Archive for December 2013

11 Good Things for Liberty in 2013

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Credit: Mike Herbst

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

As 2013 draws to a close, let’s pause to recall some important developments for the cause of liberty – some of which you already know well, and others you’ll be hearing about for the first time.

Edward Snowden. After sitting on the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping story for 18 months, the New York Times revealed a portion of the surveillance activities of the US government in 2005. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the National Security Agency’s spying activities vastly exceeded anything we heard about in the media.

The Snowden revelations served two functions from the point of view of public enlightenment. First, the regime in DC was once again exposed as untruthful, even sinister. But second, the bipartisan condemnation of Snowden on the part of the political establishment – both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain denounced him, unsurprisingly – reminds us that there is, after all, one party: the state party. Whatever cosmetic differences separate politicians otherwise, when push comes to shove, they rally to one another in the face of a truth-teller.

New President for the Mises Institute. At the end of 2013 the Mises Institute named Jeff Deist, former as chief of staff to Ron Paul, as its new president. Jeff is a significant  figure in so many ways – smart, well spoken, principled, and knowledgeable about money, banking, the Fed, and indeed the entire edifice of Austrian economics.

“Ron Paul’s congressional staff viewed the Mises Institute as our intellectual home,” Jeff recalls. “We applied Austrian principles and scholarship to virtually everything Ron did as a member of Congress. I’m honored to join an organization Ron has enthusiastically supported from the very beginning, and excited about dedicating myself to furthering the Austrian message.”

Ron, for his part, says he’s thrilled that Jeff “is fighting for liberty again.”

Obamacare. Everybody knows about the Obamacare fiascoes – the useless website and “if you like your plan, you can keep it” chief among them. But what a disaster the rollout of this program has been for the regime, which hates nothing more than looking ridiculous and incompetent, and being the butt of the people’s jokes. Meanwhile, supporters of the president think they’re helping matters by casually pointing out that of course the president knew he was lying when he said people could keep health plans they liked; he had to lie to them in order to get this program passed.

It’s rare to encounter such refreshing candor from the political and media classes.

The Austrian School. Meanwhile, interest in the Austrian School continues to grow, and demands for our resources and services have never been greater. Our Austrian Economics Research Conference, which attracts the best scholars from around the world working in the Austrian tradition, promises to be among our best ever, with an illustrious list of named lecturers and scores of papers advancing the Austrian School in new and exciting ways.

The Great Deformation. David Stockman’s gripping book The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America is more than a devastating blow to the conventional narrative of the financial crisis and the geniuses who supposedly put things right. It is a sweeping, revisionist account of 20th-century US history, bristling with insights and little-known history. Imagine reading a book on 20th-century America without a systematic pro-Fed bias, and without the usual deference to the “great presidents.” I reviewed it for LRC. I urge you to read it. [Here is a Mises Institute Q and A with David Stockman.]

Read More→

New German-Language Book on Monetary Policy

51j3Yyq07VL._Philipp Bagus and Andreas Marquart have co-authored a new introductory text on monetary policy for German-language readers.

Here’s a brief description:

In Warum anderen auf Ihre Kosten immer reicher werden – und welche Rolle Staat und Papiergield dabei spielen (transl. Why You Pay For Others to Get Richer – And What the Government and Paper Money Have to do with It) A. Marquart and P. Bagus offer an introduction to the perverse consequences of our present fiat money system directed toward a popular audience. Throughout the book Marquart and Bagus compare good or private money and a society based on it with society based on bad or state money. They explain how money arises on the free market and how and why governments got involved into the monetary system. They show how business cycles distort the economy, how the government and the financial sector benefit from the current monetary system, how the fiat money system allows for an unjust redistribution impoverishing the middle and lower classes benefiting the super rich, how regulations interact with the monetary system to strangulate the economy, and how fiat money destroys traditional values and the family.

Advancing Pharmaceutical and Medical Technology Does Not Depend on Patents

6625Writes Nathan Nicolaisen in today’s Mises Daily:

The notion that unpatented medical technologies are not feasible is historically false. Surveys of important medical breakthroughs provide insight into whether patents are absolutely necessary and conducive to innovation in medicine. In 2006, the British Medical Journal challenged its readership to submit a list of the most noteworthy medical and pharmaceutical inventions throughout history. The original list contained over 70 different discoveries before being narrowed down to 15. The list goes as follows in no particular order: penicillin, x-rays, tissue culture, ether anesthetic, chlorpromazine, public sanitation, germ theory, evidence-based medicine, vaccines, the pill, computers, oral rehydration therapy, DNA structure, monoclonal antibody technology, and smoking health risk. Of these discoveries, only two of them have remotely anything to do with patents, chlorpromazine and the pill. In another survey conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control the results are strikingly similar. Of the ten most important medical discoveries of the twentieth century, none of them had anything to do with patents.

Hayek’s Rule and the Productivity Norm

My replacement at Metro State, Nicolas Cachanosky, continues to write interesting, challenging papers in the Austrian tradition faster than those of us used to the slower pace of retirement can read them. His most recent is “Hayek’s Rule, NGDP Targeting, and the Productivity Norm: Theory and Application.” Cachanosky notes:

The 2008 crisis demonstrated that serious economic imbalances can take place even in the absence of inflationary problems. An important consensus regards monetary policy that kept interest rates too low for too long as a major driver of the financial crisis (Borio & Disyatat, 2011; Diamond & Rajan, 2009a; Hume & Sentance, 2009; Lal, 2010; Leijonhufvud, 2009; Meltzer, 2009; O’Driscoll, 2009; Schwartz, 2009; Taylor, 2009; White, 2008; Young, 2012). The absence of inflation introduces the question of whether price level stability is in fact a good guide to monetary policy.

I have argued elsewhere (Hayek and the 21st Century Boom-Bust and Recession-Recovery) this lesson should have been learned from the dot.com bust:

The first boom-bust of the period, 1995–2000, should have provided evidence that Hayek was premature in de-emphasizing the empirical importance of distortions in the structure of production caused by money and credit creation in a growing economy with relatively stable prices (Cochran, Yetter, and Glahe, 2004, pp. 13–14). A monetary shock which accommodated a produc­tivity shock generated a significant boom as exhibited by real GDP above potential GDP (see figure 1). The resulting malinvestment during this period and its effect on employment are illustrated in figures 2 and 3. The resulting “bust,” at least measured in terms of the cycle impact on GDP, was relatively mild.

The significance of this cycle for the role of monetary policy was perhaps missed because it occurred at the end of the relatively long period of growth and stability known as the “Great Moderation.” This period was a time of better—at least compared to monetary policy of the 1960s and 1970s—but not necessarily good policy (Garrison, 2009). During this period, central banks were heavily influenced by macroeconomic events of the 1970s which seemed to discredit the prevailing neo-classical synthesis/Keynesian consensus. A vast economic literature from the consequent policy effectiveness debate emphasized central bank policies that—at least in the long run—aimed at price stabilization as a dominant policy goal. The Fed, while not explicitly inflation targeting, followed a policy that mimicked a Taylor Rule policy. Garrison (2009) characterizes this as a “learning by doing policy” which based on events post-2003, would be better classified as “so far so good” or “whistling in the dark.”

Never the less, Austrian theory consistently argues that the best way to deal with a crisis would be to prevent the crisis in the first place. Prevention requires monetary institutions that limit—or better yet, prevent—monetary policy caused misdi­rections of production.  Most Austrians would favor monetary reform that would eliminate central banking as did Hayek in the 1970s when called for denationalization of money. But it is also important, like Hayek of the 1970s, to consider, especially given that it is highly unlikely that major central banks will be eliminated anytime soon, how ‘best’ to conduct monetary policy given the existence of such political institutions. Hayek, based on an empirical misjudgment that greatly underestimated the harm from malinvestments in a stable inflation environment, argued, absent significant institutional monetary reform, “Though monetary policy must prevent wide fluctuations in the quantity of money or the volume of the income stream …[t]he primary aim must again become stability of the value of money.” To paraphrase, in normal times there is a need to get back, a la Friedman, to a more or less automatic monetary framework. Where policy deviated and generated a boom-bust, then, to prevent “liquidity crises or panics” there is a need “to ensure convertibility of all kinds of near-money into real money” For this, “the monetary authorities must be given some discretion”

Cachanosky’s new paper fits nicely into this important niche in the literature. Right now the discussion is being dominated by the market monetarists and their call for nominal gdp targeting. Cachanosky places an emphasis on a productivity norm as a leading candidate for a policy ‘rule’ most likely to provide a policy norm more likely to prevent major boom-busts. Cachanosky concludes:

The productivity norm offers superior guidance for monetary policy compared to the principle of price stability. Still, the application of a rule informed by the insights of the productivity norm is not an easy matter. Notwithstanding the important challenges, the potential shortcomings of an application of such rules are present in other rules, such as price stability. Although the productivity norm is not part of the core of monetary policy today, there was a time when its consideration was important.

The revision of macroeconomic business cycle models and monetary policy in light of the 2008 crisis offers a convenient opportunity to revisit the insights of the productivity norm.

See Table 2: Reforms retaining central banking at the end of Fractional Reserves and Economic Instability for an assessment of various reforms from another Austrian perspective.

Mark Thornton Speaking Tonight in Orlando

Tonight from 7 pm to 8:30 pm in Orlando, Florida: Mises Senior Fellow Mark Thornton is back in Orlando and will be speaking on “Living in Bernanke’s World of Bubbles.”

Click here for full event information. 

Don’t Fear Deflation; Fear Central Banks

The always interesting and informative Richard Ebeling is doing regular commentary at EPICTiMES. His most recent is “Don’t fear Deflation, Unless Caused by Government.” Here Ebeling effectively refutes arguments made by Bernanke and Yellen that the Fed’s massive monetary base expansion was necessary to fight recession and prevent deflation.

Highlights:

Rather than assisting a post-recession recovery, these policies – plus other market-harming government interventions, regulations, and manipulations including ObamaCare – have made this the most sluggish recovery, especially in terms of employment, in the entire period since the end of World War II in 1945.

And

A free, competitive market economy is always rewarding successful entrepreneurs with profits for having made new, better and less expensive goods to earn consumer business. Thus, the normal trend in a free, competitive market is a world of gently falling prices as innovative businessmen bring improved and less expensive goods to consumers.

A truly free market economy, therefore, is one that tends to have the “good deflation,” and we should look forward to it, if only government intervention and central banking would get out of the way.

An archive of Ebeling’s contributions can be accessed here and is well worth bookmarking.

For the best available presentation of the Austrian view of deflation see Joe Salerno’s An Austrian Taxonomy of Deflation—With Applications to the U.S.. Also useful is pp. 37-40 in Salerno’s A Reformulation of Austrian Business Cycle Theory in Light of the Financial Crisis.

Audio: Walter Block Explains Austrian Economics

This interview with Walter Block is a little old (May 2013), but we haven’t linked to it before.

Some highlights of the interview include:

  • Block contrasts Austrian economists as philosophers compared to “normative” economists which he characterizes as ethicists and empiricists.
  • He highlights praxeology, the study of human interactions, as a central tenet of the Austrian school.
  • He emphasizes that there are areas where libertarians and Austrian economists do not have overlapping thinking.
  • Block says there is inflation at present, just not in what the official statistics are measuring.  He mentions several classes of assets that have experienced (are experiencing) inflation.
  • In an extended discussion about unions, Block said there are justifiable activities for unions.  But he feels many unions (and specifically public sector unions) are “legal and ethical monstrosities“.  He suggests they are “vicious, depraved and immoral” and “deny the right of free association“.

(Radio Interview, approx. 35 minutes)

Walter Block Is Still Defending the Undefendable

6624Mark Thornton reviews Walter Block’s new book in today’s Mises Daily:

Walter Block is at his finest when he subjects the most loathsome jobs and nastiest behaviors to a logical and libertarian scrutiny. Block’s Defending the Undefendable has needled and irritated an entire generation of readers and compelled many to re-examine long-held beliefs in favor of the logic of libertarianism. Now comes volume 2,Defending the Undefendable: Freedom in All Realms (with a foreword by Ron Paul) that promises more such irritation for future generations.

The introduction is a short course in libertarianism. Block explains that libertarianism is a political philosophy that shows when the use of coercion is justified or not justified. The book examines 30 cases that are often seen as illegal, immoral, or unethical. Block analyzes each case by subjecting it to a libertarian standard, and ultimately exonerates each from punishment by government.

 

 

Mendacious NYT Reporter Smears Economists on Speculation

Thanks to Felix Salmon for quoting me in his take-down of this embarrassing NYT piece on Craig Pirrong and Scott Irwin, two well-known economists who study commodity-market speculation. Basically, the reporter dislikes speculation (which he clearly doesn’t understand), so he assumes any expert with a different view must be a hired gun for various commodity-market firms and groups. The result is a preposterous article riddled with “jaw-on-the-floor” errors, mendaciously edited so the unfounded accusations come first, and the self-contradictions revealed only at the end of the piece. (E.g., the professors are paid consultants for these groups — oh, but they say the opposite of what these groups want, and are actually paid to work on entirely different things.)

As one commentator on my blog described it: “NYT reporter dutifully caters to its dwindling readership’s biases in an attempt to sell newspapers.”

Top 10 Marijuana Stories for 2013

10. New polls indicate that 83% of Americans are in favor of legalized medical marijuana, 58% are in favor of legalized recreational marijuana.

9. Study shows that pot smokers are skinnier.

8. It was scientifically confirmed that chemicals in marijuana kill certain deadly cancer cells.

7. Low potency marijuana helps kids with debilitating epileptic seizures.

6. Hemp was legally grown in the US for the first time since 1957.

5. Arrests for marijuana have fallen over the couple of years from 900,000 per year to 750,000.

4. First license to sell recreational marijuana was issued to go into effect January 1, 2014.

3. Colorado and Washington vote to legalize marijuana.

2. The Justice Department backed down on its threats to enforce marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.

1. Uruguay becomes the first nation to legalize marijuana.

Click here to see these stories and more.

Regression Theorem and Bitcoin

Here is a letter I received about the Regression theorem:

I’ve been thinking through this for a few days and wondered if you had any insight — is the Regression Theorem a praxeological statement, or is it a heuristic device?

If it is a praxeological statement, then it must be true, and we can deduce *a priori* truths from it on that basis (e.g., IF something arises on the market as a medium of exchange, THEN it had value on the market prior to becoming a medium of exchange). This seems to be how many Austrians have treated regression, but it doesn’t seem clear that this is the intent of the discussion in *Theory of Money and Credit*.

If, on the other hand, it is a heuristic device for description and analysis, it can still be useful as an insight into the origins of money, but *a priori* truths cannot be deduced out of it. I’ve looked, but have found very little discussion of this in the Austrian literature. Do you have any thoughts on this? Have I missed something major?

Here was my response:

In my view, the regression theorem is apodictic, praxeological. This brings up the question of the bitcoin. It is not yet money. It is not now a generally accepted means of final payment. But it is now at least a quasi money. More than just a few people treat it as a money.  Probably, the govt will soon blow this out of the water with regulations, taxes. But, if not, it might become a money. If so, would this be a violation of the regression postulate? Yes, if we interpret it as saying that nothing cannot become a money unless it was at one time a valuable COMMODITY. Of course, bitcoins were never a valuable commodity. But, if we more sympathetically interpret the regression theorem not in terms of a commodity, but in terms of SOMETHING of value, then when and if bitcoin becomes a money, it will not contradict the regression theorem for, surely, before it became a money (if it does) it was SOMETHING of value, albeit not a commodity, because it cannot be denied that some people valued it.

I’m not aware of any formal discussion of this in the literature. But, I went to the Mises web, and found this:

http://archive.mises.org/18767/bitcoin-implodes/
http://archive.mises.org/17356/another-bitcoin-crash/
https://mises.org/daily/6401/Bitcoin-Money-of-the-Future-or-OldFashioned-Bubble
http://archive.mises.org/17294/a-clear-concise-look-at-bitcoin/
http://archive.freecapitalists.org//forums/t/25162.aspx
http://archive.mises.org/17249/ideological-and-irrational-exuberance/
http://archive.freecapitalists.org//forums/t/23845.aspx

The December Issue of ‘The Free Market’ Is Now Online

Picture1The December issue of The Free Market, the Mises Institute’s monthly, is now online. (A subscription is included with membership.)

This month, Lew Rockwell discusses the future of the Mises Institute as an institution of higher learning:

I think the Mises Institute represents the future of higher education. There has been so little innovation in the mainstream higher education industry. Peter Klein points out that colleges and universities still use the same production model that Aristotle used. … There are, of course, different ways to do this, and the Mises Institute is at the cutting edge of those different ways.

But there’s another way to do it, and as we see with the online courses of MisesAcademy, and with our in-person programs such as Mises University and the Rothbard Graduate Seminar, there is much greater respect for the student and his or her time. Depending on the program, students can complete them quickly, often on a schedule tailored to the student’s needs, and the Mises Institute then issues certificates to those who successfully finish the programs.

Meanwhile, we’re finding that employers are often treating these certificates as something equivalent to college credit when considering employment for our alumni. This makes sense, of course, since the Mises Institute teaches students how to really engage in economic reasoning and to think like someone who truly understands economics—the type of real economics described by Mises.

And Jeffrey Herbener and Shawn Ritenour recount the contributions of historian and biographer Mary Sennholz:

After the war, she was part of Adlai Stevenson’s committee of American officials in London working to establish the United Nations. She resigned in 1947 to join Leonard Read at the Foundation for Economic Education. Her admiration for the founder of FEE was clear. In the forward to her biography, Leonard Read: Philosopher of Freedom, published in 1993, she wrote, “Leonard Read, the offspring of New England pioneers, was to become the leader who, at a crucial moment in American history, rallied the demoralized and tired forces of individual freedom and the private property order …”

In her work, she rubbed shoulders with Frank Chodorov, Baldy Harper, Henry Hazlitt, Israel Kirzner, Edmund Opitz, Gary North, Benjamin Rogge, and Murray Rothbard among others.

Also included this month is the 2013 Year in Review, featuring news of the Mises Institute’s new president, Jeff Deist, plus a quick retrospective on the year’s events, seminars, classes, and new scholars.

Read the full issue here.

In Trusting Politics and Politicians, It Is the Pope Who Is Naïve

6618Gary Galles writes in today’s Mises Daily:

When the rich get richer by rigging the political process, that is objectionable, but it is not amarket failure. It is a government failure, imposed by undermining the benefits competitive markets provide for all participants. And the solution is to get the government out of the theft business (as capitalism would require), not to first enable favorites to garner ill-gotten gains from restricting competition, then use government’s abuses as an excuse to more heavily tax (and thus discourage) those who actually benefit others.

It is true that the crony capitalism we see all around us, which is far closer to fascism than capitalism, is unjust. Pope Francis is right to criticize such injustice. But private property, the basis of capitalism, prevents rather than enables the “dog eat dog” “survival of the fittest” competition that capitalism’s attackers accuse it of.

In contrast, private property prevents the physical invasion of a person’s life, their liberty, or their property without their consent. By preventing such invasions, private property is an irreplaceable defense against aggression by the strong against the weak. No one is allowed to be a predator by violating others’ rights. Property rights negate the rule of “might makes right,” which prevails in the absence of such rights. In Herbert Spencer’s words, “far from being, as some have alleged, an advocacy of the claims of the strong against the weak, [it] is much more an insistence that the weak shall be guarded against the strong.”

Mp3: Jeff Deist Discusses the Mises Institute on the ‘Korelin Economics Report’

Mises Institute President Jeff Deist discusses the the Mises Institute and Austrian Economics on the Korelin Economics Report radio program.

Click on Segments 7 and 8 to hear or download Jeff’s segment of the show.

(Audio, approximately 20 minutes.)

Overstock.com CEO talks Bitcoin, Austrian School

220px-Bitcoin-coinsOverstock.com’s CEO Patrick Byrne explains some reasons why Overstock now accepts Bitcoins:

Fortune: Do you own any bitcoins?

Patrick Byrne: No. I own gold.

Really, how much gold?

A lot. Let’s just say enough that if zombies walked the Earth I will have enough gold that me and mine are taken care of.

But you’re obviously a bitcoin fan. Why?

There are business and philosophical reasons. First, the business reason: I think there are a legitimate number of consumers who want to be able to shop with bitcoin. They like the anonymity of the currency. So far, the market has only served them with shady websites, like Silk Road. Also, it saves us about 2% from interchange fees. It’s no secret that our net margin is about 2% now. And so the savings would be a very substantial improvement to our bottom line.

As far as the philosophical reason: I am from the Austrian School of Economics, which means we’re the guys who hate fiat money. The long-run value of all fiat money is zero. If you believe in limited government, you want to have a monetary system that is based on something where no government mandarin can just create money with a stroke of a pen. Gold is a solution, we’re not going to bring back the gold standard any time soon. We’re not going to get rid of the Federal Reserve any time soon, so bitcoin is a step in the right direction.

Our Time Is Now

6622Writes Lew Rockwell in today’s Mises Daily: 

Fast forward to the Panic of 2008, and Keynesianism was suddenly back. The economics profession had been blindsided by the financial crisis, and lacking any answers or solutions, fell back on the crudest forms of Keynesian “stimulus.”

The return of Keynesianism is one area in which conditions have worsened since Mises’s death, when it seemed Keynes had been defeated. But there is ample reason for hope. The word “Keynesian” is now used as a term of abuse by a great many informed people, and the rising generation of young scholars are looking with skepticism at the Keynesianism of their professors.

Moreover, Keynesianism is visibly failing. The unprecedented fiscal and monetary expansion that has taken place around the world should have been followed by rapid and robust recovery. It wasn’t. Unemployment remains high across the Western world. If the Keynesians are right, this should not be happening.

Obamacare’s Many Negative Side-Effects Should Surprise No One

6623 (1)Writes Jordan Bruneau in today’s Mises Daily: 

Obamacare’s negative effects, however, are simply a microcosm of government policy in general. Virtually all well-intended (assuming they are in fact well-intended) government policies bring negative unintended consequences that hurt the very people they intend to serve. The prevalence of this paradox, called iatrogenics (originally used in the medical context to refer to doctors’ actions that hurt patients), should give pause to those who favor government intervention to solve societal problems.

Take rent control policies, for example, intended to make housing more accessible to those with lower incomes. In reality these policies shrink the amount of available housing because potential landlords have less incentive to rent out, and developers have less incentive to build new, units. As a result, less housing is available for those with lower incomes. Just look at the apartment shortage in New York or San Francisco, the two cities with the most stringent rent-control policies, for proof.

 

How Government Cutbacks Ended Sweden’s Great Depression

6619Per Bylund writes in today’s Mises Daily

Since 1992, Sweden has, across the board, seen consistent government cutbacks while increasing restrictions on welfare policies, deregulating markets, and privatizing former government monopolies. The country has instituted an overall new incentive structure in society making it more favorable to work. The national debt tumbled from almost 80 percent of GDP in 1995 to only 35 percent in 2010.

In other words, Sweden successfully rolled back its unsustainable but world-renowned welfare state. Despite Krugman’s wishful thinking, this is the real reason for Sweden’s success in riding out the present financial crisis.

Ebenezer Scrooge, Humanitarian

373px-Scrooges_third_visitor-John_Leech,1843Everyone loves (or loves to hate) these two articles about Ebenezer Scrooge’s many great economic services to humanity.

Butler Shaffer writes in “The Case for Ebenezer“:

As I became older, I decided that Mr. Dickens had given Ebeneezer Scrooge an undeserved reputation for villainy, placing him in such company as Uriah Heep, Iago, Dr. Moriarty, or Snidely Whiplash, to name but a few. It is my purpose, in making this holiday defense of my client, to present to you a different interpretation of the story, that you will see the villainy not in my client’s character, but in Charles Dickens’s miscasting of the true heroes of the time of which he wrote, namely, the industrialists and financiers who created that most liberating epoch in human history: the Industrial Revolution.

Says Michael Levin in ”Scrooge Defended“:

At the same time, Scrooge is not given to brooding and shows absolutely no sign of depression or conflict. Whether he wished to or not, Dickens has made Scrooge by far the most intelligent character in his fable, and Dickens credits his creation with having nothing “fancy” about him. So we conclude that, in his undemonstrative way, Scrooge is productive and satisfied with his lot, which is to say happy.

And it turns out Scrooge is just one of a whole species of unfairly maligned good folks known as misers. Here’s Walter Block’s “Defending the Miser“:

The miser has never recovered from Charles Dickens’s attack on him in A Christmas Carol. Although the miser had been sternly criticized before Dickens, the depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge has become definitive and has passed into the folklore of our time. Indeed, the attitude pervades even in freshman economics textbooks. There the miser is roundly condemned and blamed for unemployment, changes in the business cycle, and economic depressions and recessions.

Not Every Health Condition Is Insurable

6620David Howden writes in today’s Mises Daily:

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises helped clarify what types of events are open to insurance when he defined two types of probability. Case probabilities are those events for which we know some of the factors that will determine an outcome, but for which there are other factors we know absolutely nothing about. Football matches fall into this category, as do wars. Class probabilities are those events that we know or assume to know everything about a broadly similar category of events, but with regards to any individual occurrence within the category, we know nothing.

Offering insurance without reference to the specific insurable class, or by purposefully grouping uninsurable risks with an insurable class, removes any economic rationale in determining the appropriate insurance coverage and rates. If you think healthcare pricing seems nonsensical now, just wait until you see what happens when mandated coverage removes any semblance of rational insurance pricing to the healthcare “ insurance” market.