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View Diary: Why do conservatives hate Keynes (55 comments)

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  •  I think you are wrong about this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, psnyder, slowbutsure, Rich in PA
    It's not because they don't believe "Keynsian stimulus" works - although they pretend otherwise.
    I think they simply believe that Keynes was wrong about a lot of things, and that people like Hayek and Friedman were right. Like Keynes, they can provide data to support an argument that their view of the economy is correct.  

    That's the fundamental problem with economics.  Both sides can prove correlation in support of their theories -- but neither side can actually prove causation beyond all argument.  When you are looking,for example, at the American economy, it's impossible to control for variables, which makes causation virtually impossible to prove. For example, yes there was a big tax cut in 1964, and yes the mid to late 1960's was a time of huge economic growth.  But it's difficult to prove causation - that one caused the other.   Similarly, there was a big tax increase in 1993, and an economic boom in the mid to late 1990's.  Did one cause the other?  That's virtually impossible to prove, because you can't control for the other variables (the dot.com boom, for example).  

    You take the approach that conservatives know Keynes was "right," but simply disregard his theories because they don't like them.  I disagree. I don't think they "know" Keynes was correct. I think they believe that Keynes was wrong about a lot of things, and that Hayek and Friedman were right.  

    And that's why, when it comes to dealing with the economy, very little can get done.  Progressives and conservatives are just operating in two separate universes and talking two different languages.  

    •  the evidence does not point that way (23+ / 0-)

      Keynes, among other things, argued that increasing general levels of consumption drove production and had a feedback effect - in the proper conditions.  The GOP/Conservative problem with this is they do not want generalized prosperity.  However, when they have specific areas of the economy that they want to subsidize they are perfectly ok with this type of keynsian policy.

      For example:

      In an interview, Jordan challenged the Army’s position: “You’re going to lose a skilled workforce and have the cost associated with shutting down a facility and then reopening it? Is that really the smartest way to go about making sure our Army is best-equipped and the No. 1 fighting force in the world? I disagree.”

      Jordan said taxpayers will be hurt if an already shrunken workforce is asked to stop production. In an interview, Jordan challenged the Army’s position: “You’re going to lose a skilled workforce and have the cost associated with shutting down a facility and then reopening it? Is that really the smartest way to go about making sure our Army is best-equipped and the No. 1 fighting force in the world? I disagree.”

      Jordan said taxpayers will be hurt if an already shrunken workforce is asked to stop production.
      http://www.bloomberg.com/...

      The problem is that being against jobs and prosperity, in general, is a losing electoral platform. So conservatives lie. No doubt, some suckers really do believe Hayek, but he himself was obviously aware to some degree that his position was dishonest.

      Keynes saw general prosperity as a positive goal. Hayek saw it as a danger.  The real divergence is in goals - which is why Hayek went down to Chile while Pinochet was torturing people wholesale and destroying the standard of living of most Chileans and cheered them for creating "economic liberty"

      self-appointed intellectual cop

      by citizen k on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:10:30 PM PDT

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      •  I understand your views on Hayek (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psnyder, slowbutsure, VClib

        I expect nothing less from a progressive.  I expect a defense of Keynes from progressive.  

        All I'm saying is that I think you are wrong to think that conservatives secretly agree with Keynes but publicly deny it.  Conservatives believe in a lot of what Hayek said, and many conservatives adore Milton Friedman.  There is an entire school of economists -- really smart people, operating in good faith -- who believe more in Hayek/Friedman than they do Keynes.  I'm sure you think they are wrong.  That's fine; I certainly expect that of a progressive.  All I am saying is that there is a real difference of opinion on economics.  Your statement indicating that conservatives secretly think Keynes was right is just not correct, in my view.  

        Here's why it matters.  It does not advance the ball at all to pretend that there's no legitimate economic dispute between the various groups of thought -- to imply that everybody really is a Keynesian, and those who say they aren't are lying.  It really doesn't advance the ball at all for progressives to pat themselves on the back and say no intelligent person can disbelieve Keynes.  Conservatives are doing the same thing about, for example, Friedman.  And that doesn't advance the ball, either.  That's why we have the gridlock on economics that we do.  Because conservatives believe just as strongly in people like Hayek and Friedman as you do in Keynes.  

        •  I find it impossible to take Hayek on his word (9+ / 0-)

          Hayek's lauding of Pinochet shows his conception of "liberty" to be the conception of the European Aristocracy or Confederate Slave owners.  In that light, his economic writings makes sense, but are, to be nice about it, duplicitous. Maybe you have another explanation.

          As for Friedman,  from his support of the basic income proposal to his implicit support for Fed Bank stimulus, I think he's, at best, unclear about the role of the state in the economy. I should note that Friedman, while not as grotesquely as Hayek also has moral problems due to Pinochet.

          Conservatives had an excellent point about 1930s leftists who found justifications for Stalin. But they have worked very hard to evade the consequences of this analysis applied to Pinochet.

          self-appointed intellectual cop

          by citizen k on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:28:17 PM PDT

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          •  Conservatives' love for Pinochet (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            is similar to certain lefties' love for Chavez, or, in earlier eras, Stalin or Castro. Mostly romantic and self-serving, quite disappointing, and based on enormous amounts of self-delusion if not outright dishonesty, to make reality fit into their rigid ideologies. Which is why ideologues of all stripes are quite tiresome.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:58:26 AM PDT

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        •  And this is why economics is called (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action, Naniboujou

          "The Dismal Science".  I wonder if we can get Lemony Snicket to take up this topic...

          ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

          by slowbutsure on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:30:58 PM PDT

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          •  Rec'd for your reference to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slowbutsure

            Lemony Snicket!  :-)

            "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

            by Naniboujou on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:24:02 AM PDT

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        •  However (6+ / 0-)

          When in power, "conservative"  politicians never act as if they believe in the surface meaning of Hayek/Friedman.

          The Bush administration was a non-stop exercise of government subsidy of favored economic interests. And the bitter opposition from conservative politicians to such things as President Obama's proposals to end special subsidies of hedge fund managers, executive jet owners, and oil companies is also definitive.

          self-appointed intellectual cop

          by citizen k on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:31:29 PM PDT

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        •  You're making the common centrist mistake of (9+ / 0-)

          of false equivalency.  Just because someone presents "evidence" of something and is adamant in their belief that their team is correct, in no way shape or form does that help their argument.  Basically you're saying because you don't know enough about evidence to read it correctly you cannot at least make a decision about who is closer to the truth.  They can believe in what they believe all they want to.  I'm sure they put on nice business suits and meet at convention halls.  That sort of atmosphere must appeal to you.  That doesn't make them right.

          It ALSO doesn't make them not hypocrites.  You have plenty of Republicans in HIGHLY conservative districts who love the Army, subsidized corporate, and federal tax dollars to boost rural areas that would otherwise have nothing to offer and would be relegated to capitalist hell.  That's what he means.  Their actions betray what they really believe.

          "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

          by sujigu on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:08:45 PM PDT

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        •  whether the Republican donors believe Keynes (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Naniboujou, OhioNatureMom

          or not, they don't want generalized prosperity.

          •  Partly because they believe that economics (0+ / 0-)

            is unavoidably zero sum, and the only way to equalize economic conditions, or at least make them more fair, is to take away money from the rich, whom they like to call the "productive class", i.e. "job creators". Never mind the fact that labor is vastly more productive than owners, but economics is not, or need not be, zero sum. A certain amount of wealth redistribution, done properly, can actually "make the pie bigger", thus restoring much of what was "taken" from the wealthy to give those who are not wealthy a decent living and conditions.

            They're not just greedy, heartless and mean. They're also kind of dumb.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:05:01 AM PDT

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            •  kovie - conservatives don't believe in zero sum (0+ / 0-)

              economics. That has never been  the view of the Milton Friedman or other free market economists. Rather it seems to be progressives who believe in a zero sum economy, at least that's what I read here at DKOS every day.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:04:55 AM PDT

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              •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                Progressives are for growth, so long as it's fair and shared--stimulus was all about promoting growth. It's conservatives who care less about real growth and more about keeping as much for themselves, even if it leads to economic decline overall. Which is why it's really more apt to call them regressives.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sun May 12, 2013 at 10:39:35 AM PDT

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                •  The central principle of free market economics (0+ / 0-)

                  is driving growth. You can argue that as practiced in the US it has not led to rapid growth, but from a theoretical perspective all of the free market economists have been strongly pro-growth. It is really the foundation of their economic models.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:09:39 PM PDT

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            •  Not dumb, protecting their interests (0+ / 0-)

              as they see them.
              It's not that they don't understand the economics, it's that they have different aims.

              It is true that profits would be higher under a regime of full employment than they are on the average under laissez-faire, and even the rise in wage rates resulting from the stronger bargaining power of the workers is less likely to reduce profits than to increase prices, and thus adversely affects only the rentier interests.  But 'discipline in the factories' and 'political stability' are more appreciated than profits by business leaders.  Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the 'normal' capitalist  system.
              Quote is from paragraph II.4 of Michal Kalecki, "Political Aspects of Full Employment". This very interesting short pamphlet was being much discussed in Britain while I was visiting there a few months ago. It was written by a Polish economist near the end of WWII and is very relevant to our current situation. It's worth reading all the way through.
      •  I'm not sure that Keynes was right, but he will be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action

        The ultimate constraint on prosperity was energy.  In our lifetime, that constraint will no longer hold.  When our economy is no longer dependent on scarce fuel, but generates basically free energy from the sun and wind, then he will be right.

        Everyone keeps saying the end of oil, not realizing what the future really holds.

        •  end of oil likely to preclude solar transition (0+ / 0-)

          When you run out of cheap fossil fuel energy, it might not be possible to build solar panels and wind turbines at all, never mind mass produce them.

          That's the real danger, that the end of oil ultimately leads to the end of industrial civilization.

    •  two different languages. Absolutely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder, Words In Action

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:31:04 PM PDT

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    •  I'm sorry no (11+ / 0-)

      There is such a thing as causation in economics and you CAN prove someone wrong in economics.  It's not complete voodoo.  The problem is to prove something requires enough understanding to see the causation.  

      They believe Keynes was wrong for all kinds of reasons, but you have to look at what Keynes represented to them and what it is Keynes wanted for society that conservatives hate.  You should see the conservative view of labor leaders in the earlier part of this century to get the idea.  "You want the people working under us to take control?  That'd be like letting a monkey drive a car!"

      "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

      by sujigu on Sat May 11, 2013 at 06:01:50 PM PDT

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      •  Their opposition to Keynes was ideological, (0+ / 0-)

        moral and personal, not technical, even though it was presented as such for intellectual cover. They just didn't like the idea of having their taxes raised to eventually pay for deficit spending that helped OTHER, non-deserving people, even if that spending ending up benefiting them in the end and giving them a higher income even with higher tax rates. Just as we reject "tax cuts that pay for themselves", because there's no such thing (at least at current rates), they reject tax increases that pay for themselves, even though the ones Keynes supported do that in the end. They're just stingy and mean, and are interested in protecting their money, not growing the economy or helping others.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:11:13 AM PDT

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    •  The real problem, and your comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      seems to come close to saying it, is that economics is no science at all. It is fraud, which is why R&R continue to be accepted as "professionals," having been caught red-handed engaging in carnival tricks no "scientist" could survive being caught at. Based entirely on unsupportable weightings of data from selected countries... this is the essence of modern economics. In economics, in the 21st century, in a mass culture in which neoliberalism is no more than another form of televangelism charlatanism... it's a religion that bears no scrutiny and requires none either.

      From here on out, no one can escape the havoc wrought by the unmitigated Class, Climate and Terror Wars.

      by Words In Action on Sat May 11, 2013 at 08:51:30 PM PDT

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    •  I understand that an attorney must (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      argue different and opposing viewpoints equally well; here, it's left the distinctive sound of false equivalence.

      Read downthread. The jury is unpersuaded.

      The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

      by ozsea1 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:17:38 PM PDT

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    •  Pffft! I offer 30 years of Trickle Down (3+ / 0-)

      giving us what we have now to counter the: 'well, it's all just words and you can't tie them to experience.'

      And throw the spotlight on Austerity (that is, reduce the public sector.)

      It's not a he-said, she-said, thing. The thing is either an apple or it isn't.

      The results are obvious. And the Conservatives, when you look at their entire palette of stated concerns, clearly prioritize keeping the ordinary person in subservience and compliance. Where they don't have the decency to just die off.

      No, they know what's what. Now whether when they lie, do they beat down their conscience enough to 'believe' their lie? Sure, sometimes that happens. The rest have no doubts.


      Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats

      by Jim P on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:41:39 PM PDT

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