Robert Higgs


Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of Crisis and Leviathan, discusses his cherished yet under-appreciated chapter 3 in Crisis and Leviathan, about the rational ideological motivation of collective action; beating back the pervasive myth that war stimulates and improves the economy; how the increase in US GDP following massive post-WWII cuts in government spending undermines Keynesian economic theory; and why there is no such thing as free money: government spending is either derived from direct taxation or by debasing the dollar.

MP3 here. (18:37)

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Higgs is the editor of The Independent Institute books Opposing the Crusader State, The Challenge of Liberty, Re-Thinking Green, Hazardous to Our Health? and Arms, Politics, and the Economy, plus the volume Emergence of the Modern Political Economy.

His authored books include Neither Liberty Nor Safety, Depression, War, and Cold War, Politick√° ekonomie strachu (The Political Economy of Fear, in Czech), Resurgence of the Warfare State, Against Leviathan, The Transformation of the American Economy 1865-1914, Competition and Coercion, and Crisis and Leviathan. A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes, he is the author of more than 100 articles and reviews in academic journals.

7 thoughts on “Robert Higgs”

  1. You have to question the sanity of anyone that actually believes fighting wars is good for an economy. People see the factories that pump out tanks and planes. What they don't see are all the things we could have produced and consumed instead. Bastiat was writing about this in the 19th century. You'd think modern day economists could understand such a simple concept.

    Even sillier is the notion that we can create money to buy things and pay our bills and that this will usher in greater prosperity. How the likes of Paul Krugman could peddle this nonsense and not get mocked speaks volumes about the state of economics today.

    1. "You have to question the sanity of anyone that actually believes fighting wars is good for an economy."

      Thankfully I think these views are very rare outside the US. I find it hard to believe that a French or German, let alone those from the former Soviet Bloc, economists would endorse military spending as a way to boost the economy and standard of living.

      If war is so great for the economy, why doesn't the US simply bomb itself into dust? Just think of all the jobs it would create!

      1. Yes, it's called the broken window fallacy – another Bastiat gem. War is the broken window fallacy taken to its logical conclusion. Breaking windows does not give us prosperity and waging wars won't either.

        What war does do, however, is divert the public's attention from the economic damage the current regime is inflicting on us with bailouts, stimulus, and trillion dollar deficits. When the dollar collapses, don't be surprised if a false flag operation is set in motion, with another war initiated to keep the rubes in line. After all, 2012 is a presidential election year….

  2. War is good for the economies of the military industrialist and that is about it,, they get the contracts to build weapons, and the contracts to rebuild the societies that they destroy, Tax payers always end up paying the bill. The strange thing is that the author seems to endorse Keynesian economics and that war prevents Keynesian economics to thrive,, Keynesian economics can never thrive, War spending is Keynesian economics at its core,, it only benefits those who get the government contracts. while the rest of us pay for it,,,,, People need to wake up, Obama spend more money on Keynesian economic theory than all of those that believe in it beofre him combined and it hasn't worked, The average job created by Obamanomics which is Keynesian economics cost over 400,000 to create and paid the worker much much much less and the jobs were mostly temporary. The Soviet Union tried it, all of Europe tried it and are trying to abandon it, but the people now feel entitled to things they cannot sustain,,,,, its the wrong road as noble as it might seem,, but its capitalism that has lifted people out of poverty more than anything else ever has,, there just has to be fair and just laws governing society as a whole and capitalism cant enslave you. Socialism is enslavement. Keynesian economics is a slave economy

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