Robert Owen II

Lead: Beginning in 1800, Welsh social reformer and industrialist, Robert Owen, tried to improve the lives of his Scottish mill workers. It was a great success that led to a great failure at the same time.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Entrepreneur, radical philosopher, educator, and visionary Robert Owen made a fortune in the cotton industry. Owen believed that improved living and working conditions for his employees would bring them out of poverty and increase their overall productivity and his profits. This directly refuted the classical economists, particularly David Riccardo, whose so-called “iron law of wages,” asserted that raising wages did no good. If you raise pay and improve shop and living conditions, workers get optimistic and just have more children, which means more workers and less money to pay them. Wages just go back down.  

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Bruce Barton and Christian Capitalism

Lead: A preacher’s son in awe of his father’s philosophy, Bruce Barton combined hard work, consumer based advertising, liberal Protestantism and liberal Republican politics into the gospel of Christian Capitalism.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: From his father Barton learned the value of hard work. Though his family was a prosperous one, he was expected to work his way through college, first Berea, and then graduation from Amherst. He first tried journalism, but soon moved into advertising and became the founder of one of the most successful and prominent agencies, BBDO, with his partners Alex Osborn, Roy Durstine, and George Batten. Barton brought his clergyman father’s values of individual hard work and the virtue of prosperity. Consumers were encouraged to purchase more of their desires because it stimulated in them diligence and ambition.

Keynes vs Hayek IV

 

Lead: Despite the advocacy of their partisans, the alleged rivalry between John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August Hayek was more apparent than real. Hayek particularly made his greatest impact in the world of politics.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Keynes’ greatest contribution was in the arena of macroeconomics, particularly the activity of the state in creating orderly capital markets and creation and re-stimulation of demand in time of recession. Even conservative economists and politicians recognized this insight and often insist on stimulation in order to get business activity started back up when it is down. Richard Nixon once significantly opined, “we are all Keynesians now.” Keynes’ theories have largely dominated scholarly and academic economics since the 1930s.

Keynes v. Hayek III

Lead: John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August Hayek are often arrayed at either end of a vast intellectual divide, but in reality they had virtual agreement on a remarkable range of economic theories.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite the near adoration with which Hayek is held in conservative and libertarian circles, he was no lover of laissez-faire economics or advocate of an indolent or passive state, an idea much associated with 19th century classical liberalism. Recognizing that modern economies and societies had irrevocably reached a mixed solution to the marketplace that required state participation and state/private collaboration, he once argued against the idea that the state should be inert. He said, “In no system that could be rationally defended would the state just do nothing.” In fact, he understood that the government would play a role in the economy by providing those services that the free market could not create by itself. Hayek allowed the government to regulate safe working conditions, prevent pollution and fraud, and create a safety net in which citizens receive minimal food, shelter, and clothing.

 

Keynes v. Hayek II

Lead: The work of Friedrich August Hayek represented an acute, powerful intellectual rebellion against the growing power of state involvement in the lives of citizens and commerce, but he was no classical liberal.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Adherents to the Austrian approach to economics and its champion, Ludwig von Mises, rose to intellectually challenge the rise of the state, particularly the two great experiments in state dominance over individual life and the marketplace, Communism and Nazism. Von Mises’s most influential acolyte was Nobel Memorial Laureate Friedrich August Hayek. His premier insight in political economy was that as the involvement of the state grew, the reach of individual freedom was circumscribed and the productive, creative contribution of the marketplace to the general prosperity of society as a whole was compromised.

 

Keynes v. Hayek I

Lead: They represent two distinct approaches to political economy. John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August von Hayek are perhaps the most influential economists of the modern era.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Lord Bertrand Russell, himself no slouch among the intelligentsia of the 20th century, said John Maynard Keynes’s “intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool.”