Ed Driscoll

Wanniski, Warts And All

James Glassman, Tech Central Station’s publisher (and prior to that, The New Republic’s), has a warts and all look at Jude Wanniski, who, as we noted earlier, died today:

Eventually, as Bloomberg.com noted in an obituary on Tuesday, Wanniski persuaded “then-California Gov. Reagan to make supply-side economics the centerpiece of his 1980 campaign for the presidency.” Today, classical or supply-side ideas are taken for granted, even by economists and politicians on the left.

One of the reasons I was drawn to Wanniski was his faith in the innate intelligence of average citizens, both American and otherwise. Here too, he was ahead of his time. The left wing, which has turned more and more elitist, now rejects ideas like Social Security personal accounts because, it believes, most people won’t be able to invest reasonably.

By contrast, Wanniski understood that common folks comprise an army of capitalists. He started Chapter 4 of his book [The Way The World Works] this way:

“The global electorate is, and always has been, striving toward an ideal system of political economics that can maximize welfare for all its component parts. More specifically, the driving force of civilization is a quest for a system that will maximize capital, for only when capital is maximized can welfare be maximized.”

Another of Wanniski’s accomplishments was to highlight the role played by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Now, it is widely believed that the tariff, which touched off a trade war that throttled commerce among nations, at the very least prolonged the global Depression.

Read the rest, particularly the cautionary message that was Wanniski’s later career.