A Tale of Two Meltdowns

Barron'sSATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2009

ECONOMIC BEAT

A Tale of Two Meltdowns

By Gene Epstein

TWO QUITE DIFFERENT BOOKS on the economic crisis share the same one-word title: Meltdown. The first is a collection of articles from The Nation — “America’s leading progressive weekly.” The second was written by Ludwig von Mises Institute senior fellow Thomas E. Woods Jr., and includes a foreword by libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

I found Meltdown II a must-read. Writing with remarkable clarity and occasional mordant humor, Thomas Woods makes a compelling argument for a radical turn to the free market as the only way to prevent meltdowns from recurring. Not that The Nation reporters don’t contribute a few nuggets. For example, their general feeling that something radical should be done about the way the Federal Reserve operates — that we should no longer be “subservient to the Fed mystique” — is surely progressive in spirit. But when they go on to urge that the Fed make itself subservient to “democratic discourse,” we have to remind ourselves that the term “progressive” is a code word for greater government control of the economy, which generally leads to retrogression. …

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