Against Caution

“Caution is a word that I can’t understand.” – Operation Ivy

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.” -John Maynard Keynes

Lately, everybody on the left is piling on the liberal establishment economists critical of Bernie Sanders economic proposals and Gerald Friedman’s assessment of them. Paul Krugman, Austan Goolsbee, Alan Krueger, Christina Romer, and Laura Tyson have been the subject of vociferous denunciation by the left this past week. Demands are made that they apologize to Friedman. Ryan Cooper tells us that these Democratic establishment economists (Krugman is a liberal, but as a journalist is officially non-partisan, at least in public) are afraid of Keynesianism.

And, alright, I suppose that if Bernie was elected President and he presented his budget proposal to Congress and they just rubber stamped it and put it into action, it does seem plausible that the economy would grow at a rate higher than it has in the last 30 years.

But 1) we all know that’s not how the US government works; 2) if you don’t know why its important to be cautious when making serious economic proposals, you haven’t been paying attention; and 3) Keynes was effectively shut out of British politics throughout the 1930s, and did not become influential until the exigencies of war made massive public investment mandatory.

I used to wish I would see a proposal like the one Sanders has got. And now that its here all I can think is: nobody* really cares what the proposal says. They just want to put the kibosh on the establishment.

*: Okay, okay, almost nobody.

 

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