by David Gordon
The authors of American Amnesia, well-known political scientists from Yale and Berkeley, argue that supporters of the free market have forgotten a fundamental truth. Defenders of the market often point to the “Great Fact,” as the distinguished economic historian Deirdre McCloskey terms it, i.e., the amazing increase in human well-being and wealth that began about two hundred years ago, when trade and production in parts of Europe and America became freer than ever before. Does this not make manifest the virtues of the free market? Our authors do not think so. It is the “mixed economy” of government and business that has accomplished the real economic miracle.
They explain in this way what they have in mind: “The political economist Charles Lindblom once described markets as being like fingers: nimble and dexterous. Governments, with their capacity to exercise authority, are like thumbs: powerful but lacking subtlety and flexibility.