Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Keynes Mutiny

"It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil." --John Maynard Keynes

By Barry Rubin

We should always challenge the simplistic claims of the left--often echoed by the simplistic, stereotyped response of the right, which falls into the left's trap—about the nature, origin, and “liberalism” (rather than radicalism) of its ideas.

Here's a simple chart:

Obama and the Obamites: We are true heirs of liberalism and it is good.

The Opposition: You are true heirs of liberalism and it is bad.

Me and (hopefully) you: Wait just a moment there, Binky! You're radicals pretending to be liberals and we can prove it. Centrists and real liberals should be supporting the opposition today against you.

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Consider John Maynard Keynes, who the current left claims as the patron of its economic policies. Of course, there is some justification for this idea but I believe Keynes would have been horrified by contemporary Obama Administration policy.  True, Keynes advocated high government spending to stimulate economic growth. Let’s examine Keynes’ advice to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to see how he might differ with disastrous current policies.

Remember what Roosevelt had been doing in his first months in office. His basic strategy was to restrict prices and slap on high levels of production controls, an approach neither side in today’s debate would advocate. So part of what Keynes was doing was to get Roosevelt to reduce the regulations restricting business that the president had imposed in his first months in office, another difference from Obama.

In his letter to Roosevelt of December 16, 1933, Keynes wrote: “The object of recovery is to increase the national output and put more men to work.” In other words, these two factors were the measure of success and Obama has failed on both fronts. Keynes wouldn't be impressed by the blame Bush tactic.

Keynes continues:

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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