by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… is the fact that more people will be exposed to ideas from great political thinkers. TIME mentions some of them in this profile of Ryan’s political thought.
Ryan first delved into the work of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, author of the 1944 book The Road to Serfdom, as a student at Miami University in Ohio. Since then Hayek has become a touchstone for antigovernment conservatives. Hayek fiercely opposed government intervention in the economy, which he said was too complex for politicians to manage properly. In Serfdom he went a step further, arguing that government meddling in the economy would inevitably lead to state control over all of society, possibly even dictatorship. (The book recently became a favorite of Tea Party activists convinced that Washington is amassing extreme new powers.) Ryan has recently invoked Hayek’s thinking, including in a 2011 address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he cited the economist’s concept of the “fatal conceit” and added, “The idea that a few bureaucrats know what’s best for all of society, or possess more information about human wants and needs than millions of free individuals interacting in a free market, is both false and arrogant.”
Ryan has acknowledged the influence of other well-known free-market economists. One is Ludwig von Mises, a hero of GOP libertarian Ron Paul, perhaps the most famous proponent of maintaining the gold standard as the basis for the U.S. dollar. Ryan is also an admirer of the late Milton Friedman, a University of Chicago economist who argued that fighting unemployment through monetary policy leads to inflation. That may inform Ryan’s view that the Federal Reserve shouldn’t weigh employment in its decisions. Friedman “would be extremely critical of the Federal Reserve” today, Ryan said recently, and would say “we’re really playing with fire from a monetary standpoint.”