Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 12, 2011

in Hubris and humility, Man of System, State of Macro

… is from page 79 of James M. Buchanan’s and Richard E. Wagner’s vital 1977 book Democracy in Deficit:

Perhaps it is best simply to say that [John Maynard] Keynes was not particularly concerned about institutions, as such.  His emphasis was on results and not on rules or institutions through which such results might be reached.  And if institutional barriers to what he considered rational policy planning should have worried him, Keynes would have been ready to set up a “national planning board” run by a committee of the wise.

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{ 30 comments }

` September 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm

The Wise only exist on paper.

Kirby September 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Whoops that’s mine.

SheetWise September 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Hey …

SweetLiberty September 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Certainly he can’t be talking about the wise that got us into this economic mess, failed to acknowledge there was a mess until it was too late, and now continue to add to the mess by throwing good printed money after bad. Keynes must mean some other wise.

SheetWise September 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm

That was Keynes 1.0 — we are so beyond that now.

kyle8 September 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Heavens preserve us from rule by the “Wise”. No one will be more of a tyrant than the person who thinks they are smarter than you and that they are doing what is good for you.

SweetLiberty September 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

It’s not what’s good for you – it’s for the children. Who can argue with that?

Darren September 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

It’s not what’s good for you – it’s for the children.

Oh! Well that’s different.

nailheadtom September 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm

There are three kinds of people. One kind is of normal intelligence or above. They recognize that while they may be smarter in some ways than the average soul they still have their own limitations and don’t try to do things for which they have no talent. These people make the world go around. A second type of human is the dull normal. They know that while it’s possible for them to survive and even prosper to an extent in the complicated and confusing world, they’re not going to discover a cure for baldness or write a best-selling novel. These folks generally don’t do a lot of damage. A third variety are dull normals that think they’re brilliant. They come up with all kinds of cockamamie ideas and try to impose them on the rest of us. Sometimes they’re successful in that. These people are the real danger to the world.

Daniel Kuehn September 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Are we talking about the same Keynes of the Versailles Treaty, the Keynes of the Cuno Affair, the Keynes of the Churchill government, the Keynes of the Keynes that laid groundwork in the London Economic Conference, the Keynes of the war loans, the Keynes who grappled for a decade working with the Roosevelt administration, the Kenyes of Bretton Woods? Are we talking about the Keynes who filled Essays in Persuasion, the Tract, and the General Theory with cautions on what political objections would be, what was politically doable, what would depend on institutional circumstances, and what was simply unachievable by a central authority? Are we talking about the same John Maynard Keynes here?

If public choice theorists in general think this then somebody needs to write a book on all the Keynes said that would be now called “public choice” – it would be a real contribution if you’re actually thinking of the same Keynes I’m thinking of.

kyle8 September 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Why don’t you just go ahead an build a shrine to him. You can be the high priest of his Keynesianess.

Invisible Backhand September 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Born cultists like kyle8 can never figure out that not everyone else is a cultist too. That’s why they say evolution is ‘Darwinism’ or atheism is a religion or that we ‘worship’ Keynes.

Eternal children, they need to be told what to do. He’d be drinking the koolaid in Jonestown or saying Seig Heil! in a different time or place, but like a baby duck he happened to decide Hayek was his mother.

Josephine Stalin September 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm

You FOOL! You were doing so well using the argument from intimidation; Bypassing logic and attempting to apply psychological pressure to get renuncation of his idea without discussion and then “SEIG HEIL?” WTF?! This is an automatic thread-ending loss for our side.
Godwin’s law theorizes that the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one, the longer a discussion thread becomes.
It is now a well established internet tradition that once this occurs, the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

Next time stick to the approved collectivist memes such as:
“Only those who lack finer instincts can fail to accept the morality of altruism.”—”Only the ignorant can fail to know that reason has been invalidated.”—”Only black-hearted reactionaries can advocate capitalism.”—”Only war-mongers can oppose the United Nations.”—”Only the lunatic fringe can still believe in freedom.”—”Only cowards can fail to see that life is a sewer.”
Thank You!

Invisible Backhand September 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Your name is new but your writing style is familiar.

Here’s some jokes for you:

Q. How many libertarians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. The free market.

Q. Why did the libertarian cross the road?
A. The free market.

Q. A libertarian, rabbi, minister and priest walk into a bar.
A. The free market.

Economic Freedom September 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm

@ Invisible Backward:

Q: How many Keynesians does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: All of them. That way, you’ll stimulate employment and consumption,and your Aggregate Demand will be higher.

[I call it a joke. Keynesiacs call it sound economic theory and base policy on it.]

vidyohs September 13, 2011 at 7:24 am

LOL, so the Marxist calls others cultist! Oh so typical.

Daniel Kuehn September 13, 2011 at 6:09 am

Why would I want to do that?

Henri Hein September 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Daniel, you confuse committee with institution. They have little in common. As I read the Buchanan quote, he refers to rules-based institutions.

Daniel Kuehn September 13, 2011 at 6:08 am

I know what he means by institutions Henri. All of these actualizations in committees and such are operating in an institutional and indeed constitutional environment which Keynes sought to influence in a bigger way than the tactics required in any given committee.

J. M. Keynes September 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Well, I said a lot of different things, didn’t I? My goal was to baffle people with my bullshit because I could not dazzle them with my brilliance. I also liked being popular. So sue me if you can’t take a joke. How could you expect me to foresee that statists would worship some of the silly things that I said.

J. M. Keynes September 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Sheetwise, we are talking about me — Lord John Maynard Keynes. As I told that young man, “when the circumstances change, I change my mind”. Unfortunately, that was part of the problem. My perception of the problem kept changing so I kept changing my mind and said many different, and sometimes contradictory, things at various times. That is why everyone is still so confused about what I meant. But, my goal was not principles. My goal was results! And, I got them too. People are still talking about me long after my death.

Chucklehead September 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Lord John:
What is Hell really like?

SheetWise September 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

“Are we talking about the same Keynes of the Versailles Treaty, the Keynes of the Cuno Affair, the Keynes of the Churchill government, the Keynes of the Keynes that laid groundwork in the London Economic Conference, the Keynes of the war loans, the Keynes who grappled for a decade working with the Roosevelt administration, the Kenyes of Bretton Woods? Are we talking about the Keynes who filled Essays in Persuasion, the Tract, and the General Theory with cautions on what political objections would be, what was politically doable, what would depend on institutional circumstances, and what was simply unachievable by a central authority? Are we talking about the same John Maynard Keynes here?”

YES! — All of this and more! — juxtaposed against Keynes the economist.

anon September 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm
a_murricun September 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

[Keynes's] “emphasis was on results”

Is that anything like Lenin’s “the ends justify the means”?

Can you say “immoral”?

vidyohs September 13, 2011 at 7:32 am

I like the label Ayn Rand hung on the likes of Keynes and Krugman, Political- Economist.

The label Macro-Economist just doesn’t present the real picture the same way Political-Economist does.

“The Market” was invented (came into existence through the discovery of trade) at the micro level many thousands of years before written documentation of it was invented. It did not need guidance from a political economist to thrive, flourish, and spread, all it needed was unrestricted freedom by the invisible hands.

Chucklehead September 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I bet the first trade was food for sex, hence the oldest profession.

Cahal September 13, 2011 at 3:41 pm

‘“The Market” was invented (came into existence through the discovery of trade) at the micro level many thousands of years before written documentation of it was invented. ‘

Actually David Graeber’s book disputes this. In fact there is 0 evidence for it.

Please do not link me to Bob Murphy’s absurd ‘rebuttal’ as he himself has climbed down from it.

vidyohs September 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Eh? You have no brains between your ears with which to think? Wassa matter for you?

Do you think that trade and market were created by the first King of Ur, or something equally stupid?

Of course trade and market was invented by our remote ancestors (discount food for sex that is too easy a gimme), anyone who concludes there is no evidence for trade and market before written documentation has never been outside the womb.

As for actual evidence of trade, yes there is plenty of it in midden sites around the world, and in graves that go back 100 to 150 thousand years ago, when objects are found in such that could only have arrived there through transport and trade. This true both of the old world and the new.

And that trade was not the result of macro planning by governments.

Think my man, think!

Michael September 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

It’s hard to take them seriously without a direct quote from Keynes. Was Keynes unconcerned with institutions? I don’t know, no one cites any evidence.

These kinds of unsubstantiated criticisms aren’t even close to a refutation of Keynes’ ideas.

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