A Tale of Two Economists

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Writes Charles A. Burris:

“The first week in March 1926 saw the birth in New York City of two incredible individuals who would make their dramatic impact on the political and economic destiny of the world. Both were born to middle-class Jewish parents. Both youths were described as extremely bright and intellectually precocious, but somewhat socially awkward. Neither was athletic. Both decided upon pursuing careers in economics. Both studied economics with distinguished faculty at New York University. Both attended graduate school at Columbia University with the noted economist Arthur Burns, who later left academia to become chairman of the Federal Reserve. Both were attracted to the compelling ideas of individualism and capitalism put forth in the works of novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand. Both rose to positions within Rand’s inner circle in NYC. Both defended Rand’s sprawling 1957 bestseller, Atlas Shrugged, from critical reviews in letters to noted publications.“The first person was born on March 2nd. He was the legendary Murray N. Rothbard – who spoke truth to power and inspired generations by his courage, commitment to principle, and humanity. He became the greatest scholar of liberty in the 20th century, and the most acclaimed student of NYU’s Ludwig von Mises, the century’s most brilliant economist, authoring the last economic treatise, Man, Economy, and State, and a host of other important books in economics and history. Rothbard was distinguished for his perceptive critique of the pernicious influence of politically connected Wall Street bankers – in particular the firm of J. P. Morgan – on the creation of the Federal Reserve and the welfare-warfare state. He became the Fed’s most incisive critic.

“The second individual was born four days later. His name is Alan Greenspan. After a stint as a Wall Street financial forecaster, the coldly pragmatic Greenspan made his Faustian bargain first with the unscrupulous Richard Nixon, as his 1968 presidential campaign director of policy research, then with the befuddled Gerald Ford, as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors. Greenspan returned to his fabled career as economic soothsayer, even rising to become a director of J. P. Morgan, the very firm which figured so prominently in Rothbard’s trenchant critique. In 1987 Ronald Reagan appointed Greenspan Chairman of the Fed, where he remains ensconced today.”

8:50 am on September 29, 2003