A pretty good story in the Wall Street Journal, with references to Ayn Rand and Objectivism: “A Less-Visible Role For the Fed Chief: Freeing Up Markets Greenspan Blessed Mergers And Blocked Regulation; Using the 1800s as a Model.” Greenspan is currently mentioned in the #1, #4, and #6 most popular WSJ articles, while Bush is only mentioned in #3.
I don’t think there is any acceptable excuse for opposing the very existence of the Fed while at the same time heading it, but Greenspan is nevertheless a powerful voice for the free market. His hypocrisy is not without consequence however: the continued “success” of the Fed supports those who advocate of a “moderate” level of interventionism.
More importantly, his actions undermine his own ideas by furthering a dichotomy between theory and practice. The effect is to encourage aspiring intellectuals to compromise on their principles. The primary political result of this compromise is the deceptive notion of “smaller, more efficient, government” based on “market principles.” This fraudulent idea, which began with Reagan and has persisted with every president since evades the fact that there can be no compromise between force and reason, and thus any compromise with a mixed-economy is advocacy of socialism. There is no statist equivalent to market prices, no matter how “market-based” bureaucrats try to become.
A quote from Friedrich Hayek’s “The Intellectuals and Socialism” is relevant here:
“We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are prepared to resist the blandishments of power and influence and who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote. The practical compromises they must leave to politicians. Free trade and freedom of opportunity are ideals which still may rouse the imaginations of large numbers, but a mere ’reasonable freedom of trade’ or a mere ’relaxation of controls’ is neither intellectually respectable nor likely to inspire any enthusiasm. […] if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.”