By David Henderson
What do you call people who want government solutions even when those solutions don’t work?
In my latest article in The Freeman, I introduce the term “government fundamentalists.” Here’s a passage:
What should we call people who seem to regard government as the solution regardless of the evidence? I propose the term “government fundamentalists.”
I then identify Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank as a government fundamentalist, based on a column he wrote on the gasoline tax.
Economist Jeff Hummel recently captured the essence of government fundamentalism this way: If markets don’t work, have government intervene. If government intervention doesn’t work, have government intervene further.
Notice the irony. Many free-market economists like me are quite willing to admit that markets don’t work perfectly and to examine and accept government solutions if their advocates can show how governments can be motivated to actually carry them out. And yet we are called market fundamentalists. On the other hand, many people who call us that are unwilling to change any of their views about the efficacy of government intervention no matter how badly the intervention works. Who are the fundamentalists here?