Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Keynes for Every Occasion.


For conservative Bruce Bartlett, Keynes was really a conservative (and that's a good thing). Bartlett quoting John Kenneth Galbraith with approval:
"The broad thrust of his efforts, like that of Roosevelt, was conservative; it was to ensure that the system would survive." 
For Misesian Vernon Orval Watts, Keynes was really a socialist (and that's really, really bad):
"In general, moreover, Keynesian proposals for 'compensatory' policies follow Marxian socialism in seeking to force individuals to obey the rule, 'From everyone according to his abilities, to everyone according to his needs.' Arguments and theories used to support these proposals are essentially Marxian."
For New Keynesian and centre-left Simon Wren-Lewis, Keynes and Keynesianism weren't really Left, or Right, but simply about how the macroeconomy works (and that's really, really good):
"So my argument is that Keynesian theory is not left wing, because it is not about market failure -- it is just about how the macroeconomy works."
For this Post-Keynesian ("progressive" liberal?), Keynes was really a "progressive" liberal and that's better than better:
"To cut a long story short, Keynes was a 'progressive' liberal, not a conservative and not a direct supporter of the UK 'Labour' party, in contrast to some people who seem to think Keynes was a conservative".
For Noah Smith (centrist?), it's Hayek's fault that people think "Keynesianism is socialism-lite". In reality, Keynes and Keynesianism were unjustly opposed by Hayek, but neither Keynes nor Keynesianism are "socialist", "progressive", or "liberal":
"If you use the word 'Keynesian' as a synonym for 'socialist,' 'progressive,' or 'liberal,' well my friend, you're doing it wrong."
Robert Vienneau says that "Hayek [was] not opposed to Keynes on political principle".


For what it is worth, I agree with Bartlett (and Galbraith): Keynes was essentially a conservative (but for me, unlike Bartlett, that's not a good thing). To the extent that Vienneau considers that Hayek and Keynes were more or less equally conservative, I agree with him, too.

Anyway, there you have it: a Keynes for every occasion.

Feel free to choose whichever you like, but remember this: your and your children's future are at stake here. Whether Keynes was liberal, conservative, left, right, up or down, he looked at people like us with plenty of contempt (here, here). That doesn't make the options offered by these people any better.

He remember this: a two-edged sword cuts both ways.

08/10/2014. Believe it or not, I just realized this: I actually agree with Noah Smith on something! Man, miracles do happen! Department of Whiskey, Tango, Foxtroxt, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang.

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