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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 180 of the 1990 Transaction Publishers reprint of W.H. Hutt‘s 1936 book, Economists and the Public:

A decline of respect for the authority of political economy necessarily accompanied the swing to collectivism.  As the State as umpire was converted into the State as despoiler for politically powerful groups, a logical system which tended to expose the clash between private and social interest had, perforce, to be discredited.  Economists in general have been the constant enemies of power-thought in the field of economic relations.  Those private groups or individuals who have found orthodox teachings to be opposed to their advantage have realized that the source of such influence as the teachers have had has always been respect for their integrity and their science.  It is not surprising, then, that vested interests have never been slow to take full advantage of any apparent dissension within the economists’ ranks in order to destroy their authority.

Ironically, the very same year in which this volume of Hutt’s was published saw the publication of another and much more famous volume, by another economist, that marks as well as any event the point at which many economists began pandering to the man-in-the-street and assuring that man that his economic fallacies are, in fact, economic wisdom.  ‘Ignore those older – those “classical” – economists’ was the message of John Maynard Keynes, a message featured in his 1936 volume, The General Theory.  ‘You – the economically untutored man-in-the-street – have been correct all along.  All that your ideas require are a bit of fancy jargon and a few new concepts to transform them into a new and very different science of economics that will not only give scientific cred to your ages-old notions, but also justify government policies based on those notions.’