IS IT HAYEK OR IS IT OBAMA?
Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/21/2008
“The market is the best mechanism ever invented for efficiently allocating resources to maximize production. And I also think that there is a connection between the freedom of the marketplace and freedom more generally.”
Yes, that’s former socialist conference attendee Barack Obama, clearly part of his recent rhetorical effort to position himself as a moderate who’s attracted to conservative ideas. I’m not kidding you. He even has Cass Sunstein out suggesting that Obama is something of a Friedmanite, labeling Obama a “‘University of Chicago’ Democrat.” Saul Alinsky would be very proud.
But instead of Milton Friedman, Obama credits his grandmother with helping him to move away from the socialism of his his college professors, high school mentor, his father, his mother, his college friends, and his socialist conference co-attendees:
“She had to think very practically about, How do you make money?” he
told me. “How does the system work? That led me to have an orientation
to ask hardheaded questions. During my formative years, there was still
ideological competition between a social-democratic or even socialist
agenda and a free-market, Milton Friedman agenda. I think it was
natural for me to ask questions of both sides and maybe try to
Ahh, the famed middle way. Just what America needs, a European style “middle way” socialist.
UPDATE: Of course, the idea that Obama learned “Chicago School of Economics” thinking while at the U. of Chicago Law school is a fantasy — the man simply didn’t participate in faculty discussions or faculty seminars, and avoided discussions with conservative scholars. The myth of Obama needs to be put up against the words of free market U. of Chicago Law professor Richard Epstein, who testifies to the fact that Obama “doesn’t have the slightest sense of where folks like me are coming from.”
And as a student of the history of economic thought, I can tell you the “Chicago School of Economics” as it is associated with the 1960’s price theory and monetary economics of Milton Friedman essentially no longer exists at the University of Chicago. As with the rest of the economics profession, the U. of Chicago has moved away from nuts and bolts Marshallian price theory and has replaced it with all sort of high powered mathematical constructs, what I call the pseudoscience of the idiot savants. Much of the faculty isn’t even as free market as so many in the department once were for a time in the 1970s. (In the 1940s and 1950s the department was a well known for it’s socialist professors as it was for its free market defenders.) And as for classical Friedman style, baby math monetarism, that kind of thing hasn’t been seen in Chicago since, well, since Friedman produced such stuff in the 1960s and early 1970s.