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Punching Above Our Weight

Tags Austrian Economics Overview

03/28/2014Jeff Deist

Last week the Mises Institute hosted another outstanding Austrian Economics Research Conference at our campus in Auburn. Attendees enjoyed three days of cross-disciplinary presentations by more than 50 academics, PhD candidates, and economics/finance professionals, all working in the most provocative traditions of Austrian and libertarian thought. We also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the South Royalton conference, the first academic conference devoted to Austrian economics in the US and a watershed event in the modern Austrian movement.

AERC concluded Saturday evening under spectacular southern spring skies, with a reception on our patio.

Highlights? Keynote speeches by James Grant (Barron’s and Grant’s Interest Rate Observer) and Judge Andrew Napolitano (Fox News), both delivered to packed auditoriums.

James Grant, speaking about “Hazlitt, My Hero,” reminded us that inflation is simply a condition of too much money created too quickly. What the new money “chases” is variable: it may show up on the balance sheet of Fed-favored banks, in stock markets, in housing, or at the grocery. He also reminded us that deflation, marked by cheaper production of goods and falling prices, can be called by another name: progress.

Judge Napolitano, in a fascinating talk entitled “The Pope, the Constitution, and Economics 101,” revisited the sadly foregone Lochner era. Natural rights theory, economic liberty, and private contract rights once informed American jurisprudence, Napolitano explained, and we are all poorer for their absence in today’s common law. Some areas of human conduct simply should be immune from government interference, no matter the purported state interest.

I guarantee you will enjoy these archived talks. What a contrast to the dull, derivative commentary and lightweight, docile thinking that dominates most academic conferences!

Where else can you hear Professor Tom DiLorenzo, hosting a panel on entrepreneurship, posit that the lowest petty bureaucrat has more power over our lives than any corporate titan? Or hear Professor Haynes Horne draw an analogy between our aesthetic responses to beauty and the subjective theory of value? Or applaud Gary North’s (true) statement that mises.org receives four times the traffic of the (awful) American Economic Association website? Or discover that our own Peter Klein once owned the Audi 5000 that drove Hayek around Germany?

This is the kind of content — radical, uncompromising, erudite, Austrian — that only the Mises Institute delivers.

Watch James Grant’s speech and you’ll catch his reference to boxer Jake LaMotta. LaMotta was a notoriously big middleweight, often fighting men 10 pounds lighter. The Mises Institute, by contrast, punches above its weight. A recent Forbes article demonstrates that we are a real heavyweight online. Among free-market think tanks, we rank first in YouTube channel subscribers, second in overall website visitors, and third in social media presence.

We do this with a budget that is a tiny fraction of the big organizations in DC, organizations that spend their days promoting superficial changes in public policy. We do it without billionaires funding us, without currying favor with the political class, without receiving government money, and without wasting time looking for liberty in all the wrong places.

We do it by offering radical, uncompromising scholarship. We don’t apologize or dilute our message. We don’t compromise or bargain with leviathan; we attack it head on. We don’t use the meaningless language or accept the false premises of so-called progressives or conservatives. Unlike the DC groups, our radicalism and honesty make us more popular. As Judge Napolitano says, we are the “gold standard” of freedom-minded organizations.

This makes us enormously proud, and we’re grateful to all of you for your support over the years. But we need your support today and tomorrow, as always. With your help we will continue to punch above our weight, advancing Austrian economics, freedom, and peace. Please make your most generous donation today.


Contact Jeff Deist

Jeff Deist is president of the Mises Institute. He previously worked as chief of staff to Congressman Ron Paul, and as an attorney for private equity clients. Contact: email; Twitter.

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