Palmer and I corresponded over a year ago about another issue, but Hoppe came up. After I defended Hoppe, Palmer wrote me: “[…] who could take a self-described economist seriously when he writes that unemployment is impossible in a free market? And when he claims that that’s somehow an implication of Austrian economics he adds insult to ignorance. […] The fact is that Mr. Hoppe is an embarrassment.”
In a reply to Palmer, I pointed out that Mises, in Human Action (Chapter XXI. WORK AND WAGES, Section 4. Catallactic Unemployment, p. 599), explicitly stated: “UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE UNHAMPERED MARKET IS ALWAYS VOLUNTARY“. Clearly Hoppe’s view on unemployment is the same as Mises’. Is Mises supposed to be an embarrassment to Austrian economics too?
Palmer’s reply to this? “For Mr. Hoppe it is a cult based on reading and interpreting sacred texts, the point of which is to ‘master Misesian economics.’ […] I don’t really give a fig about what Mises said just because it’s what he said; what I care about is whether what he wrote helps me to understand the world. […] You write, ‘And it is more than an implication of Austrian economics–it is Mises’ actual, express, explicit view, in his magnum opus.’ If you’re right, then so what? Is that an argument? If you’re right about this, then Mises was wrong. Is that so hard to accept?”
Note that Palmer himself attacked Hoppe’s pedigree as a free-market economist, indeed, as an Austrian economist, by citing Hoppe’s allegedly absurd and non-Austrian view that involuntary unemployment is impossible on a free market. When I simply pointed out that Mises himself had the same view, I was clearly not citing Mises to prove that proposition is correct, but to show that this view is not “an embarrassment to Austrian economics,” but is rather the view of one of the premiere Austrian economists. Palmer is the one who brought up pedigree; when I showed that his argument was flawed, he retreated to the charge that my citing Mises is cult-like. Need anything else be said?2:08 pm on August 18, 2003 Email Stephan Kinsella