Personally, I find the book difficult to read. An example of Hayek’s writing is from the jacket notes prepared by the author himself: “The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be the freedom of economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and the responsibility of that right.”
Someone else might have written: “A socialist government that provides for our needs doesn’t make us free. Freedom, both economic and political, comes from having choices and the power to exercise them. With that comes responsibility and risk.”
I might suggest interested readers look to The Reader’s Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom, which may be purchased or read online at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The forward by Walter E. Williams is especially valuable.
(Hayek’s realization of the importance of economic freedom is one of the reasons why I named my analysis of votes of the Kansas Legislature the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.)
This week George Mason University’s Russell Roberts wrote about The Road to Serfdom in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The article, titled Why Friedrich Hayek Is Making a Comeback and available only to subscribers, lists four of Hayek’s important ideas:
Second, Hayek recognized the Federal Reserve’s control of monetary policy as a factor in the business cycle. Applied to current events, Roberts writes: “Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s artificially low rates of 2002-2004 played a crucial role in inflating the housing bubble and distorting other investment decisions. Current monetary policy postpones the adjustments needed to heal the housing market.”
Third, “political freedom and economic freedom are inextricably intertwined. In a centrally planned economy, the state inevitably infringes on what we do, what we enjoy, and where we live.”
Fourth, “order can emerge not just from the top down but from the bottom up. … Hayek understood that the opposite of top-down collectivism was not selfishness and egotism. A free modern society is all about cooperation. We join with others to produce the goods and services we enjoy, all without top-down direction. The same is true in every sphere of activity that makes life meaningful — when we sing and when we dance, when we play and when we pray. Leaving us free to join with others as we see fit — in our work and in our play — is the road to true and lasting prosperity. Hayek gave us that map.”
In Wichita, we see the importance of economic freedom ignored — trampled upon, I might say — on a regular basis as the City of Wichita seeks to direct economic development in our town from city hall. We are entering an especially dangerous period, as the master plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita will soon be in place. This form of centralized planning by government is precisely what Hayek warns against.
Why Friedrich Hayek Is Making a Comeback
With the failure of Keynesian stimulus, the late Austrian economist’s ideas on state power and crony capitalism are getting a new hearing.
By Russ Roberts
He was born in the 19th century, wrote his most influential book more than 65 years ago, and he’s not quite as well known or beloved as the sexy Mexican actress who shares his last name. Yet somehow, Friedrich Hayek is on the rise.
When Glenn Beck recently explored Hayek’s classic, “The Road to Serfdom,” on his TV show, the book went to No. 1 on Amazon and remains in the top 10. Hayek’s persona co-starred with his old sparring partner John Maynard Keynes in a rap video “Fear the Boom and Bust” that has been viewed over 1.4 million times on YouTube and subtitled in 10 languages.
Why the sudden interest in the ideas of a Vienna-born, Nobel Prize-winning economist largely forgotten by mainstream economists?
Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required)