Another popular Keynesian tenet: Putting the economy in the hands of an elite

Ludwig von Mises told us that “every socialist is a disguised dictator.” That idea came to mind while reading Kevin D. Williamson’s latest National Review article on John Maynard Keynes.

Long before he published the General Theory, he already was making the case for managing the economy along moral-political lines rather than economic ones. “The business man is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.” Profit beyond propriety Keynes denounces in Biblical language — “the love of money,” which he described as a “disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.” So much for utility-maximizing economic actors.

The obvious question is which businessmen are to be held intolerable, and by what standard. The implicit answer is: those condemned by John Maynard Keynes — judge, jury, and economist. Keynes’ proposal to judge what businessmen “contribute to society” on non-economic grounds is a constant of our politics now, a tedious staple of progressive rhetoric. …

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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