It is seventy years, now, since near the end of the Second World War Austrian economist, and much later Nobel Prize winner, Friedrich A. Hayek published his most famous article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” in September 1945, demonstrating why it is impossible for a system of socialist central planning to effectively manage a complex and ever-changing economy better than a functioning, competitive free market order.
Many Social Democrats believed that democracy was both compatible with and an essential complement to a humane socialism, a socialism that did not reduce humanity to obedient cogs in a giant collectivist wheel directed by a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” They wanted socialism with traditional civil liberties, personal freedom and democratic politics.
We live in an era in which few can even conceive of a world without the welfare state. Who would care for the old? How would people provide for their medical needs? What would happen to the disadvantaged and needy that fell upon hard times? In fact, there were free market solutions and non-government answers to these questions long before the modern Big Government Welfare State.
On the last day of 2014 I received a lapel pin from the Society of Professional Journalists in honor of my having been a member since 1979, thirty-five years ago. I confess I was a little stunned to think I had been an editor and reporter that long ago. Indeed, I had been one for several years even before I joined the Society.
Forty years ago, on December 11, 1974, Austrian economist, Friedrich A. Hayek, formally received that year’s Nobel Prize in Economics at the official ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden. He delivered a lecture called, “The Pretense of Knowledge,” which forcefully challenged all those who believe that government has the wisdom or ability to successfully plan the economic affairs of society.
“Extremist voices and groups have hijacked Islam and misappropriated the right to speak on its behalf,” Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, told the 25th Session of the Arab Summit earlier this year.
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit[…]
When people do not feed, talk to, read to, discipline, or provide shelter to their children, is it still appropriate to call these people parents? Across the country, school districts are now able to phase in a federal program that provides taxpayer-funded breakfast and lunch to every single child enrolled in the school. That’s every child, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. A child who attends that school and has millionaire parents can receive taxpayer-funded breakfast and lunch every single school day.
Forty years ago, during the week of June 15-22, 1974, the Austrian School of Economics was reborn during a conference in the small New England town of South Royalton, Vermont. Why was this important? Because the economists of the Austrian School have developed the most persuasive understanding of why only economic freedom can give mankind both liberty and prosperity.
The politics of dramatically expanding the child tax credit entitlement (and yes, it is an entitlement) just don’t make all that much sense to me. Consider the landscape of America today, where more people are staying single longer and having fewer kids of their own volition, as they pretty much always do all over the world as cultures become more highly educated. These are not recent developments:
Governments have an insatiable appetite for the wealth of their subjects. When governments find it impossible to continue raising taxes or borrowing funds, they have invariably turned to printing paper money to finance their growing expenditures. The resulting inflations have often undermined the social fabric, ruined the economy, and sometimes brought revolution and tyranny in their wake. The political economy of the French Revolution is a tragic example of this.
Barack Obama is finishing his fifth year as president, and continues to try to move America further in the direction of increased government paternalism with the implementation of ObamaCare, a push for a higher minimum wage, more intrusive business regulation, a drive for higher taxes to redistribute wealth, and a persistent insistence that individuals must sacrifice their own interests for that of “society.”
Forgotten or at least certainly downplayed in the international remembrance of Mandela’s nearly three decades of imprisonment and his historical role in becoming the first black president of post-Apartheid South Africa is the fact that through most of the years of his active resistance leading up to his arrest and incarceration he accepted the Marxist interpretation that racism and racial discrimination were part and parcel of the capitalist system.
Some of those who support government regulation–and most mainstream contributors do so–maintained that being opposed to government regulations is like being opposed to laws. And since laws are necessary for a just society, the inference was drawn that so are government regulations.