It Usually Ends With Murray Rothbard:My Long and Winding Road to Libertarianism and Austrian Economics

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I
vividly recall the event that set me on a long and winding road to libertarianism
and Austrian economics. I was twelve years old and my parents, who were both first
generation Italian-Americans, were hosting some of my mother's relatives, including
a distant male cousin who had traveled from Italy to visit relatives residing
in Rhode Island and New Jersey. His visit to our home was proceeding pleasantly
if uneventfully that day when the subject of politics came up and the cousin revealed
that he was a card-carrying member of the Italian Communist Party. My father was
still a New Deal Democrat at the time, but also a devout, Jesuit-trained Catholic
and staunch anti-Communist who had voted for Kennedy in the presidential election
the year before. A ferocious argument immediately erupted between my father and
the cousin that enthralled me – not because of the issues debated, which
I did not understand, but because of the passion with which the two men expressed
their views. The argument came to an abrupt halt when my father, who was a formidable
presence with an appearance and booming voice that suggested the actor Anthony
Quinn in his prime, roared a threat to throw the Commie out of our house. Naturally
I was eager to see what would ensue and would have permitted events to take their
course if I had my druthers, but my mother's untimely intervention succeeded in
negotiating a shaky truce between the two combatants that held until the visit
ended. That night I decided that I would learn all I could about the subject that
had roused such volcanic passion in my father. I soon began scouring the local
library for literature on Communism and over the next year devoured everything
I could lay my hands on related to the subject. These were mainly Cold War polemical
tracts with grizzly titles like Masters
of Deceit
and You
Can Trust the Communists (to Do Exactly What They Say)
.

I
quickly became an ardent anti-Communist but knew little else about politics or
political philosophy until Barry Goldwater began to campaign for the Republican
nomination for President when I was 13 years old. His firebrand anti-Communism
greatly appealed to me at the time and after reading an article about him in Life
Magazine in late 1963, I became aware of the conservative-liberal political
spectrum and immediately proclaimed myself a conservative, much to my father's
chagrin. My conservatism was reinforced by reading Goldwater's book Conscience
of a Conservative
and his biography, Barry
Goldwater: Freedom Is His Flight Plan
by Stephen Shadegg. A voracious
reader of science fiction and political fiction, I also discovered the novels
of Ayn Rand and read Anthem
and Atlas
Shrugged
at about the same time. By the time I entered high school, I
was a full-blown Goldwaterite conservative and Cold Warrior, who, inconsistently,
believed in the inviolability of the rights to liberty and property.

I
attended St. Joseph's High School, an all-boys Catholic institution, where, in
the fall semester of my freshman year, my teacher for both English and Speech
was a young former marine, Bill Murray, who also passionately detested Communism.
After I delivered a speech to the class mocking the military capabilities of the
People's Republic of China, he was so enthusiastic he expostulated: "Salerno,
you beautiful anti-communist, you." During the same semester, in my American
History class, the teacher organized a debate between the supporters of Goldwater
and the supporters of Lyndon Johnson. I was one of the seven students who self-consciously
fidgeted on the Goldwater side and faced down the horde of thirty or so Johnson
partisans, but we gave as a good as we got, at least according to the teacher's
assessment.

My
interest in political issues and my conservative convictions intensified during
my high school years. It was the mid-1960's, the era of free speech and Vietnam
War protests on college campuses, and just a few miles down the road at Rutgers
University Eugene Genovese was dismissed from the faculty for having publicly
dissented against the Vietnam war. The atmosphere at my high school was highly
charged politically. A few of the younger members of the Brothers of the Sacred
Heart, the order that administered and staffed the high school, were deeply committed
to Vatican II liberal Catholicism and New Frontier-Great Society political liberalism,
as were some of the younger lay faculty. They were also very eager to debate the
issues in the classroom and encouraged the airing of opposing points of view.
But the faculty was by no means ideologically monolithic and, in my sophomore
year, the school hired as head varsity basketball coach and English teacher a
hardcore member and chapter organizer of the John Birch Society. Bill Schreck
was very charismatic and articulate and influenced Mr. Murray, the anti-Communist
English teacher, to become a Bircher too. Mr. Schreck also openly propagated his
views to my class as our study hall proctor. He eventually persuaded me and some
other conservative students to attend a meeting of the local chapter of the Birch
Society. However, I quickly lost interest in Birchism when I heard that Mr. Schreck
had asserted in another class that the Beatles' music was manufactured by a communist
computer secreted in the English countryside with the aim of corrupting the minds
and morals of American youth. My English teacher in my sophomore year, Mr. Walko,
although he had no apparent association with Mr. Schreck or the Birchers and revealed
no political biases in class, initiated an extracurricular reading club that I
joined. The first book we discussed was None
Dare Call It Treason
by Bircher John Stormer.

By
my junior year, I had become recognized among the faculty as one of the most outspoken
of the group of conservative students informally known as the "Lower Ten
Percent." This label emerged from a debate in Religion class over the Catholic
view of the Vietnam War wherein I called Pope Paul VI's position on the war "quixotic"
and another conservative referred to it as "asinine." This infuriated
our Religion teacher who abruptly halted the debate. The next class the Brother
informed us that there would be no more discussion of current events in class,
noting cryptically that in some bushels of apples the "lower ten percent"
begins to rot prematurely and threatens to spoil the rest. Of course we conservatives
perversely seized on his words and proudly touted them as our new moniker.

Late
in my junior year I tried to foment a petition drive among my fellow students
in the A class to protest the rumored integration of the A, B, C and D classes
in our senior year. When my cohort had entered as freshmen, we had been placed
according to our scores on special placement exams. Each class moved from subject
to subject (except for languages, I believe) en bloc. One significant result
of this rigidly hierarchical system, which had existed since the founding of the
institution, was that the classes competed ferociously with one another in intramural
sports. Most importantly the A class, which took mostly accelerated courses, was
supposed to have its grades more heavily weighted in calculating grade point average
for the purpose of class ranking in senior year. Needless to say my anti-egalitarian
and pro-tradition petition drive was ruthlessly quashed by the administration,
and a few of the smarter B class kids were seeded amongst us in senior year. However,
the administration did continue its policy of more heavily weighting grades for
accelerated courses, while we "native" A class students employed informal
methods of persuasion to ensure that the integrity of our intramural teams was
not breached.

It
was early in my senior year when I first became acquainted with the science of
economics. My economics teacher was an enthusiastic young adherent of Great Society
liberalism and the improbable brother-in-law of the Bircher Mr. Schreck. Mr. Mautner
assigned us to read John Kenneth Galbraith's The
Affluent Society
and then parts of Adam Smith's Wealth
of Nations
. Completely unacquainted with economics and distracted by Galbraith's
relentlessly sententious and laboriously styled prose, I could not follow and
did not care much for The Affluent Society. The Wealth of Nations was
another matter. I was enthralled by Smith's straightforward and non-moralizing
analysis of the free market economy and its social benefits. It dawned on me that
economics offered a scientific argument for the free society that complemented
the moral argument in its favor. By the time I finished reading the assigned passages
in Smith's book, I knew that I wanted to be an economist and I never really deliberated
upon the matter again.

There
was a pre-graduation tradition at St. Joseph's in which the senior class presented
a burlesque amiably mocking the speech, dress and mannerisms of its favorite –
and not so favorite – teachers and the faculty returned the favor by bestowing
frivolous legacies on selected seniors. My legacy read: "To Joseph Salerno,
leader of the Lower Ten Percent, we leave a pair of binoculars with which to look
down upon your fellow man."

In
1968, I enrolled – or rather my father enrolled me – in Boston College,
a Jesuit institution of higher education, which was actually a university not
located in Boston but in the toney suburb of Chestnut Hill. In my freshman year
I squirmed through the typically dreary two-semester principles of economics course
taught by a graduate student from Samuelson's Principles of Economics,
7th edition. However this experience did not deflect me from my career
goal and I declared economics as my major sometime during my freshman (or sophomore)
year. That year I also began reading the New Guard, a periodical published
by the conservative Young Americans for Freedom, where I encountered for the first
time the schism in the conservative movement between "traditionalists"
and "libertarians." I was impressed by the arguments presented by the
libertarian contributors and in short order jettisoned the Goldwater-Buckley conservatism
of my early adolescence and adopted the libertarian positions to abolish the draft,
legalize drugs and other victimless "crimes," and immediately end the
Vietnam War. In my sophomore year I began to read Rand's nonfiction works including
Capitalism:
The Unknown Ideal
. It was in the latter work that I first saw a reference
to Ludwig von Mises, although I did not realize his significance at the time.

It
was in mid-April of my sophomore year that a general student boycott of classes
at Boston College began as a protest against a large tuition increase. Leaders
of the campus SDS quickly gained control of the amorphous movement and by early
May the boycott metamorphosed into a general student strike against the draft
and the Vietnam War. A few hardy souls defied the strike and continued to attend
classes – which attendance the squishy-soft liberal president of BC declared
to be "optional," with mid-term grades being the default final grade
for those who chose to strike – while most earnestly participated in the
innumerable informal "teach-ins" conducted by clueless liberal faculty
on the war, women's liberation, racism, ecology etc. I did neither. A select group
of more entrepreneurial students carrying midterm grades of B or higher alertly
seized the essentially "costless" opportunity to frolic and carouse
with like-minded students of other striking colleges, along the Charles River,
in the Boston Gardens and amidst other landmarks of lovely springtime Boston.

The
break from course work did not preclude me, however, from learning a very important
lesson concerning radical political change, although its importance and relevance
for libertarian strategy was clarified for me only many years later by Murray
Rothbard. One day during the strike, a coalition of left-wing organizations called
for a march to the Boston Commons where assorted Yippies, peaceniks, and left-wing
academics were to address an antiwar rally. Abbie Hoffman was there as, I vaguely
recollect, were Noam Chomsky and Jerry Rubin. Despite my deep personal disdain
for these men and for the mainly leftist hippie students who would turn out for
the demonstration, I participated because I was opposed to the war and because
I anticipated that many coeds of like mind would participate. The march commenced
on the outskirts of Boston composed mainly of disheveled, although reasonably
well-behaved, college students but as the crowd swept down Commonwealth Avenue,
a main artery into the downtown area, I noted young middle-class adults pouring
out of residences and office buildings to join us. As the demonstration was swelled
by what Murray Rothbard would later call "real people," – people
with real jobs and family responsibilities – a palpable change occurred in
the demeanor of the police monitoring the march. Initially coldly detached if
not mildly hostile, they began to appear progressively anxious and forlorn, unsure
of their positions as representatives of a State whose legitimacy was suddenly
being seriously questioned by tens of thousands of ordinary Americans. Some of
the younger officers even seemed as if they would have liked to shed their uniforms
and join us. At the rally itself the greatest response from the crowd occurred
when the clownish but charismatic Abbie Hoffman pointed to the John Hancock building
looming over the Commons and roared "John Hancock wasn't an insurance salesman,
he was a f—–g revolutionary."

The
ability of charismatic leaders to imbue ordinary middle-class Americans with a
radical anti-state mentality by demonstrating how specific government policies
exploited and victimized them and disrupted their families and communities was
actually brought home to me a year earlier when I attended a rally for George
Wallace at the same Boston Commons in the waning days of the Presidential campaign
of 1968. Campaigning on an anti-establishment third party ticket Wallace roused
the crowd by hammering on the absurdity of the despotic and unconstitutional judicial
mandate that prevented white and black students in Boston from attending schools
near their homes and coercively bused them to schools in strange and distant,
and sometimes dangerous, neighborhoods. At the end of his talk the feisty Wallace
waded into the dispersing crowd to shake hands and engage a gaggle of leftist
student hecklers in good-natured repartee. I was standing a few feet away from
Wallace when he jovially suggested to one of the students, "Why don't you
bring your sandal over here, hippie, and I'll autograph it for ya." After
the laughter abated Wallace surprised and disarmed his erstwhile hecklers by standing
among them and amiably responding to their questions and criticisms.

I
was deeply impressed by these two episodes, although at the time I could not have
articulated the reasons why, let alone recognized their general implications for
a coherent libertarian strategy of political change. It was only many years later
that I was enlightened on this matter by Murray Rothbard's analysis of the Joe
McCarthy phenomenon of the early 1950's. Rothbard delighted in standing the established
view of McCarthy on its head. The entire political and academic establishment,
from New Deal/Truman Democrats to Eisenhower Republicans, from moderate liberals
to moderate conservatives, concurred in the necessity of waging a Cold War to
contain the alleged Soviet conspiracy to take over the so-called "Free World"
and therefore were in explicit agreement with McCarthy's ultimate goals.
What they detested, they said, was McCarthy's means. Rothbard, in sharp
contrast, never believed that the Soviet Union, albeit a bloody and repressive
dictatorship, had the ability or intention of taking over the West. Rather he
argued that the Cold War was a ruse devised by the American ruling elite to justify
the continuation and expansion of the massive, tax-consuming, welfare-warfare
state built up during World War II at home and to rationalize postwar U.S. imperialist
ambitions for assorted military interventions abroad. While dismissing McCarthy's
ridiculous and contrived Cold War ideology – which, to repeat, he shared
with most of his respectable establishment detractors – Rothbard had a profound
appreciation for the means McCarthy employed. According to Rothbard (The
Irrepressible Rothbard
, 2000, p. 13):

The
unique and glorious thing about McCarthy was not his goals or his ideology, but
precisely his radical, populist means. For McCarthy was able, for a few
years, to short-circuit the intense opposition of all the elites in American life:
from the Eisenhower-Rockefeller administration to the Pentagon and the military-industrial
complex to liberal and left media and academic elites – to overcome all that
opposition and reach and inspire the masses directly. And he did it through television,
and without any real movement behind him; he had only a guerrilla band of a few
advisers, but no organization and no infrastructure.

The
strategy of directly appealing to the exploited middle- and working-class masses
and short-circuiting the entrenched political and media elites is what later led
Rothbard to support the Presidential candidacies of Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan.

The
academic year following that of the student strike was my junior year. The concurrence
of a number of events marked it as a pivotal year in my intellectual development.
To start with, soon after my return from summer break I discovered that a chapter
of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) had begun operating on campus. Its eclectic
membership included Buckleyite traditionalist conservatives, fusionist libertarian-conservatives,
laissez-faire capitalist Randians and a few nearly pure libertarians. Although
I do not believe I joined the organization immediately, I began spending my spare
time in their office participating in informal discussions and debates. This marked
the first time that I had interacted with a group of my peers whose political
philosophy even loosely paralleled my own and I found the experience exhilarating.
Also, the friendly verbal sparring with thoughtful young "conservatives"
of various stripes helped clarify my own thinking and propelled me toward a progressively
more consistent and radical libertarian position.

My
transformation into a full-fledged libertarian was completed when, at the start
of my second semester, I read in a white heat the cover article of the New
York Times Magazine (1971) entitled "The
New Right Credo – Libertarianism
." The authors, Stan Lehr and Louis
Rossetto, Jr. were seniors at Columbia University and their article presented
the first comprehensive account that I had read of the unadulterated libertarian
political philosophy, carefully differentiating it from both establishment liberalism
and conservatism as well as from the New Left, whose positions it shared on the
abolition of the draft and all drug laws and an immediate U.S. withdrawal from
Vietnam. The article also portrayed libertarianism as a vital and flourishing
political movement that drew inspiration from Rand and science fiction writer
Robert Heinlein, whose novels I had been reading since I began college. Jerome
Tuccille and former Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess, unfamiliar names to me at
the time, were identified as leading publicists and pamphleteers for the movement
and their writings cited for their defense of radical libertarianism. More significantly,
from the standpoint of my academic interests, the article referred to "economists
of the Austrian school" – a school I had never been introduced to in
my two-and-half years as an undergraduate economics major – as having demonstrated
that recessions and depressions were not inherent defects of the free market but
the result of government and central bank manipulation of the money supply. The
article later quoted a passage from Man,
Economy and State
by Murray N. Rothbard, explaining why state management
of the economy deprived of market prices was inevitably chaotic. As with the Austrian
school in general, I had never heard Rothbard's name mentioned by any of my economics
professors and had no idea who he was. By the time I finished reading the article
I had been converted to the pure libertarian position – a position the authors
designated by the then novel term "anarchocapitalism," – and my
curiosity about Austrian economics had been piqued.

Back
at the YAF office I mentioned my discovery of Austrian economics to my comrades.
Shortly thereafter, one of them, Gerald Uba, produced and placed in my hands an
odd-sized "minibook" (measuring 3.75" by 5") written by Rothbard
and entitled Depressions:
Their Cause and Cure
. After reading Rothbard's thirty pages of clear
and scintillating prose, I knew I had learned more in one hour about business
cycles or "macroeconomic fluctuations" then I had absorbed from two
semesters of listening to lectures in Principles of Macroeconomics and Intermediate
Macroeconomics and of poring over the jargon filled, opaquely written, deadly
dull textbooks assigned in these courses. Moreover, my deep interest in economics
was now transformed into a burning passion for the subject.

Serendipitously,
in the same semester that I was introduced to Rothbard and modern Austrian business
cycle theory, I was enrolled in a History of Economic Thought course taught by
Robert Cheney, S.J. Father Cheney was a superb, if somewhat low-key, teacher and
near the end of the course he introduced the topic of the marginalist revolution.
Referring to the early Austrians, Carl Menger, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, and
the latter's brother-in-law, Friedrich von Wieser, he characterized the formation
of the Austrian school as a "unique event" in intellectual history.
Never before, he declared, had such brilliant men worked so closely together to
develop a common approach to economic phenomena. Father Cheney's enthusiastic
endorsement of the older Austrian school further bolstered my interest in learning
more about the school.

As
soon as I arrived back home that summer I began to devour all the libertarian
and Austrian books I could lay my hands on. Through my local bookstore I ordered
Jerome Tuccille's Radical
Libertarianism: A Right Wing Alternative
. Although some of its illustrations
are now a bit dated and it contains a few minor "lifestyle libertarian"
confusions and deviations, it served, and still serves, as a compelling introduction
to the radical libertarian philosophy and movement.

I
next began to scour public libraries in the suburbs of central New Jersey for
books by Rothbard and the two Austrian business cycle theorists he had referred
to in his booklet, Mises and Hayek. Needless to say, I did not have much luck
at first. Desperate, I then decided to venture into the Plainfield Public Library.
Plainfield was a small city that, like Newark had been torn by race riots in 1967.
A city policeman chasing looters had been set upon by a black mob and beaten to
death with a shopping cart. The National Guard, which had then been sent in to
quell the riot, conducted an indiscriminate and warrant-less house-to-house search
for weapons that inflamed even the most peaceful black residents and left lingering
bitterness and racial hatred. Anyway, by the summer of 1971, "white flight"
from the beautiful Victorian houses and Dutch colonials that encircled the once
thriving shopping district of the city was almost complete leaving the large well-stocked
library, housed in a new glass-walled building next to the increasingly rowdy
high school, nearly always deserted. It was there one late spring evening that
I finally located musty copies of America's
Great Depression
, The
Theory of Money and Credit
, Human
Action
, Monetary
Theory and the Trade Cycle
, and Prices
and Production
. Despite the fact that I was an out-of-towner I somehow
or other finagled a library card from the sympathetic and lonely librarian and
was able to withdraw the books.

That
summer I worked as a janitor at an engineering facility for AT&T. I always
completed my assigned tasks quickly and distinctly recall spending a great deal
of time ensconced in a stuffy broom closet with a naked overhead light bulb reading
America's Great Depression. Although the Mises and Hayek volumes presented
more of a challenge because of some unfamiliar terminology and stylistic idiosyncrasies,
by summer's end I had grasped enough of the substantive theory to consider myself
a reasonably well-informed student of Austrian business cycle theory.

As
my senior year began I discovered the Books for Libertarians catalogue
and ordered Rothbard's Man, Economy and State, Power
and Market
, and What
Has Government Done to Our Money?
as well as the first modern anarcho-capitalist
treatise, The
Market for Liberty
by Morris and Linda Tannehill.

The
most memorable course my senior year was Political Economy taught by Professor
Barry Bluestone, a young Marxist economist and member of URPE (Union of Radical
Political Economists) newly hired by the department. Professor Bluestone knew
and had worked with David Friedman on an anti-draft coalition and was familiar
with Rothbard's writings. He was also somewhat conversant with the radical libertarian
position. One day, while explaining this position to the class, he stated with
a smirk that some libertarians actually believed that law could be enforced through
private competing police agencies, although even they conceded that the functions
of lawmaking and the judicial system would have to be monopolized by the State.
I immediately raised my hand and pointed out that there were libertarians, myself
included, who would relegate even these functions to private competition. I went
on to explain why, under competition, honest courts would drive the corrupt and
biased courts, such as he had told us existed in "Amerika," out of business.
A good speaker and teacher, never at a loss for words, he was momentarily struck
speechless.

After
graduation from Boston College I proceeded on to the graduate program in economics
at Rutgers University, just ten minutes away from my parents' home in New Jersey.
Graduate school was hugely entertaining owing to the eclectic mixture of the Rutgers
graduate economics faculty. The most noteworthy among the faculty included: Paul
Davidson, the prominent post-Keynesian who taught macro and monetary theory; Hugh
Rockoff, a Chicago Ph.D. and eminent economic historian who published a number
of seminal articles on the free banking era in the United States; Alexander Balinky,
a Marx scholar, who claimed the distinction of having been Joseph Schumpeter's
last graduate assistant and whose office was occasionally picketed by the Maoist
Progressive Labor party over some arcane point of Marxist dogma; Marc Miles, a
student of Arthur Laffer's, who later co-authored an international economics textbook
with Laffer and also published a book on supply-side monetary theory and policy;
and the prolific international economist, H. Peter Gray, a former student of William
Fellner's at Berkeley and a strict, but tolerant and well read, Keynesian who
was to become my dissertation adviser. To Professor Gray, I owe a debt of gratitude
for introducing me to the classical "monetary" approach to the balance
of payments and exchange rates, an approach that was later revived and elaborated
by Ludwig von Mises and that I investigated in my dissertation.

Overall,
I was quite pleased with my experience at Rutgers. The diversity among the faculty
led to my exposure to a broad range of literature and also to toleration of my
vigorously expressed Austro-libertarian views by my professors and peers alike.
My dissertation committee comprised a Keynesian, a monetarist and a supply-sider.
Perhaps as important, the transmogrifying of economics into a branch of applied
mathematics, which had begun in the 1960's in American economics, had not yet
progressed very far at Rutgers. Indeed, it was this trend that led to my enrolling
at Rutgers. After I had received my GRE (graduate record exam) results in my senior
year at BC, I went to see my faculty adviser to discuss my prospects for graduate
education. Having scored in the 99th percentile in the verbal part
of the exam and just below the 90th percentile in the economics part
and on track to graduate with honors from BC, I thought I could write my own ticket
to graduate school. I asked him what he thought of Princeton, where he had received
his Ph.D. He took one look at my mediocre score in the math part (76th
percentile) smiled indulgently, and said: "With that score you won't get
into Princeton and if you do, you won't make it through. I suggest you apply to
a school just up the road, Rutgers University." Although I was stunned and
dismayed at the time, I remain grateful today for his straightforward advice.

It
was while I was attending graduate school that I met Murray Rothbard. Shortly
before my first semester began I was involved with the founding of the New Jersey
Libertarian Party, of which I was subsequently elected Treasurer. Our first convention
was scheduled for February of 1973 and we required a keynote speaker. In November
1972, the President of the NJLP Bob Steiner and myself attended a libertarian
conference in New York City whose featured speakers included Rothbard, Bob Lefevre,
and Karl Hess, among others. It was the first time I had seen any of these giants
of the nascent libertarian movement in person and I was excited especially at
the prospect of hearing Rothbard speak. Rothbard followed LeFevre on the program
and, although I do not recall the precise topic of his talk that day, I was extremely
impressed with the joyfulness, affability, and sense of humor he projected. The
latter was especially on display during the question and answer period following
his talk. When someone asked him his view of the extreme pacifism of LeFevre's
"autarchist" philosophy – which prohibited any form of violence
even in self-defense – Rothbard replied: "Well, if someone was brandishing
a mallet at me and I had a gun, I'd plug him."

We
subsequently invited Rothbard to give the keynote address at the NJLP convention,
and he graciously agreed to do it for the rubber chicken dinner and paltry $75
we were able to offer him. Prior to his talk, I introduced myself to him and we
spoke for a while about libertarian issues before I mentioned that I was graduate
student in economics and was going through Frank Fetter's articles, the references
to which I had gleaned from reading Man, Economy, and State. I never expected
his reaction to my casual remark. His eyes immediately lit up and he seemed like
he could barely contain his enthusiasm. He feverishly searched for a pen and asked
me for my address and phone number and told me that he would pass on this information
to people in New Jersey who had formed an Austrian reading group. The following
Monday I received a call from a student member of this group who invited me to
attend the meetings of this reading circle, which was directed by Walter Grinder
and included another one of my libertarian heroes, Walter Block. In the year-and-one-half
that followed I enjoyed increasing personal contact with Murray Rothbard, including
visits to his home, meetings with him in his office at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute,
and arranging for him to address the graduate economics faculty and students at
Rutgers. Rothbard also encouraged me to write a review essay on David Friedman's
book, The
Machinery of Freedom
, for The Libertarian Forum, and this became
my first publication.1 Thus when I disembarked from
Don Lavoie's car in South Royalton, Vermont in June 1974 to attend the first Austrian
economics conference to be convened in the United States, I, like Don and most
of the other attendees, had arrived by way of Murray Rothbard.

Note

  1. Joseph Salerno, "The Machinery of Friedman," The Libertarian Forum
    5 (December 1973), pp. 5–6.

June
23, 2005

Joseph
Salerno [send him mail] is a senior fellow
at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, professor
of economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly
Journal of Austrian Economics
.

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