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     Jun 10, '14

Bad times breed bad ideas
By Martin Hutchinson

Good times tend to be relatively infertile of new economic ideas. Even radical economists, grinding their teeth at the apparent success of the market, don't want to be accused of killing the golden-egg-laying goose.

Conversely, bad times - lengthy or especially deep recessions - bring the madmen out from the woodwork. And with them comes the danger that idiocies will be permanently legislated into the

economic system, warping it forever. We are in such a period now.

Oddly enough, the first such madman produced by bad economic times was an economist whose work resonates 200 years later: Thomas Malthus. The gradually improving living standards of the 18th century had given way to crisis conditions by 1798, as the costs of the French Revolutionary War, the partial French blockade and a series of poor harvests had caused an outbreak of working-class hunger.

Malthus' gloomy prediction of population pressures leading to mass starvation may yet prove prescient in the 21st century, after the huge population increase caused by the Industrial Revolution. But in 1798 it was at least 200 years premature and contradicted by the relatively comfortable condition of the British working classes in peacetime.

Fifty years later, during the Hungry Forties and the Irish potato famine, Karl Marx produced The Communist Manifesto. Being a fanatic, he then went on to write Das Kapital, published in 1867, during a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity caused by almost pure capitalism (the protectionism and modest social programs of later in the century had yet to kick in). More ...

Martin Hutchinson is the author of Great Conservatives (Academica Press, 2005) - details can be found on the website www.greatconservatives.com - and co-author with Professor Kevin Dowd of Alchemists of Loss (Wiley, 2010). Both are now available on Amazon.com, Great Conservatives only in a Kindle edition, Alchemists of Loss in both Kindle and print editions.

(Republished with permission from PrudentBear.com. Copyright 2005-14 David W Tice & Associates.)




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