Where Keynes Went Wrong by Hunter Lewis
reviewed by David Gordon
Defenders of Keynes, such as the recent convert Bruce Bartlett, often claim that he supported capitalism. (Bartlett's The New American Economy has this as a primary theme.) His interventionist measures had as their aim not the replacement of capitalism by socialism or fascism. Rather, it is alleged, Keynes aimed to save the existing order.
The unhampered market cannot by itself recover from a severe depression or at best can do so after long years of privation and unemployment. Keynes discovered a way by which the government, through an increase in spending, can restore the economy to prosperity. Only diehard purists could spurn Keynes's gift to capitalism. Without it, would not revolutionary pressure mount in a severe depression to overturn capitalism and replace it with socialism or fascism?
Hunter Lewis convincingly shows the error of this often-heard line of thought. Keynes, far from being the savior of capitalism, aimed to replace free enterprise with a state-controlled economy run by "experts" like him. His prescriptions for recovery from depression do not save capitalism: they derail the price system by which it functions. As one would expect, Keynes lacks sound arguments to support his revolutionary proposals. Quite the contrary, Keynes defied common sense and willfully resorted to paradox.
Indeed, as Lewis points out, the entire Keynesian edifice rests on a central paradox: impeding the central mechanism of the free market will restore prosperity. The free market works by price adjustments. If, e.g., consumers demand more of a product than is currently available, suppliers will raise their prices so that no imbalance exists. As consumers shift their demand from product to product, businesses must adjust their production schedules to meet changing preferences. If firms fail to do so, they face extinction...
Lewis's book is an ideal guide to Keynes's dangerous and destructive economics.