Arnold Kling  


Conservative Fascism... It will be a great day when...

Thomas Sowell writes,

What is called "planning" in political rhetoric is the government's suppression of other people's plans by superimposing on them a collective plan, created by third parties, armed with the power of government and exempted from paying the costs that these collective plans impose on others.

That is from Thomas Sowell's latest book, Economic Facts and Fallacies, p. 31-32. I think that this might be a good book for an introductory economics course. The book is an unrelenting attack on what Jonah Goldberg would call fascism, and what Masonomists prefer to call the people's romance.

The quote is from a chapter on "urban facts and fallacies," and it discusses the impact of housing policy. One reason that it is difficult to determine if house prices reflect a bubble is that in many high-priced areas prices are artificially held up by land-use regulation.

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CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (9 to date)
liberty writes:

I gotta say: its been a real shock going to GMU - the students actually know the difference between free markets and planning; understand that government isn't a cure-all; think about consequences of intervention... if only it weren't the slenderest fragment of society who learns such things.

Sounds like a great textbook.

John V writes:

Funny, I just finished that Chapter. :)

And then, I'm a blog responding to THIS. I then went back and referred to this link in a second entry.

As I said, in that second entry, "funny coincidence".

Barkley Rosser writes:

So, general command planning is clearly misguided. But is planning for public infrastructure like a metro line through Tysons Corner to the Dulles Airport some kind of terrible thing? Heck, even Hayek thought that such sorts of planning might be OK.

Regarding the land use restriction argument, that is a valid point. However, there have been lots of land use restrictions for a long time in many of these cities, and we have never remotely seen price to rent and price to income ratios that have been observed in recent years before, as documented by Robert Shiller.

As I noted previously, no one can prove that what happened recently was a speculative bubble in housing, but I would say that anybody positively asserting that it was not has a much harder case to prove (and I stayed off the commentary on Alex's post on MR on this because by the time I saw it, there were too many comments, and Tyler has handed down his law of diminishing marginal productivity of comments, so I stayed quiet, even though I have published numerous papers and even book chapters on speculative bubbles for two decades).

Troy Camplin writes:

Well, fascism came out of political/philosophical romanticism (like Rousseau and Marx), so you're really saying the same thing, just using a different term. It's still fascism and it's still economic control, or socialism.

Clintonwasking writes:

I recently attended a speech by Dr. Dwight Lee a professor at the university of Georgia. The main economic concept discussed in his speech was free market economics, Milton Freedman and the government’s flaws in the economy. The issue was the government’s policies regarding the poor. He believes this policy is ineffective. The biggest issue he discussed however was Milton Freedman. Milton Freedman was a very liberal economist who affected the world’s economy in many ways. He believed in freedom and that drugs should be legal, he fought to eliminate wage and price control as well as the draft. He was also opposed to Kainiasm and believed that it was incorrect.
I learned many things from this speech the biggest being Milton Freedman’s affects on the modern economy. I also learned a lot about the depression and why we were in one for so long. I will apply my knowledge of these subjects in my daily life by reflecting on the complete side of economic issues and trying to find what Freedman would have thought on the issues. I also learned that recession is a good thing and it will sort itself out over time because a recession will cause price drops which in turn will stimulate the economy out of recession. I learned the government believed that the way out of the recession was to keep prices high and tried to do this with many strange methods such as burning pigs and not using their meat.

I was wondering if you agreed with the speaker, and would you consider the acts of the government during the depression to be fascism also with presidents day approaching who would you consider your favorite president.

Lord writes:

I would hate to live there if prices weren't held up. Quite unpleasant. Haven't had anyone suggest long term interest rates are bound to revert to the mean of the last 30 years yet. Part fundamental, part bubble, but true believers always need it to be one or the other.

TGGP writes:

Self described "anti-fascists" often strike me as rather fascistic.

Troy Camplin writes:

That's because the anti-fascists have historically been those on the Left, whose ideology is, in fact, fascistic.

Brian Whippo writes:

Dr. Dwight Lee was the guest speaker I decided to right this article about. Dr. Lee went over an extensive outlook on Milton Freedman and his political contributions over the years. He talked about how Freedman fixed the Keynesian idea and the Keynesian model works in today’s government. According to Dr. Lee, Milton Freedman was a genius when it came to politics and political events. Also, that Freedman was a freedom fighter, who believed in protecting American citizen rights. He believed that Americans should have the right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own home and that the government should not harass them. He believed America should be allowed to trade with whoever they want to trade with. Milton Freedman was also a mathematical genius who helped design when bombs should go off.
The economic idea I took from the speaker is that the Keynesian model does work, just not in every scenario. Dr. Lee said himself, “ Milton Freedman soon came to realize that his model was not perfect.”
I thought Dr. Lee was a good speaker. I think its cool that he is passionate about what he believes in. The only problem is it is hard to understand everything he was talking about from a student stand point. The fact that we are learning about these things and he is going into very specific detail about each event made it a little hard to understand. I did like the fact that he did have a sense of humor and tried to crack jokes where he could. What I got out of the speech was that running a country and figuring out how to help and make everybody happy is impossible. These two ideas cannot coexist because no matter how much the system is tweaked, it is never good enough for everybody. My question is it is easy to criticize one idea but how does someone go about fixing these problems?

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