Rapping About the Economy

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PAIR OF FAMOUS ECONOMISTS SETTLE A DEBATE IN A RAP BATTLE?

Economics may be known as the ‘dismal science’ but Russ Roberts of  the Georgetown University Mercatus Center has created a music video that takes competing economic viewpoints out of the musty confines of scholarly articles and places it in a more contemporary arena: the rap battle.

While it may seem like gimmicky white boy rap this song is actually an accurate—if simplified—portrayal of the views of these two economists. In fact John Maynard Keynes’ biographer, Lord Robert Skidelsky, called the rap “Absolutely fair and brilliantly rhymed.”  Economics may not have gotten any easier, but when you add bling, babes, and limos at least it’s a little more fun.

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As you see in the music video, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek held opposing views on the proper role of government intervention in an economy. Both economists were among the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Their ideas were revolutionary in their time and have persevered to the present, becoming a piece of the foundation of modern global economics.

 Keynes was one of the central forces behind the idea of using government spending to stimulate a depressed economy.  His ideas led to Roosevelt-era public works projects like the WPA and the TVA which hired thousands of workers left unemployed by the Great Depression.  These stimulus projects, combined with the war spending of World War II, are generally credited with ending the Great Depression.

Friedrich August Hayek was a Nobel Prize winner and a member of the ‘Austrian School’ of economics. His most famous work, The Road to Serfdom, warned against reliance on government control of the economy.  He argued that national economies were too complex to be managed from the top down and that any sort of centralized control would inevitably lead to inefficiencies, corruption, and ultimately create a tyrannical government.  Hayek has recently enjoyed a renaissance of sorts; The Road to Serfdom was featured on Glenn Beck’s program and then surged to the top of Amazon’s bestseller charts. 

Thanks to Library Circulation Assistant Andrew Keepers-Phillips for this entry.

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2 Responses to Rapping About the Economy

  1. Lilycat says:

    Thanks–this is great. We need informed public debate and this is a step in the right direction. Thank you Andrew.

  2. Well written article on the economic rap, Andrew!Short and precise.
    I must go with Hayek.
    Keynes promotion of government spending to effectuate the economy smells of “disaster capitalism”,which allows corruption,inefficiencies due to siphoned monies and a power grab by tyrannical government that is enticed by greed and authority.
    “Disaster Capitalism” promotes the Hegelian Dialectics…problem ,reaction,solution…motive to first destroy the economy by market manipulation(problem),then secondly, for the reaction to occur(recession/depression)to bring about the third occurence…their solution which entails indebting the nation further with stimulas that are dispersed to certain segments/sectors….
    Naomi Klein writes extensively of this manipulation by design.”The Shock Doctrine;Disaster Capitalism”

    http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine

    Again,thanks for this timely article.

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