Like many libertarians, I’ve come to hold a low opinion of Alan Greenspan. Austrian libertarians loathe him. Objectivists regard him as a traitor. Those who hate the free market alternate between thinking him a genius for allegedly giving us prosperity and saying that the current downturn is the result of his alleged free market ideas.
If he had free market ideas, why do so many free market libertarians despise him so?
But nothing destroys a good hate-fest like pointing out that Greenspan might not have been a traitor at all.
As strange as that may sound to libertarians, Bob Murphy makes that argument.
How could that be? Every act taken by Alan Greenspan has been one that Monetarists and Keynesians would approve of. During the entire eighteen years of his tenure his every act has been anathema to free market proponents.
Perhaps, argues Bob Murphy, Greenspan was motivated by his Objectivist beliefs to act like the perfect unrestrained Keynesian in order to show us that Keynesianism does not work. He was deliberately trying to break the system instead of thinking, as his admirers did during his tenure, that he was trying to find the winning combination that would result in unending prosperity.
In short, his Objectivist beliefs caused him to act like a Keynesian so he could destroy the economy. When the statist say his Objectivist beliefs caused the meltdown, they are right for the wrong reasons. They left out the middle term because that would cause them to doubt their own beliefs.
It’s a hard concept to grasp, because libertarians have spent the last twenty years hating Alan Greenspan. But we have to remember that Objectivists like to demonstrate that they are right. They like object lessons. The trashing of the economy is the San Sebastian Mines writ large.
If Bob Murphy is right that is. Unfortunately if he is there’s no way to find out. Alan Greenspan won’t admit it on this side of the grave.