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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9337/economic-teaching-at-the-universities/

Economic Teaching at the Universities

January 30, 2009 by

The worst consequence of the proscription of sound economics is the fact that gifted young graduates shun the career of an academic economist, writes Ludwig von Mises. They do not want to be boycotted by universities, book reviewers, and publishing firms. They prefer to go into business or the practice of law, where their talents will be fairly appreciated. True economists must be given the same opportunity in our faculties which only the advocates of socialism and interventionism enjoy today. FULL ARTICLE


Milan January 30, 2009 at 9:48 am

Very good article. It reminds me of how none of the business professors at my university were able to even talk about Austrian Economics. And when you get further into a discussion with them, it comes out that the school does not allow them to! Also, most peoples jobs at universities would be irrelevant if Austrian Economics were advocated.

ken January 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

“precisely because the American Bill of Rights is not merely an ideal, but an enforced law”

This stuck out at me, we need to remember that the bill of rights only reiterates that the fed can’t do certain things and adds some procedural things. The fed is already limited from taking away any rights. The point is still valid however that it is law, not ‘general guidelines’.

Otherwise this is pretty nice; of all my friends who are teachers / currently in college to become a teacher, they are all liberal / very liberal.

And from my experiences especially, you will get shunned for having non-liberal ideas at some point in most major universities.

David Ch January 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

….’They simply do not imagine that any argument could be advanced against the various schemes they are suggesting. As they see it, everybody, without asking questions, must support every project aiming at more and more government control of all aspects of the citizen’s life and conduct. They never try to refute the objections raised against their doctrines. They prefer, as Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt recently did in her column, to call dishonest those with whom they do not agree.’.

this problem is almost universal wherever ideology comes into play. We see it in the global warming, sorry, climate change debate in spades too. Most of the culprits are genuinely sincere in that they believe that they are acting in the best interests of everyone, and because of this ‘purity’ of intent, combined with a faith-based certainty that their ‘solution’ is the right one, they cannot concieve of the possibilty that their certainty is misplaced – so the dissident is dismissed as evil or motivated by ill-will or venality, or vested interests, the mental shutters come down and there’s no getting through.

that old bromide ‘you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts’ comes to mind: ….I rather like HL Mencken’s qualification: ‘you are NOT necessarily entitled to your own opinion: if you havent got the facts straight, your opinion doesn’t count’.

And lets face it: Most of these naievely, earnestly sincere pushers of the party line simply havent got the facts straight.

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

Sound economics is a simple discipline that any 5 years old can master.

1) What you earn fully belongs to you
2) You trade to gain, not to lose

The very fact that economics is teached at the university level and requires a doctorate shows that socialism and government intervention has complicated and mysticized an otherwhize extremely simple science.

If we would live in a libertarian society, nobody would care about macro-economics, accounting, fiscality, welfare, business cycle, national debt, inflation etc. for such things would simply not exist.

For me, economics taught at university is not a real science and is about as worthless as astrology and stupidology.

And in fact, social-economics has proven to be national suicidology.

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

Almost all of economics taught at universities are a form of alchemy in which government is to deprive people of their private properties and private earnings and try to get something for nothing out of it.

Much of economics as taught in universities would be worthless in an austrian world of private ownership and private enterprises.

So I consider university economics to be like religion and not real science like math and physics.

Arend January 30, 2009 at 10:52 am

I Hate Taxes: I think you’re wrong on your take on economics as the two statements you provide. Those are more of the field of ethics (not the kind of ethics that I’m against, but that’s not the point).

Economics is the science that’s studies human action and strives to uncover the implications of the undeniable fact that “humans act”, which make out the structure of social reality. The science is foremostly descriptive and value free, but the knowledge derived of it can of course be usedform an opinion on society and how to act in it.

I think you have a point though with regard to university economics. Philosophy starts where religion ends, chemistry starts where alchemy ends and economics starts where pseudo-economics ends.

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Austrian economics is all about personal ethics of keeping what you earn, not spoliating others and being the most efficient at what you do.

Basic economics is all about looking for your best interests. The fact that it coincides with ethics is irrelevant. Everybody wants to improve their lot in life and it doesn’t take a doctorate in macro-economics to spot a good deal when you see one.

Governmental macro-economics is all about looking for the common good in an alchemical way that dismisses the individual.

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm


I regard economics as the science in which everybody tries to get the best deal out of life as he can.

Economics really is that, the individual trying to get the best deal.

It has nothing to do about analyzing human actions and their repercussion and their social dimensions etc.

That would be more the branch of marketing or in the case of government economics, it would be more the branch of myth.

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm


and I would add, the government starts where the individual ends !

Mike January 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm

“It has nothing to do about analyzing human actions…”


I get what you’re saying, but you really should have found a better way to word it than that.

Kevin January 30, 2009 at 12:50 pm

It is always good to read Mises. He is so right about “established facts and deductive reasoning”, cornerstones.

The comments so far seem to be from those who may be younger by the comments about differences between economics, sciences and various comments comparing and contrasting. If one reads Human Action he or she will quickly learn that economics is a part of human action. Mises covers so many topics so well that it all falls into place as established facts and deductive logic.

For those who want to really expand their ability to fully understand economics and think like an economist (Austrian of course) they should look into taking courses or reading books on logic. Dr. Sennholz (one of Mises’ doctoral graduates) required students to take symbolic logic for a degree in economics. It was very interesting and fit so well with his guidance in understanding and thinking with established facts and deductive logic. Austrian Economics and thinkng with deductive logic allows for one to read differing information such as socialism and see how it cannot work and how it is illogical once one gets to the root of what it is espousing. I suspect most schools do not require logic in any form and prefer to spend useless hours on formulas that are supposed to indicate what will happen or what has happened.

One of the thoughts one can take away from Mises is that he recognizes and is telling us that ideas are the highest form or discussion. Those he is talking about in the article are only wanting to hear their own opinions. Mises examined not only his ideas and others of the Austrian School but all others. That is how he could refute socialism, communism and totalitarianism so accurately and completely. I would venture that not one of the “experts” today could tell us much about Austrian Economics accurately.

If one listens to all the “expert” economist today regarding the current situation it makes this great article by Mises so appropriate. The “experts” and politicians, right up to our new President, speak as though what they are doing and will do is an absolute. When Mises article is read one can’t help but imagine that they were all taught by the very universities, schools, text books and professors Mises describes. What is it going to take to turn the tide to reason and logic and individual freedon?

j January 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I would like to correct a minor error in the following statement: “the Constitution and its amendments grant to everybody the right to think as he likes and to have published in print what he thinks.”

While I agree that all people have the right to think what they like, the Constitution does not grant us anything. All language in the Constitution was written expressly to limit government and to protect the God-given rights of the people.

I Hate Mike January 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm


I bet you can’t give a better example of how to better word it.

And I bet you don’t get it either, you JERK !

I Hate Mike January 30, 2009 at 1:45 pm

What’s the point of analyzing human behavior if it’s not to try and profit from it ?

Those who analyze human behaviors are marketers trying to sell something.

In a sense, we are all trying to sell something or ourselves and we are all analyzing everyone elses behaviors.

But my understanding of economics is to get the most out of life from an individual perspective.

That is work hard, save and invest. It’s really a no brainer. But still too complicated even for Mike to understand.

There is only individuals in life therefore economics is an individual science.

The study of complex human behaviors and macro-economics is useless and pointless in an austrian environment.

I Hate Mike January 30, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Hunters and gatherers of the Paleolithic era knew much more about economics than today’s alchemists in chief in congress and the white house.

They knew they had to hunt the best prey, gather the most food and save for tough times ahead. That there was nothing but labor which could bring wealth and that wealth could not be created out of thin air.

And complex behaviors among men and women changed nothing about the fact that only hard work and savings could prevent starvation.

Hey Mike, is that bad worded enough for your bad mouth ? You JERK !

I Hate Mike January 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm


If you are going to criticize my phraze constructions and choice of words you should at least give a better example of how to better “word” it.

At least I would get some knowledge in return for being insulted.

But if you just want to be a smart ass making wize cracks, then shut the fuck up you jerk !

You have the right to tell me I’m not doing things right only if you offer a better way of doing them.

Otherwhize you are noting but a arrogant son of a bitch !

Mike January 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Ha. Calm down there, pal.

When you say “[Economics] has nothing to do about analyzing human actions…” on Mises.org, the site named after the economist whose magnum opus was called “Human Action,” it makes it look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

pbergn January 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Good article. Very true from my own experience…

The education system serves mainly as an indoctrination machine from where I stand…

Agree with “I Hate Taxes” that there is a whole pseudo-science flourishing around what otherwise would have been very few simple concepts at the core of economics – the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services…

I agree that there is an intent here to further complicate and mystify the subject…

I Hate Mike Very Much January 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm



Again, you’re being jerk.

Post an example of a correct sentence, and I promise I will calm down. Or else shut the fuck up !

I Hate Mike January 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Those who analyze human actions are trying to centrally plan them and it has always failed.

Instead we must take action as individuals to embetter our own life.

This is the sense of human action.

You don’t need a doctorate in economics to understand that each and every individuals take action to embetter their situation and further their own interests.

pbergn January 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

TO: I Hate Taxes and/or Mike

Sorry I.H. Taxes…

Have to go with Mike on this one…

There has to be some analysis done on the human nature and why humans act in a certain way as a better way of understanding the system as a whole – the system which is comprised of multiple spontaneous human interactions (actions), which market essentially is based on…

If we only focus on just an individual action, we risk to miss the broader picture resulting from spontaneous interactions of the many – as a result of shortening our time-horizon or field of view…

It’s like saying let’s only focus on the individual driver, and why and how he/she drives to a place where he/she drives to, or the way he/she drives, thus missing the broader picture of better traffic organization that would serve the best interests of all the motorists comprising a spontaneous system known as traffic…

Kevin January 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm

The request at the blog site is for intelligent and civil commment. I see neither component present in numerous responses. At the same time they fit well within the context of Mises article. These represent huge opportunities to learn and gain understanding of praexeology.

Mike January 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm

FWIW, I agree with h8r regarding the attempts to manipulate human action through coercion.

But come on, man. Economics *is* the study of human action.

kirk January 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Sign the true economics manifesto:
“We, the Undersigned, make this accusation: that you, the teachers of neoclassical economics and the students that you graduate, have perpetuated a gigantic fraud upon the world.”


Bruce Koerber January 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm

January 30, 2009
Alternatives To University Taught Economics.

Ludwig von Mises clearly set forth what economists are to do: “In lecturing and writing books” try to “influence public opinion in order to make sound policies prevail in the conduct of civic affairs.”

Each one of us can aspire towards being an economist in this true sense of being an economist. I am doing what I can to educate others and to influence public opinion by writing books and blog entries.

There are many alternatives to what appears to be an obsolete university system of education, especially with regards economics. Subjectivist economics is more readily available elsewhere.

Good luck in your studies and in your influence on others!

Kevin January 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Bruce, well put.

I No Longer Hate Mike, I Still Hate Taxes, LOL ! January 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

“But come on, man. Economics *is* the study of human action.”

War is also the study of human action, psychiatry is also the study of human action, politics is also the study of human action.

Are all those things the same thing as economics ?

I Hate Taxes January 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Mike et al,

Economics is the study on how individuals take action to preserve or increase their wealth and well being.

Fair enough ? Right choice of words ?

Mike January 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm

“Economics is the study on how individuals take action to preserve or increase their wealth and well being.”


“War is also the study of human action, psychiatry is also the study of human action, politics is also the study of human action.

Are all those things the same thing as economics ?”

They’re subdivisions of economics, sure. There’s a reason economics is called “applied psychology.”

Arend January 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Hey, are you hating Texas or Taxes? There is a difference you know.

By the way, Mises didn’t really believe that you can derive an scientific or objective ethics from praxeology. For that one has to turn to Rothbard, although as far as I’m aware he didn’t really write much on the topic.

PS: It’s not really my style to criticize someone on his attitude. And that’s why I’m not. My only point would be that you’re taking this article by Mises the wrong way, and this wrong way doesn’t consist much of science let alone economic science. No offence intended.

Arend January 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

@ Mike who said “They’re subdivisions of economics, sure.”

What’s the punishment for ‘economic imperialism’ nowadays? Such kind of statements is really offensive to liberal ‘scientists’. Hehe.

I Hate Taxes January 31, 2009 at 9:22 am


I Hate Taxes but I Love Texas !

I don’t think that economics = praxeology.

My point is that economics is at the individual’s level as opposed to society as a whole.

I believe that any study of economics above the individual is pointless.

The study of social action, group action etc.

For me, economics is the study of self-interested individual action.

I cannot concept economics as the study of soul-less groups.

Individuals are looking after their own best interests and it doesn’t take a doctorate to understand that.

I just don’t see the point of turning economics into a complicated social science when in fact it’s really simple at the individual level.

Simple individuals probably know much more about real-life “economics” than Paul Krugman, Hank Paulson and Helicopter Ben.

Because for those high flying officials, the individual does not exist, the individual disappeared in the confused clouds of macro-economics and it’s all about the GDP, interest rates and all artificial makeups.

I also think that macro-economics goes hand to hand with astrology and witchcraft.

Fephisto January 31, 2009 at 10:39 am

HA! That picture is the best! I got this by e-mail, but I wasn’t expecting Groucho to be on there!

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