Believe it or not, Major Freedom has been defending Abba Lerner in the qualified sense that MF says Lerner didn’t contradict himself, as I implied here. My response:
All I can say is that the way I understand Lerner is that he is likely worried about whether the money will be spent at all, and that if deficits are for practical reasons the only way to finance government spending, due to the public being dunces and whatnot, then the last thing needed is for Buchanan et al to be going around fear mongering about debt burdening the future generations, and possibly persuading Ike to refrain from the deficit financing and hence the spending Lerner wanted.
Oh, I totally agree with you MF that that’s what he was thinking. But it’s a very weird scenario.
I guess it would be analogous to a situation where a group of travelers is freezing in the mountains, and the only thing they have to burn is a giant voodoo doll of somebody’s kid who’s back in the village. The leader of the group and the other travels are very superstitious, but not the two Western anthropologists traveling with them. The leader doesn’t want to burn the voodoo doll, because even though it will provide them warmth, he thinks it’s wrong to hurt the kid. The Westerner knows this is a baseless fear. However, the rest of the villagers for some weird reason *want* to all die, yet they hate that kid even more than they loathe themselves. So they want the chief to throw the doll in the fire, because they want to hurt that kid.
So one Western anthropologist starts saying, “Well, there *has* been some research on this, and maybe there’s something to this vodoo thing. If the villagers really believe it has the power to do it, maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When these people get back to the village, if they are all convinced the kid is going to die, maybe the kid will believe it too and actually die. So I agree with you, chief, don’t burn that for our sakes and risk that kid’s life.”
The other anthropologist is furious. “You idiot! You know vodoo doesn’t work. Keep your mouth shut. Let’s let these villagers demand that he throw the doll in the fire, because they believe vodoo will work.”
Do you see how insane this is?
ADDED: Just to make sure people are getting this: In the above analogy, the Westerner who’s furious can’t let the villagers start doubting the power of voodoo. By construction, they want to die; they will not choose to burn the doll, if they think it won’t hurt the kid. The only reason they will agree to let the chief do it, is if they believe in the power of voodoo.
The same is true for Lerner’s position. Even though he wants Eisenhower to see the truth, he can’t want the general public to realize it. By hypothesis, they are *not* willing to pay for all of Lerner’s desired projects through taxation. For some reason, though, they’ll go along with deficit financing of the same expenditures. They must think this somehow allows them to avoid paying for it, but of course they are idiots (according to Lerner). But he must let them continue in their idiocy. If they ever read his journal article and learned the awful truth–that they are paying for it regardless of how it’s financed–then they wouldn’t want to spend the money even via deficits.