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Ludwig Von Mises: The Man and His Economics (Library of Modern Thinkers) Paperback – June 1, 2001
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Austrian-born economist Ludwig von Mises (who died in 1973) was a professor at New York University for nearly 25 years, until 1969. A free-market advocate who believed in the power of the consumer, Mises was one of the leading members of what is called "the Austrian school of economics." There are already any number of scholarly works that examine Mises' life and his theories. This latest book, though, is part of a new series called Library of Modern Thinkers, which is designed to make the ideas of less well known sociologists, political scientists, and economists accessible to a more general audience. Kirzner, author of Discovery, Capitalism, and Distributive Justice (1989), was a student and ardent admirer of Mises. He sketches a brief biographical portrait of his former professor to provide "the human and historical context within which Mises' intellectual contributions emerged." Kirzner then examines Mises' impact on contemporary economics, outlines his methodology, and summarizes his key ideas--focusing on the market process, money, cycles, interest, and free markets. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Israel Kirzner and...[ISI Books], deserve applause for bringing this insightful, provocative, yet nontechnical book to a wide audience." -- Washington Times, October 23, 2001
"Ludwig von Mises...is a remarkable tribute to a remarkable man." -- Liberty, March 2002
" [A] lucid exposition of the work of this seminal classical-liberal thinker." -- National Review, November 19, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Ah, there's the rub - because of the arbitrariness and artificiality of his principles - - - and for the simple reason that Austrian Economicsis is not Science. It is 1) Social Protest on many levels, 2) it is solely about Market Strategy, and 3) it is propaganda for the autonomy of the "Entrepreneur" in Market transactions.
It is no Science, since there is no empirical data to support either its Social Protests or its Market Strategies. It is a protest against "statism", laws regulating the monetary transactions of the Market. Its key concepts (Praxeology - Catallactics)are mere theories of human behavior - applied to Market strategy - with no empirical data to support them.
Surprisingly, Austrian Economics is silent about Money: its Nature, its purposes, its uses and the Making of Money. Nor is there any mention of Commercial Ethics.
The principle at the heart of Australian Economics is the Principle of Subjective Value, a Principle which is responsible for the grave injustices built into the system. Subjective Value is the transfer of goods from their intrinsic value to whatevear value the "Entrepreneur" places upon them. This is a complete de-valuation of goods and services - to the advantage of one party of the transaction.
Von Mises denied the intinsic value of goods and services and opened the way for the injustices as obvious as slavery and child labor - - -to the Enron scandal and the "market" manipulations of Bernie Madoff. It is seen today in the underdeveloped countries of the Third World, detailed in a recent book "Slaves of Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops", by Robert J.S. Ross. There is also a chapter in the book about "Producing Sweatshops in the United States".
Free Market Economics has not been beneficial to global economies, as Pope Francis has reminded us, and the recent book by Thomas Picketty echoes that with thunder.
Capitalism is not the cause or the problem - it is Free Market Economics - - - the theme of this book - - - and the role of Ludwig von Mises in enunciating the founding principle of Austrian Economics: the denial of the intrinsic value of goods and services.
The Global Market then becomes a race to the bottom for half the population of the world with no legal brake on the riches gained by devaluating the very objects of economic action.
Father Clifford Stevens
Archdiocese of Omaha
I did enjoy reading it, however. The first two chapters give alot of background information on von Mises's life and work and I found that interesting because it is always nice to know a bit about an author as a person rather than just his work. And the bottom line about von Mises is that he was a couragous, honest and brilliant man and the proof is in the tremendous admiration earned by worthy friends and supporters.
The Third chapter takes up von Mises's ideas on methodology, his a priorism and his commitment to value free economics. The two page section "The Intellectually Revolutionary Character of Economics" is really good. Section 5 of the chapter, "Mises' Methodological Defense" didn't really help me understand Mises's case for a priorism as opposed to empiricism, but I already know that from "Human Action" (huan events are complex and variables can't be held constant so it is always possible to come up with different plausible explanations for happenings; you can never isolate specific causes and their effects because it is not clear what is causing what). Section 6 "Mises and the A Priori: The Extremist?" explains what Hayek thought was a critique of Mises and Kirzner shows how it wasn't but I couldn't follow him. The one page section "Mises and the A Priori: Not So Extreme!" was appreciated because it gives alot more plausibility to Mises's claims about economics having to proceed a priori; I like the idea of economic logic but I think empirical studies and just common sense observation have got to play a role in economics, though I need to think about this more.
Chapter Four was pretty familiar but "The Entreprenurial Character of the Misesian Market Process" was welcome because it just emphasized for me how central the entreprenuer is to Mises's conception of how the market works.
I skipped Chapter Five on monetary theory, the business cycle and interest rates but it looks pretty good.
Chapter Six tries to address how Mises reconciled his idea of value free economics with his passionate arguments for capitalism and against socialism and interventionism. Socialism can't work and interventionism produces consequences the intervenionists didn't want and eventually leads to socialism (which doesn't work ;) I accept the arguments by Ayn Rand on the foundations and standard of ethics and so I can argue rationally for capitalism but I don't know that von Mises can.
In the end, I think that one has to read von Mises himself to get an appreciation of just how deep and comprehensive his grasp of human action and economics is. But this book does provide a little context and a useful overview. Maybe I was expecting too much; after all, how are you going to do justice to one of the greatest thinkers of all time in 200, double spaced pages? Can't be done.