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Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View

Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View - Ron Paul "The flowering of human society depends on two factors: intellectual power of outstanding men to conceive sound social and economic theories, and the ability of these or other men to make these ideologies palatable to the majority." - L. v. Mises, Human Action

This is former Texas Congressman Ron Paul's (very brief) panegyric to the thought of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. It is a fairly breezy read, and due to its length Paul only superficially treats Mises' ideas, and where he believes they lead. That's not a knock against Congressman Paul or the book, of course, as its intent was not to be an exhaustive study of Misesian economics.

Though he didn't elaborate very much on the point, Paul's philosophical side shined through in the final chapter (aptly titled "Natural Rights") where he aired his only beef with von Mises: the issue of natural rights vs. utilitarianism. Ron Paul is a firm believer in a "God given" right to liberty that all men are endowed with, whereas Mises rejected this as antiquated metaphysical nonsense. Von Mises did not require this natural right to liberty in order to justify his economics; he felt that its utility was evidence enough of its superiority to all others. Ron Paul sketches out why he thinks that utility, while it does favor laissez-faire over controlled economies, is not a strong enough justification for a free market economy. Only natural rights--the right to liberty inherent in us all--can do that. His argument is brief, but if only for that glimmer of Ron Paul the philosopher, this slim volume is worth the read.