Mises Wire

The Primer We Need!

Per Bylund at AERC 2017

How many times has a friend or family member asked you: “What is this Austrian economics stuff you’re always talking about?”

What if you could hand them a small book, not much more than a pamphlet, and say: “Here, read this”? What if you could change their entire world view, even their path in life, with one simple volume?

We plan to publish exactly such a book later this year, but we need you! Professor Per Bylund has agreed to write it, and he’s committed to creating an Austrian primer unlike any other. Your support will make it happen.

Surely, you ask, such a book already exists? Surely there are good and worthy introductions to the Austrian school published in the past?

Well, yes and no. There are introductory books, but most are either too old, too stale, or too expensive—one academic publishing house charges $83 for an “advanced” introduction of scarcely 100 pages! These books are fine, but they’re not grabbing anyone’s attention and certainly not providing the one-stop tool we need for outreach.

This project is different. We’ve asked Dr. Bylund to produce nothing less than a simplified Austrian school version of Henry Hazlitt’s great Economics in One Lesson. The book will be short, pithy, and written with force. The end result will be roughly 30,000 words, or perhaps half the length of Hazlitt’s classic.

Brevity and clarity is what the world demands today. Per Bylund will deliver exactly that. We’ve always wanted a brief summary of Austrian economics to give anyone who asks, and this will be the one book to fill that need perfectly!

Professor Bylund is among our best and brightest young Austrian economists. He specializes in business and how firms actually produce goods, so his popular writing for outlets like The Entrepreneur magazine reflects a real-world orientation.

He’s also a maestro of the pithy, hard-hitting style needed for today’s intellectual battle—which increasingly happens on social media rather than in academic journals. Per is a wellknown Austrian guru on “fintwit” (financial Twitter); many of his threads are master classes in Austrian theory and principles. His threads are so good we sometimes publish them as articles on mises.org!

He’s especially skilled at making Twitter Keynesians explode with simple but logically untouchable statements. This certainly ranks above the all-time greatest economics tweets, and nearly six years later it still causes indignant and angry responses!

What causes #poverty? Nothing. It’s the original state, the default and starting point. The real question is, What causes #prosperity?

— Per Bylund (@PerBylund) November 15, 2015

Another of Per’s specialties is explaining the fundamental role of economics as a social science, and especially the limitations of that role. But so much of the Twitterati want math, statistics, and models to give us the answers:

The typical critiques of #AustrianEconomics boil down to the critic wanting #economics to do something else, something which it cannot.

— Per Bylund (@PerBylund) February 15, 2021

And of course he’s an expert at skewering the pretension of “elite” economists, especially those who almost magically manage to always take the side of greater government intervention in the economy:

This is what ‘economists’ of today waste their time doing: nonsensical leveraging of assumptions disallowed by economic theory to seemingly enable central planning policies. What a joke. https://t.co/bLHT4OCM4j

— Per Bylund (@PerBylund) February 15, 2021

He promises to bring this same hard-hitting Twitter style to the Austrian primer: short, direct, axiomatically unassailable, and devastating to the mythology of modern economics. So this book will not only promote our views, but refute and attack the tragicomic orthodoxy of today’s economics mainstream. Please support this needed book!

Look, we all know economics is a mess. Most undergraduate and graduate courses teach warmed-over Keynes, treating consumption and demand as the key to economic growth. Popular economics books aimed at lay audiences focus on nonsense like income inequality, carbon offsets, or tired ideas about “new” third-way systems between private property and the latest variant of socialism. And the financial media? More stimulus checks! More spending! More printing! Lower rates!

It’s always the same story.

Yes, the ranks of Austrian-friendly professors are growing. But we need smart people like you to help with our end run around the academic gatekeepers. Ordinary Americans, not academia or government, will lead us out of this mess. But it starts with giving intelligent laypeople the basic tools they need to see through the gross errors of current economics. You can help.

Think of this book as a form of pamphleteering, popular among American revolutionaries in the Colonial Era. The Mises Institute has published dozens of great pamphlets over the years, including the great chapter from Mises’s Human Action titled “The Place of Economics in Learning’’ and Lew Rockwell’s “Why Austrian Economics Matters.” We recently published my talk “The Imposers and the Imposed Upon” in pamphlet form with great success.

Our Austrian primer will be a bit longer than a pamphlet but not much. At fewer than 100 pages, we know it will be a huge hit—as portable and quickly read as Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money? There is something very special about a radical short book, one which promises to shake up the reader without a huge time commitment. That’s exactly what our Austrian primer will be.

Short books are less daunting. They are more likely to be read. People tell us they love a slim book for their briefcase or purse, to read on a flight or in a waiting room—and especially to give away. There is something satisfying, and appealing, about holding a book one can finish in an hour or so. Please help us produce it!

Dr. Bylund is ready to go, and promises the book will be done by fall 2021. His outline for the book is nearly complete, and guarantees to deliver a remarkable short course in Austrian economics. We plan to produce the book very inexpensively—with mass distribution as the goal. You’ll want multiple copies of this book for anyone you think might be interested.

The goal is to create a spark, the same spark we all felt upon discovering real economics.

We plan to publish our Austrian primer in late 2021, in time for Christmas. Will you consider making a tax-deductible donation to make this book a reality? Anyone donating $500 or more will be listed in the book as a Donor, while $1,000 contributors will be listed as Patrons. If you’d like to give $5,000 or more, we will list you as a Benefactor. But any contribution is welcome and needed!

This is a book the world needs: a short but devastating summary of real economics for the intelligent lay reader. The laws of economics cannot be ignored forever, and only the Austrian school provides the rational explanation for how and why the current interventions must unravel. Please help us produce this book for the widest possible audience!

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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