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First, let me say that the video is delirious, if nothing else because over the many decades I've met libertarians who actually talk and think like these two characters. (Scary, but I've learned to live with it, as a libertarian myself.)

Second, this is a brilliant way to give a higher public profile to Austrian ideas. The fact is, over the last two or three years there has emerged an amazing underground of interest in and activism for Austrian Economics on the internet and in the blogosphere.

It is a fascinating "teach-in," in which non-economists, political news addicts, anti-government "movement" types, and a variety of others everyday are informing about, explaining, or attempting to apply "Austrian" ideas to the current situation.

Some are amateurish, simplistic, confused, or even misguided in mixing together matters relating to religion, ethics, and various cultural biases with aspects of Austrian Economic.

But others are intelligent, carefully reasoned, insightful in their applications of Austrian themes, and frequently clear in explaining things from Menger to Mises to less informed citizens on the internet.

The Mises Institute and Bob Murphy are simply taking this to a "new level" with this challenge to Paul Krugman. If, by some outside chance, Krugman were to accept,this would significantly raised the Austrian profile in the media in general and the internet in particular, world-wide.

If he does not accept this challenge, then this and related videos and internet commentaries will enable more publicity about the Austrian School to the informed (and, yes, the "uninformed") public in the United States, and beyond.

As for Bob's ability to "face" Krugman? Well, many on this site know that he is a well-read and articulate proponent of the Austrian perspective.

And . . . since Bob took Austrian Economics from me when he was an undergraduate at Hillsdale College, I'm confident that he knows what to say!

Richard Ebeling

I am not sure this is a good idea, but I would go and watch at the Mises Institute. Even if the debate is a complete disaster, then it may still be interesting in a car crash kind of way.

You would be surprised, Pete, how many of your professional peers learn much of what they know about e.g. Hayek from public sources such as Wikipedia. Indeed, I've seen a number of them directly grab quotes about Hayek from that entry.

As another example, I would suggest that recent discussions by mainstream macroeconomists of Hayek's Nobel lecture on macroeconomics and the limits of knowledge can trace a causal chain that began with Richard Armey's discussion of Hayek's ideas from that lecture in the widely read Wall Street Journal -- and it was clear at the time that Armey's quotes from that lecture came directly from my widely circulated blog post a week or two before on the Hayekian case against the Keynesian counter-revolution (linked by the widely read conservative blog "The Corner", etc.).

Are academic economists more isolated from the wider intellectual environment than are Supreme Court Justices? I'm not so sure.

Certainly the Nobel Prize in Economics is not completely unconnected with what is happening in the wider world.

Right now "mainstream" economists in Europe are directly forced by the actions and arguments of the governments to deal with the macroeconomic argument for "austerity" -- this is the outside world forcing the issue on economists most of whom otherwise would pretend they don't have answer the argument because they don't take it seriously enough even to entertain (and many of whom would like suppress the professional of any peer who would advance such arguments).

I have trouble thinking of "Austrian economists" who don't report having run into "Austrian" ideas essentially on their own, often before attending University. (Yes, I'm aware of the exceptions).

Yet these "self-starters" have helped create an independent academic tradition. And this process continues.

The principle "spill-over" effect that matters is the spill over among young people with energy, hunger, and flexible minds -- and in un-knowable ways this spill-over changes the profession over time in the turn-over of folks sitting in tenured academic seats.

Pete writes,

"I don't think these sort of activities have positive spill-over effects for those of us focused on the academy. But that is a positive statement"

Heads: Austrian Economics wins
Tails: Krugman Loses

I like this.

If they wouldn't require Krugman to go to Alabama to debate the chances of it happening would be greater.

Non-academic research tends to forget about the sociology of science: it tries to do without the opportunity to exchange ideas with experts, the variety of expertise in the same faculty, the ease of finding the relevant literature, the often tacit knowledge of how to write a paper and make an argument, the feedback in discussing ideas with high level critics. Making research outside the academia is like playing soccer with a broken leg. However, it's worth trying: it's fun. :-)

"I don't think these sort of activities have positive spill-over effects for those of us focused on the academy....I think the PBS video clip on Tullock and voting is fantastic and use it in my classes. "

Sorry, but aren't you contradicting yourself there?

Move it to Princeton. That would be a real coup.

The embedded video is very clever. I laughed out loud a couple of times. I would love to hear this debate. Great post. Great idea.

I think that is is absolutely important to have the intelligent and informed exchange of ideas among and between academics.

But there is another level of discourse in the free and open society, in which public opinion and understanding matter, also.

And in that setting, in our intellectual division of labor, there is a crucial and valuable place for Menger and Mises for "the masses."

During his time, Mises certainly wrote for his fellow economists, for his world of academia -- "The Theory of Money and Credit," "Socialism,"
"Epistemological Problems of Economics," Human Action," "Theory and History."

But he also considered it important to share these ideas in ways that the non-academic, the informed and interested citizen, could understand -- "Liberalism," "Buraucracy," "Planning for Freedom," and hundreds of other articles both when he was still in Europe before 1940 and then in the United States.

The technologies of sharing and spreading information and knowledge have changed, but the relevance of both audiences, I would suggest, has remained the same.

Richard Ebeling

So what is the link to the place (ThePoint) where one can contribute $50 to the growing prize for the NYC hunger program?

I went to and found nothing under "krugman debate" or "krugman murphy".

Are academic economists hermetically sealed from the actual world?

Is it impossible to imagine that Krugman would consider debating Murphy if the Tea Party took over the Congress and the Presidency, and Robert Murphy was made the Chair of the Council of Economics Advisers or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve -- and the NY Times went into bankruptcy and was now edited by Bill Kristol, and Krugman was reduced to blogging at the Daily Kos?

If the power situation and the public intellectual environment changed, you actually can imagine Krugman being the one willing to pay someone to debate him ...

I note that the questions in economic science addressed by Mises and Hayek were shaped by what was happening and what was intellectually popular in their times -- i.e. war socialism, Fabian socialism, Marxism, "under consumption" economics, etc., intellectual movements much more outside of "academic economics" than within it.

Perhaps it is true for the rest of their lives, but both were working on the great debates of their time during their youth.

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