Steven Greenhut rightly warns of the noxious notions of “nationalist conservatives.” Here’s his conclusion:
This is just a grandiose justification for government intervention in private decisions. What is the common good? It is whatever policy makers and government planners say it is. This proposal sounds remarkably similar to the progressive vision of letting “public-spirited” bureaucrats and politicians have unlimited power. They know what’s best, after all.
Despite their common-good promises, “all government is, in its essence, organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man,” as journalist H.L. Mencken noted. That’s why our founders believed in liberty—and why I would rather put up with drag queens in libraries than throw in the towel and submit to despots.
The bottom line is this: Even if you assume that interest rate increases and debt crises are so far off in our future that it doesn’t make much sense to fret about them today, it still doesn’t mean that deficits don’t have a cost to us today. Those costs are real and significant. Prudent leaders should take steps now to make sure their actions don’t cause a debt crisis in the future. Sadly, there are no such leaders in sight today.
With apologies to Milton Friedman, the “new” theory seems to be that inflation is, anywhere and everywhere, a temporary and idiosyncratic phenomenon.
Except that the theory is not new. It is the same theory that prevailed in the early 1970s. Apparently there aren’t any economists left at the Fed who are old enough to remember back that far. And no journalists.
My new GMU Econ colleague Vincent Geloso explains that the industrial revolution was not a wash. Here’s his conclusion:
The findings of these articles are incredible for anyone seeking to bridge the divide between scholarly knowledge and the popular imagination. They show that even the worst-case scenario implies that the Industrial Revolution constituted a momentous and positive development in terms of the quality of life of the poorest.
Common-sense understanding and rational economic thinking all seemed to be out the window. Knight said that it had long been his habit to explain to his students the “sinister” significance of wrong-headed ideas about trade protectionism or “the perpetual popular demand for making capital cheap by manufacturing money; and for creating a demand for labor by enforcing all sorts of inefficiency, waste and even destruction.”
For the most part, teaching the fallacies in these things was not difficult for others to follow, if people were willing to see it. Instead, he was finding far too many people accepting “new and depressing” examples of “arbitrary price-fixing.” It should be common sense, with a little bit of thinking, that fixing a price above or below its market level will, respectively, create wasteful surpluses or unnecessary shortages.
What had helped to foster such misunderstandings and confusions were attitudes and rationales insisting that the only “principle” worth following was that there are no principles worth knowing or following, other than the expediencies of the changing political moment. But if not fleeting expediencies, what principles should be followed, and particularly those that economics may offer as guides to government policy?
Knight argued, “Economic principles are simply the more general implications of the single principle of freedom, individual and social, i.e., free association in a certain sphere of activity…. The free association in question is exchange, in markets, an instrumentality necessary to specialized production, and distribution of the joint result.” He suggested that there were four general reasons for placing freedom and free association as the corner-stone principles of sound thinking on social and economic matters.