Austrian Champion Evaluated

Professor Peter J. Boettke

Saturday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal features an article about Austrian economics proponent, Peter J. Boettke, of George Mason University. While noting that Professor Boettke found his way into laissez-faire reality by way of an unlikely route, while seeking a career in the sport of basketball, the article goes on to tilt the scales toward promoting this century old and repeatedly proven idea of hands-off government financial practice as some kind of kooky scheme.

Professor Boettke, who claims as his areas of particular interest: “Market Process Theory”, “Comparative Political Economy”, and “History of Economic Thought and Methodology”, has taken up the mantle for individual financial liberty on numerous occasions including his contribution to the text The Adam Smith Institute’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Liberty”. He has authored several books including The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918-1928 (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990) and Why Perestroika Failed: The Politics and Economics of Socialist Transformation (London: Routledge, 1993) and has edited several works including The Legacy of Ludwig von Mises: Theory and History, 2 Volumes (Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006) which was done with Peter Leeson and The Legacy of F. A. Hayek: Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 3 volumes (Aldershot: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2000).

The author is Kelly Evans. As much effort as the Fed has put into cultivating this current generation’s Keynesian bent, how did this guy slip through the cracks? It is certainly a testament to the power of sound philosophy. Which begs the question: Is this article a trumpet or a target?

The article being addressed today is:

Spreading Hayek, Spurning Keynes

Peter J. Boettke, shuffling around in a maroon velour track suit or faux-leather rubber shoes he calls “dress Crocs,” hardly seems like the type to lead a revolution.

But the 50-year-old professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia is emerging as the intellectual standard-bearer for the Austrian school of economics that opposes government intervention in markets and decries federal spending to prop up demand during times of crisis. Mr. Boettke, whose latest research explores people’s ability to self-regulate, also is minting a new generation of disciples who are spreading the Austrian approach throughout academia, where it had long been left for dead.

To these free-market economists, government intrusion ultimately sows the seeds of the next crisis. It hampers what one famous Austrian, Joseph Schumpeter, called the process of “creative destruction.”

Governments that spend money they don’t have to cushion downturns, they say, lead nations down the path of large debts and runaway inflation.

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