typewriterking (typewriterking) wrote in conservatism,

Founder of Reaganomics: Ibn Khaldun, 1377 A.D.

Too much of our political class is narcissistic enough to fall for the fallacious conceit that all great thinking is modern. Too few genuinely recognize, as Newton did, that our own heights are only achieved when we're hoisted atop the shoulders of giants that come before. Members of the Austrian School, especially Jesús Huerta de Soto, have been good in recent years in acknowledging the best of their thinking actually dates back to the Scholastic tradition. And not long ago I learned that Ronald Reagan received his economic policy ideas from a figure that almost dates back as far as Thomas Aquinas.

I was just revisiting Reagan sitting down with William F. Buckley Jr. on Firing Line, and the ex-president credited one Ibn Khaldun for inventing supply-side economics. Video:
Who is Ibn Khaldun? He was an Arab scholar born in modern-day Tunisia many centuries ago. He wrote a book called The Muqaddimah in 1377, which is apparently the text Reagan gleaned his ideas from. Khaldun wrote:

"It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments."

And I bet most of you believe the creation myth about supply-side originating with Art Laffer scribbling on a napkin. :)

Other things Khaldun apparently invented before the West rediscovered it: the supply and demand curves later reinvented by Alfred Marshall, Biblical criticism, the scientific method applied to sociology and history, and the theory of evolution. He also anticipated much of the Enlightenment. He was also apparently a Cornucopian, rather than a Malthusian, because of his beliefs that population growth begets more wealth in a society.

In the interview with Buckley, Reagan stresses discovering Khaldun "in my studies." He apparently discovered the scholar independent of his political advisers as governor and president. It makes me wonder what other texts he may have gone through.

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