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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8196/austrian-consensus-to-save-the-world/

Austrian Consensus to Save the World

June 14, 2008 by

The Copenhagen Consensus convenes every four years. Here’s their 2008 ranking of the most cost-effective solutions to world challenges. I wonder what the Austrian consensus would be to cure the world’s problems. Anyone care to offer a list of ten?


Andras Ludanyi June 14, 2008 at 9:48 am

If we had one, that would say only one thing, that we are not Austrians at all. Austrians believe that no man has omniscience, omnipresent and no man is able to determine what are the most urgent needs of the world. In the absence of perfect knowledge, the market trough the price system is the only one who can tell us that information. Austrians are from the real world not from a land of fantasy.

Mike June 14, 2008 at 11:15 am

Andras makes a very good point, of course. So how about we start off by abolishing those institutions which are part and parcel of fantasyland? Central banking, fiat currency, the UN, the IMF and the World Bank, the OECD and, oh yes, nearly forgot, the State.

Brent June 14, 2008 at 11:47 am

The top ten world problems:

1) Widespread Acceptance of Public Schools
2) The United Nations
3) The World Bank
4) The International Monetary Fund
5) The Military Expeditions of the US Government
6) The European Union
7) The US Government’s Federal Reserve
8) The World Trade Organization
9) The Mainstream Media in Western Europe & U.S.
10) The Belief that Democracy Makes Right

Libertas est Veritas June 14, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I like the attitude towards money: “would cost just $60 million per year”. Just $60 million? What a bargain!

SE June 14, 2008 at 1:20 pm

1)-10) Democracy and the widespread acceptance of a Democratic State

Andras Ludanyi June 14, 2008 at 1:28 pm

That attitude towards money is present only when they spend others people money. Politics and those in power are willing to sacrifice integrity, justice and principles in order to make money for them self, they worship they own money and would do anything to protect it, but they see other peoples money as trash, something they can spend as they wish without thinking about the consequences, without understand what they are doing.

Most of those thing on the list are noble if we forget that the results will be something different, that there would be unintended consequences and that we would achieve exactly the opposite we are aiming for.

Charity is probably the best business we know about but only if its voluntary, division of labor and knowledge is the only way a man can help his neighbor, the only way society can exist and the only way society going forward on its path of development. End the most efficient environment for division of labor and knowledge is the free market, the world has one too many problems to solve than the available resources thats reality, we can make countless lists with very urgent problems, but non of those list will change the world or solve the problems, the only way to do that is to find new ways to use our resources more efficiently and to find way to employ resources we was unable before, and non of those can be achieved by making some grand plans and lists nor by spending other peoples money, they can be solve and will be solve just as many other problems in the history in the very moment when we reach the point of development where we can use our resources efficiently enough to apply to those problems because those problems was just about so urgent that they became the most important thing to solve.

Before that, we can solve some of them but we will create other problems, we will open new holes and some of them will be even worse than those we fix before we really ready to do it. And the market trough the price system is the only thing which can tell us that we are ready to do it without creating new problems.

pete June 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

I would consider the following are the main issues in our societies in that order:

1) moral ‘decay’ – personal responsibility has been almost vanished by legislation together with the personal freedom
2) abstractions – attachment to words that does not mean anything: country, nation, patriotism, social welfare etc.
3) money – the fractional reserve system & governmental monetary cartel

Basically everything can be tracked back to the first one (inluding the 2nd and 3rd)

Joshua Katz June 14, 2008 at 5:48 pm

No, we aren’t omniscent, and yes, value is subjective. Nonetheless, I think a list of 10 is certainly possible – 10 ways in which we stop pretending that men are omniscent and that value is objective. Here’s my list of 10 first steps:
1. Legalization of competing currency
2. Removal of the corn subsidies
3. Ending ethanol (yes, it’s important enough to span two elements)
4. Ending of government-funded schools (as an intermediate step, there will be a widespread agreement to allow those in need to attend for free.)
5. Elimination of standing armies
6. Ending of feudal priviledge, such as feudal rents.
7. Legalization of competition in service provision
8. An indepedent, non-governmental judiciary
9. Repeal of all trade agreements, to be replaced by this agreement: “Citizens may trade with each other.”
10. Removal of special priviledge for unionized labor.

josh m June 14, 2008 at 7:07 pm

“6. Ending of feudal priviledge, such as feudal rents.”

‘Feudal privilege and rents’ meaning property taxes and licensing for business, correct?

Joshua Katz June 14, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Yes, property tax and licensing for business are the most blatant forms of feudalism at present, but I’d also include subsidies and “anti-trust” activities, which we know are conducted on behalf of businessmen who “pay their dues” against those who got arrogant and didn’t give the government their tithe.

TLWP Sam June 14, 2008 at 9:50 pm

I don’t know if it’s funny or sad or what to blame Democracy for the current woes of the world? Gee, isn’t Democracy a good thing if it goes closer to preventing arbitrary rules and decisions that go hand-in-hand with a Dictatorship? Or is a case that actually yes – arbitrary rule is good – the owners of the business built it so they can pretty much do what they want if they can get away with it – the employees are there only for employment, to say workers can demand voting rights and displace bosses and rules on a majority whim is a gross violation of property rights? If Austrian did displace the governments of the world and the power balance was replaced by private entities like the Italian City-States then this is good? Aw, if you find a particular City-States, its okay, they’re small and it’s easy to move to another just the way Leonardo da Vinci did? Certainly I don’t ‘Revolutionary Theory’ – after all if workers really disliked the owners’ rules that much that they rose up in violence and overthrew them and took the business as their own that’d usually be considered a grossly violent criminal act.

Andras Ludanyi June 15, 2008 at 1:25 am

Mises was in favor of Democracy, but let me quote Hayek because in this few words he managed to put the wisdom of classical liberal (and Austrian) thought: “It is not who governs but what government is entitled to do that seems to me the essential problem.”

Democracy is nothing but a peaceful method to change the government, it is not a way of governing, subsequently the problem is not democracy, the problem is in unlimited government.

My subjective problem #1 (I won’t make a list because everything on that list would be nonexistent if there is no #1): The fiat money and central banking (the enabler of unlimited government).

Todd Herman June 15, 2008 at 1:28 am

The trick that the powers played on us is that we have been deceived into volunteering to join a private system of socialism (and private law) by fraudulent adhesion contracts that government courts elect to assume are valid. Of course, they have been bought… the whole system has been bought to make us more perfect serfs for the New World Order parasites. http://www.prisonplanet.com

A more just system ought to respect the following rules. How about seven rules:

1) No aggression is ever permitted. Self-defence and mutual aid is always permitted.
2) Accidentally vicitimizing an innocent equals to aggression. Victimhood and its probability ought to be minimized in all ways possible. All victims must be made as whole as possible.
3) If a conflict should arise, mutual assent among the parties to an agreeable method of resolution is the only way a problem is to be solved.
4) Ficticious entities are just that: imaginary. They do not exist, cannot act and thus cannot be treated as having any rights whatsoever. Human beings have rights and no group of human beings has any more or any less rights than a single human being.
5) No human being can be held as surety for another human being (or a fiction for that matter) unless clearly, publicly (or privately if a matter is purely private) and unequivocably states it.
6) Any contractual conflict in process of being resolved must be explicitly validated (unless explicitly assented to by all parties) as one that meets the basic rules of a good and enforceable contract: full disclosure, capacity of parties, lawful object, consideration, and others.
7) All people have the right to enter or leave any relationship or society that they desire, subject to agreements they have clearly, deliberately and freely made.

If just one of these was widely expected and respected the world would be a vastly better place.

I favor the simpler approach espoused by Richard J. Maybury:
1) Do not encroach upon others
2) Do all that you have agreed to do

That really is how it should be… simple.

Andras Ludanyi June 15, 2008 at 2:22 am

2) Do all that you have agreed to do

I agree, but we must take into account that the future is uncertain and that any contract or agreement which takes place in the future is based on our predictions and it’s not perfect. So the “Do all that you have agreed to do” works only for really simple and straightforward things. But I agree that we should try to do all that we have agreed to, and if it is clear that we can’t than work with the other party of the agreement to do the best we can. Agreements are based on plans, and plans are dead unless they are dynamic unless they constantly change as we are able to make better predictions about the outcome. Many times conflicts arise because dead plans and consequently not fulfilled agreements.

Miklos Hollender June 15, 2008 at 7:54 am


I almost agree. Except: country, nation & patriotism aren’t empty words I think. It’s rather that the state is a parasite upon a nation, trying to turn the love of country into the love of state, and often it succeeds. But that doesn’t mean that loving one’s country & nation is pointless. It’s just not the same as loving the state.

Andras Ludanyi June 15, 2008 at 10:38 am


Country = State territory (jurisdiction).

Nation = High frequency of exchange (goods, thoughts – knowledge, cultural artifacts and even genes).

Patriotism = Favor to exchange (material and spiritual) with the members of your nation (and country) even if there is a more efficient way to achieve your goals.

I agree, none of those are empty words but most of the time people use those words without knowing their simple and emotionless meaning.

Ned Netterville June 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

Personally forswear the use of force in the conduct of all our affairs, including those conducted by our agents. This done by sufficient numbers would effectuate the elimination of taxation, and thereby the state, and war, and corporations, and democratic predation, etc., etc., etc.

Ned Netterville June 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

Personally forswear the use of force in the conduct of all our affairs, including those conducted by our agents. This done by sufficient numbers would effectuate the elimination of taxation, and thereby the state, and war, and corporations, and democratic predation, etc., etc., etc.

Bruce Koerber June 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Narrowing it down to one ‘cure’, one scientific application, I would suggest the following:
That economics and ethics become understood to be inseparable.

Of course this then becomes a scientific challenge but not one that is unresolvable since we are, after all, scientists. Those who can accomplish this will be authors of benefaction.

David Ha June 16, 2008 at 7:16 pm

I work at a public school in Los Angeles (LAUSD, the nation’s 2nd largest school district), and I believe that as long as we have state controlled education teaching the kids to believe that we need more state control in our lives, we will always have problems with statism. Public schools are the #1 most evil instituion in the world.

Dr. Mark Thornton June 16, 2008 at 7:26 pm

I have to say the suggestions have been great and I happen to agree with most of them and clearly think that all of the suggestions rank far better than anything the so-called experts recommended.

Andras Ludanyi June 17, 2008 at 4:37 am

David Ha,

“Public schools are the #1 most evil institution in the world.”

…well I don’t know, Jefferson built a public university, Mises and all the Austrians learned in public schools and universities… the problem is not about public schools, the problem is about central government control. A public school controlled by politicians, that is the problem. They should be controlled by their independent faculty every public school independently (Mises wrote that at the time when he studied at the University of Vienna, the university had 100% autonomy it has even an own police and the regular government police wasn’t allowed to enter the University) and the parents and kids must have a choice to chose the school to approve or to disapprove the school because they are the consumers of the schooling services and as Mises teaches us the consumer must be sovereign on the market.

Voluntary financing of public schools is compatible with the philosophy of liberty, government funding and government control is not.

Anyway I agree that public schools in the current form are evil.

Jack Maturin June 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm


Make Hans-Hermann Hoppe world president with total power, light the blue touch paper, and then stand well back.

Ok, the ‘world president’ thing and the ‘total power’ thing aren’t exactly in the proper Austrian spirit, but he’d only be in power for about six days, after sacking every parasite in the world and dissolving all state borders, and then I’m sure he would sack himself as his last act just before midnight on day six.

And on the seventh day, he would rest.

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