In art, every generation craves contemporary renditions offering rediscovery of elemental things, and even the older generation welcomes novelty, creating ongoing demand for new masters. But the liberal verities are honored from duty, not savored for their beauty. We’ve learned the place of “buying and abstention from buying”—or “b and a from b.” Most of the world hasn’t. The wannabe new Milton Friedman addresses the world and explains b and a from b, but he competes with the epic figures, now mostly deceased, as well as 50 other aspirants, and fails to interest those of us who know about b and a from b. We applaud his efforts and encourage him to keep at it, but we don’t read what he writes.
Today most of the political culture is tepid, bound by status-quo policies, led by establishment players, and framed by “liberal versus conservative” – a framework that epitomizes the breakdown of liberal understanding. To get play in mainstream culture, one must bargain to an extent that permits little of the inspirational quality that Milton had.
I think that there was something very special about the 1950s, 60s, and 70s – the era in which the true liberals first regrouped, regained their footing, and made a new intellectual stand against the tide that had come in around 1890 and that still mostly engulfs the political culture.
This interesting article examines what I see as a core problem. The most important aspects of economics, the core principles, are well known and have been for some time. Economists want to move on and explore new territory. But in doing so, the bedrock principles are often ignored or trampled. We seem to value the illusion of progress more and deep understanding less.
Many of our society’s problems will persist until the understanding of basic economic principles is spread widely throughout society. What we need is not more obscure economics – we need economic evangelism.