Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rich and Paul

From Ryan Lizza's New Yorker profile of Paul Ryan:
In 1988, Ryan went to Miami University, in Ohio, where he got to know an economics professor named William R. Hart, a fierce and outspoken libertarian in a faculty dominated by liberals. The two quickly discovered their shared fascination with Rand and Hayek. Ryan got his first introduction to movement conservatism when Hart handed him an issue of National Review. “Take this magazine—I think you’ll like it,” he said.
Rich Hart (nobody calls him "William" or "Bill") was a colleague of mine for several years when I worked at Miami.  He certainly was "outspoken" - I figured that much out on my visit to Oxford as a job candidate, when I quickly realized politics probably wasn't the safest subject. After one of his colleagues - Rich wasn't the only conservative there - described Hillary Clinton as a "communist" I changed the topic.  After getting know Rich a little better, I'm sure he wouldn't have held the fact that our political views were very different against me.  Indeed, he was always quite kind in his dealings with me and supportive of the junior faculty.

I never had a precise sense of what Rich taught in his macroeconomics class, but, while he may have reinforced the political inclinations Paul Ryan brought with him to Miami, I highly doubt he could be held responsible for Ryan's absurdly ignorant take on monetary policy:
Perhaps Ryan’s most unconventional opinion on monetary policy came in the summer of 2010, when he told Ezra Klein that the Federal Reserve should actually raise interest rates even as the U.S. economy was still struggling: “[T]here’s a lot of capital parked out there, and we need to coax it out into the markets,” he said. “I think literally that if we raised the federal funds rate by a point, it would help push money into the economy, as right now, the safest play is to stay with the federal money and federal paper.”

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