Flashback: Mainstream Economists Whitewashed The Evils Of Communism

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Top Tier Gear USA


To “commemorate” the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russian, I’ve been sharing a series of columns on the evil of communism.

Today, I’m going to target my profession.

But I’m going to bend over backwards to be fair. I’m not going to condemn the economists back in the 1920s and 1930s who were sympathetic to central planning. They were horribly wrong, but that was before economists from the Austrian School prevailed in the “Socialist Calculation Debate.” So we’ll give them an undeserved pass.

And we’ll even excuse the wrongheaded thinking of economists who sympathized with communism in the first couple of decades after World War II. After all, maybe they were just naive when they blindly accepted and regurgitated statistics from the Soviet Union (just as I think some people today are being somewhat gulliblewhen they accept stats today from Beijing).

But there’s no excuse for any sentient being – especially an economist – to have praised the decrepit communist economic model by the time we got to the 1980s.

Yet some very prominent economists were guilty of whitewashing the sins of communism. I condemned Paul Samuelson two years ago (albeit only in a postscript) for his Pollyannish assessment of the Soviet economy. There was absolutely no excuse for him to write that, “…the Soviet economy is proof that…a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.”

Especially since he made that claim shortly before the Berlin Wall collapsed. That takes a special type of ignorance.

But Samuelson wasn’t the only academic economist to disseminate nonsense. Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution shares some additional examples of mal-education.

…an even more off-course analysis can also be found in another mega-selling textbook, McConnell’s Economics (still a huge seller today).  Like Samuelson, McConnell estimated Soviet GNP as half that of the United States in 1963 but he showed that the Soviets were investing a much larger share of GNP and thus growing at rates “two to three times” higher than the U.S.  Indeed, through at least ten (!) editions, the Soviets continued to grow faster than the U.S. and yet in McConnell’s 1990 edition Soviet GNP was still half that of the United States!

Professor Tabarrok speculates on why some economists were so wrong.

To make their predictions, Samuelson and McConnell relied heavily on the production possibilities frontier (PPF), the idea that the fundamental tradeoff for any society was between “guns and butter.”

To be sure, the production possibilities frontier is a useful analytical tool for economists.

But these economists erred in assuming that central planners could allocate resources efficiently. More specifically, they looked at high levels of supposed investment in communist nations and assumed that would mean faster rates of growth.

That theory is correct, but only if capital is being allocated by the private sector in a system governed by market prices. Government investment, by contrast, is a recipe for pork, inefficiency, corruption, and waste.

If we were constructing an Economist Hall of Shame, we’d also want to include Lester Thurow, who was basically the Paul Krugman of the 1980s. As recounted in this Hoover Institution interview, he also pimped for the Soviet Union right up until the point it collapsed.

ZINSMEISTER But why have persons proven to have been calamitously mistaken been allowed to wriggle away? For instance, here’s a quote from Lester Thurow—dean of MIT’s business school, for heaven’s sake—writing in 1989: “Can economic command significantly accelerate the growth process? The remarkable performance of the Soviet Union suggests it can. Today it is a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States.” Why isn’t this fellow laughed out of court?

CONQUEST These people were had for suckers. They believed figures and images and statements about the Soviet Union that did not accord with reality. This was also enforced in the Soviet Union. You had to believe the place was happy, well fed, and so forth. …there were two different Soviet Unions, the real one and the one put forward in the West. Often the unreal one was backed by huge amounts of impressive, phony statistics. It takes two to sell the Brooklyn Bridge; you need both a crook and a sucker. The apologists in this country swallowed the rubbish about communism because they didn’t like the people putting forth the opposite view.

Let’s close with an amazing – and depressing – observation.

An article by Professor Bryan Caplan for the Foundation for Economic Education looks at Princeton Review‘s AP Economics and notes that there are still some economists suffering from moral blindness.

When I was first learning economics, I was surprised by how pro-communist many economics textbooks were. …textbooks were very positive relative to communism’s historical record. …Many textbook authors were, in a phrase, communist dupes.

Sadly, some communist dupes still exist and they work at Princeton Review. Caplan highlights this excerpt from the book.

Communism is a system designed to minimize imbalance in wealth via the collective ownership of property. Legislators from a single political party – the communist party – divide the available wealth for equal advantage among citizens.

The problems with communism include a lack of incentives for extra effort, risk taking, and innovation. The critical role of the central government in allocating resources and setting production levels makes this system particularly vulnerable to corruption.

Bryan then explains why AP Economics is nonsense.

The official communist line was that collective ownership would lead to high economic growth – and ultimately cornucopia. And in practice, communist regimes made collective ownership an end in itself. Just look at their repeated farm collectivizations that caused horrifying famines in the short-run, and low agricultural productivity in the long-run. …Communist regimes began with the mass murder of their political enemies, businessmen, and their families.

Next, they seized the peasants’ land, leading to hellish famines. …And no communist regime has ever tried to “divide wealth for equal advantage.” Bloodbaths aside, communist regimes always put Party members’ comfort above the very lives of ordinary citizens.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Good people rejected communism from its inception because it was based on the immoral notion that individuals should be subjugated to the state (the same ideology in fascism and other collectivist movements).

As I noted above, I’m willing to forgive others (at least in the early decades) for thinking that communism might be economically successful.

But I have nothing but scorn for those who were pimping for totalitarianism in the 1980s (or still today). Economists already are the subject of derision and it’s easy to understand why after seeing how some of them excused an evil system.

Originally published at Dan Mitchell’s blog Liberty – Restraining Government in America and Around the World

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on fiscal policy issues such as tax reform, the economic impact of government spending, and supply-side tax policy. Mitchell a former senior fellow with The Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation, and served as an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee. His articles can be found in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and Washington Times. He is a frequent guest on radio and television and a popular speaker on the lecture circuit. Mitchell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. His blog is Liberty – Restraining Government in America and Around the World.

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Contributed by Daniel J. Mitchell of Mises Institute.

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  • Cynical Old Bastard

    I thought we were hating pedophiles this week.

    • darkhorse

      we hat them every week… I want resolution of the FBI murder of Lavoy Finicum by the FBI/state troopers…why is no one in jail as yet?

      • Cynical Old Bastard

        We’ve been playing this game a long time DH, you and I… in all our myriad electronic incarnations. You know why.

        What never ceases to amaze though, is how all these “awake” people who have taken “the red pill” still seem so sound asleep.

        Since the “web” was just a single strand of digital silk I’ve been in these alternative forums preaching this stuff. Is it truth? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone has the objective truth figured out yet… if such a thing even exists… yet they all claim to have the real truth. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Republicans, Democrats… all the same to me.

        All I know is that you can’t trust a cop to police a cop.

        All I know is that you can’t petition a corrupt group of people (government) for a redress of grievances when the are behind the grievances in the first place. That’s like begging the Mafia for protection from the Mafia. Makes no sense, yet people still do it.

        Fuck it. Let them die.

        • darkhorse

          yeah..let em…I just hate seeing evil in control…seeing it win – every time. That does something to me inside. I have to fight it any way I can. It does not deserve to win. And I’ll keep calling it out for what it is till I’m not breathing anymore… hehehe…

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            I don’t much care for it either, but even evil is a somewhat subjective term defined only by personal morals and beliefs, i.e., my evil may or may not be yours and yours may not be mine. Think of it like an odor; while I might find one inoffensive or even pleasant, it might make you violently nauseous. There is no one, objective standard by which we can judge evil.

            Recently I have taken the fight from the educatorial (LOL. I just made that word up. I like it!) role I’ve played in the past and into the trenches. Unlike the masses of Sheeple being led from one “SHOCK” report to the next I know this overall problem cannot be solved from the top down, but rather, from the grassroots level up.

            I’m starting with city hall and unconstitutional ordinances. I’ve maneuvered them into charging me with the “crime” of being and creating a nuisance. It was a well planned and carefully thought out assault. I have inside assets in place, documents, decisions and laws all the way up to the federal level backing me up.

            I am most definitely not playing. Well, I am, but it’s for keeps.

            This is the key to fighting this war. Start at the grassroots level. People say cut off the head… I say kill the roots.

          • darkhorse

            you know what evil is…by the age of 7 kids know wrong from right… it’s the age of reason. What’s going on in the world is evil…those in charge are evil. Pretty simple, Cyn, there’s no way Jesuit-thinking can get around it! and yeah, I know…the bleating continues and the do-nothings do nothing. The murder of Lavoy Finicum by this so-called govt hits me in the gut and won’t stop hitting. The BLM aka Feds must be prevented from stealing all the land and its underground resources from THE PEOPLE… that’s what the Malheur Occupation in Oregon was about and the Bundy Ranch Standoff…these fookers (Harry Reid, etc.) are stealing everything from everyone…when will the People reach saturation point?

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            I’ve already reached saturation point. You do realize that the battle I’m fighting right now is over property? That these sorry fuckers actually expected me to lay down and tremble in abject fear and compliance at a few threatening letters (poorly written) with words like “YOU SHALL” and “THEREFORE” thrown in there for good measure.

            WTF were they thinking? Surely they were warned about me. That I simply will not comply if I am in the right of it. With our local PD I will, but I know and like those guys and but even that goes only so far with me. I won’t fight them, nor will I physically resist, but I will not comply with them.

            Thought I was gonna get shot back in July. A new cop in town tried to bulldog me. I don’t bulldog easy and we later worked out our differences, but I don’t comply. Especially with stupidity.

            Never have and never will. Didn’t in school. Was asked (politely) not to come back and play with the Army boys anymore. Have a record of being non-compliant going all the way back to diapers. If I don’t want to do it then I’m not going to do it. No threats work. No amount of propaganda works. No emotional appeals work.

            I don’t care about Hollywood “pedophilia” or sex trafficking. I don’t care about Muslims, Jews, Christians, Mormons, Catholics, Republicans, Democrats, Trump, the Clintons, what the Kardashians are doing, what Miley says or does, If the Earth is flat or round, if we really landed on the moon, who shot JFK, whether Hoover wore a dress… none of that matters to me.

          • SP_88

            I really like the way you think. The problem is that you think quite differently than other people. It’s not a problem for you, it’s that everyone should think like this.
            You know the old saying, “It’s not me, it’s the rest of the world” ? Well, it really is the rest of the world. Many people are in various stages of waking up. But only a small number of them are acutely aware that to fix our broken society, they are gonna have to get their hands dirty. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.
            If people had put the effort into it long ago, it wouldn’t be so bad. But everyone thought that it was ok to just look the other way or perhaps they thought someone else would take care of it.
            But people are just now getting around to doing what they should have done years ago. People are still stuck on the idea that if they “vote the bums out” somehow things will get better. The democrats thought Obama was their savior. But he was just another pompous blowhard politician like all the rest. Hope and change, how’s that working out?
            This time it was Hillary, she was going to be their savior. But she lost, which they are still insanely bitter about. They never did accept the fact that she lost because she is so thoroughly corrupt.
            And of course Trump is supposed to be the republican’s savior. He’s gonna make ‘murica great again. Sure he is. ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ. Is America great yet? No? ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ. How about now? No? ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ. Wake me up when America is great. ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ.
            It’s the same shit every time. Voting changes nothing. How long before people realize this?
            I think on some level, people do realize this. Or at least they aren’t as easily convinced. That’s why they made such a spectacle of Obama.
            They had to really go out of their way to get people exited about electing Obama.
            And it’s the same thing with Trump. They really had to ham it up with him. They even had Hillary play the bad guy (play? Of course she’s really bad. Figure of speech.). The Trump election needed as much enthusiasm as possible to distract us from the fact that nothing is going to change this time either.
            I can’t wait to see how much of a spectacle they make of the next presidential election. Especially the next election without an incumbent. Better wear some tall boots ’cause the bullshit will be deep.

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            *Gives a slight mental bow* Thank you, my old friend. Your assessment is, as usual, spot on. It has not been easy for me. I can count on one hand the times I’ve had in my life to converse with someone who truly understands that my mind does not operate in a “normal” manner and exactly how profound the differences are from the Normals. It’s been lonely and frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. The loss of clarity of thought alone is horrifying.

            Yes. I know that old saying well and it really is the rest of the world. At one time (when I was very young) they (the Normals) almost had me convinced there was something wrong with me. Never again.

            Correct. They simply aren’t aware. They rant and rave. They cry out in anger. They shout mantras like “Hillary for prison” and other meaningless garbage like “vote the bums out!” then change the channel back to whatever ‘reality’ show is popular this week. It doesn’t even matter what it is, either because, like politicians, TV shows are all the same… a soporific for the masses of sheeple huddled together in fear. Oh yes, they rail against their chains and chant for change, as long as they don’t have to get off the couch and do anything about it.

            Wouldn’t want the poor darlings suffering a slight discomfort now, would we?

            The entire problem is that they expect someone else to do it for them. They are more than content to offer you moral support and encouragement, yet when it comes time for the battle you’re always standing alone in the front line. Then they offer empty excuses as to why they weren’t there; their show was on; doctor appointment to refill a prescription; the battery died on their phone; their kid had a school function… ad infinitum. Always excuses.

            Honestly, if we make it to the next Selection cycle I will be surprised. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit if Krazy Kim popped an EMP device over Kansas or if a huge solar flare took out the grid right now. Force the ‘taters up off their couches and make them make an effort to survive. Not just wait around for someone to come along and slop their troughs.

            The thing that always gets to me about those waking up is how they say things like “I hate my job but I can’t change it.”

            I have zero sympathy for them. They know they are slaves and hate it, yet they continue to willingly return to their masters every single morning. This is not truly being “awake.” This is not them taking control. It is merely another fantasy piled on top of the fantasies they call living.

            Even those who take the step and try to make the change are connected by the umbilical. They build a homestead so as to get off the grid, and yet spend thousands trying to stay connected. They all have smartphones. They all have televisions and cable. How is this waking up? How is this making a change?

            It’s not.

            I have often been accused of being heartless and cruel. Also cold, emotionless and lacking compassion. I’m not any of those things.

            How dare they!

            How. Fucking. Dare. They!

            I am not the ones who tortured and tormented small child who simply didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand how others can possibly think the way they do… how they can accept such blatant lies as truth… how they simply cannot think clearly, if at all.

            I received my first beating during my first stretch in prison (the first grade) and they never stopped in the subsequent years. Each and every year after that I was forced to return to hell, to spend time in a world which rejected me, hated me even, and certainly could never understand me.

            Obviously this was well before the time they had specialized programs for other children afflicted with my particular curse. For that I’m truly thankful. I’ve spoken with some of the results and they are, for the most part, a brighter than average zombie… yet zombies they are… and zombies they shall remain… until reality slaps them up side the head in a big way.

            If it were a voting matter as to when the final curtain fell on this horrible play my vote would be an immediate and resounding “RIGHT NOW!”

          • darkhorse

            are you talking the BLM? Do you lease grazing land?

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            No. I am not and do not. To me, the idea of raising food (animal or vegetable) to feed the zombies is abhorrent. When I say “Let them die” I am not using empty words. I mean it literally. Let them fucking die.

            Though I admire and understand the position those boys and girls took and would have probably stood with them on principle alone, to me they are part of an industry which offers aid and comfort to the enemy and thus, the enemy.

          • darkhorse

            Cyn…the “boy” the FBI murdered was 57 yrs old…Finicum. The BLM was up to dirty tricks with the Hammonds in Oregon..and jailed them. This got We the People -members of the Patriot Community family ranchers – Bundys NV, Finicum AZ to support the Hammonds OR which led to the 41-day takeover of a Fed bldg (shack) by the Patriots. The BLM/Feds – yeah Harry Reidshite are stealing everything out from under us, literally…national monuments…it never stops. Surely you can relate to this?

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            I’m quite aware of all that, DH. Just as I’m aware of what the Feds are doing. I’m aware they murdered Finicum. I’m aware they murder anyone who gets in their way or doesn’t bow down and lick their boots. I’m aware of many things, one of which we cannot win this war. We’re outnumbered and outgunned. The sheeple rule the field for now.

            I watched it happen right here in my small town. The new City Manager began a campaign to “straighten this place out!” He focused first on cars in people’s yards. Admittedly there was a slight problem, but he went for broke. And the people bitched and moaned. “This has to stop!” they screamed. “He’s gone too far!” they cried.

            Yet every single one of these loud talkers complied. Not one stood up and fought. Not one! I myself have been repeatedly targeted by these Podunk Potentates, and although people shake their heads and bemoan the fact that I’m being mercilessly harassed, not one will stand with me. People I’ve known and stood with for fifteen fucking years offer nothing more than “what a shame this is happening to you.” Not fucking one!

            So you think I’m not fucking aware of what’s happening?

            Trust me, DH… I. AM. INTENSELY. FUCKING. AWARE.

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            Oh. but wait… there’s more! Things you should know about me before any future engagements.

            I consider any person who has ever actively leased land from the BLM to be a domestic enemy. I consider any farmer who has ever grown grain from or for any large corporation to be a domestic enemy. I consider any person who works (in any capacity) for the government (either federal or local) to be a domestic enemy.

            I’m a harsh man and a harsher judge. Just so you know… I consider almost everyone I know to be a domestic enemy. You gave up your rights when you worked for these people. Don’t come screaming to me for sympathy because I’m the wrong man for that. I have none. I’d just as soon mount your heads on a pole as a warning as I would be to crucify you along the road.

            I’ve told people over and over again that emotional pleas do not work on me. Did you think I was joking?

          • darkhorse

            They had that lease for 100 years!!!!

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            I don’t care. They were in collusion for 100 years. They leased stolen land from a corrupt government for 100 years. That makes it it all the worse.

            This makes them domestic enemies of the worst sort.

          • darkhorse

            you seem to care more about projecting your persona than what this govt is doing to us…it’s not all about you, Cyn, it’s about the plight we the people are in… and no one is asking for your sympathy…no one even knows you!

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            There is no projecting here. There is no persona I play for your amusement.

            Anything the Government does to you is strictly upon your own heads. Not mine. You allow it to happen then cry about it. You do not stand for yourselves, but expect others to stand for you.

            Once again, you will find no sympathy here. I am a very strict, hard-line, Minarchal Constitutionalist. I also hate Socialism in any form in which you try to display it. Any time a person says to me in any way, shape, form, or fashion that is somehow in the interest of “the common good” they immediately become suspect.

            Your plight, your the sheeple’s plight is your own doing. You made those beds. Now you have to sleep in them. Too bad for you.

            Yes, you were asking for my sympathy. You have done it on numerous occasions and did it in your response. Then you said you weren’t asking for sympathy.

            It would seem we have a conflict here.

            I get banned from most sites (including Alex Sellout Jones) for presenting actual documented evidence in the form of screen captures. I screen capture every debate upon which I choose to enter. Including this one. Would you like to see your file? I have it handy.

          • darkhorse


          • darkhorse

            I think you’re a bitter, old man… something happened to you life no doubt when you were a child that made you ME AGAINST THE WORLD! Must have been a very lonely life… you truly hate every living being on the planet…but, hey, it’s your choice and your right! Have fun with it…is your real name Ebenezer Scrooge. by the way?

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            Good critical reasoning skills there, bright girl. Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant deductions.

            A) COB disagrees with me therefore he hates every living being upon the planet
            B) See A

            Just so you know, I don’t hate every living being upon the planet. Only Homo Ovinus. A particularly noxious mutation in the human genome.

          • darkhorse

            you disagree with EVERYONE…why? You hate yourself and project that onto all others!

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            Again, brilliant reasoning. I disagree with you therefore I disagree with everyone and thus, hate myself . I also project this because I think everything is about me.

            Brilliant display of circular logic. Good girl.

            Have I mentioned how much I hate SJWs and Feminists? They are part of the driving force behind every Socialist movement. I use the word “movement” in a very precise and meaningful, yet underhanded way.

            In other, more simple words, I shall direct you to give whatever response I wish to hear or read from you. You have no choice but to obey my whims.

          • darkhorse

            I don’t care WHO the hell you hate…it’s ALL ABOUT YOU, isn’t it? EVERYTHING IS!!! You hate you hate you hate…go ahead – who cares?? Have fun with it, all alone in your little cabin that no one is trying to steal from you…LOL! These MEN. the Hammonds, Bundys and LaVoy stood up against the monsters and paid the price..jail time, stolen land and death…and all you do is whine and whine about how you hate humanity…what a loser! You are a legend in your own mind..LOL!!

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            Obviously you do care… and yes, it’s all about me. I have never denied that. It’s the very foundation of all evolution.

            Please explain how I whine.

            Also, please explain your fixation upon these MEN.

            I’m clinically interested. Nothing more.

          • darkhorse

            you are a cluster B… bye bye …maybe you’ll be happier in the after life, probably not!

          • Cynical Old Bastard


            You read “romance” vampire novels. Are short nasty-natured, and fat, a shopper at Wal-mart and Dollar General, are on Food-Stamps, have a hatred or deep-seated resentment against all things male, yet desire all things male. You also hate any female you perceive to be more attractive than you.

            This probably stems from a childhood of being told lies and being rejected.

            It’s okay, honey. It’s time to wake up now. Reality awaits… and most of us are quite gentle.

          • darkhorse

            …LOL!!!! …………………. help!! I can’t stop laughing……

          • darkhorse

            look at the nutjob above … and my comment on the madness of you guys on the internet … crazy!!!

          • Cynical Old Bastard

            But… but… but… you said buh-bye!

            How accurate was the vampire novel thing? Charlaine Harris fan maybe? Most definitely a Hunger Games advocate. That’s not even a question.

            I’m not looking at anything else. I am focused entirely upon you. Isn’t that what you wanted? Isn’t that what you yearn for?

            Truly, it’s alright. I am here to listen. Others will fuck with your mind but I will actually try to help you. But it’s your choice.

          • darkhorse

            by the way…personas aren’t used for “amusement”…they are unconscious as are projections…

      • John Doe

        The same FBI that pushes the lone gunman in Vegas despite recordings of two weapons being firwed at the same time, that FBI? Good luck!

        • darkhorse

          well, we do KIND OF know the trail leads to Hillary and getting her paws on the uranium from the Bundy and Hammond ranches to sell to Russia to fund her campaign…BUT LaVoy supposedly had THREE bullet holes in his back…wonder who has the bullets? Whose bullets were they? State troopers/FBI? Or a mix? As for Vegas I previously pointed to Miles Mathis’ take on the Vegas Hoax leading to ugly Jewish Reptilian Michael Chertoff and his body scanners/scammers…lol! and good ole Donald Rumsfeld – remember him? owning the companies that hire and employ THOUSANDS OF CRISIS ACTORS. The Malheur conflict was all about American citizens standing up to the extremely corrupt “government” who has been and still is stealing land and what’s under it from public (the Peoples’) and privately owned land to auction off to bidders who work for foreign govts. They want the fuel for their own defense systems…and the likes of Harry Reid (China) and Hillary (Russia) stealing what’s ours, handing it over to our enemies for profit so that our enemies have more fuel to attack us… don’t you just LOVE capitalism? And I won’t even go into what they’re still doing to the Indians…

  • Laurence Almand

    The effete intellectuals have never done a good day’s work in their lives, so they sit in their ivory towers and talk of Communism. Interesting how they all admire Communism, yet continue to live in Capitalist America.
    If they think Communism is so great, why don’t they move to China?