Ludwig von Mises
So contends Lev Nazrozov. He writes:
Out-of-control predatory capitalists have perpetrated a worldwide economic depression. Capitalism’s degenerate character is now extraordinarily visible during this time of multiple crises.
On each side of the page there is a picture of a miserable emaciated proletarian who carries on his back a huge pack of money, with a bourgeois seated atop of the pack and smoking a cigar.
By simply allowing the government to dominate every sector of the polity, by embracing totalitarianism, we might be able to avoid the woes of economic recession? Historical study makes such a conclusion seem ridiculous. While totalitarian economies did not suffer from “depressions”, per se, one could argue that consumers and citizens lived under a system which continuously mimicked the effects of depression.
Every year the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, AL hosts a conference for scholars of the Austrian tradition to come together and share essays and ideas. This year’s conference was loaded with big names and reputable authors among the Libertarian and generally liberty-minded.
Naturally a recurrent theme of this lecture was monetary policy, specifically having to do with the dollar’s spiral toward hyper-inflation in the midst of the current economic collapse. Schiff stressed that sooner than later the rest of the world, more importantly those still buying our debt would wise up to our inability to repay those fiscal obligations. He told a short story about a wily old man in a certain neighborhood who had hoodwinked the neighborhood kids into vying for the job of painting his fence. He related the metaphor by surmising, “We’ve got the world painting our fences, as if they don’t have their own fences to paint.” Essentially, he said the way it is now, we get all the stuff and they only get the jobs. He then fittingly asked, “What good are jobs without stuff?” In short, we are barreling straight toward a currency crisis.
Growing up in a religious home and later dabbling in Christian apologetics, I developed affinity for C.S. Lewis, author of several novels and books — including the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.
Whether call yourself a Christian or an atheist, Lewis was indeed a great writer who didn’t simply ground his beliefs in faith. Unlike many who simply follow their beliefs based on Sunday school teachings, Lewis developed the modern view of Christian apologetics, laying the ground for future thinkers, including William Lane Craig and others.
One of my favorite books by Lewis is Mere Christianity. In this book, Lewis presents a case for Christianity and also breaks down the Christian worldview on society and morality. In the book, Lewis notes that a pure Christian society would closely resemble socialism, a suggestion that isn’t too far off-base if one reads the Book of Acts, which explains that early Christians lived together and “had everything in common.” This was likely due to the persecution endured by early believers at the hands of Jews and Roman rulers. They kept together in what were very unaccepting times for followers of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, I read a scathing critique of the anarcho-capitalists associated with the thought of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell. Here’s an excerpt (the post itself is no longer available):
Anarchists are to libertarians as Occupy Wall Street is to the Tea Party. They’re both basically pissed off at the same thing. Their solutions are radically different.
Just as the occupiers have a Christmas wish-list of insane Marxist fantasies, the anarchist libertarians (see: anarcho-capitalists, Rothbardians, and people who read LewRockwell.com) have their own catalog of misguided utopian fairytales about smashing the state. And they will be happy to prove to you just how great the world would be without any government, if you would just read one or two of Ludwig von Mises’s 1500 page pedantic treatises, or Murray Rothbard’s confused polemics (imagine reading Nietzsche’s Tumblr if he were into economics).
While I agree with the impracticality of anarchism and the basics of his critique of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, I note a glaring omission in his piece. He doesn’t even touch upon the existence of left-libertarians, like the market anarchists associated with the Molinari Institute and the Center for a Stateless Society.
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” - Ronald Reagan
I’m a fan of Ronald Reagan. He wasn’t perfect. He compromised when necessary. However, he is the only president in the last several decades that understood limited government. He read Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek and Frédéric Bastiat. And despite her animosity towards him, he considered himself a disciple of Ayn Rand. He understood and embraced free trade and immigration. He was not, despite what neoconservatives tell us about his foreign policy views, Reagan was not one of them.
While he may not have been a libertarian, but he exhibited many of those tendencies. In short, Reagan was nearly everything that George W. Bush wasn’t. A defender of limited government, free markets and personal responsibility.
Here is video of the tribute to the Gipper that will be played at the Super Bowl today:
The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity
All presidents worry about their popularity. They try to bolster it through impassioned rhetoric, free stuff for influential voting blocs, new programs that cost billions, dramatic photo ops, and of course wars to unite the country behind their valiant leadership. In most all cases, they choose means of gaining popularity that come at the expense of liberty.
But what if a president took a different direction and sought popularity by expanding rather than reducing liberty? There is a model here they could follow but it is not one you have thought of.
It is Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his first 30 days, he did more to bring liberty to Americans than any president since Thomas Jefferson repealed the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933. After dealing with the banking crisis and the budget during his first week on the job, on March 13 he called on Congress to repeal Prohibition. On March 23, he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale in the United States of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent.
He wasted no time: he signed it one day after Congress passed it. He said with great élan, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
Only then, on March 16, did FDR begin to work on his New Deal agenda. Then he had the wind at his back. It was a dramatic beginning to the end of one of the greatest legal calamities in American history: the hated Prohibition embodied in the 18th Amendment, which had been in effect for 13 violent years.
This comes from J. Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
It’s not right for a 6-year-old boy to be handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer because he “acted up” in school. But that’s exactly what happened at the Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans. In keeping with our work to reform the abusive juvenile justice system in the Deep South, we’ve filed a lawsuit against the school district to stop the brutal and unconstitutional policy of chaining students who break minor school rules.
Our client, J.W., is a typical first-grader. He’s just four feet tall and weighs 60 pounds. He enjoys playing basketball, being read to by his parents, coloring and playing outside with friends. But his school treated him like an animal. Within one week, he was twice forcibly arrested, handcuffed and shackled to a chair for talking back to a teacher and later arguing with a classmate over a seat. The amount of force used on J.W. was simply ridiculous and, predictably, inflicted severe emotional distress. Shockingly, this level of punishment is official school policy. We’re not just fighting for the rights of J.W., but for all the students at Reed Elementary.
Unfortunately, J.W.’s story is hardly unique. All across the nation, schools have adopted draconian “zero-tolerance” policies that treat children like criminals and turn schools into prison-like environments. The primary function of school is to help educate our children so that they can become productive, well-informed adults. These policies do just the opposite — they seize on any opportunity to criminalize behavior and eject children from schools, driving up dropout rates.
The folks at the Ludwig von Mises Institute have made a ton of libertarian literature available online for free. The database includes books, magazines and papers from authors like Ludwig von Mises (of course), F.A. Hayek and Murray Rothbard.
Check out the database here.
When Ludwig von Mises first arrived in the United States after escaping from Nazi Europe, and pretty much up until the present day, he was essentially ignored by the mainstream economics community in the United States. It was only through the assistance of American businessmen that he was able to get a job teaching at New York University, and, even then, the work he did had nothing to do with official university activities because he was, effectively, shunned for his uncompromising defense of the free-market.
Earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal, though, Mises is given credit for being one of the few economists in the 1920s to foresee the impending Great Depression: