Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek gets more ink in the Wall Street Journal today than he has in a long time in an op-ed on the “stimulus” bill being debated in Congress. And rightfully so, considering his arch rival John Maynard Keynes is getting more air time than he has since the last time politicians sought cover for a massive power and wealth grab.
Hayek and Keynes had a famous (well, famous for economists) debate over Keynes’ theories. FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey returns to his previous career as an economics professor and provides a lesson everyone on Capitol Hill should read.
Keynes’s thinking was a decisive departure from classical economics, because arbitrary “macro” constructs like aggregate demand had no basis in the microeconomic science of human action. As Hayek observed, “some of the most orthodox disciples of Keynes appear consistently to have thrown overboard all the traditional theory of price determination and of distribution, all that used to be the backbone of economic theory, and in consequence, in my opinion, to have ceased to understand any economics.”
Professor Armey also reminds us of one of the central insights from the Public Choice school or economics:
A father of public choice economics, Nobel laureate James Buchanan, argues that the great flaw in Keynesianism is that it ignores the obvious, self-interested incentives of government actors implementing fiscal policy and creates intellectual cover for what would otherwise be viewed as self-serving and irresponsible behavior by politicians.
It’s clear why Keynes’s popularity endures in Congress. Intellectual cover for a spending spree will always be appreciated there. But it’s harder to see any justification for the perverse form of fiscal child abuse that heaps massive debts on future generations.
Which leads to the conclusion:
The charade of the current stimulus package, chockablock with earmarks to favored pet constituencies and virtually devoid of national policy considerations, is the logical consequence of Keynesianism in action. It is about politics and power, not sound economics, and I believe that the American people will reject it.
The Washington Post toda reports “Senate Lacks Votes to Pass Stimulus.”
The 1,000-plus FreedomWorks activists who called Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on 1-866-928-0525 asking him to oppose the stimulus had something to do with that.
Were you one of them?
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04 February 2009
Less Keynes, More Hayek
Something everyone from Scott Allen to Sarah Palin can agree with!