Dear WSJ: Armey's Right

Editor, The Wall Street Journal

200 Liberty Street

New York, NY 10281

To the Editor:

Dick Armey splendidly argues that we would all (save for the political class) be better off if the economics of F.A. Hayek were to prevail over that of J.M. Keynes ("Washington Could Use Less Keynes and More Hayek," Feb. 4). As Hayek himself observed in his final book, The Fatal Conceit, Keynes' economics is the product of impatience with long-run processes – an obsession with today and a disregard of tomorrow. This childishness makes Keynes' doctrines not only economically confused but also morally suspect. Here's Hayek:

"The [Keynesian] slogan that 'in the long run we are all dead' is also a characteristic manifestation of an unwillingness to recognize that morals are concerned with effects in the long run – effects beyond our possible perception – and of a tendency to spurn the learnt discipline of the long view."*

Unfortunately, each elected official's time horizon extends no further than the next election – a fact that, as my colleagues James Buchanan and Richard Wagner argue, makes Keynesian economics ideal for politicians.

* F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (University of Chicago Pres, 1988), p. 57.


Donald J. Boudreaux


Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.