Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #439: Austrians

Another personal interjection.

From time to time, I can’t help bumping into posts from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It has a blog here.

It also has this post, which presents a capsule overview of the “Austrian school” of economics and how it believes a free market should work versus the manic and depressive cycles we periodically experience: Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure

Ayn Rand and her ilk were supporters of the Austrian school.

I was never convinced.

I’m still not convinced.

Earlier today I posted excerpts from Jack London’s The People of the Abyss.

I keep seeing that nightmarish vision of a poverty-filled and coldly uncharitable society as the natural consequence of Austrian economics.

nocharity

What else can I be expected to conclude when in this post — “Neanderthal” Economics — I see this:

In one of his most important books, America’s Great Depression, Murray lists six ways government could delay market adjustment, which he says would create the “favorite ‘anti-depression’ arsenal of government policy.” These include the following:

1. Prevent or delay liquidation
2. Inflate further
3. Keep wage rates up
4. Keep prices up
5. Stimulate consumption and discourage saving
6. Subsidize unemployment

Emphasis added by me.

The People of the Abyss is a document clearly showing the effects of not “subsidizing” unemployment. (And notice the Nazi-like sneer implied by the use of that term, subsidy, instead of the neutral insurance!) The People of the Abyss is a testament to people being reduced to being beggars and even to committing suicide because there is no safety net.

There is something inhumanly callous about any system of economics that ignores what Jack London terms “the thing happening.”

Ayn Rand’s acolytes imagined a broad sweeping vision of a world drenched in liberty due to economic freedom. I think that’s a delusional view of life. Not everyone is motivated by money. There is no syllogism in life where money = X behavior. People are not like computers, with output equaling input.

Alan Greenspan — a member of Ayn Rand’s core “Collective,” who read Atlas Shrugged as it was being written!discovered that aspect of human realitytoo late:

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Who other than bankers and financiers should have been motivated by money and to its preservation? That’s their line of work, for god’s sake!

And yet the Austrians would have us fed to them — as trustworthy defenders of capital and its preservation?

Don’t tell me about gold-backed currency. Or gold itself. Is gold limitless? Unlike oil, there isn’t an abiotic hypothesis that would explain an expanding supply of it. That means growth is limited to the amount of available gold. That’s a worse prospect than the Peak Oil hypothesis!

How many Jews in Nazi Germany tried to buy their freedom? Shouldn’t that money have granted them that? Very often, all it got them was murdered and their wealth stolen.

eyeglasses

So much for the overriding motivation of Dollar Uber Alles!

Of course, the Austrians, being good little bean counters and true-believing ideology-huggers, would probably argue that their system depends on a rational world.

Tell me: On what fucking planet does that exist? It’s not this one!

So, no. I couldn’t swallow von Mises and Company back in the early 1980s — and today I can’t tolerate its nonsense at all.

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2 Comments on “Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #439: Austrians”

  1. Marc Says:

    So what version of economics do you prescribe to? Keynesianism is a proven failure. The Freidmanites are not much better. Just because Ayn Rand acted more like Spock from planet Vulcan with her “logic all the time” doesn’t make Austrian economics devoid any merit. Also your comment on gold and the finite amount of it illustrates that you have a complete lack of understanding on what you are commenting on.

  2. Robert Says:

    Just because I’m in the mood to “Fisk”, I’ll provide some specifics to show that it is totally wrong about Rand’s philosophy being only about acquisition of wealth, at the expense of others who are not so lucky:

    Howard Roark, Hero of The Fountainhead: Turned down many jobs in designing and constructing major buildings because he would not violate his code of architectural integrity. Had to work as a manual laborer in a quarry because of it. He could have been rich if he wanted wealth more than integrity.

    Atlas Shrugs:

    Dagny: Lived comfortably but didn’t amass wealth like she could have. All she cared about was keeping the trains running, because she knew that the nation would starve and freeze in the dark if she didn’t.

    Francisco: intentionally destroyed his personal fortune, one of the greatest in the world, in the forlorn hope of teaching the world a lesson that socialism and the greed for other peoples property, unearned wealth is doomed to eventual despair.

    Midas Mulligan: Worlds most successful money manager until the government decided that they knew better than him who should get loans from his bank. (remind you guys of any recent events?) Walked away from it all with a small portion of his personal wealth.

    Ragnar: World’s ‘most successful pirate”…. Who did not keep his plunder for himself and his crew. He gave it back to the people from whom the government plundered it originally.

    John Galt: Never wealthy, just barely made a comfortable living as a junior engineer at “20th Century Motors”. He could have had great wealth if he had taken his marvelous motor to any decent manufacturer prior to ‘the looters’ taking control of the entire economy. Chose to live on the salary of a railroad brakeman rather than be forced to give his intellect and his invention away.

    Hugh Akston: College Professor, never wealthy, who became a fry cook rather than to be forced to teach the nonsense that the government and society wanted him to teach.

    Richard Halley: Disappeared on the eve of his greatest triumph, because his integrity was greater than his desire for popular success. He would rather write good music for the consumption of a choice few than to provide tripe for millions of people for millions of dollars.

    Hank Reardon: Yeah, very wealthy, but mostly because of his passion for efficiency and turning out a good product.. Didn’t really care about wealth, only cared about producing steel and perfecting the ultimate engineering metal. Gave away much of his wealth to freeloaders and ‘liberal causes’…
    Until they FORCED him to give it away.

    Ellis Wyatt: Moderately wealthy… we really don’t know if he was generous or not, but gave it all up when he saw that they were going to take it all away from him anyway.

    Several more examples of the ‘good guys’ not being motivated by money among the minor characters in AS…
    Of the Major characters, Only Jim Taggart was a greedy rich person. And he was on the side of the government/looters…. as long as he got to keep his, he was happy to help them steal everyone else’s.

    Gee, I dunno…. Maybe a person ought to try to read and actually understand a book or two before they criticize the literary work and the philosophy behind it. But hey, that’s just me and my ‘ilk’.


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