From Libertarian to Apparatchik; or, How a Hard-Core Randian Ended Up With Wesley Mouch’s Job

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

How did Alan Greenspan make the transition? I discuss his true confessions in an LRC article today.

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5 Responses to From Libertarian to Apparatchik; or, How a Hard-Core Randian Ended Up With Wesley Mouch’s Job

  1. Neil Parille April 2, 2008 at 5:41 am #

    Prof. Long,

    Very interesting article. I hadn’t read Rand’s essay on taxation in a while and I forgot the part about government having a monopoly on contract enforcement and taxing contracts. I assumed that Rand saw this is something of in-between measure on the road to voluntary taxation, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Incidentally. George Reisman said in a talk a Mises Institute event a couple of years ago (Memories of Rand, Rothbard & Mises, or something like that) that he saw Greenspan only once at a Mises seminar.

    I find it hard to imagine that Rand wasn’t aware of Greenspan’s gradual abandonment of free market ideas. That didn’t prevent her from attending his swearing in ceremony at the White House however.

  2. Bill Woolsey April 2, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    Long characterizes Rand’s plan for public finance more or less correctly.

    Rand (and those objectivists who yet advocate it) don’t describe it in this way.

    The “essential functions of goverment” are assumed to be provided by a single organization. These are the nightwatchman functions of police, courts, and national defense. Some of the ativities can be funded by user fees. The other activities would be cross subsidized.

    Just about any economist would note that those things that can be financed are private goods. That Rand was proposing “tie-in sales.” And “cross-subsidation.” Rand, however, didn’t mention this.

    Just about any economist would note that tie-in sales and cross subsidation are not likely to work in the face of competition.

    So, Long is correct in noting that prohibiting competition in the private goods is essential to the plan. But, Rand didn’t appear to clearly understand this and describe it as a less-bad alternative to more explicit taxation.

    Most moderate libertarians would suggest that the private goods should be privatized (like contract enforcement,) and not monopolized by the goverment to cross subsidize any true public goods. Taxes are a necessary evil to fund the public goods. Well, or else, one could use voluntary contributions. Which brings us back to Greenspan.

  3. Anon72 April 2, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    It would be funny if Greenspan responded to your criticisms by saying “Oh yeah gee I was wrong all those decades after all”. Not holding my breath of course…

  4. Brad Spangler April 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    @Anon — Why don’t you ask him yourself? He’s the president of Greenspan Associates LLC, 1133 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036-4305,
    (202)457-8250.

  5. Anon72 April 2, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    Why don’t you ask him yourself?

    Well I was suggesting it more as a joke. In reality people don’t often change their views, especially when they’ve built an entire decade-spanning life and career based upon them.

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