Over the years, as I have defended my hypothesis about the ratchet effect of national emergencies in U.S. history since the Progressive Era (when the ideological conditions for the full operation of this effect were established), I have encountered many doubters and critics. My fellow economists have been especially disposed to reject my hypothesis.
I have always insisted that modern government has many facets and that, at minimum, a study of its growth must consider not only government spending (or taxing or employing), but also the government’s scope and power. Changes in these latter aspects of government do not leave the same kind of easily retrieved record, or numerical data set, that economists typically work with—and without which they are more or less at sea, or in denial. Over the many years that I have pursued my research into the growth of government, I have repeatedly met with evidence of essential elements of the ratchet effect that lie completely beyond the purview of conventional economic research on this subject.
Higgs expands at this post as well as in his book Crisis and Leviathan.