2010-08-30

Boettke in the Wall Street Journal

A good article in the Wall Street Journal today focuses on Peter Boettke, the man they see behind the recent resurgence of Austrian Economics. I'll freely admit that I have no idea who is behind the resurgence, however, I vividly recall a resurgence in about the year 2000 or 2001. There, a professor of mine routinely posted articles about Josef Schumpeter on her door. She was the odd-one-out in the economics department, but she was a fantastic professor who impacted my economic thinking deeply.

But I digress. The point is that Austrian economics is not experiencing a resurgence or revival - it never went away. Great ideas don't just wither when they fall out of favor among the most popular people. Dweezil Zappa is bringing down arenas all over the world with his Zappa Plays Zappa shows; is Frank's music experiencing a revival, or is it more apt to suggest that great music will always have an audience?

This is popular culture. We always look for a face or a name, someone we can herald as our pop messiah. We love a good comeback story, and we love the triumph of the little guy. That's all that's going on here in the popular press. Among the rest of us, we know that Austrian ideas never went anywhere. They have always been relevant and always will be. The truth never goes out of style.

At the end of the WSJ article, Kelly Evans writes:

But as much as the Austrian diagnosis may resonate now, it doesn't provide a playbook for what to do next, which could limit its current resurgence.
Mr. Hayek rightly warned of the dangers of central planning, Mr. Boettke says, but "he didn't give a prescription for how to move from 'serfdom' back."
 The answer is simple: Laissez faire.