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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Myths of the Mixed Economy | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 3, 2021

Today, no part of the economy is left untouched by the President’s budget and the swarm of regulatory agencies. Buttressed by most of the economics profession, the regulatory state today rules and ruins America. Communism lost, but social democracy won.

https://mises.org/library/myths-mixed-economy

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

The planned economy was all the rage in 1937, when Prentice-Hall published a 1,000-page tome on The Planned Society: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: A Symposium by Thirty-Five Economists, Sociologists, and Statesmen. The “question that confronts us today is not if we shall plan, but how we shall plan,” wrote Lewis Mumford in the Foreword. All the contributors—Keynesian, socialist, communist, and fascist—agreed with that point, including such luminaries as Sidney Hook, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin.

But the book was honest. It linked Stalin and Keynes, fascism and the New Deal. The plans were not identical, of course, but all agreed on government “rationality” as versus the “chaos” of the free market.

Most of the authors advocated the “mixed economy,” Mises’s name for an admixture of capitalism and socialism. Such a combination, he showed, is necessarily unstable, and our own mixed economy is tilting towards statism, with such regulatory disasters in the last few years as the Clean Air Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Civil Rights Act.

Today, no part of the economy is left untouched by the President’s budget and the swarm of regulatory agencies. Buttressed by most of the economics profession, the regulatory state today rules and ruins America. Communism lost, but social democracy won.

In the American mixed economy, it is the job of the planner to: ensure “full employment” (as federal policies create joblessness); encourage technological innovation (not through markets, but through subsidies); ensure a “fair” distribution of wealth (rewarding parasites and punishing the productive); manage international trade (though it needs no more management than domestic trade); and keep “public goods” out of private hands (even though public ownership must always be less efficient than private).

The planner has taboos as well. He must never mention private property, praise the coordinative function of prices, criticize pressure groups unless they’re anti-big-government, be cynical about the uses of power, call for a tax cut, or identify the real source of prosperity as the free market.

Charles Schultze, President Carter’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, adheres to these rules and taboos in his book and “guide to macroeconomics” Memos to the President. He sets out these rules for every policymaker to follow in the future.

In the entire work, he has not one good word to say about the market, private property, or the price system. His central assumption is that the government must manage the economy to prosperity. According to Schultze, we should believe that: the Federal Reserve protects the dollar, when our money has lost 94% of its value since the Fed was established;

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Contact Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of LewRockwell.com.

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