February 16

E.J. Dionne Jr. was wrong to state in his Feb. 10 op-ed column, “The road to paralysis,” that the theories of the Austrian economists have been discredited by history. In fact, some of our current government enterprises would reinforce Friedrich A. Hayek’s contention that bureaucrats, no matter how good their intentions, are unable to control a complex economy.

Mr. Dionne also failed to explain that the overriding theme of Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” is that a free market is necessary to preserve individual liberty, and that as a government fails in its efforts to control an economy, the citizens gradually lose their freedom through the imposition of an ever-increasing series of penalties and restrictions that are designed to correct the failing situation. Once the people’s freedom is gone, it is easy for a dictator to take over. This theory should strike a chord with many Americans today, given that our government is busily engaged in trying to remake the health-care and energy sectors of our economy, and it is already putting in place mechanisms that are designed to make us do what it has determined to be good.

If Hayek’s theories prove true, we can expect increasing penalties and coercions as we engage in commerce in the aforementioned sectors until we all fall into line. Mr. Dionne has done us a service by highlighting the works of the Austrians, but probably not in the way that he intended.

Peter Williams, Leonardtown