criminal ignorance versus criminal knowledge

Today’s LRC borrows a couple of its articles from elsewhere — “The Economics of Jimmy Carter” ( / lrc) and “Exclusive Interview With Murray Rothbard” ( / lrc).

Jimmy Carter seems to be as criminally ignorant of economic law today as he was in the 1970s. Good intentions will kill us all.

Richard Nixon, on the other hand (whose fascist economics Rothbard addresses in the interview) had a bunch of Chicago School advisors, including Milton Friedman, telling him not to do what he then did. I’ll post a little later on what Rothbard has to say on the Friedmanites, but one thing is clear: they know the perils of microeconomic centralization, price controls, minimum wage laws, etc.

This means Nixon was perfectly aware of the devastating effects his policies would inevitably have. But they won him re-election, which was apparently what mattered.

When I was growing up, Richard Nixon was the icon of all things evil. (This was before Ronald Reagan became the icon of all things evil.) How is it, then, that I knew nothing of the economic devastation the Nixon administration wrecked on the country? The most obvious answer is that I was raised and schooled on the Left, which has strong anti-fascist rhetoric, but no real problem with fascist economics.


2 Responses to criminal ignorance versus criminal knowledge

  1. Actually, there is a new progressivist revisionism of Nixon that attempts to salvage his reputation, arguing that he was far more “liberal” than his Republican successors. To prove their point that Nixon was not as evil as the left used to think, modern progressives most often cite his efforts to fatten the fascist regulatory state, such as with his expansion of EEOC and his creation of the EPA and OSHA. They are more split on his totalitarian (and clearly failed) price controls, but many left-liberals today like his welfare statism, his consideration of the negative income tax, his support for gun control, etc. If you were of my age, you would have more likely heard about Nixon’s economic fascism from the current leftist school of thinking, but that such policy was benevolent.

  2. Upaya says:

    Last year in a conversation with a Marxist former colleague of mine I made the point that the neocons are quite a bit further to the right (in the standard leftist conception of the spectrum)than Nixon. His response was to approvingly note that Nixon did lots of good progressive things like institute price controls. I joked that maybe tricky Dick was really a closet Marxist. (I probably should have said, “See I knew he was a fascist!”)

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