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Advancing Austrian Economics, Liberty, and Peace

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Mises University Needs You

Mises Daily: Friday, August 05, 2011 by

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"These are the best students in the world — the intellectual leaders of the future."

When the stock market collapses, people panic, but why? In some way, stock prices are superficial indicators of economic health. The real problem is much deeper: a capital stock that is distorted, depleted, depreciated, and incapable of sustaining economic growth.

Think of it like this. People hate it when the ceiling leaks, much less falls in. But the same people can live in a house with a cracked foundation for many years. They can pretend not to care. They sleep just fine and try not to think about it.

The stock market is the ceiling that everyone thinks about and tries to repair. But the core problem is the capital stock that is the foundation of a house. You know what houses with cracked foundations are worth? Negative value: the value of the land minus the costs of demolition.

Thanks to Mises Institute's premier educational program, Mises University, we are not at a loss for explanations of the continuing crisis. Since 1986, it's been the most consistent, intelligent, daring, and ambitious program anywhere to present a thorough education in the Austrian School. Its influence has been pervasive throughout the world.

I shudder to think where we would be without it. Thousands have passed through. Its graduates are teaching in universities around the world, writing financial newsletters, cranking out books to explain how the world works, starting great new enterprises, and playing a key leadership role in the world of ideas.

Without Mises University, free-market theory would probably be dead by now. After all, mainstream theory has proven itself totally bankrupt, unable to explain the past or present, much less chart a course for our future. The mainstream could not provide a coherent explanation for the crash of 2008. It hasn't been able to explain the malaise now.

Mises University set out to provide a super-rigorous and thorough immersion in the Austrian tradition. As the years passed, we refined its structure to the point where we are today. I've never been around students who are so excited to learn or faculty so excited to teach.

This year we received 400 applications. We can't accept that many. We stretched the program to include 221 students for seven straight days of intense instruction in 60 classes taught by 19 faculty members. We hosted an additional 16 paying observers and 13 guests. It was truly an international affair, with 33 countries represented, 163 schools, and 37 states.

Thanks to one generous donor, our building is large enough to handle the load. Our assembled faculty is the best in the Austrian business. Our students are the brightest and most enthusiastic ever.

However, and this is extremely important: the funding to operate Mises University has fallen in recent years, while costs to educate more students have risen.

Because of this, I would like to ask you personally to chip in and help shore up the resources that make this program possible.

Here is where you can donate now. Consider a $50 donation as a showing of support. Of course we would welcome more.

The problem of tight funding comes at a bad time. The Austrian School is attracting more attention than ever in the popular press. Austrian ideas are being credited for explaining the financial crisis. More students are becoming interested in the ideas of Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard. This is everything we've worked for all these decades.

We need to seize the moment and be secure in the years ahead. And yet the funding that the program needs has not kept pace. Quite frankly, unless something changes, we are going to have to shrink rather than grow the program.

There is no more deserving program than Mises University. Our instructors are thrilled to teach rooms filled with students who are enthusiastic and passionate about learning. Their enthusiasm inspires our faculty members, who not only teach multiple classes but are available for discussion with students during meals and breaks. Some Mises University graduates are now among the faculty. We estimate that over 200 college instructors around the world are products of this program.

It's impossible to know how many students are influenced — because we also broadcast the program on the Internet. What we know for sure is that it extends far beyond the 221 students who attend in person. Many of these students are activists on their campuses. They are passionate about exposing others to Austrian ideas any way they can.

What a shame it would be if the Institute was forced to dial back its programs because of funding constraints! It alarms me that, at a time when Austrian economics is in a position to vastly expand its influence, we are faced with the prospect of turning away more students.

As much as we all love the digital age, it just can't carry all the weight. There really is no substitute for direct interaction in a physical space.

Instead of a dearth of quality students, there is an abundance. Truly, these are the best students in the world — the intellectual leaders of the future. Long after you and I have left this earth, the ideas embedded in this program will be around.

The future of the Austrian School has never been brighter. But these shining stars will dim without nourishment. Not only has student demand increased, but costs have as well. Food, lodging, transportation, and seemingly anything and everything have gone up in price.

Without your help we will, instead of turning 200 students away next year, be turning away 300 or more. This couldn't come at a worse time. People are crying out for answers. The Austrian School lives to provide those answers. After all, it suddenly resonates with the public that reading Mises at the beach reflects brains and acumen instead of crankiness. This is a time when the role of government has come into question as never before. We need the program to keep up the intellectual push behind this momentum.

We will prune Mises programs if we have to. The Institute and its mission are too important to charge ahead with the only strategy being to hope and pray that funding arrives. Business can't survive that way, and neither can Mises Institute, especially because we insist on operating in the black.

Your immediate help can help restore the intellectual foundation of a free society. This isn't about repairing ceilings. It's about addressing the core problems that have so seriously damaged the capacity of the economy to serve humanity.

Keep us moving forward to take advantage of the challenge history has bestowed upon us. Our moment is now. Our needs are for right now. Please don't let this moment pass.