1304. (2-23-2011) (This will finish up monetary policy and inflation.)ATJ There are two points which cannot be stressed enough: first, it seems certain that we shall not stop the drift toward more and more state control unless we stop the inflationary trend; and, second, any continued rise in prices is dangerous because, once we shall be committed to a course that will leave us no choice but that between more inflation, on the one hand, and paying for our mistake by a recession or depression, on the other. Even a very moderate degree of inflation is dangerous because it ties the hands of those responsible for policy by creating a situation in which, every time a problem arises, a little more inflation seems the only easy way out….Let us simply note, then, that inflation makes it more and more impossible for people of moderate means to provide for their old age themselves; that it discourages saving and encourages running into debt; and that, by destroying the middle class, it creates that dangerous gap between the completely propertyless [sic] and the wealthy that is so characteristic of societies which have gone through prolonged inflations and which is the source of so much tension in those societies. Perhaps even more ominous is the wider psychological effect, the spreading among the population at large of that disregard of long-range views and exclusive concern with immediate advantages which already dominate public policy. It is no accident that inflationary policies are generally advocated by those who want more government control – though, unfortunately, not by them alone. The increased dependence of the individual upon government which inflation produces and the demand for more government action to which this leads may for the socialist be an argument in its favor. Those who wish to preserve freedom should recognize, however, that inflation is probably the most important single factor in that vicious circle where in one kind of government action makes more and more government control necessary. For this reason, all those who wish to stop the drift toward increasing government control should concentrate their efforts on monetary policy. There is perhaps nothing more disheartening than the fact that there are still so many intelligent and informed people who in most other respects will defend freedom and yet are induced by the immediate benefits of an expansionist policy to support what in the long run, must destroy the foundations of a free society.
- Friedrich A. Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty, 1960