Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Long-Term Capital Effects of Taxation

From The Economics and Ethics of Private Property

Taxation is a coercive, non-contractual transfer of definite physical assets (nowadays mostly, but not exclusively, money), and the value embodied in them, from a person or group of persons who first held these assets and who could have derived an income from further holding them, to another, who now possesses them and now derives an income from so doing. How did these assets come into the hands of their original owners? Ruling out that this was the outcome of another previous act of taxation, and noting that only those assets can be taxed that have not yet been consumed or whose value has not yet been exhausted through acts of consumption (a tax-gatherer does not take away another man’s garbage but rather his still valuable assets!), three and only three possibilities exist: They come into one’s possession either by one’s having perceived certain nature-given goods as scarce and having actively brought them into one’s possession before anyone else had seen and done so; by having produced them by means of one’s labor out of such previously appropriated goods; or through voluntary, contractual acquisition from a previous appropriator or producer. Only through these types of activities is one capable of acquiring and increasing valuable—and hence taxable—assets. Acts of original appropriation turn something which no one had previously perceived as a possible source of income into an income-providing asset; acts of production are by their very nature aimed at the transformation of a less valuable asset into a more valuable one; and every contractual exchange concerns the change and redirection of specific assets from the hands of those who value their possession less to those who value them more.


From this it follows that any form of taxation implies a reduction of income a person can expect to receive from original appropriation, from production, or from contracting. Since these activities require the employment of scarce means—at least time and the use of one’s body—which could be used for consumption and/or leisure, the opportunity cost of performing them is raised. The marginal utility of appropriating, producing, and contracting is decreased, and the marginal utility of consumption and leisure increased. Accordingly, there will be a tendency to shift out of the former roles and into the latter ones.


Thus, by coercively transferring valuable, not yet consumed assets from their producers (in the wider sense of the term including appropriators and contractors) to people who have not produced them, taxation reduces producers’ present income and their presently possible level of consumption. Moreover, it reduces the present incentive for future production of valuable assets and thereby also lowers future income and the future level of available consumption. Taxation is not just a punishment of consumption without any effect on productive efforts; it is also an assault on production as the only means of providing for and possibly increasing future income and consumption expenditure. By lowering the present value associated with future-directed, value-productive efforts, taxation raises the effective rate of time preference, i.e., the rate of originary interest and, accordingly, leads to a shortening of the period of production and provision and so exerts an inexorable influence of pushing mankind into the direction of an existence of living from hand to mouth. Just increase taxation enough, and you will have mankind reduced to the level of barbaric animal beasts.

This gets to the heart of what I had mentioned in my article on consumption charity. When you spend money on longer term capital projects, you increase future wealth for future people who otherwise would have been poor.


Pride Month and Woke Capitalism

Social media, the Internet in general, is almost unbearable during the so called “Pride month,” where the western world parades its predilection toward the sexually absurd in a modern exercise of the old French revolutionary spirit: épater le bourgeois. The Revolution which now dominates the social mood does not tolerate anything from dissent to disinterest— all must participate, all must pay tribute, all must turn attention in reverence to those selected as recipients of adoration and celebration.

Even the corporate branding and marketing teams understand the social consequences of giving the appearance of neutrality as the mania sweeps through the land. Conformity and subordination characterize the general response to the mob’s expectations.

To operate otherwise, even to carry on without partaking in the madness, is to adorn the label of Hateful One— a terrible and vicious social sin in the age of Love.


Mises on the Anti-Capitalist Bias

From Planned Chaos, which itself is an excerpt of Mises’s Socialism treatise.

Nothing is more unpopular today than the free market economy, i.e., capitalism. Everything that is considered unsatisfactory in present-day conditions is charged to capitalism.


The atheists make capitalism responsible for the survival of Christianity. But the papal encyclicals blame capitalism for the spread of irreligion and the sins of our contemporaries, and the Protestant churches and sects are no less vigorous in their indictment of capitalist greed. Friends of peace consider our wars as an offshoot of capitalist imperialism. But the adamant nationalist warmongers of Germany and Italy indicted capitalism for its “bourgeois” pacifism, contrary to human nature and to the inescapable laws of history. Sermonizers accuse capitalism of disrupting the family and fostering licentiousness. But the “progressives” blame capitalism for the preservation of allegedly outdated rules of sexual restraint.


Almost all men agree that poverty is an outcome of capitalism. On the other hand many deplore the fact that capitalism, in catering lavishly to the wishes of people intent upon getting more amenities and a better living, promotes a crass materialism. These contradictory accusations of capitalism cancel one another. But the fact remains that there are few people left who would not condemn capitalism altogether.


The characteristic mark of this age of dictators, wars and revolutions is its anti-capitalistic bias. Most governments and political parties are eager to restrict the sphere of private initiative and free enterprise. It is an almost unchallenged dogma that capitalism is done for and that the coming of all-round regimentation of economic activities is both inescapable and highly desirable.


None the less capitalism is still very vigorous in the Western Hemisphere. Capitalist production has made very remarkable progress even in these last years. Methods of production were greatly improved. Consumers have been supplied with better and cheaper goods and with many new articles unheard of a short time ago. Many countries have expanded the size and improved the quality of their manufacturing. In spite of the anti-capitalistic policies of all governments and of almost all political parties, the capitalist mode of production is in many countries still fulfilling its social function in supplying the consumers with more, better and cheaper goods.


It is certainly not a merit of governments, politicians and labour union officers that the standard of living is improving in the countries committed to the principle of private ownership of the means of production. Not offices and bureaucrats, but big business deserves credit for the fact that most of the families in the United States own a motor car and a radio set. The increase in per capita consumption in America as compared with conditions a quarter of a century ago is not an achievement of laws and executive orders. It is an accomplishment of business men who enlarged the size of their factories or built new ones.


One must stress this point because our contemporaries are inclined to ignore it. Entangled in the superstitions of statism and government omnipotence, they are exclusively preoccupied with governmental measures. They expect everything from authoritarian action and very little from the initiative of enterprising citizens. Yet, the only means to increase well-being is to increase the quantity of products. This is what business aims at.


The dogma that the State or the Government is the embodiment of all that is good and beneficial and that the individuals are wretched underlings, exclusively intent upon inflicting harm upon one another and badly in need of a guardian, is almost unchallenged. It is taboo to question it in the slightest way. He who proclaims the godliness of the State and the infallibility of its priests, the bureaucrats, is considered as an impartial student of the social sciences. All those raising objections are branded as biased and narrow-minded. The supporters of the new religion of statolatry are no less fanatical and intolerant than were the Mohammedan conquerors of Africa and Spain.


History will call our age the age of the dictators and tyrants. We have witnessed in the last years the fall of two of these inflated supermen. But the spirit which raised these knaves to autocratic power survives. It permeates textbooks and periodicals, it speaks through the mouths of teachers and politicians, it manifests itself in party programmes and in plays and novels. As long as this spirit prevails there cannot be any hope of durable peace,… of the preservation of freedom or of a steady improvement in the nation’s economic well-being.


The Meaning of “Dismal Science”

Just this week, I interviewed Gene Epstein for the summer issue of the Austro Libertarian Magazine. One of the questions I was preparing to ask him had to do with the description of economics as the “dismal science.” This phrase of course refers to the words of Thomas Carlyle. Gene explained to me that most people think that by this phrase it is meant that economics is bland or boring. But this is not what Carlyle meant– he was actually seeking to praise economics. Gene writes to me:

Why is economics called “the dismal science”? Ask the victims of Econ 101 — who are routinely confronted with indifference curves, money multipliers, and equations of exchange (bogus concepts, all) — and they’ll probably tell you: because it’s the boring science!

Ask the textbook writers, environmentalists, and general cognoscenti, and they’ll almost surely tell you: because it’s the unhappy science.

According to almost any standard source, 19th century author Thomas Carlyle used the phrase to describe the pessimistic theories of Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo, since they predicted decline and fall.

Not true, as economists David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart show in their essay, “The Secret History of the Dismal Science.”

Thomas Carlyle did originate the phrase, and he did direct it at economists. But the “scientists” he had in mind were not Ricardo and Malthus, but economists like John Stuart Mill and Harriet Martineau. And their “dismal” offence was to advocate the abolition of slavery.

In a fierce and ongoing debate, the celebrated author of The French Revolution referred to “the Social Science [sic]…which finds the secret of this universe in ‘supply-and-demand,’ and reduces the duty of human governors to that of letting men alone.”

The above is from Carlyle’s 1849 essay, “An Occasional discourse [sic] on the Negro Question,” in which he goes on to use the D-S phrase for the first time. Compared to the “gay science” — meaning poetry — he calls economics the “quite abject and distressing…dismal science...led by [the] sacred cause of Black Emancipation [itals and caps in original].”

My impression is that Carlyle meant economics was too reductive to recognize the poetry of racial superiority — and was therefore dismal.

An essay he published the following year, in which he defended his proposal to re-enslave Jamaicans [!], included the stirring sentence, “Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science, soft you a little!”

No examples can be found of his using the phrase in any other way.

So how did this myth about the coining of the D-S phrase get started? The whitewashing, not to coin a pun, of Carlyle’s image must have had something to do with it. Some of the racist statements in the abovementioned essays are truly vile. But, otherwise, no one seems to know how the transmutation took place.

The originator of the D-S phrase was making grudging reference to a science that liberates. I myself will continue to use the phrase with that meaning in mind.


Keynes as Convenient Justifier of State Power

Mises makes a great point on the role John Keynes’ works played with respect to justifying state power. Rothbard (and Hoppe) later extrapolated on this theme, and I think it is important to remember. In sum, “academics” like Keynes merely offer to the politicians exactly what they wanted to hear: that the accumulation of increased state power and subsequent interventionism into the economy is, conveniently, good for society. Politicians love power and bureaucrats think they can design a social plan to bring forth utopia. Thus, the thoughts of Keynes gave them everything they wanted on a silver platter: justification for their actions.


There are people who believe that the two books of Keynes that became best sellers The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920), and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) decisively influenced the course of British policies and of world affairs. It is said that the first of these books inaugurated the anti-French and pro-German tendencies of Great Britain’s “appeasement” policy which virtually encouraged the rise of Nazism, permitted Hitler to defy the essential clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and finally resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War. It is furthermore asserted that the second book generated the “Keynesian revolution” of economic policies. The abandonment of the gold standard and the adoption of outright inflationary or “expansionist” fiscal methods, the New Deal and the Fair Deal, the full-employment policy, the intensification of anti-importation measures and many other kindred ventures are ascribed to the “unorthodox” ideas propagated by Keynes. If these assertions are correct, Keynes appears as the most influential personality of our age, whether the effects of these policies are to be considered as beneficial or disastrous.

It is often simply thought that the governments of the west were unsure of what actions they wanted to employ, whether laissez faire or a state-controlled economy. And Keynes humbly came to the scene with scholarly and scientific solutions for the world.

In actuality, Mises explains:

Keynes was definitely not the inaugurator of a new economic policy. The governments did not have to wait for his advice in order to learn that inflation is a handy means to fill the empty vaults of the treasury. The Keynesian policies were practiced by governments and powerful political parties long before they were advocated by Keynes. Keynes’ writings were enthusiastically received by people who found in them an apparently scientific justification for what they had already done for a long time in defying the teachings of economics.


They hated the theory according to which there was but one means toward the general improvement of people’s material well-being, viz., to increase the per head quota of capital invested. They longed for short cuts to an earthly paradise; a protective tariff, a cheap money policy, the closed shop, doles, and social security. They did not want to be told by the economists that it is the policy of the unions that creates unemployment as a lasting mass phenomenon and that the periodical recurrence of crises is the inevitable outcome of the easy money policy. They knew better; all evils were caused by capitalism.


To such people the Keynesian slogans appealed strongly. Here they found what they were looking for. If demand lags, create “effective” demand by expanding credit! If there is unemployment, print more money! If you want to increase “the real national dividend of useful goods and service,” then “dig holes in the ground paid for out of savings!” And, first of all, do not save, spend!


The triumph of Lord Keynes’ last book, the General Theory, was instantaneous. Although reasonable economists refuted his doctrines, it has become the gospel of the self-styled Progressives all over the world. Today many universities simply teach Keynesianism. It is really paradoxical. Nobody can any longer fail to realize that what is needed most is more saving and capital accumulation and that the inflationary and expansionist policies are on the verge of complete breakdown. But the students are still taught the dangers of saving and the blessings of expansionism.


Understanding the New Socialism will go a long way in our effort to challenge it

One of the things that frustrates me greatly, and has been a small motivation for the creation of the publication, is the complete lack of understanding when it comes to the far left’s newfound socialism. For one thing, of course there are always the doltish and teenage AOC type socialists; they are great ground for making fun and all that.

But a lot of socialists are actually quite intellectually mature and informed. Misinformed, perhaps, but intellectually stimulating nonetheless. In fact, Marxism itself is unique in that it offers a complete intellectual and philosophical system as opposed to the inherent pragmatism of mainstream statism as it has actually appeared.

Think about our own Hans Hoppe. The thing that attracted him to Marxism before he was introduced to Austro-Libertarianism, was that it was a holistic system and it therefore started and depended on fundamentals– intellectual building blocks upon which the rest of the doctrines were constructed.

In any case, three examples of libertarian shortcomings with regard to understanding modern socialism should suffice.

First, unlike traditional socialism, modern self-labeled socialists do not really call for state ownership of the means of production. In my opinion, it is a great injustice that this occurred and Mises gets almost zero credit. I think he dismantled the very idea of single party ownership so decisively that now people use the word socialism but that can’t actually adhere to its original meaning. This is Mises’ vindicating achievement, but no one talks about it. Rather, as will be elaborated in the Summer 2019 issue of Austro Libertarian Mag (name change yet undecided), modern socialism is much more akin to socialism; where workers own the business firms of the society. There is “collective” ownership of the means in that sense and that sense alone.

This brings me to point two: socialists, in their original or modern form, have never been against personal property. They are against private property. By this distinction (a distinction libertarians, and therefore myself, refuse to make) they mean there is a difference between consumer goods being owned in whole by the individual (legitimate) and capital goods being owned by individuals (illegitimate); or at least, by individuals who did not mix their labor with said capital good (such as capitalists!)

Finally, socialism was not the struggle Americans faced in the twentieth century. We faced, and still face, interventionism; or the unhampered market. Private ownership of the means of production, together with severe government involvement, subsidy, protection, bailout, (government granted) monopolization, price controls, regulation, taxes, mandates, etc etc. This is why the socialist left just called it all capitalism. They misunderstood, of course, but we have to be fair and understand that most of it was what Mises wrote against in his Planning For Freedom essay: it was the alleged mixed economy. And as it begins to crumble, capitalist libertarians and socialists are both pining for the future.

In any case, on those three points, the crux of it all is this: libertarians need to realize A) socialism has its intellectually worthy adherents, B) just because the great enemy of the 20th century was Keynesianism doesn’t mean this will be true over the next decade; socialism (which must NEVER be confused with interventionism) is on the rise, and C) we need to stop misunderstanding and misrepresenting them. This gives them power and makes us look downright idiotic.


Outsourcing Capitalist Risk is Beneficial!

I’m undergoing the equivalent of fingernails on the chalkboard, but to my brain. I’m preparing a lengthy review of JacobinMag founder Bhaskar Sunkara’s new book The Socialist Manifesto. This means I have to read it. I’m reading it so you don’t have to.

One of the things I will elaborate on is that the same facts are subject to completely opposite interpretations between the socialist and the capitalist. For instance, Sunkara writes (he’s an engaging writer, even if his cuteisms are annoying to me, a self-described sophisticate):

Capitalism isn’t the consumer products you use every day, even if those commodities (wet wipes, tobacco, hair wigs) are produced in capitalist workplaces. Nor is capitalism the exchange of goods and services through the market. There have been markets for thousands of years, but, as we will see, capitalism is a relatively new development. The market under capitalism is different because you don’t just choose to participate in it—you have to take part in it to survive. Your ancestors were peasants, but they weren’t any less greedy than you. They had their little plot of land, and they grew as much crop as possible on it. They ate some of it, and then they gave a chunk of the remainder to a local lord to avoid getting killed. Any leftover product they often took to town and sold at the market.


But you, pasta sauce proletarian, face a different scenario. You might’ve said that you’re into locally sourced, sustainable food on your Tinder profile, but you don’t own any land. All you have is your ability to work and various personal effects that I originally listed here in great detail but have since been removed by my editor.


By virtue of owning a place of work, a boss has something any would-be employee needs. Without land to sow, your labor power by itself isn’t going to produce any commodities. So you rent yourself to Mr. Bongiovi, mix your labor with the tools he owns and the efforts of the other people he’s hired, and in return receive a wage, which is really just a way to get the resources you need to survive.

What he is describing is mostly accurate. Before capitalism, people used to produce their own food and trade whatever they produced beyond what they wanted to consume. But while Sunkara explains that capitalism was a regression from this better scenario, capitalist theorists (especially in the Austrian School) explain this as the crowning achievement of social development. This is because one is no longer required to actually take on the burden’s of capital ownership and the risks associated with employing this resources unwisely. Rather, one gets to participate in the production of goods and services without contributing any capital at all! In other words, this fundamental and inherent task of an indirect exchange economy is outsourced to someone else entirely and you get fronted wages despite the uncertain nature of the future profitability of today’s production.

Sunkara says that you have to take part in it in order to survive. Well we certainly have to do something in order to survive. Man does not live in a reality where bread and wine float into one’s mouth. But rather than having to actually manage and care for the productive capacity of the land that Sunkara wishes the proletariate owned, all you need to do is come to the situation with “your ability to work and various personal effects.” In other words, Sunkara despairs that “all we have” under capitalism is abilities and skills, not capital goods. But this is a feature! We don’t actually have to bring capital goods to the table in order to participate and receive the means for sustenance and wealth acquisition. We bring nothing but ourselves and yet profit immensely in receiving the benefits of a modern standard of living.

Far from being a devastation, this seems to me the greatest achievement of modern life. Despite of course, governments around the world undermining its successes and true fruition.


Do you get an opinion on abortion if you don’t have a uterus?

Yes, because ethical positions, including those related to legal rights, are not dependent on the individual containing a certain anatomical or biological makeup. Ethics and rights are objective fields of study which means that mankind, having in common the ability to reason and employ logic, is able to think and speak to them without actually being within the purview of their application. In fact, this is the role of a judge or arbitrator in society. He uses objective standards and applies them to a specific situation, regardless of whether they pertain to him. And in fact, it is even preferable if the judge is outside the situation, since he is less prone to be distracted by the emotions and feelings that sway objective application of ethics.

But also, back at the ethical subjectivists: do you get an opinion on what people without uterus’s get an opinion on, if you have a uterus?

People tend to make the most absurd arguments these days. Mark that one down in the anti-democracy column.


Why the Publication Needs a Name Change

You’ve heard it said several times, here it is again: the publication’s name can’t be Austro Libertarian forever. The site can– and should – remain with this name. The publication, however, needs a separate name. As we continue to grow and raise funds and, one day, perhaps years down the road, seek to compete with JacobinMag, we need a broader appeal. Not in content, but in marketing and positioning. Here is my thinking on this matter:

Austro Libertarianism is a glorious phrase. This was re-instilled in my mind as I’ve been obsessing over the name of the Magazine itself. For one thing, it captures the “one-two punch” against statism that I mentioned in the Spring Issue’s editorial, Our Biases and Inclinations.  For another, it has a historical moment of creation (the late 20th century, United States) and, unlike “liberal” and “liberty” and even “libertarianism” itself, hasn’t been very corrupted yet. 

If this publication is going to reach a wider swath of people than the current libertarian echo-chamber, the title itself needs to be less ideologically daunting. Of course, the content within the magazine should never, and will never, betray principles– ideological or otherwise. I’ll see to it that it remains pure. But Austro Libertarian as a phrase appeals only to those that are already aware of the development of the theory; who are already in the camp and who therefore are predisposed to this type of content. This puts an immediate and everlasting ceiling on our reach. 

I’m not against echo-chambers in the least. I think they are important for the development of the “remnant” for the strength and betterment of those who want to grow themselves within the doctrines of our ideals. But the purpose of this magazine is to reach people that are looking for alternatives in ideas and who, quite frankly, are put off by the left-libertarian domination of the libertarian world. Or perhaps it’s not even a left-libertarian domination alone; perhaps it is also a weakening of the libertarian himself as a social participant. 

To create better libertarians, we need to reach better people. Libertarianism, of course, is for all who are willing to come to terms with the ideas; it does not turn anyone away except those who demand that the propositions themselves be altered and betrayed. But outside of the theory itself rests the realities of the social context in which libertarianism seeks to be applied. In this light, we need better thinkers, contemplators, and socially competent men and women to hold the tide against an impending social upheaval that brings the tendencies of collectivism, cultural revolution, and dystopian egalitarianism. We need to appeal to people beyond the libertarian movement as it has become. 

And who, outside of the libertarian movement, such as it is, is going to rush to the support of a publication called Austro Libertarian?

So I’ve thought about other options. “Liberty” as a title is overused and a bit tired out. “Freedom” has been taken over by boomer neocons. “Libertarian quarterly” suffers from the presumptions about the libertarian personality that dominates (perhaps with some unfortunate justification) the world outside the libertarian community. I thought about “The Austrian” but a much better Institution already uses that and it would be horrible to encroach. “Misesian” is lovely, but too focused. With reference to Nock, “Remnant” was suggested, but it is already being employed by two other organizations. 

I thought about Faire as in Laissez-Faire. I thought about The Physiocrat, because it sounds cool. I thought about Aristoi (H/T to Trey Smith for this) because it appeals to our anti-democratic mob tendencies. I thought about The Capitalist (sounds like a business magazine), and Capitaliste (French). Meh, not quite.

Then I thought about more mundane and sophisticated: “Ideas.” “Discourse.” “Reflections.” “Commentary.” I feel like we’d have to be in a different place in life to live up to these. Few want, or deserve, “commentary and reflections” from a Californian in his 20s.

Three others have stood out to me more than the above:

Precipice, from my recent articles on the fact that the failure of Government interventionism as a social arrangement is completely falling apart. As socialism, nationalist conservatism, and other tendencies rise to fill the gap of Center-Left Establishmentarian, I feel that the Western world is on the precipice of something much different than we are used to in the west. Would that capitalism and traditionalist decentralism be the solution, though admittedly, this is unlikely.  Nevertheless, we sit on the precipice of Interventionism’s failures.

Then there’s Palisade. This has more of a “defend the walls,” “just save the books,” the “barbarians are at the gates” feel to it. Perhaps it’s a bit audacious. As if we are actually going to do anything about it.

Finally, Paradigm. Rothbard once described Mises as the paradigm for our age. We live under conditions of a leftist-statist narrative. Capitalism has failed. Property rights are backward and bigoted. Democracy is the hope of the world.

To quote Rothbard:

Basically, [Thomas Kuhn] states that scientists, in any given area, come to adopt a fundamental vision or matrix of an explanatory theory, a vision that Kuhn calls a “paradigm.” And whatever the paradigm, whether it be the atomic theory or the phlogiston theory, once adopted the paradigm governs all the scientists in the field without being any longer checked or questioned — as the Whig model would have it.

The fundamental paradigm, once established, is no longer tested or questioned, and all further research soon becomes minor applications of the paradigm, minor clearing up of loopholes or anomalies that still remain in the basic vision. For years, decades, or longer, scientific research becomes narrow, specialized, and always within the basic paradigmatic framework.

But then, gradually, more and more anomalies pile up; puzzles can no longer be solved by the paradigm. But the scientists do not give up the paradigm; quite the contrary, increasingly desperate attempts are made to modify the particulars of the basic theory so as to fit the unpleasant facts and to preserve the framework provided by the paradigm.

Only when anomalies pile up to such an extent that the paradigm itself is brought into question do we have a “crisis situation” in science. And even here, the paradigm is never simply discarded until it can be replaced by a new, competing paradigm which appears to close the loopholes and liquidate the anomalies.

Hence, it is all the more easy for philosophers or social scientists to fall into tragically wrong and fallacious paradigms, and thus to lead themselves down the garden path for decades, and even centuries. For once the sciences of human action adopt their fundamental paradigms, it becomes much easier than in the physical sciences to ignore the existence of anomalies, and therefore easier to retain erroneous doctrines for a very long time.

But if one believes, as the present author does, that the fundamental paradigms of modern, 20th-century philosophy and the social sciences have been grievously flawed and fallacious from the very beginning, including the aping of the physical sciences, then one is justified in a call for a radical and fundamental reconstruction of all these disciplines, and the opening up of the current specialized bureaucracies in the social sciences to a total critique of their assumptions and procedures.

The answer — which obviously cannot be documented in the compass of this article — is simply and startlingly this: that Ludwig von Mises offers to us nothing less than the complete and developed correct paradigm of a science that has gone tragically astray over the last half century. Mises’s work presents us with the correct and radically divergent alternative to the flaws, errors, and fallacies which a growing number of students are sensing in present-day economic orthodoxy.

Many students feel that there is something very wrong with contemporary economics, and often their criticisms are trenchant, but they are ignorant of any theoretical alternative. As Thomas Kuhn has shown, a paradigm, however faulty, will not be discarded until it can be replaced by a competing theory. Or, in the vernacular, “you can’t beat something with nothing.” And “nothing” is all that many present-day critics of economic science can offer.

But the work of Ludwig von Mises furnishes that “something”; it furnishes an economics grounded not on the aping of physical science, but on the very nature of man and of individual choice. And it furnishes that economics in a systematic, integrated form that is admirably equipped to serve as a correct paradigmatic alternative to the veritable crisis situation — in theory and public policy — that modern economics has been bringing down upon us. It is not exaggeration to say that Ludwig von Mises is the Way Out of the methodological and political dilemmas that have been piling up in the modern world. But what is needed now is a host of “Austrians” who can spread the word of the existence of this neglected path.

I personally like Precipice or Paradigm. As in, Paradigm: An Austro-Libertarian Publication. Email me: cjay.engel90 [at] gmail [dot] com with suggestions or whether any of the above interest you.


Gottfried on the Politically Correct Political Spectrum

Preparing my thoughts for a long summer issue essay and came across this great Gottfried excerpt from his Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.


Today the Center Left criticizes the Center Right for being objectively racist, sexist, or homophobic, that is, for not being sufficiently supportive of compensatory justice and affirmative action. It also accuses “conservatives” of issuing coded remarks about minorities by playing up “crime” and “family values,” unless it decides to appropriate the same code words for itself. Meanwhile “conservatives” scold their opponents for “misinterpreting” the achievements of the civil rights movement, by wrongly associating that noble crusade with “reverse discrimination.” They also maintain that “liberals” insult the legacy of the women’s movement by falsely imagining that working women want more, and not less, economic control by the state. Whether or not the arguments that come from both sides are disingenuous is beside the point: Whatever crusades against discrimination have been launched by the administrative state since the 1960s have become a sacred legacy—and one that only those who are condemned as hopelessly bigoted would challenge.

While American parties and ideologues wrangle about governmental regulation of business and abortion, or whether the distribution of firearms among the populace should be more or less restricted, agreement has been achieved on what European social critics call “la culture unique.” All respectable members of the political culture profess sensitivity on minority issues, call for open borders or “universal nations,” and deplore the opening of moral questions that should have been settled by the awareness of past collective wrongs. Such sins include, but are not exhausted by, sexism, homophobia, slavery, and a by now multifunctional Holocaust, guilt for which has been ascribed to Jewish indifference as well as to Christian malice. The facing of these catastrophes, as an unsubdued past, requires a vigilant, progressive state. Its intervention, moreover, is viewed not as a settled matter but as something that must go on continuously, lest bad habits come to the surface. Thus we read about the renewal of agencies to police once discriminatory voting districts in the American South, and about perpetual federal and state commissions to ensure minority representation both in the workforce and at educational institutions. In Europe judges and state officials make object lessons of those who question details of the Holocaust, deprecate Islamic theology, or propose to restrict immigration.


Such interventions by political authorities do not arouse widespread protest from American citizens. For all their complaints about “political correctness,” moderate conservatives, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and contributors to the National Association of Scholars’ periodical, Academic Questions, do not devote their primary attention to the government’s control of speech and behavior. The battle between supporters and opponents of political correctness is thought to be taking place among warring cultural elites. Moderate conservatives see themselves as contending with New Class intellectuals, but they try not to express a negative attitude toward the American state. It is grievously wrong, according to Will, for conservatives to exhibit “blanket disdain for government and hence for the political vocation.” To the moderate Right, it seems better to expose what it views as corrosive cultural influences, particularly those associated with postmodernism, than to treat the state with unseemly suspicion. Not political administrations but literary critics and philosophers who do not accept moral absolutes or else who question the goodness of American democracy are allegedly the creators of our present communal problems.

But the state, whose power to “legislate morality” Will praised in regard to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can and does bend culture. This happens repeatedly in the United States and is illustrated further by a judicial act imposed on South Germans, for the most part against their will, in 1995. At that time Germany’s highest appellate court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, went against Bavaria’s ministry of education by requiring that crucifixes and other devotional objects be removed from public school classrooms. Although the German Basic Law of 1949 protects religious freedom, such freedom was not held to conflict with the practice of hanging crucifixes in Bavarian classrooms. The Bavarian ministry of education and religion, in paragraph 13 of its legal code, provides for this custom in “supporting those eligible for educational benefits in the religious instruction of their children.” “A profoundly Catholic region and the second largest of Germany’s Länder, Bavaria has usually enjoyed at the hands of the German federal government benign neglect with respect to its culture. Quite deliberately until now the federal administration has avoided tampering with Bavarian religious life, a practice that even the Nazi government hesitated to initiate.


Gerard Casey and Murray Rothbard on the Nature of the State

Casey doesn’t mess around:

States are criminal organizations. All states, not just the obviously totalitarian or repressive ones. […] I intend this statement to be understood literally and not as some form of rhetorical exaggeration.


The argument is simple. Theft, robbery, kidnapping and murder are all crimes. Those who engage in such activities, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of others are, by definition, criminals.


In taxing the people of a country, the state engages in an activity that is morally equivalent to theft or robbery; in putting some people in prison, especially those who are convicted of so-called victimless crimes or when it drafts people into the armed services, the state is guilty of kidnapping or false imprisonment; in engaging in wars that are other than purely defensive or, even if defensive, when the means of defence employed are disproportionate and indiscriminate, the state is guilty of manslaughter or murder.


Casey, Gerard. Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State (Think Now) (p. 1). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Clearly he is echoing Rothbard from For a New Liberty:

The libertarian, in short, insists on applying the general moral law to everyone, and makes no special exemptions for any person or group. But if we look at the State naked, as it were, we see that it is universally allowed, and even encouraged, to commit all the acts which even non-libertarians concede are reprehensible crimes.


The State habitually commits mass murder, which it calls “war,” or sometimes “suppression of subversion”; the State engages in enslavement into its military forces, which it calls “conscription”; and it lives and has its being in the practice of forcible theft, which it calls “taxation.” The libertarian insists that whether or not such practices are supported by the majority of the population is not germane to their nature: that, regardless of popular sanction, War is Mass Murder, Conscription is Slavery, and Taxation is Robbery.


The libertarian, in short, is almost completely the child in the fable, pointing out insistently that the emperor has no clothes.


The 97% Statistic on Climate Change

If you aren’t reacting like this to climate reports, are you even woke?

I always hear the alleged statistic that 97% of scientists believe in man made global warming– which is now “climate change” because the experts couldn’t predict the temperature trends, the financial crisis, Hillary’s defeat…. Anyways, I am summarizing the problems with that statistic for my own future reference, and for yours. You’re welcome.

I will quote from John Kerry, as he summarizes the claim succinctly: “97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible… they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know if will change– and it will change dramatically for the worse.”

The 97% statistic originally came from a 2013 study led by John Cook.

First of all, as Alex Epstein clearly explains in his book the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (highly recommended), there is so often a bait and switch going on in discussions regarding the 97%. Regardless of the actual number (which we will get to), Cook’s study said absolutely nothing about going down the current path, the world as we know it changing, and, especially, the world changing for the worse. That’s just typical fear mongering: taking a single statistic and exaggerating and broadening its application for political gain.

Now, here is how Cook got to the 97%. He first surveyed 11,944 abstracts– just the abstracts, not the papers themselves (much less getting a statement from the authors)– from papers that had to do with global warming, based on a simple search for the matched topics “global warming” or “global climate change.”

The results of the abstracts (got this from here):

Then he took categories 1 and 2 (those who had a strong opinion that man is causing global warming) and compared it to categories 6 and 7 (those who had a strong opinion against the claim that man is causing global warming). The ratio here is 986 papers vs. 24; or 97%.

Okay… so does this mean 97% of climate scientists agree?; that is, there is a solid consensus? Sure, if you leave out the fact that there are about 8,000 (!!) without an opinion/uncertain. If you account for them (and why shouldn’t we?), the new percentage comes in closer too… 10%. Hard to get the crowds going with that.

And of course, to be more than fair, if you could also stretch the thesis by looking at the ratio of categories 1-3 compared to those 4-7, which is around 33%. Still, not worth bragging about that’s for sure.

There’s also some other highly relevant bits of information. First, as Neil Frank mentions here, the reason why there were only 24 papers published by those who strongly disagree with the “consensus” (lol) in the first place was because literally thousands of papers were denied entry into the very database of papers that Cook et al were searching! Frank refers both to this book of published emails relating to this academic scandal and one Kenneth Richard who documented many papers over 2014-2016 that “challenge[d] the hypothesis that CO2 has been the primary driver of recent global warming.”

However, you don’t have believe there was a cover up (I do, for the record), to realize that regardless, there were 1000’s of papers that did not enter into Cook’s math at all, all of which were likely in categories 6 and 7.

Thus, it is profoundly unscientific to state “97% of climate scientists agree that….” It is more honest and accurate to say “97% of 1,010 papers, taken from a set of 11,944, which was a politically limited set to begin with, agree or mostly agree with the “consensus.” In which case, “consensus” here is like saying there is a consensus that John Mcafee should be elected President.

Thus, here’s how to respond to Barack Obama’s following Tweet.

Besides the above refutation of the 97%, “scientists” is the broadest description of the authors of these papers anyways. Think of all the science professionals who research outside the bounds of climate-related science. The 97% is a completely made up number. And, most importantly, zero percent (ZERO!!!) of the paper abstracts were considered in terms of their “danger” or threat to human life, civilization, or the economy.