Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quote of the Day: The crisis of government paternalism

This “crisis” of government paternalism was accelerated by monetary and related interventionist policies in the United States and Europe that produced another “boom-bust” cycle in the first decade of the 21st century. It has had all of the hallmarks of the type of business cycle that the Austrians—and especially, Hayek—had explained decades earlier. Financial markets were awash with loanable funds made possible due to aggressive monetary expansion by central banks; interest rates were artificially pushed far below any market-based level; business investment borrowing, home borrowing, and consumer credit borrowing were far in excess of actual savings rates able to sustain them.

The capital, resources, and labor of society were misallocated and misdirected into various directions throughout these economies, all of which was going to necessitate a significant “adjustment” period when the “bubbles” of the boom finally burst. But rather than allowing the required adjustments and reallocations of capital and labor, and accepting that government welfare and related spending had to be permanently reduced or eliminated, governments have resisted these needed changes.

In many countries, the presumed “austerity” policies have really involved little or no reduction in the levels of government spending and redistribution, but noticeable increases in taxes. “Austerity” means squeezing the private sector to maintain a blotted government sector. The implicit psychology of many in Europe and the United States is that if the current crisis can “somehow” be gotten over, then the trend line of intrusive and growing government spending of past decades can be returned to in the future.
This is from Austrian economic professor and former President of Foundation for Economic Freedom Richard M Ebeling in an interview with the Austrian Economics Center (AEC).  This crisis of paternalism has spread to Asia.

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