In my opinion, I told the fellows, the most important books they could read this summer are: Richard Epstein's Free Markets Under Seige, and W. H. Hutt's Politically Impossible? both published by IEA. Epstein emphasizes the low hanging fruit in public policy, and argues that if we just focused on the simple economic problems that politics gets wrong and get them right we would improve the plight of millions of people world wide --- lower tarrifs, lower taxes, cut back regulations, eliminate price and wage controls, etc. LOW HANGING FRUIT. There are complicated issues in economic public policy, but for 90% of the problems we face in the world it is the low hanging fruit issues that distort the world an harm the lives of so many. Think of the current food crisis and examine the rise of protectionist policies world-wide that is preventing the gains from trade from fixing it. LOW HANGING FRUIT.
Hutt, on the other hand, emphasizes that it is the economists responsibility to speak truth as they see it to power, and never to compromise their message. The simple reason is that if the economists water-downs his message, the politican will water-down even more in the policy process, and by the time the advice become actual policy it will be unrecognizable to the economist. Rather than the economic voice being given an hearing, it is completely muted by the economists own consent. NO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER AND DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES IN TERMS OF YOUR POPULARITY WITHIN THE POLITICAL REALM.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Peter Boettke suggests summer reading: