There's No Such Thing as a Value-Neutral Economic Choice

| Tue Sep. 17, 2013 12:56 AM EDT

Charles Lane complains about the politicization of the Federal Reserve:

The 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Act, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, put the Fed in charge of value-laden (i.e., political) trade-offs by requiring it to minimize both inflation and unemployment.

The implication here is that restricting the Fed's mandate solely to inflation wouldn't be a value-laden decision. But it is. It's a decision to conduct monetary policy exclusively for the benefit of the moneyed class, which likes low inflation, and the corporate class, which dislikes tight labor markets—and without concern for the preferences of the middle class, which likes having a job.

Remarkably, a lot of people in Washington DC are blind to this. They simply take it for granted that conservative economic doctrines are value-neutral, and they tend to dismiss opposing views as just so much partisan nonsense. That's what produces sentences like the one above.