Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who needs the founders - they're all at the Mises Institute!

This was too good not to mock. A while back we heard that Ron Paul is the modern incarnation of Thomas Jefferson. As if that wasn't sufficiently laughable, now Tom Woods is the modern Thomas Paine (somebody ought to tell him Paine supported central banking and the welfare state, and that being pro-liberty doesn't mean you're a libertarian).

I really can't stop with the Paine comparison, though - because Woods is compared to many more heroes besides Paine here:

- Gandalf: "As Gandalf deals with the problem of a dragon in The Hobbit, Meltdown deals directly with the single draconian problem of state control over our lives" (too bad Gandalf didn't deal with the dragon at all in The Hobbit - he was nowhere to be found until after the dragon was dead).

- Michael Bublé

- Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (also interesting because some say that was a pro-bimetallism allegory - although this is disputed), and

- Harry Potter

Why don't my commenters ever seem to find the Mises Institute as thoroughly goofy as I do?


  1. I do find MI a little goofy, taking for example one article there that said that Star Wars was a libertarian movie.

    But it's hard to tell whether they say goofy things, because they are deliberately trying to be funny and saying things in jest, or because they really meant it seriously. (Jeffrey Tucker, for example, is more of a humour columnist.)

    Either way, I think it can, on occasion, have some very very interesting articles. There was one article that documented all the instances of communist leaders deliberately avoiding war and suppressing all policies aimed towards communist expansionism beyond Central Asia or Central Europe. It was to explain how communist autarkies prefer not to gamble on losing their entire empires, even when they stood to "liberate" more foreign territory. It's why China never occupied Taiwan.

  2. Because LVMI lives in the shadow of it goofier cousin, LRC.

  3. Prateek are you sure? When I read Jeffrey Tucker say this:

    The point of this ban was not to save the planet. The point was to feed the resentment of those who hate our prosperity - and that's why it is consistent with every other thing they are doing to our households from bulbs to toilets. Wise up and stop trusting the central planners.


    I got the impression that's he very serious.

    As for the MI, outside of Robert Murphy's articles and a few others along with some books I don't really care for it.

  4. Of course it's goofy! God, who wants to be a part of a heterodox economics institute if it's going to be ADULT and BORING.

    Seriously though, it is goofy. But they're goofy people. I've met Jeff Tucker and Tom Woods multiple times, and they're all funny guys.

  5. The Mises Institute is kind of like an evil fanged clown. I'm too scared to laugh.

  6. Anonymous - that's hilarious :)

    I want to clarify - good stuff comes out of there. I've linked to many of Jonathan's posts there favorably and in the prior post I linked to one of Bob's (who Octahedron mentions too). There are other good ones. QJAE can have some interesting, less ideological material. Daniel Sanchez does some great and interesting work as far as I can tell. And of course the primary source material there is phenomenal.

    But, as Mattheus reiterates, they are goofy :)

  7. Ah yes. Since you can't disprove them- mock them!

  8. Aaron -
    I'm not sure how I would go about disproving that Tom Woods is "the Michael Bublé of Austrian economics" or why I would want to disprove that.

  9. Michael Buble is terrible. Why do you hate Tom Woods so much?

  10. Stravinsky,

    Ron Paul & Tom Woods are involved in politics, they are attempting to influence policy. They talk about a lot of issues that Daniel disagrees with. This is speculation on my part for sure. But I have reason to speculate it.

    Daniel on another occasion stated that he likes Bryan Caplan more than David Henderson, even though Caplan is an anarchist and Henderson is a minarchist. I can see that Bryan, again, blogs less about political hot topics.

    Moreover, political topics tend have a style that is to Daniel's dislike.

    I come to this blog couple of times a week. I have seen his comments on CafeHayek.com. Just speaking from that experience.

  11. 1. The Michael Buble line was from the Mises.org article - it wasn't mine. I think Stravinsky understood that and was joking.

    2. David Henderson has grown on my tremendously, and I actually find myself agreeing less with Bryan Caplan. Both are still good, of course.

  12. Daniel asks...Why don't my commenters ever seem to find the Mises Institute as thoroughly goofy as I do?

    It could be that some of them don't share your ideological biases.

  13. I thought Thomas Paine was a Proto-Georgist. He wanted a tax on land to help out the poor and needy. That's a far cry from our current Welfare State. If I remember correctly, Albert J Nock, who happened to be a Georgist, was one of the first people to use the term libertarian to describe his political philosophy. Nock involvement with the Georgist cause was short lived, but in his writings you can tell he still held these views. If a self described libertarian can have these views than Thomas Paine shouldn't be be disqualified from being a libertarian.

    When people make the comparison between Ron Paul and Jefferson, they are speaking in the political sense. Jefferson was a man of science first and foremost, and he was a genius. Nothing against Ron Paul, while he is a very intelligent man, a genius he is not. In the political sense, however, I don't think there is no question that Jefferson and Paul are kindred spirits.

  14. Paine defended the Bank of the United States; a creature quite different from what we think of as a central bank (the B.U.S. couldn't even buy government bonds, for example). The point of the first B.U.S. was not to try to use monetary policy to steer the economy; so no, Paine did not support central banks or central banking.

    And no, Paine did not favor a "welfare state"; he would have been shocked by the concept. What Paine proposed was something quite different indeed (the welfare state depends in large part on the notion that the state knows how best to help the poor, etc. and designs programs towards that it which it directs and funds - Paine would have found such an idea laughable and corrosive of human liberty, etc.); what he wanted was something much a kin to a tithe to be paid out to those at certain times in their - interestingly, Milton Friedman had a very similar idea. The point was well in line with 18th century thoughts on economic independence; namely that one cannot be a whole person without being so. What Paine hoped to provide was economic independence, not aid by the state.

  15. If you are talking about a system that depends on the notion that the state knows how best to help the poor then you and I are talking about entirely different things.

    I agree - Paine never thought that the state knew best how to help the poor. Neither do I. Glad we agree on that point.

  16. Daniel,

    BTW, one could argue that Paine was a non-Marxist socialist (as was the general tradition of socialism in the U.S. until the 20th century), and there is no conflict at any fundamental level between the various forms of non-Marxist socialism and libertarianism (indeed, libertarianism is in my mind as much an offspring of non-Marxist socialism as anything else).


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