Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Capitalism and ... Skepticism?

Via the Curious Capitalist, from John Hopkins economist Christopher Carroll

As the twentieth century recedes in the rear view mirror, it increasingly seems that for better or worse, the defining manifesto of the recent era has been Milton Friedman’s Capitalism And Freedom. But that book’s power derived partly from its fierce independence from the orthodoxies of its time.

Friedman’s voice was a skeptical breath of fresh air when the reigning viewpoint was a kind of smug pseudo-socialism that did not recognize the astounding power of markets to accomplish desirable aims. But now, the reigning Republican orthodoxy is a kind of smug pseudo-Friedmanism which believes that markets left to themselves can do no wrong; perhaps it is time for another breath of fresh air.

The book for the new epoch has not been written yet, but I have a proposed title: Capitalism and Skepticism. Skepticism might not be as bracing as freedom, but it’s something we could have used a bit more of in the past few years.

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