‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

04 April 2016

On the Record | Mill Power

Please see my latest post for the Quarterly Review, ‘Mill Power’:

On the campaign stump, Donald Trump’s visceral answer to manufacturing decline has been called a self-defeating return to the processes of primitive economics. But Trump’s route to powering America’s revival does lead through a mill — John Stuart Mill.

Trump’s economic prescription to ‘Make America Great Again’ by imposing tariff walls to foreign trade has been lampooned by mainstream economists as equating the Great Depression hysteria that gave rise to the Smoot-Hawley tariff act, which saw affected nations impose retaliatory trade restrictions.

Many of these same economists prefer their own Depression-era madness, in the form of Keynesian stimulus that argues that downturns are caused by a lack of aggregate demand, requiring government spending to prime the pump and restore consumerism.

Long before Lord Keynes, however, nineteenth-century classical economists had debunked this fallacy, notably J. S. Mill.

Read more…


My thanks to Dr Leslie Jones of the Quarterly Review and to Professor Steven Kates of RMIT University, who introduced me to the classical economics of J.B. Say and J.S. Mill, and to Ricardo’s succinct refutation of Malthus: ‘Men err in their productions, there is no deficiency of demand.’