1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11576/murphys-lessons-for-the-young-economist/

Murphy’s Lessons for the Young Economist

January 31, 2010 by

I might have written this as a private memo to Robert Murphy but its contents will be interesting to everyone.

I’m in the process of reviewing his teacher manual for his forthcoming high school text on economics: Lessons for the Young Economist. I’m beyond mere excitement about this project. It is easily the best introduction to economics I’ve ever read – and I mean pure economic theory, not just a theory of how markets work (the domain of Hazlitt’s book). He has the right frame of mind. His has mastery of the subject matter. The logic is super clear. I can’t but marvel at the intellectual organization of his pedagogy – achieving a great balance between “plain old” economics and that aspect of economic thought that is considered particularly Austrian.

Just now, as I’m going through his examples on the division of labor and the advantages of indirect vs. direct exchange, something just occurred to me. Most of the attempts at such texts falter because they are either too dry and technical for the young reader or they are littered with attempts to keep the student entertained with references to pop culture or cheesy passages that attempt to “speak the child’s language” but only end up sounding patronizing.

Dr. Murphy’s text has none of this. The prose has relentless fire without needless fireworks. What drives it forward is intellectual passion born of his own love of the topic. What’s also nice is that he is nowhere self-consciously trying to sound like someone he is not. It is his real voice, explaining everything point by point. Here is the product of vast experience and daily writing. This permits the voicing of the book to achieve a remarkable integration page to page, chapter to chapter. Though he is drawing from the whole history of the development of economics, the text ends up being strikingly original. His approach is not based on anything but his own sense of how to teach this subject.

The only comparison I can think of here is with Murray Rothbard. It has that transparency and brilliance about it. Also, this book will not be boring or useless even for people who think they already know the subject. Every page or two, I’m bumping into points that I think I might have known but I would not have thought of in this context. For example, on the problems with barter, he shows that in the real world, most goods and services would not have come into existence at all (so that there would be no trading of tractors for cobbler services because there would be no tractors or repairable shoes). In another place, he points out that one of the advantages of the division of labor is that it makes the advantages of automation more readily apparent.

Maybe these points appear in other introductory texts but the way he works them into a logical and seamless system is very impressive. So far I think I can say with confidence that this book will be the best introduction not just to Austrian economics but all economics ever written. It will have a much larger market than just high-school students. Anyone can enjoy this book and learn from it.

As I say, the text is finished. A major section of teacher manual he turned in on Friday. Soon he will be working on the study questions. Then we go into production with this treasure. Then there are many details to work out: electronic resources, e-books, online tests, and the like. We might have this ready for the Summer or Fall or the latest, if we are able to do our part at our offices. Right now, he seems slightly ahead on his production end than we are on ours.

In any case, I just want to offer an early congratulations to him for this spectacular work. He wrote the first Study Guide to Human Action and Man, Economy, and State. He will soon be able to add to another medal to his chest.

{ 35 comments }

Hard Rain January 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

This sounds really interesting. I’ve wanted to inspire my younger family members to become interested in economics and liberty for a long time. Hopefully this can do the trick :)

Jean January 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Will this wonderful book be available in America?

Jeffrey Tucker January 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm

yes, right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. (not just distributed in Austria ;)

RMalbo January 31, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Sounds great both for my son and myself. Can’t wait !

Terri K January 31, 2010 at 6:11 pm

As a parent of 2 teens and one soon to be, I’m really excited about this.

Hard Rain, may I suggest that you talk to these youngsters about liberty and economics at every opportunity? Assuming that they’re in school, just ask about what they’re learning (it’s usually the polar opposite of liberty), ask questions and offer an alternative view. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results, and you’ll be teaching critical thinking skills in the process. :)

Travis January 31, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Don’t wait until they’re teens. Austrian School economics is so logical and concrete that 6 year olds can understand it. Even if this book is over their heads, teaching it to them won’t hurt them.

If you expose them to the truth before they are exposed to Keynesian chaos, they will see the world through Austrian lenses for many years and practice free-market economics with their friends in the course of day-to-day life. In time, they will be able to refute the arguments of all other foolish economic theories.

Jock January 31, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Travis, having only recently got into Austrian Economics, I can only agree. It seems to me to be so close to what so many of us, perhaps admittedly of a “certain generation” were taught about how the world works as kids.

Delayed gratification = time preference, respecting property rights, saving rather than borrowing, limits and boundaries to what instant gratification one can have and so on.

It struck me the other day that even as I was trying to explain to people, without knowing the Austrian business cycle, way back seven or eight years ago that the asset bubble cannot go on indefinitely and that inflation of money supply was causing dangerous imbalances (misallocation of resources) I was in fact talking “pure Austrian” and didn’t know it.

Of course, all that is exactly as it should be – after all, as youngsters we pretty closely follow the various stages of mankind’s economic history, learning to value things, swapping and bartering, discovering money, understanding scarcity and so on.

I wonder if Bob wants an audiobook version of this one – or maybe it has too many illustrations and tables for such to be terribly useful? :-)

Patrick Klein January 31, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Got here from that new social media link – Facebook. I said to my friends “Man, I gotta get me one of those!” But I guess not until fall. When can we preorder?

Tell me if this has been done before and where to find it: You might be an Austrian economist if…

Thanks and God bless.

jeffrey A. February 1, 2010 at 12:07 am

Yeah, don’t hesitate to teach the youngsters. Kids have a natural ability to see the truth. I remember the first time I was told our currency wasn’t linked to gold I freaked out and asked how the paper could possibly carry value? I was 8 or so at the time. My first lesson on inflation shortly followed. Real economics makes sense to even the simplest of minds, never hesitate to break it down for the youngsters.

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 12:21 am

I remember the first time I was told our currency wasn’t linked to gold I freaked out and asked how the paper could possibly carry value? I was 8 or so at the time.

I remember my Damascus moment also. My granddaughter showed me her hard disk and said, look granddad, all this music, Bounce or Beyonce or something, Madonna, Britney Spears, U2, and I didn’t have to pay anything for it. I’ve chucked it my paper round, no need to work, I can get everything I want, and it’s free. This free enterprise system you keep talking of, I love it.

I thought, oh shit …

Bala February 1, 2010 at 2:35 am

How do I get it in India? I remember the last time I tried to get Human Action through the mises.org bookstore, I realised that the book costs $36 and the postage over $100. Without a doubt, I baulked. Any alternatives/suggestions?

Doug Stewart February 1, 2010 at 3:02 am

I remember going to the local bank with my father when I was about 8 (around 1960). I was very impressed the large building & everything. I asked him how they make money. He explained the spread on loan interest versus interest on savings accounts.

I thought – Wow, there must be a LOT of money involved to pay for such a facility & make a profit based on just that spread.

I never really understood until I learned about fractional reserve banking in this century – though I’d been a libertarian since my early teens.

Steve February 1, 2010 at 7:22 am

I remember the first time I heard about fiat currency. It was a small blip in a government-class textbook. I remember thinking “that can’t be right” and “they can’t just declare something to have value”. It was right around that paragraph that every social studies textbook has on the Fed. The one about scientific management of the money supply, meeting the needs of businesses, promoting economic growth, etc.
I knew my instincts were right back then. I just wish it hadn’t taken me ten years to find out about RP, the Mises Institute, etc.

Deefburger February 1, 2010 at 7:37 am

@Bala

I don’t know if this one in particular is available, but a quick search for Murphy in the Media section here brings up a lot of Murphy. He is a very good lecturer and an entertaining one at that.

You asked a question on another site about “act”.
Good Question! The answer leads to some very interesting realizations about Dasein.

Leanne February 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

Will this be available for homeschoolers to? And, how we will be able to get it?

crmchl February 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

Will this be copyrighted, or will we all be able to download free copies?

Jeffrey Tucker February 1, 2010 at 11:45 am

Yes, on homeschoolers.

Re: copyright. Will the Mises Institute use a government law to achieve a monopolistic position in order to extract money from those who would otherwise be happy to learn from the free delivery of an electronic text that would cost us and them nothing? The answer is no.

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Re: copyright. Will the Mises Institute use a government law to achieve a monopolistic position in order to extract money from those who would otherwise be happy to learn from the free delivery of an electronic text that would cost us and them nothing? The answer is no.

Am I doing wrong anywhere in this sequence?

I mirror this site: everything a complete replica – http://mises2.org.

Obviously over time I add new content to balance out what is going wrong here. But everything about the site, the look, the header, a lot of the content, everything, is an exact replica, visitors to the site would know no difference on my – I hesitate to use that word as there is no ‘my’ in anarchist – … sorry, visitors to the site would know no difference on my entering the home page than being on this one.

Hey, this site is published under Creative Commons, just like, disconcertingly, the Manifesto of the Communist Party ( http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm ). Nothing wrong with this right; it’s just a copy.

Of course, because I would not want my mises2.org being reliant on charity, there will be no giveaways: all literature, copied from your site, will be paid for, I will be pocketing the proceeds.

There is then the problem of my rival site, mises.org wantonly giving away their booty for free, taking my customers, because they’ve completely mis-interpreted free enterprise, so I gather a gaggle of looting file sharers, clever little buggers, to launch a cyber attack to shut this site down.

At which stage, if any, have I committed a moral wrong in the looters world of no IP? Why?

mpolzkill February 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm

“visitors to the site would know no difference”

There would be a huge difference. “http://mises2.org.” would be run by a complete moron.

Eric M. Staib February 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm

This sounds wonderful.

Sounds like my Christmas shopping for my younger brother and cousins is already done for 2010!

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 2:05 pm

But in that above sequence, am I a moron doing anything wrong, mossykill?

jeffrey February 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Mark, while we appreciate your generous offer, a fair warning that maintaining these servers and paying for bandwidth (among a zillion other costs) can break the bank. Nonetheless, if are you willing to do so, everyone would be very grateful.

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

But, again, in that sequence, or any part of, am I committing any moral wrong?

Surely there is an answer.

Beefcake the Mighty February 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Mark Hubbard is the intellectual equivalent of a dirty sanchez.

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Mmm. All the slights made to my intellect, and yet, it appears, no one can answer a simple question. And when you attack someone like this, Beefcake, it carries more weight, surely, delivered from your own name, rather than hiding behind the udders of a mad cow.

It’s a wee way up the thread, so I’ll ask again. Pretend the fate of a free, capitalist world depends on this, because it just might.

Am I doing wrong anywhere in this sequence?

I mirror this site: everything a complete replica – http://mises2.org.

Obviously over time I add new content to balance out what is going wrong here. But everything about the site, the look, the header, a lot of the content, everything, is an exact replica, visitors to the site would know no difference on my – I hesitate to use that word as there is no ‘my’ in anarchist – … sorry, visitors to the site would know no difference on entering my home page than being on this one.

Hey, this site is published under Creative Commons, just like, disconcertingly, the Manifesto of the Communist Party ( http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm ). Nothing wrong with this right; it’s just a copy.

Of course, because I would not want my mises2.org being reliant on charity, there will be no giveaways: all literature, copied from your site, will be paid for, I will be pocketing the proceeds.

There is then the problem of my rival site, mises.org wantonly giving away their booty for free, taking my customers, because they’ve completely mis-interpreted free enterprise, so I gather a gaggle of looting file sharers, clever little buggers, to launch a cyber attack to shut this site down.

At which stage, if any, have I committed a moral wrong in the looters world of no IP? Why?

mSS February 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

STOP FEEDING THE TROLLS!!!

Seriously, every time this guy wanders onto a thread that has nothing to do with IP, you all just egg him on. Just ignore the idiot already.

Andrew February 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

[QUOTE]
There is then the problem of my rival site, mises.org wantonly giving away their booty for free, taking my customers, because they’ve completely mis-interpreted free enterprise, so I gather a gaggle of looting file sharers, clever little buggers, to launch a cyber attack to shut this site down.
At which stage, if any, have I committed a moral wrong in the looters world of no IP? Why?
[/QUOTE]

At the last one. Your cyber-attack would involve bombarding other people’s scarce physical property (the mises.org server) with electrons.

mpolzkill February 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

mSS,

You’re right, of course, and I do 98% of the time. It’s just that the witless monomaniac cracks me up.

Mark Hubbard February 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Andrew, I agree on your point. But for me the attack is not just on a physical server, it’s on someone else’s IP: it’s an initiation of force against both. Though I assume the anarchists only recognise the attack on the physical server – for me, this discrimination they place between tangible property and IP starts to become absurd at this point.

But, more importantly, have I committed a moral wrong before the cyber attack?

Scott D February 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

“I mirror this site: everything a complete replica – http://mises2.org.”

Nothing wrong with that.

“Obviously over time I add new content to balance out what is going wrong here.”

That’s fine, but I’m wondering if you intend to attribute the “new content” you are adding to yourself or someone else. It’s fraud for you to write a Pro-IP rant and claim that Stephan Kinsella wrote it, for example.

“But everything about the site, the look, the header, a lot of the content, everything, is an exact replica…”

Just be aware that if you claim that the staff of the Mises Institute put this page up, you are committing fraud. Be sure not to mislead your visitors.

“Of course, because I would not want my mises2.org being reliant on charity, there will be no giveaways: all literature, copied from your site, will be paid for, I will be pocketing the proceeds.”

That’s fine. Just don’t claim that the proceeds will go to the Mises Institute, or you are again committing fraud.

“There is then the problem of my rival site, mises.org wantonly giving away their booty for free, taking my customers, because they’ve completely mis-interpreted free enterprise, so I gather a gaggle of looting file sharers, clever little buggers, to launch a cyber attack to shut this site down.”

As someone pointed out above, you’ve just committed a crime. Also, good luck getting your content indexed by the search engines in any meaningful way. Or are you also planning to shell out a lot of cash for some black hat SEO?

Deefburger February 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm

“Of course, because I would not want my mises2.org being reliant on charity, there will be no giveaways: all literature, copied from your site, will be paid for, I will be pocketing the proceeds.”

Let us know how much you make from this venture. Your own book too. I wonder how famous it’s making you languishing in a safe somewhere. But hey! It’s valuable right?

I asked my wife who is a CPA what value does IP have in the GAAP rules etc. for tax and accounting purposes.

The answer was simple:NONE except for product actually sold.

Good luck making a buck on mises2.org

Scott D February 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Just to clarify, I used the word “fraud” above in a general sense, not in a strictly legal one, to point out where this scheme implies deception as opposed to honest publishing of written material. Take out the deception (and cyberattack) and the example is pretty weak. Also, the fact that the search engines, a market innovation, serve to weed out sites that publish duplicate material and dishonesty.

Bruce Koerber February 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Alternative Economic Textbooks For All Ages.

I look forward to reading “Lessons for the Young Economist”.

There is another alternative textbook in the Austrian and classical liberalism traditions for your consideration. The choice is yours to study just macroeconomics, “MORE THAN LAISSEZ-FAIRE” (2008), or just microeconomics, “The HUMAN ESSENCE of Economics” (2009), or a combination of both macro and micro, “MACRO & MICRO Economics Renewed” (2009).

These can be used as primary or as supplementary textbooks and you will find that they also serve as a very valuable tool for homeschooling.

Cypeadjuppy January 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I have been seeing a guy, for a while now. He is not my boy friend but we spend a lot of time together.
Problem is he refuses to kiss me. Don’t get me wrong we have done everything else but kiss.
I’m 22 and he is 24, and he says he doesn’t kiss because he did it so much in high school that he got tired of it.
How do people get tired of kissing. I’m desperate, we have had many arguments over the issue and I don’t want to just go ahead and kiss him cause he obviously doesn’t want to and I don’t want to feel like I’m disrespecting him.
I feel we are in the movie pretty women except he’s the prostitute and I’m just the girl, since he won’t kiss.
What can I do?????
I mean is he just afraid of getting emotionally attached if he kisses me? or could he be BI.
I mean a guy at his age should be more mature about things.
Well please help this is really bothering me.

Thanks.

Colin Phillips January 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm

The spam on the comments section is getting creative. Perhaps it is time to consider some form of Captcha?

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: