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Central Texas Austrians

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12/03/2003

Greetings, All. As promised, I will be at Thai Tara at 7:00 pm, Tuesday night, December 9 for the Austrian Economics Society of Central Texas' holiday season meeting:601 W. 6th St., just west of Downtown Austin, Texas.

I may be a lonely praxeological diner, since I am getting word out so late. I had unexpected financial issues to deal with both of the last weekends, proving that knowing what makes people rich and poor does not suffice to make the holder of that knowledge financially care-free. Please let me know if you plan to come, so that we do not take the cook by surprise, if we turn out a large group.

I have gotten pretty wide-ranging requests for topics and group activities. I was asked, after our deep theoretical discussion last time, that we focus on concrete tenets, which we will do, but, to me, grounding us in theory, at the most fundamental levels, is the most important function of this group. If we do not know why we know what we know, we might as well set up an altar and just receive dispensed wisdom. This is what so many of our detractors say Austrians do, anyway. We need to know how to demonstrate that those who disparage Austrian Economics as a "religion" are wrong, and we need to know how to show that it is the most popular schools of economic thought that rest on premises that go unidentified and unanalyzed. Curiously, another request was that we read authors other than Ludwig von Mises, which is puzzling, since none of the required readings have been by Mises. All the readings have been available on the Mises Institute web site, but only 2 supporting, secondary readings have actually been written by him. If this was a request to read economists who disagree with Mises, then that is simply not what this group is about; we have a Misesian bent as part of our reason for being.

A third suggestion was to do an industry analysis, out of which might come a position paper that we could actually present, get publicity, make an impact, etc. I think this is a great idea, and I will ask for suggestions at the meeting and via email, of which industries or topics we would be interested in generating a paper about. The original suggestion was the insurance industry, comparing the results seen in the relatively free environment of Illinois as opposed to the highly regulated environments of Texas and New Jersey. Also, the relatively free national jurisdictions of Britain and Holland versus the relatively regulated US. This will take some research, so it would be good for many of us to get our minds around a topic like this before coming together to discuss.

There would be some merit to tacking a local issue, though, which leads me to the topic for our special holiday season meeting: "Poverty, and its attendant causes celebres". In keeping with our tradition of pursuing the elusive goals of discussion focus and ease in preparation, the required reading will be this this  short one about housing scandals.

Non-required, supplemental readings are on the subjects of: Real-world Opportunities for the Unemployable, The Corruption of Religious Charities, and  Thomas Sowell's approximation of Mises' oft-stated truth that "[free market] Capitalism is mass production for the masses"

I also want to get ahead of myself and suggest that January's topic be "Cartels and Restricting Trade", since it was stated at both of our last meetings that, "Cartels never last." This has also been said or written by a half dozen Austrian economists I can think of offhand, but it was stated as a truism in our discussions, and I think it deserves some investigation and analysis.

I hope to see you there. Keep the suggestions coming! Contact me if you need more information: Erich Schwarz priorist@bga.com 512-413-2472

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