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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12683/the-politics-of-political-economists/

The Politics of Political Economists

May 11, 2010 by

There are reasons why the statistically oriented will tend to become interventionists. The economic statistician will tend to be impatient of all theory as “armchair speculation,” and hence advocate piecemeal, pragmatic, decide-every-case-on-its-“merits” type of government planning. FULL ARTICLE by Murray N. Rothbard

{ 7 comments }

Jacob Steelman May 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Another great article by Rothbard. One of the points to be gained from this article is the business of government. By this I mean the advocates of government intervention who seek and then see an opportunity not necessarily to improve the welfare of the citizenry but more importantly provide themselves a job and source of income from government intervention. Thus, far from being altruistic do gooders they are in fact self motivated pragmatists engaged in taking money from taxpayers to feather their own nests and serve their masters, various members of the ruling elites.

Ray Warren May 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Good comment by Jacob Steelman. One of Adam Smiths fears was that some businessmen may become so financially powerful that they could influence government to pass laws that would be beneficial to their business and thereby become the “ruling elite”. It would appear that we are there. When I was young there were many petro energy companies. Now the industry is an oligopoly which can control pricing and supply as well as government policy. This may prove Schumpeter right that the businessman may push us toward socialism, not government by itself. What do you think?

Jake_nonphixion May 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm

The fundamental problem with using statistical data to plan federal intervention is that the economy is a chaotic system. The data collected is temporally static and there will always be a severe lag in its collection from the present. And as chaos math proves; even were this data perfectly precise and temporally relevant, even if all the factors are known simultaneously, perfect prediction remains elusive. You cannot predict the outcome that influencing the conditions of the system will have. This is the flaw of Keynesian aggregation as well as any interventionist policy. It’s what gives rise to unintended and unforeseen consequences.

The problem is furthered by the fact that every piece of statistical data is a sentient being with the ability to act randomly according to personal circumstance. Individuals are impossible to predict, let alone mass aggregates of societies.

This is why only a system of voluntary trade and self governance can ever achieve efficiency.

Andris Birkmanis May 12, 2010 at 3:07 am

I do not agree that “In a free-market economy, the individual business firm has little or no need of statistics.”.
First of all, all companies in risk transfer business (insurance and reinsurance) use statistics as their primary tool. Without statistics of either specific subject to be insured or some class of similar subjects there cannot be meaningful price of risk transfer.
If we agree on this, than the next step is acknowledging that all human action is about taking risks, so at least on a very rudimentary level all humans need (and in fact use) some statistics.

I do agree that in hands of bureaucrats statistics plays the same role as religion used to do – an intellectual excuse for telling other people what to do. This, however, does not invalidate usefulness of statistics for private purposes.

Tim Kern May 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm

“…government intervention, on the other hand, whether piecemeal or fully socialist, could do literally nothing without extensive ingathering of masses of statistics.”

Don’t forget to fill out every page of your census form!

Stephen Grossman May 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

>Thus, far from being altruistic do gooders they are in fact self motivated pragmatists engaged in taking money from taxpayers to feather their own nests and serve their masters, various members of the ruling elites.

This is a sleazy change from facts to alleged motives. They publicly justify intervention with altruism. Without that public justification their alleged motives would have no influence. And altruism is evil.

mpolzkill May 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Would any other Rand fans please tell me how this nut comes to say “altruism is evil”, and how he comes to say that it was our (Holy Americans, I guess) moral *obligation* to slaughter Vietnamese rice farmers? Is there some beyond-the-pale wing lead by this psycho:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoAWCwm-UXw

Do you actively try to distance yourselves from this insanity? Thanks in advance.

(Hilarious video, he makes you want to have a beer with Bill freakin’ O’Reilly.)

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