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FreedomFest 2021: Which Four Economists Belong on Mount Rushmore?

Freedom Fest

This is the second of my Freedom Fest 2021 articles. Breakout session number is being moderated by Mark Skousen with a panel that included Deirdre McClosky (University of Chicago), Steve Moore (Unleash Prosperity, columnist, commentator), Barbara Kolm (President of Austrian Center in Vienna; also, VP of Austrian Central Bank). The topic was the subject of this article.

Skousen: Who of the four top economists were the most influential?

McClosky: Karl Marx. One-third of the population of the earth was once governed by adherents to Karl Marx. Alexis de Tocqueville was the most influential social scientist; he got America and Russia right.

Kolm: John Maynard Keynes. He changed the world (for the worse).

Skousen: He did “save” the world from Marxism in the 1930s by providing a middle ground between Marxism and capitalism.

Kolm: When big governments, big states, and socialism reentered Europe in the 1970s, Keynes was one of the principal motivators through his concept of government deficit spending.

Moore: Adam Smith was the greatest proponent of the free enterprise system, but I almost picked Milton Friedman. I once asked Milton Friedman what were the three most important ways to stimulate economic growth. Milton answered: free trade, school choice, cut government spending.

Kolm: Don’t forget Friedrich Hayek! His “Road to Serfdom” helped defeat socialism in Europe. We are getting back to central planning in the EU these days and need to “refresh” Hayek.

Skousen: From our survey, Paul Samuelson (Nobel Prize in economics in 1970 for “general theory) is a giant among economists who have a huge impact on the field.

Kolm: It is important to recognize two politicians who helped change the course of Western economic history for the better (the introduction of supply-side economics): Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Moore: Julian Simon (author of “The Ultimate Resource”) took on the Keynesian conventional wisdom from the University of Illinois. He took on Paul Erlich.

Moore: Larry Kudlow’s favorite economist was Joseph Schumpeter who developed the concept of “creative destruction” – the essence of capitalism. Although he is wrong about everything, Paul Krugman – from his perch at The New York Times – is perhaps the most influential economist in the US.

Kolm: Ludwig von Mises wrote for easy understanding, unlike Hayek. I am surprised that von Mises was not ranked higher.

Skousen: John Kenneth Galbraith, Milton Friedman, and Murray Rothbard used to socialize together even though there were at odds, ideologically and philosophically. This is a lost art today, as those who ideologically disagree almost never socialize these days.

Skousen: Jean-Baptiste Say. Say’s Law (“supply creates its own demand”) is the basis for supply-side economics. A giant among economists. Carl Menger is the greatest economist ever; he got microeconomics great (subjective value, money, economics basics; “all things are subject to the law of cause and effect”).

Moore: The economist with the greatest economic influence on the Biden regime is Paul Krugman (all of the economists surrounding Biden are second or third rate, e.g., Lina Kahn, .the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission).

The end.