BEYOND THE WELFARE STATE, by Gunnar Myrdal. Yale University Press: 1960.
One of the more curious things about the teaching of economics these days is the sharp and often vitriolic attack on planning. All too often the idea that careful forethought is essential to eliminate poverty and heighten the quality of economic existence is derided as a road to serfdom. Economics, we are told, is a pure science concerned only with spelling out the inferences to be drawn from a set of a priori statements. Man becomes a money-grubber whose selfishness redounds to the happiness of all; he delicately balances pain and pleasure in order to arrive at business decisions; he has sensitive antennae which impel him to respond instantaneously to the shifting demands of consumers; he can flit from industry to industry in search of ever greater profit; and all this supposedly makes for the best of economic worlds which only “planning” threatens to destroy.
One economist who dismisses such antediluvian notions is Gunnar Myrdal. As Sweden’s Minister of Trade and Commerce, Executive Secretary of the United Nations European Commission, author of a monumental work on the Negro in America and now research director of the Twe...
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