The Australian Mises Seminar is named in honour of Ludwig von Mises, perhaps the most gifted economist and philosopher of the 20th century.
Mises was a prolific author who spawned a global movement dedicated to carrying on his tradition. One of his students, F.A. Hayek, went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. Another of his students, Murray N. Rothbard, extended Mises’ ideas and founded what is now the modern libertarian movement. A living proponent of Mises’ ideas is Congressman Ron Paul who ran for the office of President of the United States, sparking an international and intellectual revolution.
The spirit of the seminar is best encapsulated by Mises’ lifelong motto taken from Virgil’s Aeneid: “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito” — ‘Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it’. We look forward to you joining the rest of the remnant this December at this not to be missed event!
The Benevolence Of The Market
The eclectic Jeffrey Tucker addresses the benevolence of the free market. Hear him speak at the Australian Mises Seminar 2013 in Brisbane on the 30th Nov - 1st December. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit: mises.org.au.
- “The market economy safeguards peaceful economic cooperation because it does not use force upon the economic plans of the citizens. If one masterplan is to be substituted for the plans of each citizen, endless fighting must emerge.”
— Ludwig von Mises
"Here it suffices to present just a few examples of what is meant by a priori theory - and in particular to cite some such examples from the realm of the social sciences - in order to put any possible suspicion to rest and recommend my theoretical approach as intuitively plausible and in accordance with common sense.
Examples of what I mean by a priori theory are:
No material thing can be at two places at once. No two objects can occupy the same place. A straight line is the shortest line between two points. No two straight lines can enclose a space. Whatever object is red all over cannot be green (blue, yellow, etc.) all over. Whatever object is colored is also extended. Whatever object has shape has also size. If A is a part of B and B is a part of C, then A is a part of C. 4 = 3 +1. 6 = 2 (33 - 30).
Implausibly, empiricists must denigrate such propositions as mere linguistic-syntactic conventions without any empirical content, i.e., “empty” tautologies. In contrast to this view and in accordance with common sense, I understand the same propositions as asserting some simple but fundamental truths about the structure of reality. And in accordance with common sense, too, I would regard someone who wanted to “test” these propositions, or who reported “facts” contradicting or deviating from them, as confused. A priori theory trumps and corrects experience (and logic overrules observation), and not vice-versa.
More importantly, examples of a priori theory also abound in the social sciences, in particular in the fields of political economy and philosophy:
Human action is an actor’s purposeful pursuit of valued ends with scarce means. No one can purposefully not act. Every action is aimed at improving the actor’s subjective well-being above what it otherwise would have been. A larger quantity of a good is valued more highly than a smaller quantity of the same good. Satisfaction earlier is preferred over satisfaction later. Production must proceed consumption. What is consumed now cannot be consumed again in the future. If the price of a good is lowered, either the same quantity or more will be bought than otherwise. Prices fixed below market clearing prices will lead to lasting shortages.
Without private property in factors of production there can be no factor prices, and without factor prices cost-accounting is impossible. Taxes are an imposition on producers and/or wealth owners and reduce production and/or wealth below what it otherwise would have been. Interpersonal conflict is possible only if and insofar as things are scarce. No thing or part of a thing can be owned exclusively by more than one person at a time.
Democracy (majority rule) is incompatible with private property (individual ownership and rule). No form of taxation can be uniform (equal), but every taxation involves the creation of two distinct and unequal classes of tax-payersvs. tax-receiver-consumers. Property and property titles are distinct entities, and an increase of the latter without a corresponding increase of the former does not raise social wealth but leads to a redistribution of existing wealth.”
For an empiricist, propositions such as these must be interpreted as either stating nothing empirical at all and being mere speech conventions, or as forever testable and tentative hypotheses. To us, as to common sense, they are neither. In fact, it strikes us as utterly disingenuous to portray these propositions as having no empirical content. Clearly, they state something about “real” things and events! And it seems similarly disingenuous to regard these propositions as hypotheses.
Hypothetical propositions, as commonly understood, are statements such as these:
Children prefer McDonald’s over Burger King. The world-wide ratio of beef to pork spending is 2:1. Germans prefer Spain over Greece as vacation destination. Longer education in public schools will lead to higher wages. The volume of shopping shortly before Christmas exceeds that shortly after Christmas. Catholics vote predominantly “Democratic.” Japanese save a quarter of their disposable income. Germans drink more beer than Frenchmen. The United States produces more computers than any other country. Most inhabitants of the U.S. are white and of European descent.
Propositions such as these require the collection of historical data to be validated. And they must be continually re-evaluated, because the asserted relationships are not necessary (but “contingent”) ones; that is, because there is nothing inherently impossible, inconceivable, or plain wrong in assuming the opposite of the above: e.g., that children prefer Burger King to McDonald’s, or Germans Greece to Spain, etc.. This, however, is not the case with the former, theoretical propositions. To negate these propositions and assume, for instance, that a smaller quantity of a good might be preferred to a larger one of the same good, that what is being consumed now can possibly be consumed again in the future, or that cost-accounting could be accomplished also without factor prices, strikes one as absurd; and anyone engaged in “empirical research” and “testing” to determine which one of two contradictory propositions such as these does or does not hold appears to be either a fool or a fraud.”
"Let us consider an example. When A trades an a to B for one of his b’s, each of them, A and B, gain in welfare in the ex ante sense.
That is, A values the b he receives more than the a he must give up in this exchange. And, similarly, B, ranks the incoming a more highly than the outgoing b.
Perhaps the best illustration of this is that famous front cover of the Saturday Evening Post where Normal Rockwell draws the milkman and the pie man, each sitting in front of their respective trucks, munching away on a pie and slurping at a bottle of milk.
We are given to understand by Rockwell, an artist who would appear to know more about economics than Friedman, that right before the scenario he depicted, the milkman (A) traded a bottle of milk (a) with the pie man (B) for one of the latter’s products (b), and that each did so because he valued what he received more than what he had to give up for it.”
— Walter Block
Public – private partnerships (PPP) are thus part and parcel of both fascism and socialism; they constitute a partial state ownership of the means of production. As well, they are emblematic of fascism, and government is the senior partner, and its regulations still determine the actions of these public – private partnerships.
PPPs are thus a hybrid between socialism and fascism. How do they stack up against their more economically “pure” brethren? Not too well. They have the flaws of both. The problem with both socialism and fascism, as compared to free enterprise and private property rights, is both moral and economic. As far as ethics is concerned, PPPs, socialism and fascism, are all based on coercion.
They are not based on the voluntary choices of property owners, none of the three. And, as economic efficiency is concerned, these three variants of totalitarianism do not pass muster either. Mises, in his classic critique of socialism, has demonstrated its difficulties, and the flaws in the regulatory (fascist) state are too legion, and too well known, to even deserve citation.
- Austrian Economics Newsletter: Just so that we're clear, between the 1940s and the early 1970s, you were the only one that did serious scholarly work in Austrian economics?
- Murray N. Rothbard: Well, Henry Hazlitt did some excellent work. But then he was uncredentialed. Hutt did some, but it wasn't really Austrian. Kirzner had written some serious articles. But basically the tradition had stagnated. By the late seventies, Austrian economics was considered Hayekian, not Misesian. Without the founding of the Mises Institute, I am convinced the whole Misesian program would have collapsed.
"In fact, the reason why the social and economic future cannot be regarded as entirely and absolutely uncertain should not be too hard to understand: The impossibility of causal predictions in the field of action was proven by means of an a priori argument. And this argument incorporated a priori true knowledge about actions as such: that they cannot be conceived of as governed by time-invariantly operating causes.
Thus, while economic forecasting will indeed always be a systematically unteachable art, it is at the same time true that all economic forecasts must be thought of as being constrained by the existence of a priori knowledge about actions as such.  Take, for example, the quantity theory of money the praxeological proposition that if you in crease the quantity of money and the demand for money stays constant, then the purchasing power of money will fall.
Our a priori knowledge about actions as such informs us that it is impossible to predict scientifically whether or not the quantity of money will be increased, decreased or left unchanged. Nor is it possible to predict scientifically whether or not, regardless of what happens to the quantity of money, the demand for money to be held in cash balances will go up or down or stay the same. We cannot claim to be able to predict such things because we cannot predict future states of knowledge of people. And yet these states evidently influence what happens with respect to the quantity of money and the demand for money. Then, our theory, our praxeological knowledge incorporated in the quantity theory, has a rather limited usefulness for one’s business of predicting the economic future.”
-  The former Austrian and neo-historicist-hermeneutician-nihilist Ludwig Lachmann, who repeats ad nauseam the unpredictability of future states of knowledge (see his “From Mises to Shackle: An Essay on Austrian Economics and the Kaleidic Society,” Journal of Economic Literature 54 (1976); The Market as an Economic Process (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986), entirely misses recognizing this latter point. In fact, his arguments are simply self-defeating. For evidently he claims to know for certain the unknowability of future knowledge and, by logical extension, of actions. Yet then he does know something about future knowledge and action. He must know something about knowledge and action as such. And this, precisely, is what praxeology claims to be: knowledge regarding actions as such, and (as I have explained in my “On Praxeology and the Praxeological Foundations of Epistemology and Ethics,” p.49 below) knowledge about the structure which any future knowledge must have by virtue of the fact that it invariably must be knowledge of actors.
"In the pleasant but illusory world of “national product statistics,” government expenditures on goods and services constitute an addition to the nation’s product. Actually, since government’s revenue, in contrast to all other institutions, is coerced from the taxpayers rather than paid voluntarily, it is far more realistic to regard all government expenditures as a depredation upon, rather than an addition to, the national product.
In fact, either government expenditures or receipts, whichever is the higher, may be regarded as the burden on private national product, and subtraction of the former figure from Gross Private Product (GPP) will yield an estimate of the private product left in private hands. The ratio of government depredation (government expenditures or receipts, whichever is the higher) over Gross Private Product yields the approximate percentage of government depredation of the private product of the economy. 
In a depression, it is particularly important that the government’s fiscal burden on the economy be reduced. In the first place, it is especially important at such a time to free the economy from the heavy load of government’s acquiring resources, and second, a lowering of the burden will tend to shift total spending so as to increase investment and lower consumption, thus providing a double impetus toward curing a depression.”
How Austrian were the French? An Austro-Australian Perspective
- Why the French Classical Liberal Tradition is Important?
- What makes the Austrian School “Austrian”?
- What makes the French CL School “Austrian”?
“Since outright grants of monopoly or quasi monopoly would usually be considered baldly injurious to the public, governments have discovered a variety of methods of granting such privileges indirectly, as well as a variety of arguments to justify these measures. But they all have the effects common to monopoly or quasi-monopoly grants and monopoly prices when these are obtained.
The important types of monopolistic grants (monopoly and quasi monopoly) are as follows:
- governmentally enforced cartels which every firm in an industry is compelled to join;
- virtual cartels imposed by the government, such as the production quotas enforced by American agricultural policy;
- licenses, which require meeting government rules before a man or a firm is permitted to enter a certain line of production, and which also require the payment of a fee—a payment that serves as a penalty tax on smaller firms with less capital, which are thereby debarred from competing with larger firms;
- “quality” standards, which prohibit competition by what the government (not the consumers) defines as “lower-quality” products;
- tariffs and other measures that levy a penalty tax on competitors outside a given geographical region;
- immigration restrictions, which prohibit the competition of laborers, as well as entrepreneurs, who would otherwise move from another geographical region of the world market;
- child labor laws, which prohibit the labor competition of workers below a certain age;
- minimum wage laws, which, by causing the unemployment of the least value-productive workers, remove their competition from the labor markets;
- maximum hour laws, which force partial unemployment on those workers who are willing to work longer hours;
- compulsory unionism, such as the Wagner-Taft-Hartley Act imposes, causing unemployment among the workers with the least seniority or the least political influence in their union;
- conscription, which forces many young men out of the labor force;
- any sort of governmental penalty on any form of industrial or market organization, such as antitrust laws, special chain store taxes, corporate income taxes, laws closing businesses at specific hours or outlawing pushcart peddlers or door-to-door salesmen;
- conservation laws, which restrict production by force;
- patents, where independent later discoverers of a process are debarred from entering a field production.”
— Murray Rothbard, Power & Market