The Growth Of Crank Monetary Economics

A good piece by Byron Tau and Ben Smith notes that rising tide of crank macroeconomic views on the Republican right, though I wish they hadn’t conflated the gold standard with the flat tax. The latter is a very, very, very right-wing policy idea but it’s completely consistent with the general animating idea of the American conservative movement that rich people should pay less taxes. It’s an extreme version of the same basic idea that all conservative politicians adhere to, so the existence of some support for it is no surprise. The monetary stuff is different. Milton Friedman was, I take it, a free market economist in good standing and he thought this was nuts.

Not only is it a terrible idea, but there’s absolutely no logical connection between the idea of free markets and the idea that the government should establish a fixed price for gold. Belief in such policies is some kind of superstition or based on a failure to understand what the policy actually means. At any rate:

In one particularly striking recent moment, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty railed against “fiat currency” in a recent appearance on Fox — a signal to a narrow constituency of voters who believe that America’s woes began when it abandoned the gold standard in the 1930s. […] Other mainstream figures in the Republican Party — including Pawlenty and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence — have flirted with monetary theories like the gold standard or fixing the U.S. currency to a commodities basket.

I would add Paul Ryan to that list. It’s a very dangerous development for the country.