Friday, April 10, 2009

Rush Limbaugh on Friedrich Hayek

Weird concidences keep happening. Via Greg Ransom, here's Rush Limbaugh from Thursday:
RUSH: We have a junior from the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Vols. This is Jordan on the phone. Hi, Jordan. It's great to have you here. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. It's an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: Thank you very much, sir.
CALLER: I just have a quick question. I am in a macroeconomics class. My minor is economics, and my professor drones on and on and on about the supply-side economics and how it does not work. And constantly in my test and even an essay, we had to talk about why supply-side economics does not work and why it's not fair to the poor and why it increases income inequality. I just want to know the truth, I guess. I'm just tired of this. . . .
OK, "supply side" is one particular understanding of economic policy -- the Laffer Curve and all that -- a catch-phrase that became popular in the 1980s, and we can discuss that elsewhere. But after some back and forth on the history of the Reagan adminstration, look what Rush says:
RUSH: They never had to work a day in their lives. They just get up. But that's wonderful because they talk about the things your professor talks about, but you don't see Ted Kennedy or any other liberal walking neighborhoods giving money away -- unless he's taken it from somebody else first. I implore you, Jordan, my man, to investigate independently the economist Friedrich Von Hayek (H-a-y-e-k) from the University of Chicago. He's long dead. I urge you to. Does your professor ever talk about Milton Friedman?
CALLER: Uhhh, no, sir.
RUSH: He does?
CALLER: No, he hasn't.
RUSH: Oh, he doesn't. I'm not surprised. Milton Friedman. There's a videotape, DVD series that Milton Friedman did that explains everything you want to know here in a classical economics sense. He's written many books. He was brilliant, Milton Friedman. So is Thomas Sowell, who is at the Hoover Institution on campus at Stanford. But read Friedrich Von Hayek, read The Constitution of Liberty, and read The Road to Serfdom. They're tough reads. These are intellectual treatises, but you will not be disappointed.
As Greg Ransom notes, a link by Instapundit (coincidentally run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds) had already sent The Road to Serfdom to #283 on Amazon, and the mention by Rush was enough to boost it to #179.

Coincidence or conspiracy? Vainglorious ego makes me wonder if Rush is reading this blog, because he mentioned Hayek on the same day that I -- in discussing "kooks" -- wrote several paragraphs about Hayek and how The Road to Serfdom had influenced Reagan. This certainly isn't the first time Rush has mentioned Hayek or Friedman or Sowell on his program but . . . well, I question the timing!
"You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit."
-- Ronald Reagan
It was Hayek himself who described intellectuals as "secondhand dealers in ideas" and -- even though I've been named a leading Hayekian public intellectual (bwahahaha) -- I'm just driving a forklift in the regional distribution center. And there's a big "Help Wanted" sign out front. The more the merrier.

Let Jane Hamsher whine that she's not getting paid enough to push the Democratic Party agenda. The No. 1 radio show in America is pushing Hayek, Friedman and Sowell -- and making Obscene Profits along the way -- so I don't care whether it's a coincidence or a conspiracy. Megadittos, Rush.

BTW, Hayek's book, The Constitution of Liberty, is now #665 at Amazon. I question the timing!


  1. Hayek a tough read?
    Here's a hint to anyone attempting to read any of this supposedly difficult stuff: read it aloud.
    It will blow away your speed reading technique. However, you'll find Hayek sounds as though he polished his ideas by speaking them aloud to students over several years.
    I suspect this approach will work for other purportedly challenging authors.

  2. Yeah, I don't think of The Road to Serfdom as tough to read. Its accessibility to the non-specialist is the secret of its success. Maybe Rush meant to say that, six decades after it was first published, the book doesn't have that ripped-from-the-headlines urgency that made it so compelling in the 1940s and '50s. Younger readers might have to be patient with The Road To Serfdom -- follow the argument as Hayek develops it -- to get the timelessness and relevance of the ideas.

  3. I've always found it curious that books written from a conservative or libertarian viewpoint consistently sell very well, yet conservatives are regarded by the left as know-nothing numbskulls against any kind of learning. Where do those books go?

    Either there are a lot of books being sold to liberals doing meticulous opposition research, or there are a lot of people like me, who actually buy and read books by Friedman, Sowell, Hayek and others. I'm guessing it's the latter, in part because when liberals discuss those books it's typical from their discussion that they haven't read them.

    I don't see the Joyce Foundation sending people into bookstores to buy up and sequester every extant copy of Liberty and Tyranny as the way Mark Levin made it to the top of the NYT bestseller list. It's also unlikely that Atlas Shrugged is receiving the same treatment.

    Say what you will about modern liberals, but they won't be burning books like their fascist progenitors. The books will be recycled into fashionable and reusable items like shopping bags and coasters. Can't release all that carbon in a big fire, now can we?

  4. Over at TAS, I've seen a few comments by someone complaining that Rush isn't "really" conservative because he doesn't reference conservative authors, therefore he probably hasn't read any, etc. Aside from being factually challenged, it's also a prime example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

    I've heard him reference a long list of books over the years. It's one of the reasons I tolerate his commentary more than many others. He may not be pushing philosophy every day, but he doesn't hide from it, either. Does he sound "intellectual?" No. So what? He's not running a grad program at some uni.

    (...And I think he's mentioned Hayek many times in the last few months, so the timing is probably not as auspicious as Stacy would hope. [emoticon goes here])