Photo 6 May 22 notes "On a miniature golf course in summer 1977, Murray Rothbard demonstrates the logic of purposeful action, while Sudha Shenoy prefers to be a praxeological voyeur, watching with amusement."

"On a miniature golf course in summer 1977, Murray Rothbard demonstrates the logic of purposeful action, while Sudha Shenoy prefers to be a praxeological voyeur, watching with amusement."


Quote 4 May 13 notes
An interesting parallel exists between the treatment of Rothbard vs. Nozick by the philosophy establishment, and that of Mises vs. Hayek by the economic establishment. Even if Mises’s conclusions were significantly more radical than both came to largely similar—politically “incorrect”—free-market conclusions. Based on the similarity of their conclusions, both Mises and Hayek were considered Austrian School economists. Yet the method by which they derived their conclusions fundamentally differed. Mises was a philosophical rationalist: systematic, rigorous, proving and demonstrating, and lucid as a writer. In comparison, Hayek was a philosophical skeptic: unsystematic, methodologically eclectic, tenatative and probing, and a less than lucid writer. Consequently, treatment by academia was significantly more friendly than that accorded to Mises. But also: it was the pre-modern “extremist Austrian” Mises, not the modem “moderate Austrian” Hayek, whose influence proved more intense and enduring, and whose work led to the formation of an ideological movement.
Quote 1 May 13 notes
Mises, almost single-handedly, has offered us the correct paradigm for economic theory, for social science, and for the economy itself, and it is high time that this paradigm be embraced, in all of its parts.
Quote 26 Apr 16 notes
The market demand by economically illiterate ‘men-in-the-street’ to have their prejudices, superstitions, and economic fallacies confirmed as being ‘correct’ is high. And the world has no shortage of professional economists catering to that demand. I do not for a moment believe that the professional economists who cater to this demand are in anyway insincere. I’m confident that people such as Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Peter Morici genuinely believe all that they write and say. But because the market so highly rewards confirmation of ‘man-in-the-street’ economic fallacies, those people who are especially skilled at assuring the ‘man-in-the-street’ that his fallacious beliefs are, in fact, gems of deep wisdom occupy a sustainable niche. Yet what they do is mostly lousy economics – indeed, it’s not economics at all.
Video 24 Apr 1 note

Bitcoin Decrypted: Part III - Social Theory Aspects is an introduction to Bitcoin that spans practical, technical, historical, and social-theory perspectives in an integrated narrative. For those with already an interest in Austrian Economics and an understanding of money, this is the one to watch.

Video 23 Apr 3 notes

Bitcoin Decrypted: Part II - Technical Aspects is an introduction to Bitcoin that spans practical, technical, historical, and social-theory perspectives in an integrated narrative.

Text 18 Apr 8 notes The Laffer Curve

Myth 9: An income tax cut helps everyone; not only the taxpayer but also the government will benefit, since tax revenues will rise when the rate is cut.

"This is the so-called "Laffer curve," set forth by California economist Arthur Laffer. It was advanced as a means of allowing politicians to square the circle; to come out for tax cuts, keeping spending at the current level, and balance the budget all at the same time. In that way, the public would enjoy its tax cut, be happy at the balanced budget, and still receive the same level of subsidies from the government.

It is true that if tax rates are 99%, and they are cut to 95%, tax revenue will go up. But there is no reason to assume such simple connections at any other time. In fact, this relationship works much better for a local excise tax than for a national income tax. A few years ago, the government of the District of Columbia decided to procure some revenue by sharply raising the District’s gasoline tax. But, then, drivers could simply nip over the border to Virginia or Maryland and fill up at a much cheaper price. D.C. gasoline tax revenues fell, and much to the chagrin and confusion of D.C. bureaucrats, they had to repeal the tax.

But this is not likely to happen with the income tax. People are not going to stop working or leave the country because of a relatively small tax hike, or do the reverse because of a tax cut.

There are some other problems with the Laffer curve. The amount of time it is supposed to take for the Laffer effect to work is never specified. But still more important: Laffer assumes that what all of us want is to maximize tax revenue to the government. If—a big if—we are really at the upper half of the Laffer Curve, we should then all want to set tax rates at that “optimum” point. But why? Why should it be the objective of every one of us to maximize government revenue? To push to the maximum, in short, the share of private product that gets siphoned off to the activities of government? I should think we would be more interested in minimizing government revenue by pushing tax rates far, far below whatever the Laffer Optimum might happen to be.”

          — Murray Rothbard

Text 14 Apr 6 notes Mises and “felt-uneasiness”

Rothbard,[…] describes how, in his economic treatise Man, Economy, and State, he took care to revise precisely this Misesian doctrine:

"[Most important was a thorough revision of the very first eight pages of the work—the pages which state the original axioms upon which the entire work is based.] The revision purged the original formulation of its definite philosophical pessimism, of the idea that human beings are constantly in a state of dissatisfaction and that man could only be happy in a state of inactive rest, such as in Paradise. Such a philosophical view is contrary to the nature state of man, which is at its happiest precisely when it is engaged in productive activity. The revised part eliminates the philosophical pessimism from praxeology." (Correspondence quoted in Stromberg 2005, xl [Intro to MES])

Accordingly, Rothbard [citation] acknowledges the possibility of “satisfaction in the labor itself,” and so grounds the “disutility of labor” not in labor’s being inherently distasteful, but in the fact that “labor always involves the forgoing of leisure,” which is also a value—though not pace Mises, the ultimate value. The fact that leisure has value for us explains why we prefer to economize on labor, thus allowing Rothbard to draw all the essential conclusions for which Mises thought he needed the mistaken Nirvana premise.

I have argued that the features of Misesian praxeology that Rand found most objectionable—its aprioristic methodology, its value-subjectivism, and its claims about motivational psychology—can be reinterpreted in ways that make them congenial to Rand’s philosophical principles while still preserving the essential points that Mises was seeking to make. Hence there is no reason for those of a Randian philosophical bent to deprive themselves of the powerful methodological instrument developed by Mises and his fellow Austrians: praxeology, the a priori science of human action”.

          — Roderick T. Long, Praxeology: Who Needs It”, p12 was written for the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies but essentially attempts to clear the language up regarding the ‘differences’. Anyway the part about Mises and “felt-uneasiness” condition is enlightening. If you’re dealing with objectivist’s who aren’t fans of praxeology/Mises formulation this would be the text to refer to.


Quote 13 Apr 6 notes
Friedrich Hayek once told me how much he admired the account of the business cycle in Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression, an account that rests on Rothbard’s understanding of monetary theory; and the Nobel laureate Maurice Allais has also praised the book.
Text 9 Apr 8 notes The Austrian School of Thought

"Intellectual curiosity has a habit of breaking through, however, especially among college and graduate students. As a result, the Austrian School has flourished over the last two decades, despite severe institutional obstacles.

In fact, the number of Austrians has grown so large, and the discussion so broad, that differences of opinion and branches of thought have arisen, in some cases developing into genuine clashes of thought. Yet they have all been conflated and jammed together by non-Austrians and even by some within the school, giving rise to a great deal of intellectual confusion, lack of clarity, and outright error.

The good side of these developing disputes is that each side has clarified and sharpened its underlying premises and world-view. It has indeed become evident in recent years that there are three very different and clashing paradigms within Austrian economics: the original Misesian or praxeological paradigm, to which the present author adheres; the Hayekian paradigm, stressing “knowledge” and “discovery” rather than the praxeological “action” and “choice,” and whose leading exponent now is Professor Israel Kirzner; and the nihilistic view of the late Ludwig Lachmann, an institutionalist antitheory approach taken from the English “subjectivist”-Keynesian G.L.S. Shackle.”

          — Murray Rothbard

Chat 1 Apr 5 notes Epistemology and Mises
  • AEN: Since then, you have been the strongest defender of the Austrian method, praxeology, since Rothbard.
  • HOPPE: Independently, I had concluded that economic laws were a priori and discoverable through deduction. Then I stumbled on Mises’s Human Action. That was the first time I found someone who had the same view; not only that, he had already worked out the entire system. From that point on, I was a Misesian.
  •  Mises took the idea of synthetic a priori–the idea that there are true statements about reality, derived from axioms and logic, that do not need to be tested–from Immanuel Kant. But Mises added an extremely important insight; Kantian mental categories can be understood as ultimately grounded in categories of action. With this, Mises bridged the gulf in Kantianism that separates mental from physical; what we think from the outside, physical world.
  •  If you start with the concept of action, you immediately realize that action involves a subject and an object. Action means; I do something with something in order to reach certain goals. That implies a theory of casuality, which had been a sticking point in Kantianism and remains so in positivism. There were hints of this in Kant, but nothing as explicit as you find it in Mises.
Quote 26 Mar 22 notes

Because there is no rational economic calculation taking place, politics rushes in to fill the vacuum. In politics, failure is success. The worse any government bureaucracy performs, as a rule, the more money it gets. All government bureaucracies have powerful incentives to grow, regardless of whether or not such growth actually serves the public.

Every bureaucrat is inherently an empire builder, because that is how he advances in his career. The route to promotion in managing a bigger and better-paying bureaucracy is to prove that one can “manage” a large number of people. And since there are no profits or shareholders in government, bureaucrats “profit” personally by spending taxpayers’ dollars lavishly on perquisites—a large staff, travel, office space, etc.

Thus, there are built-in incentives to maximize the number of subordinate bureaucrats, regardless of what this may mean for public service. Cost maximization characterizes all government bureaucracies, as opposed to cost minimization in private, competitive markets. Not to mention the notoriously shoddy quality of all government ‘services.’

— Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Futility of Bureaucracy
Video 4 Mar 12 notes

Konrad Graf delivers a talk addressing Action-Based Jurisprudence at the Australian Mises Seminar in 2012. The full text transcript with slides can be absorbed here. The talk has six sub-headings:

  • The problem of rights violating rights protectors [1:22]
  • Differentiating law and ethics [10:47]
  • Three core legal theory modules [18:35]
  • The full range of responses to aggression [33:56]
  • Consistently rights-protecting legal institutions [39:12]
  • Who wins and loses from misplaced complexity? [46:36]

There are several questions at the end of the presentation. As usual the above was brilliant. A listing of more timestamps are available in the video description. The paper I mentioned in the introduction which is the basis of the talk is available here along with some choice excerpts. This is the most cutting edge article on Austro-Libertarianism that exists today.

Quote 3 Mar 10 notes
Anyone can measure whatever he feels like measuring, then with the help of a computer fit some curves or equations on his data material, and finally change or not change the curves or equations depending on new, incoming material and/or new hypotheses about measurement error or uncontrolled intervening variables. Empiricism is a methodology suited to the intellectually poor, hence its popularity.
Video 26 Feb 3 notes
Human Action Comics: Issue #3.2 - The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility

A great graphical introduction to the science of human action and its most developed part—economics proper—under the banner of the Austrian School. The full slide show is continued here. The fourth in a series of many.

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