Rothbard as Intellectual Inspiration

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Rothbard as Intellectual Inspiration

by Doug French by Doug French

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Doug French was a special guest lecturer at the 2006 Mises University. You can hear his informal talk, during an evening session, here.

Given the conditions here in Auburn, I think it appropriate that we honor a man who is critical to Mises University. A guy named Willis Haviland Carrier. No, he wasn’t an Austrian Economist, but he is recognized as the "father of air-conditioning." Although he didn’t invent the very first air conditioner, his system was the first truly successful one that is today modern air-conditioning.

Carrier and six other engineers formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation in 1915 with starting capital of $35,000 (today’s equivalent would be about $650,000). Last year, the company’s sales topped $12.5 billion and employed 45,000 employees.

In 1924, Carrier installed a cooling system in the J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit, Michigan. Shoppers flocked to the store. The boom in cooling spread to theaters, restaurants and shopping malls.

Four years later, Carrier developed the first residential air conditioner.

Willis Haviland Carrier made a huge difference in many peoples’ lives, people that have never heard of him. Can you imagine Mises University in August in Auburn without it? Would millions of people be moving to Phoenix and Las Vegas without air conditioning?

But, that’s what great entrepreneurs do: make people’s lives better and most of time they receive little or no credit.

In fact, the public’s image of entrepreneurs and businessmen as mean, conniving, miserly, greedy crooks has been shaped from the time of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge to the modern day Michael Douglas character, Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street.

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Doug French [send him mail] is executive vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and associate editor for Liberty Watch Magazine. He received the Murray N. Rothbard Award from the Center for Libertarian Studies. See his tribute to Murray Rothbard.

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