British economist John Maynard Keynes famously wrote in 1923, in a tract on monetary policy, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”
Economists have debated the significance of this wry theoretical phrase. Some have critiqued him, along with other economists who sought to moderate the austerity policies of governments during times of intense economic retraction, as not caring about the future or future generations. They accuse Keynes of being willing for short term benefit to enact policies that would damage the economy in the longer term, leaving ruinously burdensome debt, for example, that would debilitate the future economy for following generations. One critic even went so far as to suggest that because Keynes was gay and didn’t have children, he simply didn’t care about the future and could afford to adopt a recklessly short-termist approach to the economy.