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The Credibility of Liberal Economics

  • Alan Peacock
Chapter
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Abstract

In 1836 at the close of an article in the London Review on ‘Whether Political Economy is Useful’, the protagonist of political economy, ‘Mr B’, whom James Mill uses to expound his views to ‘Mr A’, concludes with the resounding words:

The people, therefore, in the legislature, void of knowledge, who say they distrust and despise political economy, make no presumption against the doctrines against which they vent only a senseless noise. ... There is no branch of human knowledge more entitled to respect; and the men who affect to hold it in contempt afford indication only against themselves.1

Keywords

Political Economy Welfare Economic Liberal View Liberal Economic Liberal Idea 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    James Mill, Selected Economic Writings (introduced and edited by Donald Winch), published for the Scottish Economic Society by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh and London, 1966, p. 382.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lord Kobbins, Foreword to Harold Wincott, The Business of Capitalism Institute of Economic Affairs, 1968.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill 1849–1873 (edited by Francis Mineka and Dwight Lindley), University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1972, Letter 1,730.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Thomas H. Keir, Faith and Response, 1947, Introduction.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    It says a good deal for the Department of Industry that it allowed the publication of the excellent study by Mr Nick Gardner, ‘Economics of Launching Aid’, in The Economics of Industrial Subsidies (edited by Alan Whiting), HMSO, London, 1976, from which these figures are derived. It was Mr Edmund Dell, when Secretary of State for Trade, who remarked (before he became a minister) that ‘Doubtful as governments might be of their ability to promote economic development in general, in aerospace and nuclear energy they seemed to have no doubt. Though the costs far exceeded the costs of empire, they have gone on. They have spent magnificently ... the pressures of national prestige and of the thousands of persons employed in these industries are likely to determine the nation’s future course rather than any more scientific calculations regarding investment and return.’ (Political Responsibility and Industry, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1973, pp. 30–31.)Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For further analysis of modern welfare economics and its deficiencies, Charles Rowley and Alan Peacock, Welfare Economics: A Liberal Restatement, Martin Robertson, London, 1975.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities, Secker and Warburg, London, 1944, p. 464.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    David Hume, ‘Of the Origin of Government’, in Essays Moral, Political and Literary, ed. Frederick Watson, Nelson, London 1951, pp. 84–5.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    After the French Utopian socialist Ludwig von Mises, The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth, D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, NJ, 1962, Introduction. The ‘complex’, to von Mises, amounts to a neurotic hatred of those who question Utopian schemes on the grounds that they ignore the principle of scarcity. Ellis Hunter Memorial Lecture, No. 7. University of York. 1977.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    In a provocative and stimulating paper, ‘The British Disease: A Public Choice and a Property Rights Perspective’ (mimeo). See also the conclusion of Jo Grimond, The Bureaucratic Blight, Unservile State Papers No. 22, 1976.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Toronto, Toronto University Press, 1965, Book IV, Chapter 7, para. 7.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1976, pp. 156–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Wincott Foundation 1996

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  • Alan Peacock

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