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Power and Market: Government and the Economy Paperback – September, 1977

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sheed Andrews and McMeel; 2nd edition (September 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836207513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836207514
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,768,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Power and Market is Murray Rothbard's seminal critique of government intervention in the economy. Originally meant to be part of his magisterial Man, Economy, and State, it was published separately some years later. (For a discussion of this, see Justin Raimondo's An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard at 189-194.)
Unlike most Austrian school economists, Rothbard was an anarchist. In fact, he was the twentieth century's seminal figure in anarcho-capitalist thought. This means that Rothbard thought that not only roads and the like, but also national defense and courts could be provided without a state. (See his Society Without a State in the Libertarian Reader, ed. Machan, for a succinct presentation of his views.)
Rothbard starts out this work with a discussion of various types of government intervention in the economy. He divides them into three types: autistic (violent crime), triangular (tariffs, wage and price controls, licensing, etc.)and binary intervention (taxation and government spending). Following this is a discussion of antimarket ethics. There isn't an aspect of government intervention in the economy that escapes Rothbard's scalpel. As a whole, this is certainly an outstanding book. Take Rothbard's discussion of taxation. Many "right wing" economists support the sales tax on the ground that it doesn't discourage savings and investment. But it reduces people's income and thereby reduces savings and investment. It is a tax on income. [pp. 92-93.]
My main problem with this work is the sometimes simplistic discussion of complex problems and the leaps in logic. (I've discussed this is my review of The Ethics of Liberty.) Take for example the issue of immigration laws. "The advocate of immigration laws . . .
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By A Customer on July 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
if you feel a serious need to understand what is being done to you, and your business, by those in charge of the government, look no further! when you are done reading power and market, not only will you be able to criticize, you will understand the situation. by the way, this book reads fresh and new. it could have been written yesterday; and it is that relevance that makes it so special!
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Format: Paperback
I became familiar with this book at a symposium at the Mises Institute in the Fall of 1998. Jeff Tucker ran sessions on Power and Market for grad students in the Auburn econ department. The message of Power and Market is clear: the public goods theory of government is wrong. No market fails completely. The private sector can supply anything, albeit imperfectly, including security. Rothbard breaks intervention down into categories (autistic, binary, triangular) and examines how all types of intervention disrupt private commerce.

The publication of Power and Market was a major event in Austrian Economics. Up to this point Austrians all endorsed the minimal state. Since then Austrians have been divided between Anarchists and Minarchists. The case that Rothbard makes for comprehensive privatization is bold, especially when you consider the mindset of both professional economists and the general public in the 1960's. From a purely intellectual standpoint Power and Market is not really bold, it is just a matter of thinking critically about all forms of intervention. But when you consider the predominant ideological mindset back then, and even now, the intellectual courage exhibited by Rothbard becomes clear.

Power and Market should be read with Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia and Sanford Ikeda's Dynamics of the Mixed Economy, and perhaps also Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons, Robert Caneiro's A Theory of the Origin of the State, and Higg's Crisis and Leviathan. Not everyone will embrace Rothbard's vision for a new world, but fair-minded thoughtful people should nevertheless find his book provocative and insightful. Power and Market is a major contribution to political economy, and as such it is a must read for those who seek to understand how society works, and how it might work better.
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Format: Paperback
This volume is one of the most important economic works of the 20th century. For the most part, the bulk of this work is really nothing more than an extension of the chapter on "violent intervention" in "Man, Economy, and State." Unfortunately the initial publishers of that work balked at the radical views set forth, and therefore forced Rothbard to truncate his analysis. Nevertheless, we are fortunate enough to have this work, in he elaborates on his work in order to offer a complete praxeological critique of *all* governmental action. He classifies government intervention into 3 basic categories; autistic, binary, and triangular, and proceeds to refute arguments for all of them. Dealt with are the more commonplace statist policies such as licensing, antitrust, etc., as well as many generally off-limit areas. Indeed, probably the most startling and important aspect of this work is the lengthy refutation of virtually every significant justification of taxation, from the income tax to the Georgist single tax. Even common "conservative" myths are given no standing, as Rothbard demonstrates that there is really no such thing as a "neutral tax," and that all taxation, however applied, has sharply negative effects on the market economy. In addition to this, Rothbard develops a very stimulating refutation of common ethical arguments against capitalism, showing them to be incompatible with reality and economics. Although by and large the work is solid, I must say that I still disagree on several points with Rothbard's particular vision for a totally free, voluntary society. Nonetheless, we are not very far apart. Altogether, I have to say that this work is a landmark in economic theory, and should be on the bookshelf of every serious radical libertarian.
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