Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Deal Denialism

New Deal Denialism

It's annoying to see libertarians (and right wingers) citing silly Austrian arguments that deny the success of Keynesianism in dealing with the Great Depression. Generally they attempt to focus attention on US history, ignoring all the contemporaneous world history that falsifies their arguments.

But even focusing on US history defeats their arguments. Eric Rauchway, a UC Davis historian who's written The Great Depression And The New Deal, lists 4 revisionist arguments and why they're wrong, especially focusing on Amity Shlaes' arguments.

As an aside, it's kind of sad to see intelligent libertarians such as David Friedman slide into such denialism, both for teh depression and for global warming.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The new icon.

For many years now I've been thinking of what sort of an icon I should have for my site and my blog. At first I didn't want ANY graphics, because they slowed the pages down and made the html coding more complex, but that was more than a decade ago, speeds are now excellent, and modern web tools such as blogs and wikis make that optimization unnecessary.

I thought of an upside down Statue Of Liberty, but people might get confused about who is inverting the idea of liberty, me or libertarians.

So instead, I've simply put the 4 most iconic libertarians together under a red circle and slash (meaning "no".) Rand, Hayek, Nozick, and Milton Friedman. I suppose people could argue for others such as Rothbard, Paul, Mises, etc., but let's not make things complicated: each represents a rather different major strand of libertarianism. It's good enough.

If anybody wants to propose a better icon, I welcome submissions.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


Peter Boettke and his colleagues at "The Austrian Economists" have announced a change of their blog name to "Coordination Problem" because "austrian economics" represents more than he wants.

The parallels between
The Austrian Economists -> Coordination Problem
Scientific Creationism -> Intelligent Design
are just too delicious.

Austrian economics and creationism both suffer from the same big problem. When you dismiss criticism from fellow economists or scientists in favor of authority and bad philosophy, you lose the ability to prevent other fools from larding up your system with numerous contradictory and stupid ideas.

Boettke is aware of this. He writes:
As an experiment, over the past six months we have been tracking the use of the term Austrian economics in the news and in the blogosphere. Less systematically, we have also been listening carefully to the use of the term among fellow professional economists and what they think the label means. The results do not fit our intention. Google alert, for example, inevitably points to financial advice or libertarian politics, rarely to the research paradigm of F. A. Hayek, never to the scholarship of Israel Kirzner. Mises is often mentioned, but Mises the ideological symbol, not Mises the analytical economist. The "Austrian" theory of the business cycle is mentioned, but only in relationship to anti-fed politics and hard money advocacy, and never as an ongoing research program among professional economists.

So the real question now is where is the "Coordination Problem" version of the Wedge strategy?

No discussion is permitted at the new web site. Bob Murphy provides a forum at Boettke Et Al. Engage in Product Differentiation for the sniping, back-stabbing, and other activities typical of authority-based factionalisms. (But to be honest, typical of academia and many other fields as well.) More sniping at Marginal Revolution: Peter Boettke's announcement.

At times like this, I really miss Steve Kangas. We would bust a gut laughing at this.

See also my Austrian Economics index.

[Disclosure: My father was Austrian (Viennese) by birth. He never had anything to do with Austrian economics.]

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Bob Murphy provides the Austrian Wedge strategy.