45 Years, 45 Days

Viewpoint: The Greenspan Nomination

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The new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers is Wall Street investment advisor Alan Greenspan. Since Greenspan is a one-time contributor to The Objectivist, was—and perhaps still is—a leader of the Ayn Rand movement, and has written on behalf of the free market, the Greenspan appointment was hailed in conservative and libertarian circles as a highly significant move on behalf of the free market and sound economics by the Nixon Administration. But is it; are hosannas really in order?

Surely, we should have learned the hard way to be far warier than all that. The Nixon Administration compiled a black record of appointing free market economists—or at least economists who had compiled a free market record before assuming public office—and then using them precisely to defend and apologize for a grisly series of statist and anti-free market policies. George Shultz, Paul McCracken, Herb Stein, and on and on have come in as champions of the free market and have spent most of their terms of office arguing on behalf of a whole raft of statist and inflationary measures. The process is known as "co-optation," cleverly designed to draw conservative and free market teeth by appointing their leaders and then inducing these appointees to swing the confused conservative masses behind policies which they would protest to the very heavens if identifiable liberals or leftists were in power. We are told, of course, that Shultz, Stein, efa/, did their best in private to oppose price-wage controls or deficit spending—which does not do any of us a hell of a lot of good when these worthies then spend their energies in public loyally arguing on behalf of the Nixonite policies. Why should we expect Greenspan to be any better, or any more resistant to the lures and seductions of Power?

In fact, Greenspan's July 13th interview in Business Week does not give us much cause for hope. He comes out in favor of the current "anti-inflationary" measures of the Administration, and in particular expresses the hope for an eventual balanced budget. Nowhere in the interview does he indicate that he understands the root cause of inflation to be the expansion of the money supply by the Federal Reserve System. His misplaced emphasis on the Federal budget is a Keynesian rather than a "monetarist" (whether Austrian or Chicagoan) approach, and since the budget has only a loose relation to the continuing inflation of the money supply, we could not expect a cessation of the Administration's inflationary policies even if Greenspan's policies should prevail.

Still further, there is no reason to expect that they will prevail. Greenspan will be only one economist among a host of economists and government agencies. In the ultimate analysis, moreover, it is the politicians who decide economic policy, and it is the economists, as we have seen, who are expected to provide the "scientific" apologetics for measures decided on strictly political grounds.

One or two free market economists appointed to government posts will not amount to a hill of beans. All it will do is to keep conservatives and free market oriented citizens confused and tied to the President's apron-strings.

And that of course was the major reason for the Greenspan appointment. It is an open secret that Nixon was relying for his political life (and perhaps, even, for staying out of jail) on conservative support in Congress. And since conservatives have historically been more impressed by rhetoric and personnel than by actual policies, what better way to insure conservative votes than by throwing them such sops as a Greenspan appointment? In the immortal words of P.T. Barnum, "there's a sucker born every minute," and conservatives have long shown themselves to be suckers for that sort of political ploy.

It will be instructive for all of us to keep close tabs on Greenspan in high office, particularly to see (a) if his public statements and official reports will be any better than those of Stein, Shultz and the rest, and (b) if he has any appreciable free market impact on government policy. My strong guess is a firm No to both questions.

All of this brings up vitally important questions of strategy for libertarians and free-marketeers. Just how do we go about expanding our educational function outward or upward to actually rolling back the tide of the Leviathan State? My view is that this cannot be done by sending a few people into high office and then hoping for some major conversion of the system. The statist system is far too strongly entrenched for that sort of maneuvering, which can only end by co-opting conservatives and libertarians to do the work of the State in defusing popular opposition to statism. The only hope is for a mass movement, for mass pressure from below, through such vehicles as the Libertarian Party and other organizations, which will force the State to roll back its power. Any other short-cut route will only end by reinforcing State power and further diminishing the extent of individual liberty.

Murray Rothbard is professor of economics at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Dr. Rothbard's viewpoint appears in this column every third month, alternating with the viewpoints of Tibor Machan and David Brudnoy.

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  1. “The process is known as “co-optation,” cleverly designed to draw conservative and free market teeth by appointing their leaders and then inducing these appointees to swing the confused conservative masses behind policies which they would protest to the very heavens if identifiable liberals or leftists were in power. We are told, of course, that Shultz, Stein, efa/, did their best in private to oppose price-wage controls or deficit spending?which does not do any of us a hell of a lot of good when these worthies then spend their energies in public loyally arguing on behalf of the Nixonite policies. Why should we expect Greenspan to be any better, or any more resistant to the lures and seductions of Power?”

    Written more than 30 years ago and, if a few words are changed, can apply to the Obamabots today. For all his faults, Murray frequently knew what he was talking about.

  2. You gotta hand it to Rothbard.

    1. Yes. He did a great job of plagiarizing Ayn Rand, while trashing her in public, in order to attempt to objectify subjectivism.

      Fuck Rothbard, he was a rationalist quack.

      1. Be that as it may, isn’t his take on Greenspan and free market cooptation a complete bullseye?

      2. rand was the plagiarist, for who is Henry Galt?

        and Rothbard was right, look no further than this comment, objectivism is a cult.

      3. When did he plagiarize Ayn Rand?

      4. plagiarizing Ayn Rand. That’s a good one. Very funny. He took craps that made more sense her wanna-be philosophizing. She should have stuck to fiction, and even there should have hired an editor to cut down on the length of the soliloquies.

    2. my co-worker’s aunt makes $68 every hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 10 months but last month her income was $19910 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site WEP6.COM

  3. This Jeffrey Goldberg column about the Paul’s and the Paleos was in the LAT the other day, I don’t know the history well enough myself can anyone else comment?

    “Such controversies are hardly new to Paulworld. Most famously, Rand’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, the three-time presidential candidate (for whom Hunter worked in 2012) published newsletters bearing his name that brimmed with bigoted bile. When his writing became controversial, the elder Paul insisted he hadn’t known what was in his own newsletters (though in 1996 he took responsibility for them).

    Both controversies stem from the same sinful strategy adopted by so-called paleolibertarians in the 1980s. The idea was that libertarians needed to attract followers from outside the ranks of both the mainstream GOP and the libertarian movement ? by trying to fuse the struggle for individual liberty with nostalgia for white supremacy. Thinkers such as Murray Rothbard hated the cultural liberalism of libertarians like the Koch brothers (yes, you read that right) and sought to build a movement fueled by white resentment. This sect of libertarianism played into the left-wing view of conservatism as racist. The newsletters, probably ghostwritten by Rothbard and former Ron Paul Chief of Staff Lew Rockwell, were the main organ for this effort.”

    http://touch.latimes.com/#sect…..-76680248/

    1. 2 responses:

      I personally think Gary North is the author of most of the truly bad, as opposed to merely un-PC stuff. I could be wrong, but he has shown a consistent ability to go full wack-a-doodle.

      as to the rest, while I think there is room for legit complaint about attempts to get the “cracker vote”, I think most of the argument actually seen is more like this :

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrcM5exDxcc

      1. Hmm, interesting, I thought it was more Rockwell that was taking the fall for that.

        Yes I’ve seen that video before, I subscribe to him on YouTube. I think he does some pretty interesting stuff but he also does some pretty wacky shit.

      2. James Powell was revealed to be the author more than a year ago to vanishingly little press or attention among the Koch/cosmo circle.

        1. huh. thanks for that. I didn’t know that. And I’ve never heard of him.

          Apologies to Gary North, if this is both true, and/or he gives a crap.

          1. Not many had. He was just a guy who contributed to the newsletter, so far as I know.

            And as troubling as North’s theological views are (it’s jarring to Gen Y libertarians the first time you see a libertarian bitch about “evolutionists”), I figure our outrage is better spent on Obama and Ayers. Outside of a tiny circle, North is a nobody.

        2. Never heard that either, thanks.

    2. Rothbard was a proponent of fusionism for most of his career. In the 60’s he favored alliance with the radical left (was that a “sinful” strategy too?). It didn’t work out. In the 90’s he advocated the same thing with Paleoconservatives and briefly pimped for Pat Buchanan. That didn’t work out either. Rothbard enjoyed politics, understood it better than most, and was willing to try all sorts of strategies to advance the cause of liberty. The author is correct in describing the fusion strategy of the 90’s but by omitting the previous fusion strategy, paints an entirely misleading picture of Rothbard.

  4. there is a disagreement in the 2 Libertarian think tanks on how to approach the civil war. either anti-war (Paul, Rockwell, neoconfederates, Mises institute). or more mainstream and it ended slavery (Cato, BHL, Kock).

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ingtonpost

    you look like a racist to the mainstream media when you attack Lincoln (he’s chiseled in stone like a modern day Zeus in his Greek like temple) when you are actually just anti-war (ie anti-state)

    attacking Lincoln is the best way to turn a minarchist into an anarchist, to teach one to truly hate the state, which Lincoln represents.

    1. Yeah I’m aware of the differences between Cato vs Mises, the Austrians vs Monetarists, and Rothbard’s role in founding Cato with the Koch brothers and then Mises with LR , etc, but I was referring more specifically to Goldberg’s assertion that Rothbard and LR are virulent racists and really had a strategy of attracting white supremacists? One can disagree with Lincoln’s tactics without being a racist.

      Perhaps they were racists and were interested in attracting White supremacists but that’s not exactly the sense I get but I could be wrong.

      1. if you are fully aware of those differences b/w the 2 camps you should be able to see what Rothbard, LR, and Paul are trying to do, risk the mainstream view on Lincoln (you?) to attack the state at its roots. a neocon like Jeff G would be interested in upholding the myth of Lincoln. its complicated. start by reading the emancipation proclamation. then read the letter to Horrace at the NY tribune. the irony is that the racist is actually Lincoln in this debate.

        1. I completely agree that Lincoln was a raging racist (All you have to do is review some of his own comments on the matter) and responsible for a lot of the original sins of big governmentism that we suffer from today, like the income tax, assaults on civil liberties, the draft, etc., but I’m also not on board with defending the Confederacy. Some of the posts I’ve read on Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute website insisting on referring to the Civil War as “The War for Southern Independence” I just find rather distasteful and terrible optics for libertarians at best. That being said I also really enjoy a lot of the posts on economics from people like David Stockman, Peter Schiff, Robert Murphy, and other Austrians.

          I also agree completely that Jeffrey Goldberg is a poster boy toadie establishment Republican and has no interest in fairly representing libertarians, which is why I took his column with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  5. but I was referring more specifically to Goldberg’s assertion that Rothbard and LR are virulent racists and really had a strategy of attracting white supremacists?

    oh. Ok. I think that’s pretty much BS. I’m sure you’ll find some here who disagree with my assessment. I think you could, if you wanted, make a case that there was an effort to tap into feelings of white resentment. You could say they were pandering to bad people. Or you could say they trying to make libertarian arguments using already existing points of agreement as opening lines.

    If you want to decide for yourself, I’d suggest reading Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty”, followed by “Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays” (where I think he does go into some ‘tactical’ thinking, I believe).

    1. Interesting, thanks. I tend to agree. Perhaps their attacks on Lincoln had the effect of attracting racists but I’m not convinced it was the intent – at least in Rothbards case, I’m more skeptical of LR.

      I do agree with the Cato take on the Civil War, though: You have the right to secede but not to take millions of enslaved people with you – On that point I think the Paleos who defend the Confederacy are just wrong, but I’m not sure if they’re all racist because of it.

      I’ve read Rothbard’s history of the great depression and thought it was a fantastic book but haven’t read any of his other works yet.

      1. then for your view to take the high road, states rights without slavery, the northern states should have seceded from the south. instead we got the usual solution to the slavery issue, more war and statism, instead of just abolishing the Fugitive Slave Act, or abolishing the constitution which institutionalized slaver with it’s 3/5 rule.

      2. “You have the right to secede but not to take millions of enslaved people with you”

        That’s exactly the Rothbard/Rockwell view as well.

        1. So given what Jam said above you’re saying Rothbard didn’t take the high ground?

          1. Given his favorable citing of Spooner (who wanted just that) and others and his belief in unlimited secession, it’d be difficult to argue that Rothbard wasn’t completely in favor of that as well.

            The Cato-amalgamation would be that the South couldn’t justifiably leave the North, due to it’s peculiar institutions to which Rothbard obviously disagreed, but that doesn’t mean he thought they were just in slave-holding.

  6. Thinkers such as Murray Rothbard hated the cultural liberalism of libertarians like the Koch brothers (yes, you read that right) and sought to build a movement fueled by white resentment.

    The falling out was between Cato and Rothbard. AFAIK, and given what David has said even recently, he and Rothbard remained friends until his untimely death.

  7. Rothbard is my homedawg

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