19 Sep 2009

An Alternative Viewpoint

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A local guy is hosting a discussion on Austrian economics and the current financial crisis, and he invited me to come and sort of keep things rolling smoothly. The common element is that everybody at this gathering is a Christian who doesn’t want the government taking more of his money. (I’m pretty sure it will be all men.) Anyway, he has been emailing reading material to everybody to prepare for it, and one of the guys passed along his review of Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. The conclusion is something I heard quite a bit (in various forms) while at Hillsdale College, so I will have to think about the best way to address these concerns.

To sum up, I really enjoyed and profited from this book, and plan to read further on this topic from other writers of the Austrian School. That said, I don’t want to hold forth a generally glowing review without acknowledging that these guys do have their own blind spots and that those are not insignificant. As a Christian, I am bound to affirm that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). That includes wisdom and knowledge in the area of economics. Through the mechanism of common grace, I believe that the Austrian Economists are generally right-on in their astute observations of how the economic aspect of the world works and are generally far less deluded than other competing schools of thought on the matter. However, their essentially secular viewpoint does leave them open to certain deceptions and shortcomings, the chief of these being the fundamental assumption that man is basically good and that his greatest problem is not sin but ignorance. In addition, I must also bear witness that true and enduring freedom and liberty—in all their various forms, including economic—are blessings that are only found in Jesus Christ. Any attempts to idolize individual freedom and liberty by abstracting them and attempting to construct a comprehensive worldview around them (e.g. Ayn Rand, a noted favorite of both the Austrian Economists and their Libertarian political chums) is just as much doomed to frustration, failure and wretchedness as any other false ideology.

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