Economics in One Lesson Review

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt

ISBN 0-517-54823-2

As part of my preparation for undertaking this book review project, I have referenced many great thinkers’ lists of books they say have influenced them.  Most notably, I have consulted Tom Woods, Ron Paul, and Lew Rockwell.  Without exception, these giants of economic thought recommend Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.  In fact, most of the time, the book is mentioned in passing as if it is a given a la Human Action.  Taking this into account I felt inclined not only to buy and read Hazlitt’s masterpiece, but review and digest its contents thoroughly.

In a famous essay by Bastiat (of The Law fame) he mentions the “seen and the unseen”.  This is a crucial distinction for economists to make if they want to make sense of the world.  So crucial, in fact, that Hazlitt’s book focuses precisely on this concept.  His one lesson is this:  When analyzing the economy, or the effects of certain policies, we must focus not only on the short term benefits to a certain small group, but on the long run consequences on everyone.

After grasping this concept while reading the introduction, I immediately understood why Ron Paul has made such a racket about term limits for Congress.  When voting on government policy, politicians have a horizon of roughly 18 months to two years to think about.  As long as they can keep the economy level or growing slowly during this short time, or perhaps use their stay to secure some pork for their district, their chances of getting elected are fairly high.   A term limit of say two or four years would force politicians to act in truly the best interest of their districts in the long run over the short run.  (As a quick aside, Hoppe’s Democracy: The God that Failed, which I have read has some insight on this political shortsightedness as it relates to the democratic system in general.)   There is more to say on this matter, but it is for another time, so I will return to Hazlitt’s work.

The basic structure of this book is a series of short chapters that each follows a pattern.   Hazlitt outlines an economic fallacy that we hear argued in the mainstream sphere, and how it will allegedly benefit a certain special interest group.  He will then explain that this policy not only will not benefit society, but hurt it in the long run.  In many cases, such as minimum wage legislation, Hazlitt proves these policies hurt even the special interest groups they were meant to help in the first place.  He systematically uses his one lesson, learning to observe both the seen and the unseen, to the advantage of his argument.  It would require and exhaustive work to outline each and every fallacy that Hazlitt overturns, so I will focus my review on a few I found most interesting and pertinent to the current political climate.

The Broken Window Fallacy

Say someone throws a brick into a shopkeeper’s window.  Now the shopkeeper must pay, say, $250 to have his window repaired.  The window repairman will now go and spend that $250 on a new set of tools, and the tool man will in turn buy a chair.  Look at the economic growth created by that broken window!  What we have examined thus far is merely the seen, or the immediately obvious effects of the broken window.  Let us peer into the unseen.  As Hazlitt argues, the shopkeeper may have been planning to spend that $250 somewhere else, let’s say on a new suit.  Now, instead of having both a functional window AND a new suit, he merely has the window.  Society, in turn, is one suit poorer.  The crux of the matter is that although the shopkeeper spends the $250, society loses because he does not spend it on its most productive resource.

Why is the broken window fallacy so important?  It relates very closely to the common argument that war is good for the economy.  War, in the eyes of a good economist, is nothing more than a very large series of expensive broken windows.  Those resources are effectively wasted, because there was certainly a more productive use for them.  Think of the steel, labor, and intellect that go into fighting a war.  The Iraq war costs the U.S. taxpayers roughly a trillion dollars a year.  If that money had been freed up for purposes decided upon by individuals acting in a free market, society would be all the better off.  One must acknowledge, however, that some individuals and companies are better off because of war, such as Lockheed Martin.  This does not take away from the fact that the economy as a whole would be better off had those resources been allocated more productively.

Adding to the frustration with the matter is the criminality with which the wars are financed in the first place.  Surely, if the American taxpayer had to bear the burden of the wars directly it would not be so fashionable to support such imperialism.  By using the Federal Reserve and the mandrake mechanism to create money to finance the war, the taxpayer pays the “hidden tax” of inflation over the long term instead of bearing the cost directly.  This makes the entire process all the more insidious.  Can war be necessary for a country?  Yes.  Can a war get us out of a depression? No more than a broken window stimulates the economy.

Minimum Wage Laws

My personal favorite economic fallacy is that minimum wage helps the poorest Americans.  Affectionately known as the “Living Wage” by socialists everywhere, hardly a politician dares speak out against it.  This is a sad and disappointing fact, considering one is hard pressed to think of a policy that has done more harm to the poorest Americans, save the Welfare State.  In fact, as we will see, the minimum wage contributes not only to the growth of unemployment, but the growth of the Welfare State as well.  First, let us summarize the argument in favor of minimum wage laws.

Employees making less than the proposed minimum wage are being exploited by greedy capitalists in search of higher profits.  They are paid less than what is required to live decently, and thus the companies they work for should be mandated to pay them that minimum wage, taking the extra wages out of their erroneously high profit margins.

This logic seems airtight, unless we look further into the situation.  We must observe the unintended (although predictable) consequences of the minimum wage.   The first effect of the policy, according to Hazlitt, is that anyone whose labor is worth less than the minimum wage is immediately rendered unemployable.  This is the chief reason why every time the minimum wage goes up, teenage unemployment follows it.   As Hazlitt explains:

“You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less.  You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering.” (pg. 135)

Wages are prices.  Most politicians are against price controls in the broad sense, and we easily understand that a price floor above market value will put downward pressure on quantity demanded of that good.  In this case, our good is labor, and the price floor takes the form of the minimum wage.  The resulting downward pressure in quantity demanded merely shows its face in unemployed teenagers, and the destruction of businesses that were operating at the margin.

What, then, about the Living Wage?  As Suffolk University professor Benjamin Powell references in his thought provoking presentation on sweatshops, the fact that employment is at will proves that the employees of these companies are acting in their own best interest.  That is, they are forgoing all other alternative uses of their time and energy in order to be employed.  In a later chapter, while decrying the myth that labor unions raise real wages, Hazlitt offers this on the competitive nature of wages:

Why should he not prefer, for example, to make $1 a week out of a workman rather than see some other employer make $2 a week out of him? And as long as this situation exists, there will be a tendency for employers to bid workers up to their full economic worth. (pg.140-1)

This statement clarifies the fact that in the free market nature of a mutually beneficial voluntary transaction, employers bring to the bargaining table their human capital, and competition among employers of that capital will bid the wage up to a level very close to the total value of the labor each person does.   Their own human capital, not a government mandate, is what allows workers to accumulate a Living Wage.

We can conclude that the minimum wage merely causes existing employees to be fired, and restricts the hiring of new ones.  The policy hurts the smallest business and most unskilled laborers the most.

Inflation

Hazlitt periodically dismisses the added effects of inflation during his other arguments, and the reader senses he does so grudgingly.  When he finally sets his sights on the “hidden tax”, Hazlitt lets loose his most forceful argument of the book.  Although varying forms of arguments in favor of inflation represent various short term effects, Hazlitt chooses to focus mostly on the long term consequences of expansionary credit.  The most important distinction is that money itself does not represent real wealth. 

His argument that makes the clearest sense is against the common notion that if the money supply is increased by 100%, everyone will eventually have double the purchasing power.  His distinction is that inflationary credit does not enter the economy in some kind of equal way, where everyone is given a check of their portion of the printed dollars.  Rather, it enters the economy very specifically in the sector where the government chooses to spend it.  He uses the example of military spending, and we might also consider the bank and auto bailouts of 2008 as a place where this freshly printed money “entered” the economy.  Immediately the employees of the beneficiary industries have more purchasing power, but prices have yet to rise.  This is why special interest groups (such as the banks) are so in favor of inflation.   Now as the first beneficiaries spend their new money, this causes a chain reaction of rising prices, and rising wages. It is important to note that the poorest members of the economy, who operate at the stages of production closest to consumer goods, are the last (indeed, if they do at all) to receive higher wages, while they still bear the rising prices caused by the inflation.  This is a result of the government’s tendency to inject money into the highest orders of production.

Hazlitt’s portrait of inflation is of a mechanism that merely pulls wool over the eyes of the average consumer, and hides the true effects of a Depression while simultaneously preventing the price structure from curing the malinvestment which credit expansion created in the first place.  Add to this the headache that governments inevitably inflate during both booms and busts, and have a quite strong track record for defaulting on their ever growing debt, and we reach a point where Hazlitt says inflation “tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships” (pg. 176).

Hazlitt’s book is indeed timeless.  Although his original edition was written in 1946, his arguments ring true in our current times.  His lessons only resonate louder and clearer as the perils of economic policy like saving a certain industry or advocating spending to boost the economy are brought to light.  I encourage anyone who wishes to be quickly and systematically informed about the practical effects of government policies on the economy to read it.

Posted in Book Reviews, Hazlitt | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

For a New Liberty review, Part 3 (Ch. 10-15)

Ch. 10-12 The Public Sector

Certain problems exist by nature of fallen men living in an inherently evil world.  Evil itself is one.  Government is one of man’s attempts at a solution to the problem of evil.  The organization of the State has been no more successful in solving the problem of inevitable evil in the world than it has been in solving the basic problem of scarcity.  We must realize that these two, evil and scarcity, are constant.  We must also realize that individuals are more likely to minimize these problems, because governments give rise to a more widespread and systematic manifestation of evil, and is, in fact, an inevitable result of their mere existence.   Rothbard acknowledges this:

 “The “better” that people will be, of course, the better any social system will work, in particular the less work any police or courts will have to do.  But no such assumption is made by libertarians.  What we assert is that, given any particular degree of “goodness” or “badness” among men, the purely libertarian society will be at once the most moral and the most efficient, the least criminal and the most secure of person or property” (pg. 291)

Thus, knowing this, Rothbard’s solutions to these and other social problems are not utopian, but pragmatic.  He even acknowledges during his plea for a private, market disciplined police force that banditry would be possible.   However, when compared to the mass theft, conscription, and murder committed by the State, a small police force that turned into a mafia is a much smaller issue to contend with.   This is especially true considering the monopoly power States tend to demand of both weaponry and the use of violence (for the good of its subjects, of course).

He extends these arguments to the court system, the roads, and other public service such as firefighters and garbage men.   The job that the State can do through taxation by force, using workers who lack the incentive of profit, could easily be matched and exceeded by these same workers in a free marketplace.  For the courts, he favors a system of natural, common law that defends the rights to person and property.

Ch. 13 Conservation, Ecology, and Growth

Rothbard outlines a list of the complaints of left-leaning intellectuals, bringing into a humorous light the way they contradict each other with time.  In the 30’s they said that the economy was stagnant because no more inventions were possible and central planning was necessary.  Later they contend that the prosperity of the 50’s led to decreasing spirituality, and the solution was to tax the economy into zero growth.  Notice that although the sicknesses change, the medicine is the same: more, bigger government.

To the contrary, a libertarian believes that the disease never changes.  The symptoms of state intervention always manifest themselves in decreased prosperity and freedom for individuals, and the cure remains now and forever to minimize its immoral involvement in our lives to the greatest degree possible.

He extends his case to the subject of conservation of natural resources, where he believes that private property rights are the key to efficient use of these resources.  He chooses the empirical examples of the western frontier and the world’s oceans.  The problem with the former is that the land was only leased by the federal government to ranchers, and with the latter that property rights are largely nonexistent.  He argues that due to a lack of individual property rights, ranchers grazed early in the season, disregarding the future value of the land for present consumption and squandering the land’s resources.

He extends his position to the timber industry.  Operating only on a lease to use federally owned forests, loggers only incentive is to use up resources as quickly as possible, rather than adjusting to price signals or expectations of future demand.   Under this system, loggers also lack the incentive to plant new seeds and protect future capital.

In essence, Rothbard’s position is that private property, true ownership of resources, is the key to conservation and limiting pollution.  Individuals only gain the incentive to preserve and protect scarce resources after they have been given ownership and invest their capital in that resource.   He even makes a daunting case for property rights as a means to end to air pollution, arguing that all air pollution is a violation of rights.  He says that if class action lawsuits against pollution were not overruled in a vain effort to preserve the general welfare, businesses would be forced to come up with new ways to produce.  The temporary increased costs of accommodating the rights of individuals would be bore not by everyone equally through taxation, but by individual consumers of each business’ product.

In his own words:

 “If property rights were to be defended fully, against private and governmental invasion alike, we would find here, as in other areas of our economy and society, that private enterprise and modern technology would come to mankind not as a curse but as its salvation.” (pg. 327)

Ch. 14 War and Foreign Policy

 As a basic extension of the non-aggression axiom, a libertarian is necessarily opposed to war.  Rothbard argues that the State uses the methods of coercion and taxation to staff and fund armies that engage in murder.  Why murder? Isn’t war an honorable quest to defend our land and our way of life from those who wish us harm?  Rothbard says that, to the contrary, empirical evidence suggests that wars, especially modern wars, necessarily injure countless civilians, harm civil liberties, and increase the burden of taxation on the people.  He references Garet Garett, “classical liberal journalist”, and his refute of American imperialism.  Garett compares the United States foreign policy to that of Ancient Rome, the Spanish Inquisition, and the British Empire, saying that under the guise of humanitarianism of all kinds, States seek to increase their power over the “barbarians” of the world.  In more recent times we have seen this strategy applied to the perpetual War on Terror, which has given rise to trillions in national debt, as well as a tremendous loss of liberty and life.

Furthermore, Rothbard debunks the myth of the ever-present external threat to national security, especially by dictatorial regimes.  To the contrary, he argues that although during the Cold War the United States lived in constant fear of Soviet attack, it was the democratic state which was more aggressive globally.  He invites the reader to consider that since World War II, the communist states of Russia and China have used military power to sustain themselves domestically, but never to expand and implement communism around the world.  This is in no way, he says, advocating communism or defending the harsh rule that exists within these countries, but rather shedding light on the fact that it is a fallacy to blindly consider democratic states peaceful while assuming communist ones are war mongering.

Rothbard concludes the chapter with a call to disarmament of all nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, especially since they cannot be guaranteed not to injure civilians.  He argues that if we can agree that the use of these weapons is immoral, it is indeed quite dangerous to leave their power unchecked in the hands of the State.

 Ch. 15 A Strategy for Liberty

To begin the “Strategy for Liberty” Rothbard offers a fairly generic proposal of educating others to the cause.  He says that the libertarian strategy is twofold: 1) Making people aware that an alternative exists to the two-party paradigm 2) Converting them to such a belief.  He also answers the critique of the libertarian movement (and admittedly of most “radical” movements) that its supporters spend most of their time “talking to themselves” and not mobilizing the movement.  He argues that reading the work of and communicating with other libertarians is at once both energizing and refines the thought process to enable further persuasion of others.

Next is a defense of the “radical” change to the status quo called for by pure libertarians, as opposed to the “Fabian” solutions of the less fervent supporters (and most politicians.)  He insists libertarians take a page out of the Marxist playbook and not lose sight of the ultimate objective by giving in to “right wing opportunism,” meaning, for example, never to argue for a 2% cut to the income tax instead of arguing for its abolishment.  Of all movements, he says, libertarians should be adept to clinging to “pure principle” rather than insignificant steps.  In fact, he quotes Hayek, who praises the socialists for clinging to such a Utopian ideal, arguing that therein lies the key to enthusiasm of support, rather than paying mere lip service to such things as “reasonable freedom of trade” or “mere ‘relaxation of controls’.”  (pg. 377) He does make the point, as I’ve stated elsewhere, that libertarianism is by no means “Utopian,” since, in its truest sense, the word refers to the impossibility of a political system achieving its goals, as in communism.  Libertarianism’s problem, he argues, is that the will of men, collectively, is not yet strong enough to enact the system.  The fact that libertarianism is at once both economically and morally sound, while complimenting the inherent nature of man, makes it, by definition, quite practical.

So the strategy Rothbard outlines entails the coupling of an adherence to strict principles, and the calling for radical solutions immediately, with the acceptance of small steps in that direction.  He offers the criteria for accepting a small step towards libertarianism as “(1) that, whatever the transitional demands, the ultimate end of liberty be always held aloft as the desired goal; and (2) that no steps or means ever explicitly or implicitly contradict the ultimate goal.”

Next he addresses the education of the general population.  He argues that other than big businesses getting corporate welfare and the members of the State itself, nearly everyone could be receptive to the message of liberty for their own reasons.  He does, however, acknowledge that during good times many people lose interest in public affairs.  He says that sometimes for radical social change, as we have seen recently with TARP and The Affordable Care Act, a crisis situation must emerge.  From the libertarian perspective his comments ring with opportunity to recruit during and after the impending collapse of the U.S. dollar, a possible silver lining to that otherwise bleak calamity.

Finally, he contends that liberty is a system that must win in the end, since the systems that have been tried since industrialization have all failed us miserably.  True as that may be, a vast education and mobilization movement is indeed necessary, in our time as in his.  The good news is that liberty is a philosophy that few, if any, abandon once they find it.  The movement, as seen by Ron Paul’s supporters in the 2008 and ’12 elections, is hard to shrink, and rather grows slowly but steadily.  The truth of the libertarian movement is indeed our ultimate hope.

Posted in Book Reviews, Rothbard | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

For a New Liberty review, Part 2 (Ch. 4-9)

Ch. 4 The Problems

Rothbard’s list of the problems of society is a predictable list of almost every major area government is involved.  Highlights of his list include the nationalization of television and radio, and a critique of the military industrial complex and its cost-plus guarantees to defense contractors.  Rothbard identifies government as the “red thread” between society’s problems.

Ch. 5 Involuntary Servitude

Rothbard defines forced labor as “an act which denies the most elemental right of self-ownership.” (pg 97)   He applies this definition to the following:

1)      The military draft (including the drafting of doctors)
2)      Lower than market-wage salaries for enlisted men/women, as well as the “term of service” obligation, violating the familiar right-to-work sentiment
3)      Anti-strike laws
4)      All forms of taxation
5)      Forced testimony in courts
6)      Forced rehabilitation of mental patients

All of these acts, argues Rothbard, violate the non-aggression axiom which is at the center of libertarian thought, and they all represent forms of forced labor which he deems immoral and inefficient.

Ch. 6 Personal Liberty

Rothbard shines in his opening diagnosis of the right of free speech as it pertains to the ever important question of property rights.  He defends the incitement of riots by arguing that those incited were not forced, and defends libel and slander by saying that the reputation of individuals is arbitrary and thus cannot be considered private property that can be violated.  He also makes a case that these laws violate against the poor.  Lastly, pertaining to free speech, he sees a major problem with assembly laws.   When a group assembles in government owned streets, and clogs traffic, who’s rights are to be upheld, the right of the group to assemble or the right of the travelers to an uninterrupted trip?  He says the crux of the matter lies in that the streets are publicly owned, where a private owner would independently decide what use his street would allow for a given time.

Finally, Rothbard makes detailed, albeit very predictable, arguments against the FCC, pornography and other sex laws, wiretapping, gambling, and gun laws, clinging all the while to the non-aggression axiom and its application to property rights.

Ch. 7 Education and Ch. 8 The Welfare State

I’ve chosen to lump these chapters together because the principle his argument involves for both remains the same.  The contradiction made by statists is in, at once, defending the need of both an educated public and charity to help the poor, and advocating the use of government programs to accomplish these noble goals.  Specifically for education, he argues against the forming of a consistent curriculum for children growing up in different areas with different educational needs, as well as truancy laws which provide a captive audience for the curriculum inevitable chosen by the liberal intellectuals.  His argument goes that if private education were allowed, children who wanted to be, for example, electricians could maximize their earning potential by developing these skills at a young age.  At any rate, competition in the schooling system would allow for a more personalized and higher quality experience for those who chose to buy an education, as is the tendency of the free market.

As for the welfare state, he again distinguishes between the intentions of providing a safety net for those in rough times, and the inefficient and coercive use of taxation to provide it.  Another main argument against the welfare state is that when the State uses a numerical value to define poverty, it has strange consequences on the opportunity cost of working.  For example, a person making 20,000 dollars a year who would be due to receive 18,000 in total benefits by being unemployed, may very well choose that option.  Thus Rothbard shows using statistics that the welfare state inevitable grows over time because of this phenomenon.

Ch. 9 Inflation and the Business Cycle

This is where For a New Liberty shines the brightest.  Rothbard’s defense of the Austrian business cycle theory is cold, logical, and pointed.  He begins by pointing out that Keynesian economics have no explanation for stagflation.  Decreasing demand during a recession inevitably forces prices downward, but during the early 70s prices rose along with unemployment.

One of the main points Rothbard makes is that the modern contention that “a bit of inflation is good for the economy” is false.  In fact, during the period since around 1800 to 1913, prices steadily declined due to increases in productivity and technology.

He places the blame of rising prices solely on the State for allowing the creation of a central bank (The Federal Reserve) with a monopoly power to control the money supply.  Especially after the dollar was released entirely from the gold standard during the Nixon administration, the Fed’s expansionary monetary policy has continually harmed the value of the dollar, causing a rise in prices.   It also causes false signals to investors because of an artificially low interest rate.  This is an especially harmful process when combined with government subsidies to certain industries, further discombobulating the true market signals sent by the price system.   Finally he argues against the ills of the Fractional reserve banking system (a sneaky way for the Fed to indirectly raise the money supply) and then offers the common Austrian argument of returning to the gold standard as a means for money to hold its value over time, as it has done in the past.

Posted in Book Reviews, Rothbard | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

For a New Liberty review, Part 1 (Ch. 1-3)

Rothbard was at one time known as “The State’s Greatest Living Enemy.”  In his manifesto, “For a New Liberty,” he leaves no doubt as to why.  He exposes the State as coercive and inherently evil, yielding to it no legitimate powers.  His principled defense of the libertarian creed is a great inspiration to libertarians and skeptics of growing State power everywhere.  I have provided a segmented review of his work to solidify my knowledge of it and yours.

Ch. 1 The Libertarian Heritage

Rothbard begins by magnifying the significance of libertarianism during the American Revolution, and indeed the French and English before it.  He references the writings of Cato’s letters in the early 18th century as well as John Locke as inspiration for the revolutionaries.  He goes on to give a revisionist historical perspective of what happened to the philosophy of liberty which was once at the core of the American spirit.  He explains the failings of Jefferson during the War of 1812 (although he praises Jefferson for later regretting that and other failings), the split of the Jeffersonian tradition because of slavery, and the tremendous leap forward of the State during and after the Civil War.

Next, he describes the alliance between the State and the intellectual class.  This process, he believes, was necessary for the “Old Order” to regain its power and the trust of the people.  The intellectuals would mold public opinion and in exchange were given prestigious jobs at Universities and became the planners of the economy.

For the final modern blow to classical liberalism he cites Woodrow Wilson’s involvement in the First World War, as well the countries involvement in Spain before it.  Ever since, the Democratic Party lost its legs as the party of individual rights and peace, and the snowball effect of State control was turned loose.

Ch. 2  Property and Exchange

The Libertarian Creed, as Rothbard sees it, begins with the non-aggression axiom.  Simply stated, “that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else.”  After a short description of how the manifestations of this ideal are at once “left wing” and “right wing” while remaining principled, Rothbard begins to explain an essential realization that libertarians make.  A libertarian must hold the State to the same principles of anyone else.  What is taxation, then, but theft against the will of many into the hands of the few? What is war but mass conscription and murder for the State’s selfish purpose?  The State must disguise its motives by use of the aforementioned intellectual class, blind patriotism, and a misconstrued sense of the “general welfare.”

After his description of the non-aggression axiom, Rothbard turns to property rights.  He says that natural law dictates that resources can either belong to just the man who finds them and “mixes his labor” with them, or to everyone, making the case, of course, that the more moral solution is that of individual ownership. He argues that nearly every problem in society can be addressed by the rights of person and property.  He then takes on the daunting challenge of the solution to a man yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.  Many would argue for the man’s rights to free speech, but Rothbard points out the property rights of both the owner of the theatre and other patrons were violated.

One last highlight of Ch. 2 is one of, if not singularly, the most important principles of a market economy.   Rothbard speaks to the concept of voluntary exchange for mutual gain.  When two people exchange goods with one another, by barter or using an intermediary, both are better off.  What is a complex market economy then, he says, but a “vast network” of mutually agreed upon exchanges.  The only exchanges that are not agreed upon are enforced by the state through means of coercion and conscription, thus violating the non-aggression axiom.

Ch. 3  The State

Chapter 3 further summarizes the moral fallacy of holding the State above its own law.  He specifically mentions taxation and the cozy relationship with the intellectuals used to curb public opinion, which is needed in a democracy.    The intellectuals make the State seem “sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable and better than any conceivable alternatives.”   (pg. 67)  This power is then wielded to form public policy, especially that of the New Deal following the Great Depression.

Posted in Book Reviews, Rothbard | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

First Post

The purpose of this blog is to educate myself and others about the ideas of liberty, particularly pertaining to the Austrian School of economics.  I got the idea to start a blog from a video of author and historian Tom Woods, who perceptively advised reading a book and then writing about it as a means to a full understanding of the topic.

My first series of posts will be book reviews, where I’ll echo the message conveyed by the author and then add some thoughts of my own.  I thought I’d begin with arguably the most forceful and unapologetic treatise on liberty, “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” by Murray Rothbard.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment