Monday, July 12, 2010

Enlightenment Values vs. The Economics of Reality

“The basic assumption justifying the extension of government power over economic life is the Enlightenment conviction that people have the goodness and wisdom to control other people. Much has been made in recent years over the debates between Keynesian and monetarist economists, but this is just a family feud. Both agree that the state has the right to control economic relations. This means that politics replaces economics, and compulsion replaces freedom. That is the meaning of Ludwig von Mises’ remark that the “outstanding fact of the intellectual history of the last hundred years is the struggle against economics.” One of the conditions of a society in which politics replaces economics is that wealth is obtained not so much from production as from pull. Robert Bork concludes that antitrust law cannot be enforced uniformly because the damage done to the economy would overwhelm it. But if the law cannot be enforced uniformly, then it cannot be enforced justly; the selectivity of its enforcement makes the law a weapon. State officials decide against whom it is to be used. That is not the kind of power that anyone can be expected to handle with justice.
“Trusting officialdom with control of our economic destiny is the foundation for both tyranny and economic futility.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 126).

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