Must a Libertarian Support Austrian Economics? No. But It Would Be a Good Idea

From: B
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2017 3:51 PM
Subject: Law Student interested in learning more basics of economics

Greetings Professor, I am a 3rd year Law Student at Loyola, a libertarian/classically liberal-minded individual, with an undergraduate focus in philosophy and the arts. I am trying to understand more about the policies and ideals that shape our current political climate, and know that I could benefit from more training in economics and math. I would consider myself a descent autodidact, but I am also aware of my short-comings. One such shortcoming is the failure to weed out bad sources when studying a topic that I know little to nothing about. I would like to know more about economics in general, and am open to being persuaded towards a school of thought (such as Austrian model), rather than deciding that “because I am libertarian, I MUST be an Austrian.” I am completely open to reading the material and deciding, “hey, I do not agree with this theory,” but only based on good information. I was wondering if there are books or material that you could point me to that give a less biased view of all of the theories, the basic underpinnings, and perhaps additional readings that can help me know what exactly are the limits and edges to economic theory, as I traverse the 21st century political and legal landscape.

I am well aware that reading primary sources could do me a great deal of help (although -and I know that no professor wants to hear this- another shortcoming I have is the desire to do this; sometimes it is better for my understanding to not read these first if I do not have to). I have read some Marx, Friedman, Hayek, Krugman (yuck), and Mises (among some of your work and some of one of my favorite professors of economics, Steve Horwitz as well), but I know that there are probably others who may serve my curiosity better. One thought I had for forming a study pattern was to read the works of Nobels, but I also know that work outside of their awards are not always great, and that their Nobel-winning work is not always comprehensible to a layperson such as myself. Perhaps you could point me towards some other writers that will expand my understanding of the field. Finally, I know that one issue I may run into is if the basic formulas or tactics an author deploys for proving one such theory or another may be well above my understanding, so something that helps me get the basics could be a great tool for furthering my reading if I decide to check out something on my own (to understand if a certain theory stinks or why I might be cautious to believe a statement by an author). At the heart of my craving is the need to be certain about what I am saying and to know when I do not know enough. If you have the time to suggest anything, it would be greatly appreciated! I thank you for taking the time in responding to my inquiry, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Dear B: You are quite right. You need not adhere to Austrian economics just because you are a libertarian. There are plenty of economists who reject Austrianism, and yet are good libertarians. But, if you want to get into Austrianism, here are some good beginning readings:

1. Mises, Ludwig von. 1988 [1958]. Liberty and Property.;

2. Rothbard, Murray N. 1963, 1985, 1990 What Has Government Done to Our Money? Auburn, AL.: Mises Institute;

3. Mises, Ludwig von. 1969. Bureaucracy, New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House;;

4. Rothbard, Murray N. 1969. “The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle,” p. 78-79, in Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure, Lansing, Michigan: Constitutional Alliance;

5. Mises, Ludwig von. 1972. The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, South Holland, IL: Libertarian Press; Anti-Capitalist Mentality;

6. Rothbard, Murray N. 1996. “Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure.” The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp. 37-64. (Originally published by the Center for Libertarian Studies, 1978.)

7. Mises, Ludwig von. 1975[1933]. Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth;

8. Rothbard, Murray N. 1994. The Case Against the Fed. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute;

9. Mises, Ludwig von. 1952. Planning for Freedom.;

10. Rothbard, Murray N. 1962. “The Case For a 100 Percent Gold Dollar.” Leland Yeager (ed.), In Search of a Monetary Constitution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 94 136. Reprinted as The Case For a 100 Percent Gold Dollar, Washington, DC: Libertarian Review Press, 1974.

11. Mises, Ludwig von. 1940[2004]. Interventionism. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute;

texts: Callahan, 2004; Gordon, 2000; Murphy, 2007, 2010; Taylor, 2011

Callahan, Gene. 2004. Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School, Auburn: AL, Ludwig von Mises Institute;

Gordon, David. 2000. Introduction to Economic Reasoning. Auburn: AL, Ludwig von Mises Institute;

Murphy, Robert P. 2007. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. Regnery

Murphy, Robert P. 2010. Lessons for the Young Economist. Auburn: AL, Ludwig von Mises Institute

Taylor, Thomas C. 2011. An Introduction to Austrian Economics. Auburn: AL, Ludwig von Mises Institute;


7:31 pm on November 27, 2017