Tom Woods in Harvard Political Review
by Thomas Woods on August 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Naji Filali of the Harvard Political Review interviewed me the other day. A sample:
HPR: As a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, you have your fingers on the pulse of current policy debates. Which policy debate has interested you the most and what is your proposed solution to it?
TW: At the Mises Institute we are not keen on the term (or the concept) “public policy.” According to Lew Rockwell, the Institute’s founder, “Among the greatest failures of the free-market intellectual movement has been to allow its ideas to be categorized as a ‘public policy’ option. The formulation implies a concession that it is up to the state – its managers and kept intellectuals – to decide how, when, and where freedom is to be permitted. It further implies that the purpose of freedom, private ownership, and market incentives is the superior management of society, that is, to allow the current regime to operate more efficiently.”
In other words, the very notion of “public policy” assumes that people’s lives and property are to be disposed of by the political class in pursuit of the goals of that class. This we reject on moral (and economic) grounds.
I think of myself not as solving society’s problems one at a time via well-formed “public policy” but as doing what I can to pursue justice. And yet, as luck would have it, justice does indeed wind up solving problems far better than busybodies or central planners ever could. That’s the implicit lesson of Rollback, my latest book. In this connection I also recommend Jeff Tucker’s engaging new book, It’s a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes.