Gary North has a great piece on even Economist magazine writers having a go at Rothbard. Following the North piece, George Selgin took a swing calling Rothbard, get this, a bad to mediocre monetary economist. (Major-Freedom replies to that here) Not to be out done by Selgin, Donald Boudreaux writes on a Facebook page:
Rothbard wasn't 1/100th the economist that Friedman was.Not surprisingly, Boudreaux teaches at the rabid anti-Rothbard George Mason University. What gives?
Jaffi Joe in a comment below explains:
I started my interest in economics by reading Smith, Bastiat, Say, Ricardo, Mill, etc. I got through the classics and then started reading Fisher, Keynes, Samuelson, Friedman, etc. All of this time I had never even heard of Austrian economics until about 4 years ago (Ron Paul mentioned it), so I began reading Mises, Menger, Hayek, you know, the regulars. But, it was not until I started reading Rothbard that it really sank in.The attacks on Rothbard are downright vicious and the promotion of the establishment's token supposed free market economist, Milton Freidman, in his place is absurd. Rothbard never made any of the serious demonstrable errors that Friedman made in monetary theory and methodology. About the best that could be said about Friedman is that he sure knew how to pick his errors. They managed to get him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988. It was awarded to him by that other free market poser, Ronald Reagan.
Of course the establishment economists and media will attempt to make Rothbard fall into a memory hole. Not only did he write in an extremely straight-forward and easy to understand language, but he also covered a wide range of sciences and topics (economics, political theory, history...). And, as it just so happens, a lot of people are beginning to read his work these days.
The establishment is merely trying to nip this one in the bud. They see Rothbard (and, Austrian econ in general) getting a resurgence, so the only way for them to combat this trend is to talk trash about it. They know, just as most Austrians do, that it is extremely hard to go back to being a statist after having read a few of Rothbard's books. Trust me, the last thing that they want is to have a bunch of ancaps running around; we might end their gravy train.
Somehow, I can't see Rothbard walking in the White House to get a medal from a guy Rothbard dubbed a warmonger. Oh yes, this is what Rothbard taught us five years before Friedman grabbed his medal in a ceremony that would have likely embarrassed a Roman emperor:
Don't for a minute think that the Selgins and Bodreuaxs of the world don't know who is handing out the medals. Rothbard knew also. The only difference is that Rothbard did not have trouble speaking truth to power and it is paying off for all of us now. Rothbard's writings are as popular as ever, and we can all learn from them. Friedman's book sales are pretty much limited to required readings that appear on reading lists of Keynesian economics professors.The world is in very dangerous waters. The "true" or rhetorical Ronald Reagan, the second Reagan of the conservative "Let Reagan Be Reagan" slogan, has functioned only in the world of rhetoric since the beginning of his misbegotten Administration, or arguably since he embraced the Rockefeller Republicans at the convention of 1980. The rhetorical Reagan, the "Get Big Government Off Our Backs," free market, war-with-Russia stance, has been particularly eclipsed since the end of the first year of his Administration. In economics, quasi-libertarians, monetarists, and supply-siders have been elbowed aside since 1982, and replaced by the same kind of quasi-conservative Keynesians who brought us the Nixon and Ford Administrations. In foreign policy, however, while the war fanatics like Richard Allen and Richard Pipes were booted out after a year, there has recently been a recrudescence of war-hawk domination by a troika of old Reagan buddy Judge William P. Clark, national security adviser whose admitted total ignorance of foreign affairs seems especially to qualify him for a top foreign policy post; Cap Weinberger of Bechtel Corporation and the Defense Department; and neo-conservative hatchet-lady and political scientist Jeane Kirkpatrick, whose contribution to political theory was to distinguish between "good" authoritarian and "bad" totalitarian torture...
But don't take my word on the greatness of Rothbard. Read Rothbard for yourself right here and judge on your own as to whether Rothbard wrote consistently with clarity on a broad range of topics that cause bafflement by most of us as to how one man could be so knowledgeable and prolific. And then after you have read Rothbard, contrast what you have read with the vicious comments of the Selgin and Bodreaux.