Saturday, January 28, 2012
That's John Maynard Keynes above, the economist who popularized the idea that government intervention in the economy could prevent slumps and depressions. Keynes is one of the pillars of modern liberalism and progressivism.
The two men defined the economic battle of our time: whether governments should intervene in markets.
If you're a Keynesian you'll probably love the book I'm reading now: "Keynes/Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics" by Keynesian Nicholas Wapshott. I like the way the author argues. At every step he digresses to explain what his opposite thinks, at least half the time fairly, and the biographical details go a long way in fleshing the ideas out.
If I were a book writer, that's the way I'd do it. You learn more from the intelligently laid-out clash of opposing ideas than from a book advocating a single idea. My own term for this type of thing is "conflict learning." This is one way I'd teach a class if I was a liberal arts teacher. I'd debate my opposite for half the class just to air the subject, then at the half way mark invite the class to participate. This could work, even for the discussion of literature.
But I digress. Keynes believed in government intervention in the economy to create demand. Hayek believed that intervention would lead to a deepening of economic woes, which would create the need for still more intervention til we end up with a totalitarian state. Keynes thought that was silly. Look at Sweden and Switzerland...no totalitarian state there. Hayek pointed out the path taken by interventionist states like Germany and Italy in the thirties. That system was prevented from spreading only by war. I could go on, but you get the idea. The book is full of interesting back and forth like this.
Oddly, neither Hayek nor Keynes might recognize themselves in their modern disciples. Hayek is beloved by modern conservatives and libertarians, but he wrote an essay called, "Why I Am Not a Conservative," where he argued against nationalism, and laid out his belief that a culture should not be sentimentally attached to traditional ways of doing things. Keynes repudiated socialism as unworkable and believed that his system should only be applied at times of crisis when downturns in the business cycle brought about unemployment. Many of his modern disciples disagree and see government intervention as a constant. A fascinating book!
BTW: Who's the man in the cartoon (above)? He looks like both Keynes and Hayek.
Also BTW: Many, Many thanks to Kelly Toons and Jonathan Mastron for the great videos!!!!!!!! Both are worth watching.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 12:27 AM