Consider this observation by Milton Friedman regarding Keynes and the advent of Keynesianism:
“Keynes was exceedingly effective in persuading a broad group—economists, policymakers, government officials, and interested citizens—of the two concepts implicit in his letter to Hayek: first, the public interest concept of government; second, the benevolent dictatorship concept that all will be well if only good men are in power. Clearly, Keynes’s agreement with “virtually the whole” of the Road to Serfdom did not extend to the chapter titled “Why the Worst Get on Top.”
Keynes believed that economists (and others) could best contribute to the improvement of society by investigating how to manipulate the levers actually or potentially under control of the political authorities so as to achieve desirable ends, and then persuading benevolent civil servants and elected officials to follow their advice. The role of voters is to elect persons with the right moral values to office and then let them run the country“. (1)
Special attention needs paid to this passage: “…improvement of society by investigating how to manipulate the levers actually or potentially under control of the political authorities so as to achieve desirable ends…”. Keynes basically created a free pass for politicos through the mechanism of government to “tinker”. Keynesianism has institutionalized “tinkering”.
Going one more step and combining two Milton Friedman observations, take the above observation and the above highlighted passage and consider the following:
"The fundamental principle of socialism is that its is appropriate to use force to organize society, to take from some and give to others. The government has nothing to give. The government is simply a mechanism which has the power to take from some to give to others. It is a way in which some people can spend other peoples' money for the benefit of a third party - and not so incidentally themselves". (2)
Considering the two observations together, it strikes one that the only item of consequence of The General Theory for the politico is deficit spending or “spending”. Keynes and Keynesianism political-economy appears to boil down to an attempt to legitimize tinkering by “some people” i.e. politicos.
Tinkering through spending by some people is not an empirical proposition. Stated alternatively, tinkering through spending by some people is merely a notional proposition, a vision, or quite frankly no more than an opinion. It would logically follow that if we have a notional proposition, vision, and opinion…. then tinkering through spending by some people would be/will be supported and perpetuated by arguments that are notional propositions, vision oriented, and opinion based.
Step back for a moment, keeping in mind tinkering through spending by some people is supported and perpetuated by arguments that are notional propositions, vision oriented, and opinion based; exactly what kind-type arguments have been put forward in the last eighty years regarding government intervention into the economy? The track record of these notionally based intentions vs. the actual results? Tinkering through spending by some people, the summation there of, has produced exactly what? What grand cumulative positive result can one point to?
Hence we have no positive result. We have the constant and relentless continuation of notional propositions, vision oriented, and opinion based arguments regardless of the non-positive result. Which basically accumulates into the concept of “judge us by our intentions and not our results“. Which would lead one to surmise that tinkering through spending by some people is not a public policy concept but rather a political power concept. That Keynesianism is merely an institutionalized support argument for political power or the power of the state. Which circles one back to this statement by Friedman:
“The government has nothing to give. The government is simply a mechanism which has the power to take from some to give to others. It is a way in which some people can spend other peoples' money for the benefit of a third party - and not so incidentally themselves.”
(1) Milton Friedman, Richmond Federal Reserve Economic Quarterly, volume 83/2 Spring 1997.
(2) The Invisible Hand in Economics and Politics, Milton Friedman, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1981, p11.