Thoughts on Anti-Government Rhetoric And Other Links

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Thought of the Day: Anti-Government Rhetoric

I have often said there is an ideological battle which this deep downturn has pushed front and center between those who see government as a positive force and those who see it as negative. See my piece "A few thoughts about the limitations of government."  Because of the history of America’s founding, I believe Americans are more sceptical of government than citizens of other advanced economies. The articles above demonstrate why this is healthy. 

Nevertheless, Americans’ individualism makes powerful executive agent of change tales more alluring than in Europe. Think of Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, or the Roosevelts. Barack Obama intuitively understands this and has been pushing a JFK-like "government is good" side of the debate. However, the inability of his policies to reduce unemployment combined with the still powerful influence of lobbyists and special interests has increased scepticism in government. Most Americans, therefore, see the deficit as worrying. In the American context, I sense this is a large factor behind the recent calls for austerity. (Note: no one is talking about military spending, though).

So I wanted to profile two pieces that take anti-government rhetoric to a logical extreme. In one, Anarcho-Austrian Murray Rothbard defends the deregulation as crony capitalism meme with which I disagree. He attacks Milton Friedman and the monetarists of the Chicago School as statists.

In the other, economic historian Forrest Capie argues that British economic history demonstrates that the lessons of the latest crisis is less regulation and not more. While I disagree with some of the detail, this argument is more compelling than Rothbard’s.

The key, however, is the starting point in any society. Some people are better-connected than others and it is unrealistic to believe that the well-connected in society won’t avail themselves of the opportunity to use their connections to tilt the playing field in their direction in order to legally benefit at others’ expense.


The Usual Fare

  1. Paul Vigna says

    “However, the inability of his policies to reduce employment…”

    Think you mean “unemployment.”

    1. Edward Harrison says

      that was changed a while ago, but thanks.

Comments are closed.

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