I Led Three Lives

November 2001
PERSONAL SNAPSHOTS
Forecasts & Strategies

by Mark Skousen

“It was a time for every man to stir.” — Thomas Paine

Westchester County, New York, where I now reside, is full of American heroes. Two are buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery — Carnegie, the steel magnate (highlighted last month) and Samuel Gompers, the great labor leader. Another hero is Thomas Paine (1737-1809), the revolutionary writer, who owned a farm in New Rochelle. Paine is famous for writing Common Sense, the anonymous pamphlet that galvanized Americans into revolution in 1776. I read it as a teenager one summer and was overwhelmed by the candid, powerful case he made for separation from England. But there were actually three revolutions in 1776 — political revolution declared on July 4 by Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence; an economic revolution propelled by Adam Smith’s magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations (published on March 9,1776); and a cultural/religious revolution as expressed in Edward Gibbon’s best-seller, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (the first volume published on February 23,1776). Thus, 1776 was a year of wonders.

The Age of Paine: A Supporter of Free Enterprise and a Hater of Taxation

Even more amazing, Tom Paine spoke out in favor of all three revolutions. In Common Sense, published on January 9,1776, he made the greatest case for political independence ever penned. “Government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one …Nothing can settle so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration of independence.” He coined the name, “United States of America.” He hated the King and the privileged aristocracy that went with it. He referred to the idle nobility as “no-ability.” What mattered most to Paine was a man’s productivity, not his pedigree. Paine was also an unrepented follower of Adam Smith and laissez faire capitalism.

In The Rights of Man (1791) he defended individualism, property, business enterprise and Jeffersonian democracy. He favored a world in which political and social place would be determined by talent, merit and hard work — reliant individuals. He defended the rich and the businessman. His one villain: government. The invisible hand of merchants, manufacturers and bankers create a wholesome civil society; but the “greedy hand of government” oppressed and taxed citizens at home and waged war abroad. He was obsessed with taxation, a symbol of tyranny and corruption. Finally, Paine’s social and religious philosophy was in keeping with Gibbon’s. He favored free thought and freedom of religion, and was opposed to a state religion. He was an outspoken critic of slavery. He was cursed as an atheist and an infidel based on his sharp criticisms of the Bible in The Age of Reason (1794),but he was in fact a deist who strongly believed that “the hand of providence has …accomplished the independence of America.”

The Spirit of Paine Lives On

Some of the stirring words of Tom Paine seem modern to me. After the war on terrorism began, I thought of his words: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Long live the spirit of Tom Paine. That spirit lives on at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). I urge you to subscribe to our monthly publication, Ideas on Liberty.The cost is only $30 a year for 12 issues. To subscribe, call 914/591-7230. Ideas on Liberty would also make a great holiday or birthday gift.

UPDATE

Foreign Affairs, the premier establishment journal, loves AND hates my new history, just as it goes into a second printing! The October/September issue of Foreign Affairs calls The Making of Modern Economics “both fascinating and infuriating.” On the positive side, the book is “engaging, readable, colorful and entertaining,” on the negative side, it’s “credulous, disingenuous and tendentious.” My kind of review! Love it and hate it! I ’m also happy to report that the first printing is sold out and a second printing is now available from M.E. Sharpe Publishing, 800/541-6563. Be sure to mention you are a subscriber to Forecasts &Strategies, and you pay only $49.95 for the hardback and $24.95 for the paperback, plus S&H, a considerable bargain over the retail prices.

Neither Left nor Right

Economics on Trial – Ideas on Liberty - July 2000

by Mark Skousen

“Those who control the adjectives win.” — Larry Abraham

The use of the political labels “left” and “right” may be popular in today’s media, but there are several reasons why the dichotomy is a false and misleading guide to political and economic philosophy. It implies that “left” is equally as extreme as “right,” while the “middle of the road” position appears the more moderate and balanced position. I call this system the pendulum approach, where each individual is categorized along a political spectrum from “extreme left” to “extreme right.” Recently I encountered an example in an economics textbook.

Radical
Liberal
Conservative
Extreme Left Extreme Right
MARX
KEYNES
ADAM SMITH

Source: Mark Maier and Steve White, The First Chapter, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998), p. 42.


The problem with the pendulum approach is that Adam Smith is characterized as “extreme” as Karl Marx. By implication, neither economist is sensible. Yet the evidence is overwhelming that Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty has advanced civilization far more than Karl Marx’s inexorable system of alienation and exploitation.

Moreover, in the pendulum approach, the middle-of-the-road position held by John Maynard Keynes appears to be the moderate ideal. A pendulum that experiences friction will eventually come to rest in the middle, between both extremes. But is that the best way to go?

A New Alternative: The Totem-Pole Approach

I prefer a fresh approach, which I call the top-down or “totem pole” way. Instead of left to right, I use top to bottom. In Indian folklore, the most-favored chiefs are placed at the top of the totem pole, followed by less impor tant chiefs below. Look at the next page for my rendition of the same three economists according to the totem-pole method.

In this system, I rank Adam Smith first, Keynes second, and Marx third. Of the three, Adam Smith advocated the highest degree of economic freedom. Nations that have adopted Smith’s vision of laissez-faire capitalism have fared the best. Next is Keynes. He usually favored maximum freedom in the microeconomic sphere, but frequently endorsed heavy intervention (inflation and deficit spending) in the macro sphere. His big-government formula has resulted in slower economic growth in many industrial nations. The low man on the totem pole is Marx, who advocated a command economy at both the micro and macro level. Historically, centrally planned Marxist nations have vastly underperformed the market economies.

Political and economic positions should not be divided by left and right. They are either right or wrong. As Milton Friedman has said many times, “There’s only good economics and bad economics.”

Avoid Being Close-Minded

A second reason why I avoid the left-right labels is that it puts people and ideas into boxes. When someone’s theories are labeled and compartmentalized, thinking stops and name-calling begins. There has been far too much bad blood spilt over the years between camps that spend more time shouting epithets than engaging in legitimate dialogue.

This criticism applies equally to the worn out adjectives “liberal” and “conservative.” If John Kenneth Galbraith is a “liberal,” why should conservatives listen to him’? If Milton Friedman is a “conservative,” why should liberals read his books? I try not to prejudice myself. To me, both are economists who have ideas worth examining.

The media will continue to use the hackneyed political lexicon of yesteryear and engage in character assassination. But I will resist the outdated and misleading left-wing/right-wing/liberal-conservative battlelines, and treat every scholar, candidate, and philosopher on his own merits, and not according to some arbitrary label.

Too Many Free-Market Think Tanks?

Personal Snapshots
FORECASTS & STRATEGIES
May 2000

by Mark Skousen

“Stimulating independent thought… is being done by all too few individuals and institutions, not only in the U.K. but here in the U.S. as well.” — Milton Friedman (1981)

Donating money to a few of my favorite free-market organizations used to be a pleasant duty, but now I’m literally inundated with demands from hundreds of think tanks and public-policy groups, all vying for my limited funds. Maybe you’re wondering if we really need so many foundations and political organizations.

Back in 1946, there was only one free-market organization in the United States: the Foundation for Economic Education, run by Leonard Read. If you were a classical liberal, you wrote for The Freeman (now Ideas for Liberty) and contributed to FEE. (I write a regular column called “Economics on Trial”; to subscribe, call 800/452-3518, only $35 a year! Or see their web site, www.fee.org) But then along came a British chicken farmer, Sir Anthony Fisher (1915-1988), who established the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. Tony was so enamored with the idea of setting up free-market foundations that he created an organization for the very purpose of creating more institutes around the world: The Atlas Economic Research Foundation, based in Fairfax, Virginia.

Over 350 Institutes in over 50 Countries

By going to their web site, www.atlas-fdn.org, you’ll discover its virtual directory, which contains the web site links of hundreds of public-policy institutes in 50 countries. Of course, the big names are there, such as Heritage, Cato and the American Enterprise Institute. But you’ll also find dozens of smaller, lesser-known groups in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Think tanks sometimes have an objective name, like the Independent Institute or the National Center for Policy Analysis, while others are purposeful and include in their title terms like reason, liberty, sound economy or free enterprise. Others are named after a location like Manhattan or Mont Pelerin. Many are linked to famous classical liberal philosophers like Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Lord Acton and Edmund Burke.

Atlas Leads the Charge

The Atlas Foundation doesn’t think there are enough think tanks. It has a section of its web site devoted to showing you how to set up your own institute. In “The Need for More Institutes,” Atlas quotes Milton Friedman (see above). I noticed several free-market think tanks devoted to environmental issues. None of them are very big. Maybe if they combined forces, they could offer a countervailing power” to the Sierra Club or Earth First.

The Growth of State Think Tanks

There are two strong arguments favoring an ever-growing number of educational foundations and public-policy think tanks. First, the wider number of institutes, the greater the ability to specialize and fulfill the needs of reformers. Adam Smith made this point in The Wealth of Nations. An expanding market permits greater specialization and higher consumer satisfaction.

For example, state and local organizations can deal with local issues. Recently a proliferation of state think tanks have attracted substantial sums and made valuable contributions: The Mackinac Center in Michigan, the James Madison Institute in Florida, the Sutherland Institute in Utah, the Cascade Policy Institute in Oregon. Clearly, these organizations are making fresh contributions and avoiding duplication.

Second, increased competition not only means more specialized demands are being met, but the total amount of contributions to free-market causes is maximized.

What is the optimal number of think tanks? The market test is the ultimate decision-maker: whatever the market will bear. Apparently the optimal level has not been reached. When I asked Mary Thoreau of the Independent Institute, “Are there too many think tanks?” her reply was succinct: “Is the world free? Is competition bad?”

Chicago Gun Show

Economics on Trial The Freeman OCTOBER 1999

by Mark Skousen

“According to the economic approach, criminals, like everyone else, respond to incentives.” -GARY BECKER(1)

The Chicago boys are at it again. This time the economists at the University of Chicago are making headlines in today’s hotly disputed debate about gun control. Milton Friedman set the general standard a generation ago by insisting on rigorous empirical work to support sound (though often unpopular) theory and policy. More recently, Gary Becker extended Chicago-style economic analysis into contemporary social problems such as education, marriage, discrimination, professional sports, and crime.

Now John R. Lott, Jr., until recently the John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow at Chicago, is making the case that a well-armed citizenry discourages violent crime. Lott analyzed the FBI’s massive yearly crime statistics for all 3,054 U.S. counties over 18 years, the largest national surveys on gun ownership, and state police documents on illegal gun use. His surprising conclusions, published in his recent book, More Guns, Less Crime:

  • States now experiencing the largest drop in crime are also the ones with the fastest-growing rates of gun ownership.
  • The Brady five-day waiting period, gun buy-back programs, and background checks have little or no impact on crime reduction.
  • States that have recently allowed concealed weapon permits have witnessed signif- icant reductions in violent crime.
  • Guns are used on average five times more frequently in self-defense than in committing a crime.(2)

According to Lott, recent legislative efforts to restrict gun ownership may actually keep many law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves from attack. (There’s that Law of Unintended Consequences again.)

The Incentive Principle Underlining

Lott’s findings is a basic eco- nomic concept, the law of demand: If the price of a commodity goes up, people use less of it. In the case of criminal activity, if the cost and risk of committing a crime rises, less crime will be committed. This is often referred to as the market’s incentive principle.

Gary Becker has showed that increasing the cost of crime through stiffer jail sentences, quicker trials, and higher conviction rates effectively reduces the number of criminals who rob, steal, or rape.(3)

Similarly, Lott argues that state laws permitting concealed handguns deter crime. “When guns are concealed, criminals are unable to tell whether the victim is armed before striking, which raises the risk to criminals.” (4) He produces a variety of statistics and graphs to support his case. For example, the following graph compares the average number of violent crimes in states before and after the adoption of a concealed-handgun law.

Lott’s crime figures also remind me of Frederic Bastiat’s brilliant essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” In 1850, this great French journalist wrote, “In the economic sphere,. . . a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first . . . is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen.”(5)

According to Lott, Bastiat’s principle applies in crime statistics. “Many defensive uses [of guns] are never reported to the police.”(6) Lott gives two reasons. First, in many cases of self-defense, a handgun is simply brandished, the assailant backs off, and no one is harmed. Second, in states that have stringent gun laws, cit- izens who use a gun for protection fail to report the incident for fear of being arrested by the police for illegal use of a weapon. Thus, Lott confirms (through extensive surveys) the initial work of Gary Kleck, professor of criminal justice at Florida State University, that guns are used far more frequently in self-defense than in committing crimes. Kleck, by the way, used to have a strong anti-gun bias until he uncovered this revealing statistic.

All this confirms a long-standing constitutional principle: People have the right to own a gun for self-protection.

1. Gary S. Becker and Guity Nashat Becker, The Economics of Life (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), p. 143.
2. John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chica- go Press, 1998).
3. Becker and Becker, p. 137.
4. Lott, p. 5.
5. Frederic Bastiat, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” Selected Essays on Political Economy (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1995 [1850]), p. 1.
6. Lott, p. 5.

No More Political Labels, Please

LIBERTY Magazine

By Mark Skousen


A rose is a rose is a rose. But a conservative is a libertarian is a liberal. When labels confuse rather than clarify, they should be dropped.

RESOLVED: That we use political labels as little as possible when describing
people’s ideologies. When somebody asks me, “Are you a liberal? Conservative? Libertarian? I answer, “What’s the issue?” Categorizing someone’s ideas as either “liberal” or “conservative” is often used to avoid real thinking about actual issues.

I refrain from referring to political positions as either “left” and “right” in my writing. I generally use the word “liberal” to describe a person’s spending habits, as in the case of a “liberal” spender–one who is generous or possibly overly lavish. I also occasionally refer to a person who is open-minded and tolerant of other people’s views as being “liberal” minded. “Conservative” on the other hand, seems best used in the context of investing–I call a person who is prudent and moderate in his choice of investments a “conservative investor” (as opposed to “speculative”)–though it also seems reasonable to describe one who wants to conserve time-honored values as a “conservative.” Not surprisingly, I like to be called “liberal” or “conservative” depending on the issue, the action or the mind-set. I dislike being called either if it is a method for throwing me into a convenient ideological box.

The three main reasons why labels are best avoided in political discussions are: (1) Labels are often an inaccurate description of a person’s or group’s views. (2) Labels often become pejorative terms used in character assassination (3) Labels put people into political boxes and keep them there, preventing individuals from objectively considering alternative opinions and changing their minds.

Obsolescence, Left and Right

The terms “left” and “right” came into use after the French revolution. In the French National Assembly, the “liberals” sat to the left of the president’s chair, the “moderates” in the center, and the “conservatives” to the right. Those on the left were designated “liberals” and “radicals” because they wanted to make major reforms in politics and the economy. Their opponents on the right became “conservatives” and  “reactionaries” because they were aristocratic nationalists who wanted to return to the status quo of the ancien regime. Those in the center were the “moderates” who were looking for a compromise. This political spectrum has often been used in describing the signers of our Declaration of Independence. Still, though Thomas Jefferson has often been called a classical liberal, calling him a left-winger seems out of place.

This dichotomy may have made sense during the American and the French revolutions. But once the principles of freedom and constitutional law were established (in America, at least), the “liberals” gradually became “conservatives” by defending the new status quo of liberty and limited government. Turnabout being fair play, in the 20th century the collectivists who pushed to eliminate economic freedom and expand the role of the state became the “liberals” or “progressives.” Having adopted the favorable titles of “progressive,”  “modern” and  “advanced,” they scorned the opposition as  “right-wing” and  “reactionary.” Thus, in the twisted world of political labeling; what the 19th century liberals supported–free enterprise capitalism and laissez faire government–the 20th-century liberals opposed by pushing for big government and interventionism in the marketplace.

Label confusion has reigned ever since, and the political spectrum has become a rhetorical version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” routine. The 19th century liberal ideals became the policies of some (but by no means all) 20th century conservatives.

Marxists, Communists and other international collectivists became the “radical left,” while the Fascists of the 1930s in Italy and Nazi Germany were designated “right wingers” simply because they opposed the “Reds.” But the only difference in their politics was nationalism vs. internationalism. The fascists were every bit as collectivist as Stalin.

Believers in economic and political liberty had a hard time dealing with label stereotypes in the 1950s. They opposed the New Deal and wanted a return to laissez faire, so they were dubbed “reactionary conservatives.” Because they were ardent “anti-Communists,” they were linked closely with the Fascists and Nazi-era “rightists.” Many conservatives responded by saying they were “old fashioned liberals,” but this didn’t mean anything to anyone in the torrent of nebulous labels.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I resented these and other pejorative labels. It was nearly impossible to convince anyone of the virtues of free enterprise capitalism, laissez faire government, and opposition to communism if my views were always called “reactionary,”  “old fashioned’ and “Neanderthal.” The conservatives responded in kind by calling the New Deal liberals  “radicals,”  “pseudo progressives’ and “communist sympathizers.”  Only the  “moderates” sounded “responsible,” and depending on their position on an issue, they usually got hit by traffic going both ways. There was a lot of bad blood, and very little sharing of ideas. Conservatives refused to read John Kenneth Galbraith and The Washington Post, and liberals eschewed Milton Friedman and National Review.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the labels became more complex and less enlightening as the political stereotypes began to crack. We now witness dictatorships of the left and the right, market economies of the left and right, revolutions of the left and right, and totalitarianisms of the left and right. We have socialist left-wing parties privatizing public services, and conservative rightwing governments imposing tariffs and higher taxes. We have extreme liberal Democrats supporting deregulation of the airlines and decontrol of natural gas. We have the nation’s most liberal newspaper, The New York Times, coming out against the minimum wage. We have a right-wing anarchocapitalist endorsing radical left-wing land reform in Latin America and legalization of drugs in the United States.

In the Middle East we have right-wing Christians killing left-wing terrorists. Soviet opponents of perestroika and glasnost are called “conservatives” by the American press, as are South African racists. Political analysts are having a devil of a time labeling an old “liberal” publication, The New Republic, because its views are no longer predictable. Politicians are now starting to run as individuals and not as members of a political party. And what’s this about conservative lobbyists joining hands with liberal lobbyists to fight IMF funding? None of this makes sense if we insist on dividing the world into the standard left-right divisions.

But, alas, instead of scrapping the entire phony nomenclature, everyone seems to be making up more labels. There’s the New Right and the Old Right, the Southern Conservative Democrats and the Northern Liberal Democrats, the Neo-Conservatives and the Paleo-Libertarians, the Post-Keynesians, the Neo-Marxists, and the  Neo-Liberals. The list goes on and on, growing like topsy and confusing everyone except the most stalwart who spend all day reading everything from every point on the political compass.

Fortunately, some editors and publishers have recently recognized the misleading and counterproductive nature of labeling and have largely discarded it. Reason magazine is one example. Eschewing ad hominem political tags, Reason analyzes issues on their own merits, not based on who espouses them.

For the Scrap-Heap of History

It’s time to make a change in our political lexicon. The national press and the political analysts need to stop using the outdated and misleading leftwing liberal/right-wing conservative dichotomy. When someone’s philosophy is labeled and compartmentalized, thinking stops and name-calling begins. Once an economist is labeled a Marxist, only the Marxists listen. When a political analyst writes a column called “On the Right,” no one except the “right-wing” faithful reads it. Dividing ideology into camps on two sides of the political spectrum tends to elevate both sides to an equal status, as if both policies hold equal sway and are equally justifiable. Then the moderates whisper, “Perhaps we should compromise!”  We are left with the erroneous impression that “the extreme left is just as bad as the extreme right.” Categorizing philosophies leads toward political nihilism and away from the desire to find the truth.

In short, it is high time that political pundits and the national media put away their cold-war mentality and endorse a new standard where each person stands on individual merit and not in some political box. Left and right, liberal and conservative, radical and reactionary–all are words of the past that divide people. I say scrap them. When adjectives are absolutely necessary, let’s at least try to be more specific. Use adjectives and nouns that are meaningful, accurate and unbiased. If we don’t, the war of political ideas will be decided on the basis of an axiom of my colleague, Larry Abraham: “Those who control the adjectives win.”

Keynesianism Defeated

WALL STREET JOURNAL — THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1997

By Mark Skousen


In 1992, Harvard Prof. Greg Mankiw was paid an unprecedented advance of $1.1 million to produce the “next Salmuelson”–a successor to Paul Samuelson’s “Economics,” the most successful economics textbook ever written, with more than four million copies sold in 15 editions and 41 foreign translations since 1948. Mr. Mankiw’s 800-page “Principles of Economics” has now been published, to great publicity. And for good reason: Mr. Mankiw has written a revolutionary–or rather, counterrevolutionary–work.

Virtually the entire book is devoted to classical economics, leaving the Keynesian model as an afterthought in the end chapters. Mr. Mankiw’s pedagogy is all the more remarkable given that he considers himself a “neo-Keynesian.” His liberal bias has allowed him to do what no other mainstream economist dares: He has betrayed Keynes.

Almost all economics textbooks published in the past 50 years have taken their cue from Mr. Samuelson, whose major influence was John Maynard Keynes’s “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”  (1936).  Keynes’s book taught that Adam Smith’s classical model–founded on the virtues of thrift and balanced budgets, laissez faire capitalism and free trade–was a “special” case and only applied in times of full employment.

Keynes’s model portrayed the market as a driver without a steering wheel, a driver that could push the economy off the road at any time. He taught that the economy needed a large and activist government to steer it on the road of full employment. Keynesianism, or the “new economics,” became widespread–the “general” theory.

Modern economics textbooks thus focused primarily on the ups and downs of the capitalist system and how government policy could attempt to ameliorate the business cycle. They include many chapters studying cyclical fluctuations, while burying the study of economic growth and development–otherwise known as supply-side economics–in the back pages. Now Mr. Mankiw has changed all that, putting classical economics back at the forefront, where it belongs.

This is more than some free-market economists have been able to accomplish in tile past. James Gwartney and Richard Stroup, authors of “Economics: Private and Public Choice” (Dryden, 1997), don’t believe in the Keynesian model of aggregate supply and aggregate demand, or AS-AD, but they were forced to include it by their publisher’s review board, which consists of mainstream economists. Roger LeRoy Miller, author of another best-selling textbook, “Economics Today” (Addison-Wesley, 1997), told me, “AS-AD is a bunch of nonsense, but I’m required to teach it.” (One small victory: Paul Heyne refused to put AS-AD in his “The Economic Way of Thinking” (Prentice-Hall, 1997) and got away with it because he writes for a niche market.)

So, in a Nixon-goes-to-China twist, it took a Keynesian to accomplish what the free-market economists couldn’t–relegating Keynesian models to a minor role in textbooks.

Mr. Mankiw calls his classical model “the real economy in the long run.” His textbook, published by Harcourt Brace’s Dryden Press, teaches that increases in government spending crowd out private capital, producing higher interest rates. Higher thrift and greater savings produce lower interest rates and higher economic growth. Unemployment is caused not by greedy industrialists, but by minimum wage laws, collective bargaining, unemployment insurance and other regulations that raise the cost of labor.

Mr. Mankiw even approvingly quotes Milton Friedman: “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”–not the product of rising labor or supply costs, as many Keynesians believe. In fact, Mr. Mankiw cites Mr. Friedman more than he cites Keynes.

This is not to say that Mr. Mankiw’s textbook isn’t without a few sins of omission. He fails to tell students about the great postwar economic miracles of Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and Chile. He also ignores the current debate over Social Security privatization. And there are no references to the great Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, or to Nobel laureate James Buchanan and the public choice theory he espouses.

But these complaints are small compared with the book’s overall message, that classical economics is now the “general” theory and Keynesian economics is the  “special” case.  Amazingly, Mr. Mankiw doesn’t mention most of the standard Keynesian analysis: No “consumption function,” no “Keynesian cross,” no “propensity to save,” no “paradox of thrift”– and only one short reference to the “multiplier”!

That’s quite a feat for Mr. Mankiw, a man who named his dog Keynes.