The Essential: Ludwig von Mises

by admin on 10/10/2015 11:37 AM

FEE is happy to present the Essential series, five free ebooks collecting the key works of five great freedom philosophers: Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, F.A. Hayek, and Frédéric Bastiat. In each of these compact anthologies, you will find a powerful case for liberty.

But the ideas within are not mere fodder for debate. Like all great sages, these authors offer true wisdom that can inspire you and benefit you personally in your own life. Here is a discussion of just a few of the included works. We will review these to help us understand how the government intrusion into health care has decrease medical quality and decreased access.

The Essential Ludwig von Mises

An essential feature of money prices is that they share a common denominator, so they can be subjected to arithmetic. Entrepreneurs can use them for cost accounting, and to determine if their investments resulted in profit or loss. The great economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) identified such “economic calculation” as the key characteristic of the market economy. “Profit and Loss” (which is the name of an included essay) give the entrepreneur a simple metric that communicates how much his or her rearrangement of production has either boosted or impaired consumer welfare.

As Mises brilliantly demonstrates in “Planned Chaos” (also included), there can be no economic calculation under socialism. This is because there would be nothing to calculate in the absence of money prices, which presuppose market exchange and private property. Without profit and loss, socialist planners are economically adrift at sea without a compass.

Also featured is “Liberty and Property,” a speech in which Mises presented the most important features of free market capitalism. In order to earn profits and avoid losses, entrepreneurs must strive to arrange production so as to please consumers. Thus in the market economy, consumer wishes are the guiding stars of production. Mises called this “consumer sovereignty.”

Moreover, the serious money is to be made by serving mass markets. Therefore it is the average, not the elite, consumers who most sway and are served by the market. Capitalism, as Mises argues, means “mass production for the masses” and widespread, ever-rising prosperity for humankind.

Socialism is no substitute for capitalism. And neither is the “middle road” of “interventionism.” Every market intervention by the government harms the general public by countermanding the orders delivered by the sovereign consumers. If the government tries to address the ill effects of intervention with further intervention, the maladies will mount and elicit ever more intervention until every corner of the economy is subjected to government control. Thus, “Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism,” as Mises titled another included essay.

The Essential Ludwig von Mises

  1. Liberty and Property
    2. Profit and Loss
    3. Planned Chaos
    4. Middle-of-the Road Policy Leads to Socialism
    5. The Place of Economics in Learning

Read more: In the market economy, consumer wishes are the guiding stars of production.

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Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.

– Ronald Reagan

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