Tribute to von Mises and the Austrian economic School of thought.
For those who have never heard of Austrian Economics, take some time to visit the website of the von Mises Institute , based in New York and celebrating soon their 25th anniversary. As often happened, European intellectuals of class had to flee to the U.S. to florish and get recognition. Today, this still happens although less dramatically and partly because those who did flee still need time to reach their height of recognition.
Some people will call the von Mises institute and its intellectual masters neo-liberals, capitalists and whatever terms they deem fit to put this exceptional group in a bad light. They don't seem to know that von Mises was the one who was prosecuted by the fascists and the national-socialists in the years before the second world war. They don't seem to know that von Mises arrived pennyless in the US and had to rebuild life and reputation. They don't seemed to know that his school of thought was the one who put man at the center of all social, political and economic action. The Austran view on economics is not one of ideology that separates by decree people in masters and slaves, the first having the rght to decide for anyone dumb enough to be part of the second group, as socialism and other related doctrines often do. No, for von Mises each of us is reponsible for his own. Each of us is endowed with talents and as a community we either prosper by cherising these talents, either we perish by stamping them out through ideology and wishful thinking or plain ignorance. Let me add for clarity that this also means that cherising its own talents goes hand in hand by recognising our fellow man's talents. We all gain by exchanging. His view is one of rationality and of critical thinking, not one of hiding the essence and true intentions by meaningless words and explanations.
Von Mises also made it clear that the free market mechanism works hence everywhere, even in e.g. dictatorial or communist states. In whatever society man lives, man will act guided by the same motives. The only thing that makes a difference is how much so-called elites stamp out or rather prevent these motives from reaching their potential. Every form of intervention, how well intentioned it might be, will soon or later backfire and destroy more than it created. The current credit crisis for example was fueled by greed from banks and e.g. hedge funds that took huge, irresponsible risks while aiming for short term profit in the short term bubble they created. This is man as much at work as it is when man invests and uses the capital to provide work and produce goods his fellow men needs. One can say that such crisises, that now could result in a recession, are a sure sign that free markets don't work. They are wrong. The wild credit expansion was mainly due to a deliberate policy of the Central Banks (FED and ECB e.g.) to keep the money supply high by artificially lowering the base interest to an absurd low level for years. Although central banks are presumed to act independently and in the interest of all of us, it is clear that their actions were guided by the desires of governments (US and European alike) to keep the economy going by boosting consumption and hereby killing of incentives to invest in the future. Needless to say, for the US this meant being able to finance a war, for Europe this meant being able to keep government spending irrationally high. The current massive capital injections of the central banks might give hope that this will be enough to keep the economy going and to avert a recession. It won't, they just give hope to greedy bankers that they won't have to pay the bill for their irresponsible decisions. Needless to say, in the end we, the taxpayers, will have to pay the bill and the last interventions are just contributing to prevent available money from being invested with deliberation in value adding activities, like e.g. make us less dependent on burning oil and coal to keep us warm and keep us moving.
|Mises - Last Knight.pdf||5.54 MB|