The Significance of Mises.org
To borrow from Martha Stewart, if you support the Mises Institute, it's a good thing.
I first became involved with the Mises Institute in 2001, when, on a lark, I decided to attend the Austrian Scholars Conference. I was an economics major; I was an active libertarian; I enjoyed going to conferences, and I knew I would be going to graduate school the following fall. Sectional prejudices aside — I had played trombone in the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band for three years, and I wondered, "can anything good come out of Auburn?" — I made the trip to the Loveliest Village on the Plains.
I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that it is now over seven years later and my decision to attend that conference completely changed my intellectual trajectory. Through graduate school and now as a professor at Rhodes College, I have found the resources provided by the institute to have been critical parts of my development.
The Mises Institute contributes to the betterment of society and the advancement of knowledge in two ways. First, it offers a wealth of scholarly resources. Second, it offers cogent, insightful commentary through its Daily Articles and the Mises Economics Blog. Let's examine these in greater detail.
When I begin any research project, one place I look for relevant scholarship is Mises.org's Austrian Economics Literature. Thanks to the spectacular scholarly resources available on the institute's website, I am able to bring the insights of scholars trained in the Austrian tradition to bear on a variety of issues.
Thanks to Mises.org, I have the full text of the seminal works in Austrian economics saved on my laptop. These include Mises's Human Action; Theory and History; Nation, State, & Economy; George Reisman's Capitalism; Rothbard's Man, Economy, & State; The Mystery of Banking; Panic of 1819; America's Great Depression; and several of Rothbard's most important articles.
Thanks to the Mises Institute and its supporters, I have many of the great works of Austrian economics available at my fingertips.
An example of the impact and efficacy of the Mises Institute can be seen in the realm of intellectual property. Stephan Kinsella's article "Against Intellectual Property" might not have had an outlet (or an audience) were it not for Mises Institute publications. Kinsella's claims are radical; however, the facts are bearing out Kinsella's case. I recall reading a study showing that music-downloading services have had no impact on record sales. Several years ago, the institute paid a princely sum to Libertarian Press so they could put Omnipotent Government and Bureaucracy online — and the availability of these free books has caused sales of these volumes to skyrocket.
The Mises Institute advances civil society by encouraging its associated students and scholars to be public intellectuals. Mises.org and LewRockwell.com are instrumental in bringing the insights of Austrian economists and libertarian philosophers to everyone.
Part of me is pessimistic. Henry Hazlitt said that each new generation has to relearn the good ideas, while the bad ideas are often intuitively appealing in a very superficial sense. The institute's Web presence gives us cause for optimism, though. The good ideas are now easier to access, in no small part due to the hard work and Internet presence of the Mises Institute.