Economists, Socialist and Non-Socialist
To the Editor:
In “Our Welfare State and Our Political Parties” (April 1954), Norman Thomas writes, “In out time only two first-rate theoretical contributions have been made to the study of economics by non-socialists. They are the late John Maynard Keynes’ theory of spending, saving, and investing, and . . . John Kenneth Galbraith’s suggestive but not conclusive study of American capitalism in terms of ‘countervailing power.’” My first reaction was one of disbelief, surely I had misread the statement. My second is to offer these three comments.
- 1. The statement is an heroic insult to the work of J. M. Clack, Joseph Schumpeter, J. R. Hicks, and a score of other outstanding economists. One would assume that either these men are all socialists or that their contributions have not been first-rate. Neither is true.
- The grouping is comparable to saying that Toscanini and Guy Lombardo are the outstanding conductors of our time.
- The implication that there have been first-rate contributions by socialists is misleading to say the least. The so-called “competitive solution” formulated by Lange, Lerner, and others may have been instructive to Mr. Thomas, but for mst economists it merely confirmed the well-known theoretical efficiency of a perfectly competitive market system.
Victor R. Fuchs
New York City