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Ludwig von Mises: "Big business depends entirely on the patronage of those who buy its products: the biggest enterprises loses its power and its influence when it loses its customers." - Economic Policy

Quotable MisesThis database of quotations from Mises was prepared for The Quotable Mises edited by Mark Thornton, available from the Mises Institute store for $20. Send corrections to the editor. Here is a source page on the editions of the books referenced.

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Ludwig von MisesHuman action is purposeful behavior.Human Action p. 11; p. 11Action
Ludwig von MisesHuman life is an unceasing sequence of single actions.Human Action p. 45; p. 45Action
Ludwig von MisesEconomics, as a branch of the more general theory of human action, deals with all human action, i.e., with mans purposive aiming at the attainment of ends chosen, whatever these ends may be.Human Action p. 880; p. 884Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is a display of potency and control that are limited. It is a manifestation of man who is restrained by the circumscribed powers of his mind, the physiological nature of his body, the vicissitudes of his environment, and the scarcity of external factors on which his welfare depends.Human Action p. 70; p. 70Action
Ludwig von MisesAction is an attempt to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs for a less satisfactory one. We call such a willfully induced alteration an exchange.Human Action p. 97; p. 97Action
Ludwig von MisesMost actions do not aim at anybodys defeat or loss. They aim at an improvement in conditions.Human Action p. 116; p. 116Action
Ludwig von MisesThe vigorous man industriously striving for the improvement of his condition acts neither more nor less than the lethargic man who sluggishly takes things as they come. For to do nothing and to be idle are also action, they too determine the course of events.Human Action p. 13; p. 13Action
Ludwig von MisesIt is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against high-pressure advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only.Human Action p. 317; p. 321Advertising
Ludwig von MisesThe tricks and artifices of advertising are available to the seller of the better product no less than to the seller of the poorer product. But only the former enjoys the advantage derived from the better quality of his product.Human Action p. 318; p. 321Advertising
Ludwig von MisesThere was no reason whatever to abandon the principle of free enterprise in the field of banking.Human Action p. 440; p. 443Banking
Ludwig von MisesIt is extremely difficult for our contemporaries to conceive of the conditions of free banking because they take government interference with banking for granted and as necessary.Human Action p. 444; p. 447Banking
Ludwig von MisesWhat is needed to prevent any further credit expansion is to place the banking business under the general rules of commercial and civil laws compelling every individual and firm to fulfill all obligations in full compliance with the terms of the contract.Human Action p. 440; p. 443Banking
Ludwig von MisesThe bigness and the economic power of the railroad companies did not impede the emergence of the motor car and the airplane.Human Action p. 276; p. 275Big Business
Ludwig von MisesBureaucratic conduct of affairs is conduct bound to comply with detailed rules and regulations fixed by the authority of a superior body. It is the only alternative to profit management. . . . Whenever the operation of a system is not directed by the profit motive, it must be directed by bureaucratic rules.Human Action p. 307; p. 310Bureaucracy
Ludwig von MisesThe cyclical fluctuations of business are not an occurrence originating in the sphere of the unhampered market, but a product of government interference with business conditions designed to lower the rate of interest below the height at which the free market would have fixed it.Human Action p. 562; p. 565Business Cycles
Ludwig von MisesThe wavelike movement effecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion.Human Action p. 570; p. 572Business Cycles
Ludwig von MisesThe boom produces impoverishment. But still more disastrous are its moral ravages. It makes people despondent and dispirited. The more optimistic they were under the illusory prosperity of the boom, the greater is their despair and their feeling of frustration.Human Action p. 574; p. 576Business Cycles
Ludwig von MisesAll capital goods sooner or later enter into final products and cease to exist through use, consumption, wear and tear.Human Action p. 514; p. 517Capital
Ludwig von MisesProfit-seeking business is compelled to employ the most efficient methods of production. What checks a businessmans endeavors to improve the equipment of his firm is only lack of capital.Human Action p. 769; p. 775Capital
Ludwig von MisesAll the effusions of the contemporary welfare school are, like those of the socialist authors, based on the implicit assumption that there is an abundant supply of capital goods. Then, of course, it seems easy to find a remedy for all ills, to give to everybody according to his needs and to make everyone perfectly happy.Human Action p. 844; p. 848Capital
Ludwig von MisesWhen pushed hard by economists, some welfare propagandists and socialists admit that impairment of the average standard of living can only be avoided by the maintenance of capital already accumulated and that economic improvement depends on accumulation of additional capital.Human Action p. 844; p. 848Capital
Ludwig von MisesHistory does not provide any example of capital accumulation brought about by a government. As far as governments invested in the construction of roads, railroads, and other useful public works, the capital needed was provided by the savings of individual citizens and borrowed by the government.Human Action p. 847; p. 851Capital
Ludwig von MisesThe characteristic mark of economic history under capitalism is unceasing economic progress, a steady increase in the quantity of capital goods available, and a continuous trend toward an improvement in the general standard of living.Human Action p. 562; p. 565Capitalism
Ludwig von MisesThe early industrialists were for the most part men who had their origin in the same social strata from which their workers came. They lived very modestly, spent only a fraction of their earnings for their households and put the rest back into the business.Human Action p. 617; p. 622Capitalism
Ludwig von MisesCapitalism gave the world what it needed, a higher standard of living for a steadily increasing number of people.Human Action pp. 860-61; p. 864Capitalism
Ludwig von MisesThe market economy needs no apologists and propagandists. It can apply to itself the words of Sir Christopher Wrens epitaph in St. Pauls: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. [If you seek his monument, look around.]Human Action p. 850; p. 854Capitalism
Ludwig von MisesA society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.Human Action p. 676; p. 680Capitalism vs. Socialism
Ludwig von MisesWe may fully endorse the religious and ethical precepts that declare it to be mans duty to assist his unlucky brethren whom nature has doomed. But the recognition of this duty does not answer the question concerning what methods should be resorted to for its performance.Human Action p. 835; p. 839Charity
Ludwig von MisesNo civilized community has callously allowed the incapacitated to perish. But the substitution of a legally enforceable claim to support or sustenance for charitable relief does not seem to agree with human nature as it is... The discretion of bureaucrats is substituted for the discretion of people whom an inner voice drives to acts of charity.Human Action pp. 835-36; pp. 839-40Charity
Ludwig von MisesWhile all other animals are unconditionally driven by the impulse to preserve their own lives and by the impulse of proliferation, man has the power to master even these impulses. He can control both his sexual desires and his will to live. He can give up his life when the conditions under which alone he could preserve it seem intolerable. Man is capable of dying for a cause or of committing suicide. To live is for man the outcome of a choice, of a judgment of value.Human Action p. 19; pp. 1920Choice