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Austrian Children's Tales

Mises Daily: Thursday, December 21, 2000 by

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Gene CallahanWhile the schools of psychology, philosophy and economics that arose in late 19th century Vienna have given rise to many wonderful works of literature, there has been relatively little in the way of children’s stories emerging from this tradition. To better propagate these important ideas, The Mises Institute is contemplating a new line of children’s tales. We thought we’d preview a few of our proposed titles here, hoping to gauge the level of interest in such a series.

Curious George and the Imaginary Construction of the Evenly Rotating Economy

The Man in the Yellow Hat has gone away with "Uncle" Melvin for a weekend on Fire Island. While he is gone, Curious George sneaks off to the Department of Economics at the University, where, using the professors’ favorite econometric models, he constructs an evenly rotating economy. Unfortunately, when the professors return from their classes, they take his gag seriously, resulting in decades of useless mathematical economics.

Willie Wonka and the Inefficient Chocolate Factory

Willie has made an investment in nonconvertible capital goods that turns out to have been unwise. Now he is faced with the choice as to whether he should he continue production on the basis of his ongoing costs, or leave this factor of production unused. Children will be filled with wonder as they watch little Charlie save Wonka’s factory by showing him that he may discover a monopoly price above the competitive one, allowing him to operate profitably and even recoup some of his initial investment.

The Cat in the Socialist Planner’s Hat Comes Back

The anonymous narrator and his sister Sally are left steering the chariot of the economy when their mother, the Goddess of the Fed, has to run to the market. While they quietly go about their rate adjustment chores, who should arrive but the Cat in the Socialist Planner’s Hat?

The Cat leaves a big pink stain on some instructions that their mother had left them. (These were graphs, showing the relationship between Fed Fund rates and new housing starts.) At their behest, the cat removes the stain from the graphs, but only by wiping it with their yield curve targets. Your children will surely enjoy the hilarity that ensues. Indicator after indicator is obscured until the economy careens out of control, first igniting that sector, then freezing this one. In the end, Zeus kills the children with a lightening bolt, and the economy resumes its regular course.

Mary von Poppins

A meditation on the dangers of fractional reserve banking. Young Michael Banks, demanding his tuppence back, causes the first run on his father's employer, a venerable English banking institution, since 1773. Austrians will be especially pleased by the surprise appearance of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk as Mr. Dawes, Jr.

Goodnight Balloon

In the great national economy
There was a software monopoly
And a little inflationary balloon
And a picture of—
Some stocks soaring over the moon

And there were three distraught bears
Who had shorted their shares
And a boom and a bust and a fund full of slush
And a dignified Fed Chairman whispering "hush"

Goodnight economy
Goodnight monopoly
Goodnight inflationary balloon
Goodnight stocks soaring over the moon

Goodnight bears
You lost your shares
Goodnight boom
Goodnight slush
And goodnight to the Fed Chairman whispering "hush"

Goodnight NASDAQ market tear
Goodnight consumers everywhere

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Gene Callahan, who writes frequently for Mises.org, is working on a book called Economics for Real People. See his Archive or send him MAIL