothing but two years of study at the University of Iowa, an inquisitive mind, simple arithmetic, and an ability to ferret out important government economic data. He had no pre-conceived ideas or economic theories and simply wanted to scientifically analyze the economic records of the U.S. government to find out what "really" caused the Great Depression and to determine if a future depression could be prevented.
Eventually, he teamed with a cadre of men with equally open minds -- all dedicated to a single-minded purpose of setting the U.S. economy back on a path of permanent prosperity. With Wilken at the helm, they discovered a natural law of economics, based upon arithmetic and physics, that had escaped generations of supposedly-learned economists. They proved that raw materials income governed national income unless the latter was expanded by debt. His data also made it clear that expansion of trade beyond income destabilized the internal U.S. economy and edged U.S. wages towards an international common denominator that can not sustain the American standard of living.
In the 1940s, working hand-in-hand in the U.S. Congress with the then-powerful Association of State Agriculture Secretaries, Directors, and Commissioners, Wilken and his associates succeeded in getting national legislation passed that created a "par-economy" that had sufficient earned income to virtually pay for World War II as it was being fought, and to re-employ the American workforce in the years immediately following W.W.II.
In the early 1950s, the forces of Keynesian economic theory and free world trade wrested control of the nation's economic planning mechanism from the Wilken group and, since that time, the nation has experienced a free-fall into unserviceable public and private debt and economic malaise.
At the time of his death, Wilken had spent more time testifying before Congress than any other American. Wilken authored numerous articles and booklets on raw material economics, including "Prosperity Unlimited," "All New Wealth Comes from the Soil," "An Economic Balance Sheet of the 16 Midwestern States, and "American Heritage."
His story -- as well as the metes and bounds of raw material
economics -- is contained in the book Unforgiven by Charles Walters.
A recent update of Wilken's statistics is entitled The Nature of Wealth
by Jerome Freimel and Fred Lundgren.