Shorthand can have a powerful influence because it affects the way people frame discussions.
I think it would elevate the economic policy discussion tremendously to change the shorthand version from: "Hayek thought markets coordinated dispersed information and brought prosperity, and he also was skeptical of government intervention, and in the 1930s he argude with Keynes, who advocated government intervention" to:
"Hayek thought markets coordinated dispersed information and brought prosperity, and he also was skeptical of government intervention. Keynes agreed strongly with Hayek on the importance of markets, and was also worried about poor governance, but he helped us understand important things that a government can do during recessions."
It's not hard to promote one shorthand over the other, but the difference is huge. If you choose one version over the other, you really ought to think about why. I think the second bit of shorthand accomplishes a few important things:
1. First, it helps combat anti-market bias among an often economically illiterate public by making crystal clear that all sides of the debate among economists agree about the value of markets.
2. It focuses on the real disagreement: the question of whether there are smart things government can do or not.
3. It moves away from the place where there isn't disagreement: the question of whether the market or the government is better at allocating resources and coordinating human wants.
Plus it's simply better history.
And the point is, you can still write make whatever point you want to make - side with Hayek over Keynes, etc. - if you use this sort of shorthand for the debate. There's no good reason to make people think that Keynesianism is underconsumptionism. There's no good reason to make people think that Keynesianism is a blank check for government. There's no good reason to make people think that Keynesianism is a challenge to the market. It's very easy not to say these things. There's no cost to not saying these things. Indeed, what you're doing when you say these sorts of things is skewing the debate.
Ditto for the people with a proclivity to say Hayek doesn't care about poor people.
This is what I do a lot on this blog - correct the framing of the discussion of Keynesian economics. I have other things I write about too, but that sort of monitoring of the way Keynes and Keynesianism are talked about is part of it (in fact, most bloggers seem to have some discourse or other that they take it upon themselves to monitor and police... it's a very common blogging style). The little things can do a lot for the debate. I'd much rather we argue over stabilization policy than over some kind of false government vs. markets dichotomy where Keynesians always get stuck on the side defending government.
How did this happen?
6 hours ago