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« Law, Economics, and Superstition Part 3: "Gypsies" | Main | Cowen on Hayek with regard to fiscal as opposed to monetary policy »


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David Brooks, in his "New York Times" opinion piece emphasizes the idea of this being a new "progressive" era of rule by an "elite" of experts who believe they have the wisdom, ability, and the right to regulate the social and market orders.

This is merely the culmination of the earlier "progressive" era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The following are the words of Richard Ely, professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin, and one of the co-founders of the American Economic Association. He had studied in Imperial Germany under members of the Historical School and had come home enthusiastic about their interventionist and welfare statist ideas -- and their rejection of laissez-faire and the idea of universal principles of individual rights and restraints on government.

The following quote is from his 1895 book on socialism and reform:

"Looking into the future we may contemplate a society with real, not merely nominal freedom, to pursue the best; a society in which men shall work together for the common purposes, and in which the wholesale cooperation shall take place largely through government, but through a government which has become less less repressive and had developed its positive side.

"We have reason to believe that we shall yet see great national undertakings with the property of the nation, and managed by the nation, through agents who appreciate the glory of true public service, and feel that it is God's work which they are doing, because church and state are as one.

"We may look forward to a society in which education, art, and literature shall be fostered by the nation, and in which the federal government, commonwealth, local community, and individual citizens shall heartily cooperate for the advancement of civilization . . .

"We may anticipate an approximation of state and society as men improve, and we may hope that men outside of government will freely and voluntarily act with trained officers and experts in the service of government for the advancement of common interests."

Is this not the ideology and policies of the current administration, the embodiment of Richard Ely's social interventionist dream guided by government experts for the good of humanity?

The Savior has come to fulfill the Prophecy, after all, since "it is God's work which they are doing, because church and state are as one."

And they certainly view themselves as the expert secular agents of the ecological Earth God.

Richard Ebeling

Keynes was wrong in many things, but not when he said that politicians are slaves of the ideas of defunct economists.
Fasten your seat belts!

I say we start referring to bureaucrats as "the parasitic class." It's amazing, the power of rhetoric.

I got this quote from Vincent Ostrom's the Political Theory of a Compound Republic (Ostrom & Allen, 2008, p. 150)): the warning De Tocqueville gave in his conclusions in Democracy in America. He asked: ‘What sort of despotism democratic nations have to fear’?:
‘Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood.... It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances - what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living... It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate... The will of men is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly retrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better that a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd’ (De Tocqueville, 1889, pp. 290-291).

V. Ostrom is perhaps the most important modern thinker on the importance of cultivating the capacity for self-governance among a people and how the state can destroy that capacity. He is a very profound thinker.

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