Lying About and the Mises Institute

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For many years, students attending Mises University have told me of absurd and ridiculous stories (a.k.a., lies) about us that have been spread by the Koch Foundation-funded beltwaytarians at George Mason University.  (I can recall two GMU students staring at me in utter disbelief when I told them most students at Mises University were undergraduates, with about a fifth graduate students and a few visiting faculty.  They had been told it was “a political training camp for high school kids”). 

There is a group of economists there who are ashamed of the name “Austrian economics” who nevertheless claim to be, well, sort of, kind of, anyhow, Austrian economists, but they keep desperately trying to come up with a new name for themselves.  Their latest ridiculous name is “coordination problem economists.”  Sounds like a marketing nightmare, but hey, they’re academics.

The latest lie about us that I’ve learned of comes from one Brian Bedient, a former student of Professor Pete Boettke at George Mason University who a young twenty-something reporter for the Wall Street Journal laughingly claimed is the leader of the resurgent Austrian economics movement in America.  The lie, as told by Bedient (scroll down to the “comments”)  is how Boettke told a group of George Mason graduate students that to him, “the last straw” with the Mises Institute/ crowd was when some of them supposedly “disrupted” Nobel laureate economist Ronald Coase’s 99th birthday party because “Coase wouldn’t debate Walter Block.”  How boorish can you get!  Disrupting an old man’s 99th birthday party because of extraordinarily childish hubris!  Who would want to associate with such people?!  Stay away from them — they’re weird!

This is a lie.  It never happened.  If it did, the “Uptights” at George Mason would have been broadcasting it all over their blogs for months.  But even Bedient said in his blog comment that he couldn’t find any discussion of it on the Web.   Our friend Professor Peter Klein, whose career has involved careful study of “Coasean” economics, has been in touch with several people who were at Coase’s birthday party and there has been no mention of any “disruption.”  It never happened.

I guess I now know the source of at least one of the lies about us that have been told to George Mason students to keep them from associating with the real leaders of the revival of interest in Austrian economics — the scholars associated with the Mises Institute and has published dozens of articles by Congressman Ron Paul, who has been more successful in generating interest in free-market Austrian economics than ten thousand Peter Boettkes.  Of course, the beltway “libertarians” not only did not support Ron Paul when he ran for the Republican nomination, but instigated a vicious smear campaign against him (while defending the Fed to boot).

6:15 pm on August 30, 2010