There seems to be a nascent optimism among libertarian economists and other freedom-loving scholars and activists that the current crisis may revive interest in the Austrian School of Economics. The hope is that, when the Obama administration’s Keynesian flailing inevitably fails, supporters of limited government and sound monetary policies will rise in prominence. I am less optimistic. As far as our nation’s elites are concerned, the Obama administration and its flawed economic assumptions are “too big to fail,” and all efforts will be made to bail them out when they inevitably start sinking.
My own suspicion is that, when the “stimulus” fails to promote real economic growth, we will see a revival of interest in obscure political science literature suggesting that views on the health of the economy are influenced by evaluations of the president. Professors Suzanna De Boef and Paul Kellstedt published an article a few years ago that argued consumer confidence was driven, in addition to real economic conditions, by confidence in the political leadership. Thus, if you believe high levels of consumer confidence is a key component of a healthy economy, you should also believe it is crucial for people to have high levels of confidence in the president.
What a lovely safety net this line of reasoning will provide the Obamamaniacs! See, when the economy fails to turn around, it won’t be because Obama failed. No, it we be because we failed to believe in Obama’s brilliance. The New York Times isn’t going to tell us that government intervention only made things worse. It is more likely that we will be lectured that our own lack of faith in Obama (probably due to “racism”) is to blame, and we can only turn things around by believing even harder.
That, as preposterous as it sounds, is probably more likely than new support for genuinely free markets. We still have a long way to go.Published in