Keynes’s Moral Gold Standard? Ask John Cusack

In his exasperating Huffington Post rant “No Currency Left to Buy the Big Lies,” actor and Obama supporter John Cusack calls for a new social contract, one whose moral “currency” is tied not to the “fear and greed” of the neo-conservatives or the “corporate cannibalism” he associates with the free market.

Instead, he seeks an ethos of “economic fairness” and “shared responsibility”—”a fairness,” he writes, “based on the gold standard that every human has value and should be awarded respect and opportunity. . . . Its spirit is in Keynesian economics, a mixed economy with regulated markets and social spending.”

Get that? Cusack’s “gold standard” for social ethics implies Keynesian economic policies.

But this doesn’t quite fit: Keynes famously condemned the gold standard as a barbaric relic that hampered the government’s ability to control aggregate demand. Did Cusack sleep through his macroeconomics class that day?

Funny how, despite the best efforts of professional Keynesians to tarnish the image of the gold standard, amateur Keynesians still hold dear to “the gold standard” as a good metaphor for an ideal against which other things are measured.

Perhaps the amateur Keynesians know something their professional counterparts don’t.

Carl P. Close is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of Independent’s weekly e-mail newsletter The Lighthouse.
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