Hayek Climbs the Charts


At The Washington Post, Duke University economist and F.A. Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell reports that sales are booming for Hayek's classic The Road to Serfdom. Caldwell offers some good reasons why:

I think that the underlying reason for the sustained interest in Hayek's book is that it taps into a profound dissatisfaction in the public mind with the machinations of its government. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have presided over huge growth in the size of the federal government and in the size of the federal deficit, with little obvious effect on unemployment. Things seem out of control.

Furthermore, a recurrent theme in the news is that, in contrast to the millions who are suffering, the politically connected are doing just fine. The examples are everywhere, from bailed out financiers getting huge bonuses to public union employees getting hefty pensions, from auto companies that are nationalized instead of going belly up to politically savvy firms that get government subsidies to produce products that would be otherwise unprofitable.

For people upset by such trends, "The Road to Serfdom" opens a window onto another time, when debates about how best to restructure an economy emerging from wartime were taking place. Such debates, as the strong sales of the book clearly show, still have resonance today.

Read the whole thing here. Caldwell's byline doesn't mention it, but he's also the author of the superb book Hayek's Challenge: An Intellectual Biography of F.A. Hayek, which is by far the best biography available of the famous Austrian economist. Back in our January 2005 issue, Nick Gillespie interviewed Caldwell about that book and about Hayek's enduring lessons about bad planning, distributed information, and the liberating power of choice.

(Via Todd Zywicki)