Dr. Prentice served as the Chief Macroeconomist at the U.S. Department of Agricultureunder Presidents Carter and Reagan. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the U.S. Department of Treasury under President Clinton. PauI earned his B.A. in Mathematics, and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics, from the University of Connecticut. In addition to teaching Economics, Math, and Science at The Vanguard School in Colorado Springs, Dr. Prentice currently serves as professor of economics at Yorktown University, senior fellow at the Independence Institute, president of the Pikes Peak Economics club, board member of the Limited Government Forum and the Urban League of Peaks Pike Region.
What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
About 1/2 of my non-working life is spent on liberty-oriented projects or reading liberty-oriented books. Liberty is my main passion and hobby. Other hobbies include sports (mostly watching my boys play baseball), and camping-hiking-fishing in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado (which brings peace to my soul). I also enjoy music and the performing arts.
What drew you to the Austrian school and to the Ludwig von Mises Institute?
I was maleducated in Keynesian macroeconomics in graduate school during the 1970′s. After that, I observed that reality was orthogonal to Keynesian theory. As a trained scientist, I began my own personal search for Economic Truth. Oddly enough, that began when a friend handed me the greatest economics textbook ever written — disguised as a fictional novel — Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It crystalized for me what was happening to the economy during the late 1970′s. That led me to study Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. Then, the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 led me to study Supply-Side economic theory. Eventually, the logic of markets — what Mises called “praxeology” — drew me to the Austrian School and eventually to the Mises Institute. My journey was helped along the way by numerous friends and colleagues.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
I assume you mean my inspiration as a professional economist? Right now, I am studying economics from a biblical perspective so I would have to say Jesus Christ. There is an incredible book, Jesus: The Unknown Economist, by Charles Gave. It is eerily Austrian in its economic perspective. Of course, any list of great inspirational economists would be incomplete without Milton Friedman, FA Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Fredric Bastiat.
Do you feel that there is hostility against capitalism because of misconceptions? If so, how do Austrians overturn such misconceptions?
The hostility is only partly due to misconceptions, many of which are due to improper or unclear definitions. Austrians can overturn this by clearly defining terms and aruging from a position of intellectual clarity. The other part is not so easy to overturn — it is a deep philosophic difference in the very meaning and purpose of life. What is the Nature of Man? What is the value of the individual vis a vis the collective? What is the proper relationship between the governing and the governed? These questions are part of an eternal battle between liberty and slavery, between good and evil, or if you will, between human and anti-human forces.
Do you have any new works on the way?
I am researching for a book on Biblical Economics. Also, I would like to write an economics textbook for use in mainstream academia, but based on Austrian economic principles. There is so much bad economics out there that it is horrifying.
What kind of impact do you hope to make with your work?
Save the world! Actually, contribute in some small way to the understanding that you cannot disconnect political liberty from economic liberty. You cannot have a command-and-control economy and maintain a free society. That is why I left the business world to become a professional educator.
Are there any words of wisdom you wish to pass onto the next generation of Austrian scholars?
Don’t cede the definitions and assumptions of the Statists. We were born to Liberty — it is our birthright. Whether you believe that comes from our Creator or from our Humanity, it is our birthright. Austrian economc theory concludes that free markets and voluntary exchange create the most peace and prosperity. We do not assume that, we conclude it. This is true economic science, not disguised political opinion as in Keynesian-Marxism. We are not the ideologues, they are. We have proved the world is round. It is simple but not simplistic — we are right, and the Flat-Earthers are wrong. One thing I like about the Mises Institute is the idea that it is our task to keep the light shining in the darkness. You cannot extinguish the dark, but you can illuminate it.
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