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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13040/andersons-economics-and-the-public-welfare/

Anderson’s Economics and the Public Welfare

June 22, 2010 by

He once told me an amusing story of a conversation with Keynes. In connection with the latter’s theory of stimulating consumption to cure a slump, Anderson asked him, “Why wouldn’t it be a good idea to raise white elephants in a period of depression?” FULL ARTICLE by Henry Hazlitt

{ 3 comments }

Dick Fox June 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

I believe Economics and the Public Welfare is the best book written on the Great Depression. It was written contemporaneously with the times and by someone who was on the inside of both the banking industry and in testimony before congress. Anderson is unbiased – he voted for Roosevelt against Hoover – but totally educated in economics, especially monetary affairs of the time.

Where there are differences between Anderson and modern writers who did not live through the era (for example Milton Friedman) I lean toward Anderson. Friedman and others had to take the words of the government record keepers and we all know what that means.

Jonathan Finegold Catalán June 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm

That Anderson voted for Roosevelt doesn’t make Anderson unbiased (or maybe it does, as I’m not exactly sure how you meant that comment). Ayn Rand voted for Roosevelt in 1932, as well. Both voted for Roosevelt because he ran on a relatively (for that age) minimal government platform, or at least one which pledged to reign in Hoover’s spending spree (and balance the budget). Anderson voted Roosevelt because Roosevelt, during the campaign, seemed like the leader who would follow Anderson’s own ideology the closest.

Nonetheless, Economics and the Public Welfare is a great history of American economic history between 1913 and 1945.

Allen Weingarten June 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hazlitt deals with the subject of the individual and the collective, writing that Anderson was clearly right in rejecting the notion of the isolated “individual monad”. Thus he notes that the thought process even within the “individual mind” is a social process. He further writes that even a relatively simple assembly job like an automobile cannot be understood merely by studying its parts individually. The human body cannot be understood merely as an assemblage of its individual organs or cells. Both the automobile and the human body function as a unit.

I submit that the individual/collective dual constitutes a dichotomy, where both exist, but at issue is which is primary. For the bees, it is the hive that is primary, where the individual bee is secondary; but for man it is the individual who is primary, while the collective is secondary. It is the individual man who reasons, and creates, while society as a collective (at best) merely preserves what has been developed. So whereas Hazlitt & Anderson are correct to note the existence of the collective, individual man is not akin to a part of an automobile, or the organ of a body. Rather society is at its best when it allows its individuals to flourish, as when the Declaration of Independence wrote ‘to secure these rights, governments are instituted’.

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