In This Review

Walter Lippmann: Public Economist
Walter Lippmann: Public Economist
By Craufurd D. Goodwin
Harvard University Press, 2014, 424 pp

From the early 1920s until the mid-1960s, Walter Lippmann was among the most prominent American public intellectuals, a sought-after adviser to politicians and the author of many books and more than a thousand articles and columns for The New Republic, the Herald Tribune, and The Washington Post. Goodwin’s worthy book serves to remind readers that Lippmann was more than a mere pundit. Lippmann was a committed liberal, in the European sense, meaning that he favored free markets and a limited role for government. But he was pragmatic rather than dogmatic, and he objected to the shrinking of liberalism into the notion that government’s sole role is to protect property rights. Like his friend Friedrich Hayek, he abhorred monopolies, whether they were controlled by business or by unions, and he worried about the undue concentration of power in government hands—except during wartime, when he deemed such accumulated power necessary to defeat authoritarian Germany and Japan. He believed liberty had to be protected by good laws, which should include helping disadvantaged or unemployed people and taxing unearned income.