Author Archive for Ryan McMaken

Would ‘President Rothbard’ Shut Down Flights to West Africa?

1280px-HFX_Airport_4Last week in The American Spectator, Emily Zanotti noted that the Obama administration refuses to intervene and shut down flights between West Africa and the US: “Yesterday, the White House reiterated that a ban on flights originating in outbreak countries is not on the table.” According to Zanotti, the rationale is that any disturbance of air travel would negatively impact West African economies.

Zanotti is skeptical of this rationale, saying:

…from a libertarian perspective: free markets are better able to pull people out of poverty than free money, and where we don’t allow capitalism to flourish we end up subsidizing with foreign aid. But if we were talking about President Murray Rothbard, I might consider that awfully practical and economically-focused excuse a real thing. But since this might officially be the first time the Obama Administration has talked their way out of something using unfettered capitalism as an excuse, I consider it suspect.

The larger political point is fair enough, but really, would Rothbard ever make such a simple-minded argument as Zanotti suggests? I recognize that she’s just using Rothbard here as a stand-in for any hard-core free-market libertarian, but it’s highly unlikely that Rothbard would argue, “gee, let’s just let any diseased person fly into any airport anywhere because it would be good for the global economy.”

Key to understanding Rothbard on matters like this is that he identified himself as a “radical decentralist.” He did not make simplistic arguments like “free markets will solve all our problems” and leave it at that. Nor did he think that — like some sort of Marxist — that only a full-blown version of his vision could better achieve the ends he proposed. On the contrary, Rothbard knew that even a move in the direction of truly free markets, through radical decentralization, was better than the centralized state that dictates to all local governments and private owners everywhere. Centralization cuts off every possible solution except the few accepted by the “experts” of the centralized state, and thus ensures that , if the one “official” plan fails, that there is no plan B, or way to prevent the problem from spreading throughout the one, giant national jurisdiction.

In other words, the current lack of decentralization prevents local governments, airlines, airports, or even individual states from having any control over movements between states or into airports. Such matters are all dictated by a single source: the federal government. Were a decentralized approach allowed, however, individual states, cities, airlines, and airports would be responsible for their own safety precautions. Moreover, those making the decisions, i.e.,  those in charge of safety in Atlanta and the Atlanta airport (as just an example), would also be personally affected were the precautions to fail.

Read More→

Attaining Economic Freedom w/ Mises Institute Senior Fellow Mark Thornton

In this interview, Mark Thornton covers some basics about the Austrian School and the current economic situation.

Four Reasons the Bernanke-Yellen Asset-Price Inflation May Be Nearing Its End

6923Mises Daily Friday by Joseph Salerno:

Once interest rates begin to rise — and rise they must, whether as a result of Fed policy or not — the end of the asset price inflation will be at hand. The result will be another financial crisis and accompanying recession.

New Leonard Read Sculpture at the Mises Institute

Board member Dr. Don Printz has donated to the Institute a magnificent bronze bust of libertarian pioneer Leonard E. Read (1898-1983), founder of the Foundation for Economic Education and friend of Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, Ron Paul, and Lew Rockwell.


More photos here.

The Connection Between Wealth Disparity and Recessions

Mark Thornton on PressTV:

“In a sense wealth disparities do indicate recessions because they have the same cause as the boom-bust cycle in the economy, that is, when the central bank – the Federal Reserve of the United States – reduces interest rates to very low levels, they cause a boom in the economy which leads to an inevitable bust in the economy,” Thornton, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, told Press TV in a phone interview on Wednesday.

He added, “Low interest rates; easy money, easy credit help people who own capital, so that their wealth increases, but those same real interest rates actually hurt the average worker in the economy and, as a result, the disparities in wealth increase and you get also the  boom-bust cycle.”


Leonard Liggio, RIP

liggioRalph Raico writes in Mises Daily:

Leonard Liggio has died, at the age of 81.

He was my friend for close to sixty years, and I came to know him well. Today my mind is filled with thoughts and memories of him.

Leonard was a Catholic, a scholar, and a libertarian.

His Catholic faith was his lodestar. Leonard was a “birthright Catholic,” and from his childhood through to university and graduate work at Georgetown and Fordham and for the rest of his life, Leonard enriched his understanding of his religion and participated in the sacraments of his Church. Ultimately, he was admitted into the Order of the Knights of Malta.

But he was also a Christian in another sense as well. I never witnessed Leonard treat other people with anything but evident respect, and his life was filled with innumerable kindnesses. A small example: once Leonard took me to a meeting of Dorothy Day’sCatholic Worker group. Day was a left-anarchist with confused views on economics, but he favored her for her opposition to war and because each year she and her associate Ammon Hennacy publicly protested on the anniversary of the atomic incineration of the Japanese cities. I saw Leonard privately slip to Day what was at the time a notable contribution. Here also he was following Jesus’s admonition, “When you do some act of charity, do not announce it with a flourish of trumpets, as the hypocrites do in synagogue and in the streets…when you do some act of charity, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing…”

Leonard Liggio was a humble man. He never stood in judgment of the personal foibles and idiosyncrasies of his friends. I suppose he believed that his job was to see to the perfecting of his own soul. Yet he could act forcefully. Once when we traveling in Europe, in Germany as I recall, I was startled to hear Leonard say, “Your hand is in my pocket!” I saw that he had caught a young woman’s forearm in an iron grip. He cast it disdainfully away, and the little thief scampered off.

Leonard was a man of immense learning, the most learned person I knew of his generation. Yet no one ever wore his learning more lightly. He pioneered the study of the highly significant school of French liberals of the early nineteenth century, introducing them to the English-speaking world. He introduced Murray Rothbard and me to historical revisionism, which has become a standard component of libertarian thought today. I know that Murray very much appreciated Leonard’s many suggestions in regard to his multi-volume work, Conceived in Liberty, on libertarian currents in colonial and revolutionary America.

Read the full article.

Market Choices in Cannabis, Plus Cooking Classes

As part of a follow-up to my article on cannabis industry and its many related industries, I picked up a copy of Culture magazine, which bills itself as “the #1 cannabis lifestyle magazine” at  a Denver pizza place. I was intrigued by the ads. A lot of them are what you’d expect: hippie or stoner-themed ads for, well, stoners. But many ads were for more sophisticated users such as this one which illustrates how the market, when legal, can provide a wide array of different strengths and features of the cannabis itself.  In the black market, on the other hand, you’re just stuck with whatever your shady and unaccountable illegal dealer happens to have.


And of course, there’s money to be made in related service industries, such as this one which teaches cannabis cuisine:  Read More→

Happy 90th Birthday, Leland B. Yeager!

Last week, the Mises Institute hosted a reception in Ward Conservatory in honor of Dr. Leland B. Yeager‘s 90th birthday.

Leland Yeager is Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Auburn University.

Here is a 1991 interview from the Austrian Economics Newsletter.


More photos here.


The Economics of Sports Stadiums

Mark Thornton discusses the crony capitalism of sports stadiums on Freedom Works Radio.

Richard Ebeling Talks Mises and the Current Economic Situation

Richard Ebeling takes a look at the current economic situation and its bubble like appearance.

Mark Thornton Discusses The Great Depression

On the It’s Your Money Show. Select the Oct 5, 2014 show.

Photos from the Oxford Debate

Mark Thornton tells me that photos from the debate have finally arrived. A sampling:




Mark Thornton on the Latest Employment Data

Beginning at 40:00, Mark Thornton discusses football, the stadium bubble, and recent employment data.


Charlie Shrem’s Office

A reader writes after viewing this documentary and noticing some Mises Institute books in the background…

“As with all book-nerds, I’m ever eager to scan the background of images and video to see what books folks have on their shelf.  No big surprise for a Bitcoin documentary, but I still got a kick out of what I saw in Charlie Shrem’s office.”

mises books

Replicate a part of Shrem’s library for yourself with The Economics of Liberty, For a New Liberty, and The Bastiat Collection.

Morals and Markets: A Response

Former Mises Summer Fellow Jonathan Newman has published “Morals and Markets: A Response” at Libertarian Papers which is edited by Matt McCaffrey:

Abstract: In their 2013 Science article, “Morals and Markets,” Armin Falk and Nora Szech presented experimental evidence that markets erode moral values.  The present paper addresses problems in their experiment design, treatments, and operational definitions. Laboratory settings are ideal for uncovering certain causal connections, but fall short when market participation is a treatment and moral erosion is a measured outcome. Markets are difficult, if not impossible, to simulate and moral erosion is difficult, if not impossible, to define and measure for the purposes of an experiment. Falk and Szech’s experiment may also suffer from more mundane issues like priming effects, experimenter effects, and changing more than one variable per treatment group.

An Austrian Economist Reports From a Mainstream Economics Conference

6922Mises Daily Thursday by Christopher Westley:

Christopher Westley reports from this year’s National Association of Business Economists Convention. He finds that the mainstream’s intellectual blinders are firmly in place, and that the “fatal conceit” Friedrich Hayek wrote about in 1988 is alive and well in 2014.

A New One for the Photo Archives

Thank to Walter Block who recently posted this on his Facebook page:

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Is the Surge in Capital Goods Orders Due to Malinvestment?

6921Mises Daily Tuesday by Frank Shostak

Orders in capital goods have been going up since 2009. Normally, capital goods purchases suggest economic growth, but if the orders are a result of easy money, the purchases point not to wealth creation, but to a bubble.


The Rothbard-Paul Message

2801Mises Daily Tuesday by Darrell Falconburg.

A young libertarian tells where the liberty movement should go.


“Jean Tirole wins Nobel for a pseudo-problem”

The Financial Post picks up Joe Salerno’s blog post on the latest Nobel Prize winner in economics.