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Never Trust an Economist Who Associates With Government

The battle for supremacy in economic theory continues. Monetarists, Keynesians and Austrians all claim their systems are the proper ones.

The argument is worth having, but not in the fashion that it occurs today. Too many economists are directly dependent upon Big Government. It employs them, provides grants for research, supports university faculty and affords prestige and power for the profession. Vested interests make an objective debate virtually impossible.

The Austrians are outsiders, not very influential in academic economic circles and not at all dependent upon government. They have no “axes” to grind or political positions to support. Government does not want their ideas because they would demolish the myths that government can improve the economy. Political power would be dramatically reduced in an Austrian world. Milton Friedman, a monetarist, recognized the conflict of interest and refused to join any Administration. He was not an Austrian, but was a proponent of free markets. Friedman was willing to offer his advice as an outsider, but unwilling to become a member of any administration because he felt that it would necessarily compromise his beliefs.

For an interesting discussion (by an Austrian), see Jeffrey Tucker’s article The Austrians Were Right, Yet Again. It is an interesting composite of Austrian reaction to the economic programs proposed in 2008 in response to the crisis.

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