Excuse the title of the post. I simply thought it sensible, since apparently those who may agree or sympathize with Murray Rothbard’s monetary theory are “Rothbard fanatics”. At least, that is how a blogger for the Economist sees it (“Free-marketeers and inflation“). Maybe we can both drop the accusation of fanaticism, and agree that there may be logical reasons as to why we ascribe to one particular theory or another. Otherwise, it seems to me that those who use the words “fanaticism” and “cult-like behavior” to describe those of the Austrian School suffer from their own kind of fanaticism — a fanaticism which leads them to dismiss their opponent’s arguments without real consideration.
The entire article comes off as one big appeal to authority. Why should the Federal Reserve and United States Government pursue an inflationary policy? Because Milton Friedman said so! This particular blogger closes his article with,
If only the free-market right still had such a powerfully persuasive “technician advising the state how to be more efficient”, our economy might now be slightly less screwed. Maybe it would help were “advising the state to be more efficient” less widely considered “evil work”.
Is the suggestion of a non-inflationary monetary policy not a policy recommendation, in a broader sense? Besides, who is talking about making the state “more efficient”? The discussion is not on the efficiency of the state, rather the efficiency and health of the market. The question is whether an inflationary policy can help the economy or not. More specifically, without having to rely on making normative statements, we are debating whether an inflationary policy can improve the calculation process.
So, on all sides, I suggest that bloggers and economists alike stop talking about what person A would have done, and instead get to the meat and bones of the debate. Discuss what the implications are of any given policy.
Friedman fanaticism is no more legitimate than Rothbard fanaticism. And, for what it is worth, those of us who are serious do not support “Rothbard’s” (what about Mises and Hayek) monetary theory based on Rothbard’s endorsement, rather because we think the theory is logically consistent and correct. I hope that the same is true for those who sympathize with Friedman.
But, in the end, perhaps it is easier to hand wave your opponents away by calling them fanatics.
(H/T Brad Delong; the “Keynes fanatic”?)