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On Freedom and Free Enterprise

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12/01/2018George Reisman

[Review of On Freedom and Free Enterprise: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises, edited by Mary Sennholz; on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Mises's doctorate, February 20, 1956).]

Nineteen contributors (from six countries) confirm Dr. Mises's international reputation as a scholar of the first rank. Among them: F. A. Hayek, Jacques Rueff, Henry Hazlitt, and Bertrand de Jouvenel.

What makes this Festschrift exceptional? For one thing, a sizable number of the participants contribute significantly and originally — in the full spirit of the teachings of the man they honor. Here is the highest form of academic recognition.

Three essays strike the reader especially: (1) Professor Hutt's The Yield from Money Held, (2) Mr. Spadaro's Averages and Aggregates in Economics and (3) Mr. Rothbard's Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics.

Hutt's essay states that money held is not barren; people hold money because of the services it performs. He points out that anything that performs a service can hardly be barren.

Spadaro sharply questions the validity of statistical averages to describe economic reality. He shows that much data cannot be lumped together and divided, explains that averages often mean a loss of information.

Mr. Rothbard shows why the government's coercive activity cannot possibly increase social welfare.

It increases, says Rothbard, only when at least one person gains and no one loses. And since every government action rests on coercion, some one has to lose. He goes on to show how the free market, based on mutual gain, does increase social welfare.

Certainly it has been many years since so many sound economists joined together. That many of the contributors are younger men who have not yet had time to make their reputations is even more encouraging.

For almost three generations the ranks of liberty's defenders grew thinner. Now, at last, they seem on the rise again.

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Cite This Article

George Reisman, Review of "On Freedom and Free Enterprise," ed. Mary Sennholz, Faith and Freedom 7, no. 10 (June 1956): 30.

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