You Come Back, Alan Greenspan? Wonít You Come Back?
by Walter Block: A
Few Questions, Concerning the Present Ron†Paul Campaign†Situation
This is the
second entry in my "Wonít you come back" series. The first
was devoted to Bill
Evers, this one to Alan Greenspan. Each of these episodes is
dedicated to a person who was once a leading libertarian and/or
Austrian economist, but who later on went native. It is my attempt
to invite them back into the fold. My thought is that we need all
the help we can get if we are to attain liberty, and it might be
easier to make such a "sale" to someone who not only once
"bought" it, but at an earlier time in his life was a
fervent devotee to our freedom philosophy.
certainly fits this bill. At an earlier time in his life, he was
a strong free enterpriser. Whatís this, you say? Alan Greenspan,
a supporter of laissez faire capitalism? Are you indulging in controlled
substances? Why, the man was head of the Federal Reserve, and any
idiot ought to know that this represents the Sovietization of a
core element of our economy, the money supply. If this is not central
planning run amok, then nothing is, you say to me indignantly. Have
you not read Ron Paulís End
the Fed, you moron?
Yes, yes, I
know all this. Really, I do. But I am not speaking of the "mature"
Alan Greenspan, the one who has "grown in office" to such
a degree that he has lost all connection to economic freedom. I
refer to a bygone era.
was, once upon a time, an earlier, younger, less "sophisticated"
Greenspan who was not only an articulator of our philosophy, but
a veritable leader of our movement. If you donít believe me, see
"An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is
one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to
sense-perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders
of laissez-faire Ė that gold and economic freedom are inseparable,
that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that
each implies and requires the other."
"But the opposition to the gold standard in any form Ė from
a growing number of welfare-state advocates Ė was prompted by a
much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is
incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the
welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state
is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate
the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide
variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation
is effected by taxation.
welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to
retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited
and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending,
i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to
finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.
a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support
is determined by the economy's tangible assets, since every credit
instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset."
eh? I go so far as to say that it would be hard to improve upon
these statements as a clarion call for economic freedom, the gold
standard, liberty, and opposition to statism.
I have a personal
reason, in addition to wanting to build up the freedom philosophy
movement, for wanting to bring Greenspan back in touch with his
earlier Austro-libertarian roots: he was one of the people instrumental
in my own conversion. After meeting Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden
at Brooklyn College in 1963 where I attended as an undergraduate
and she gave a speech, I was invited to their homes in Manhattan
to continue our conversation. Alan Greenspan was one of the people
in attendance when I visited there. I remember giving him the argument
to the effect that free market monopoly was a market failure, and
that anti-trust was therefore justified. (Hey, none of us were born
as pure Austro-libertarians!) He batted that one out of the park
at me, and I was on my way, with a little help from him. And a lot
from Ayn Randís Atlas
Shrugged, and Henry Hazlittís Economics
in One Lesson. (I didnít meet Murray Rothbard until 1966,
when I became fully radicalized.)
So, come back
Mr. Greenspan, come on back. The water is fine here in libertarian
land. Yes, you have a lot to make up for. You really screwed the
country with your running of the Fed. You disappointed a lot of
good people by turning your back on liberty. And, Iím not sure what
a libertarian Nuremberg trial would make of you. But I know this
much: if you repent, and try to do what you can, now, to promote
liberty and make up for past misdeeds, things will be better for
you than if you do not. And things will be better for the rest of
Block [send him mail] is a
professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior
fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending
the Undefendable, The
Case for Discrimination, Labor
Economics From A Free Market Perspective, Building
Blocks for Liberty, Differing
Worldviews in Higher Education, and The
Privatization of Roads and Highways. His latest book is Ron
Paul for President in 2012: Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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