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I was completely unsuprised when the New York Times wrote back in August that Paul Ryan is a fan of the economist Friedrich von Hayek, a member of the Austrian school of economics. After all, the Ryan budget takes from those mooching poors and gives to the rich übermenschen who've earned the upward redistribution of wealth because CAPITALISM! Ayn Rand couldn't have designed a more sociopathic budget herself, and we're talking about a woman who thought there was something praiseworthy about William Edward Hickman.

But in the same way that libertarians generally espouse Rand's ideas about the evilness of traditional values like altruism and equality, they've also decided to endorse yet another fantasy world where the rules are made up and the facts don't matter. If you don't know much about the Austrian school, they're so far up their own asses that they think Milton Friedman is a socialist. That's not even the looniest part about the Austrian school, the favored economic system of most Randists and Libertarians.

If you're like me, you may have found yourself yelling some version of "there are four lights!"  or "Two Plus Two Equals Four!" at republicans on television over the past few months. You may have loved Bill Clinton's mathtastic takedown of the Republican party at the DNC. But Paul Ryan's economic theory is much harder to rubble, because it relies on special magic math that is immune, in the eyes of its beholders, from any kind of outside criticism.

That's because the Austrian School under Ludwig von Mises ran into a pretty big problem. They just knew their economic theories were right, but there was all this pesky data that got in the way which said the opposite. The facts didn't say what von Mises and the other Austrian economists wanted them to say. In the 1940's, Von Mises had a brilliant realization. The problem wasn't with their right, perfect, and holy economic ideas. The problem was that the scientific method doesn't work! And thus, with the sweep of a pen, Von Mises created the "Praxeological Method" where the math always says exactly what the Austrians want it to say.

You may have heard all your life that 2+2=4. It may be widely taught that 2+2=4, but friends, this is just a socialist conspiracy. 2+2 does not equal four. According to Austrian Economics, 2+2=Potato.

This is why I'm looking forward to the debate tonight. I can't wait to see what Joe Biden does when he gets his hands on Ryan. Austrians tend to become enraged when people say things they don't like and can't just easily ignore.

Paul Ryan is no different. Remember how Paul Ryan got testy because of a question he didn't like? Most people who like Hayek get pretty testy in response to people who disagree with them, because they're intellectually lazy. They're used to a fantasy world where reality is whatever they say it is, not a place of hard facts and evidence.

And the Obama Administration has already noticed this fact about Paul Ryan's character, as you can see from this new video titled "Paul Ryan's Rhetoric Can't Hide Reality."

Now it is my hope that we'll see plenty of epic takedowns of Paul Ryan tonight, but we're not going to see much engagement with the foundations of Paul Ryan's beliefs. It's hard to make debating economic models interesting, and there are more politically effective ways of attacking Paul Ryan.

So since Joe won't do it, I thought I'd just post this diary to explain why everything that Paul Ryan believes about the economy is silly and wrong. Follow me over the great orange bear claw for my rundown of Austrian Economics, Paul Ryan's economic worldview.

Stepping into a world of crazy where 2+2=Potato and Milton Friedman is a godless socialist, we find Ludwig von Mises(1881-1973), and Friedrich von Hayek(1899-1992), the giants of the Austrian Economic school. Both of these men went through hell in the first half of the 20th century.

Much the same way as Ayn Rand's childhood in Lenin's Russia impressed on her the idea that governments are evil, the same thing was impressed on Hayek and Mises. They watched as the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, as chaos broke out in the Balkans, as the unfair conditions placed on Germany after the First World War led to the rise of Hitler, and as Hitler used his position as head of the government to turn the industrial might of Germany against millions of innocent people.

These were the first people who looked at Communism and Fascism and saw no comprehensible difference. And yes, I know that communists argue for a worldview where all property is held by the state supposedly for the people, and a fascist state is the union of corporate and governmental power for the service of a strong leader and the ruling Moneyed class, but Von Mises and his kind didn't. They're all Statists and they're all just as bad, in his view. Remember that we're dealing with a magical world where 2+2=Potato, and a socialist is anyone who thinks that a government might have done something right at some point in its history.

Governments, to these men, were absolutely irredeemably evil, and were so corrupt that even when they tried to do good, they would do evil. And that emotional idea is the bedrock on which all libertarian economic views are built. If I was born to a similar socio-economic class in Austria in the 1880's instead of America in the 1980's, I might have emphatically agreed with them about the evils of government.

After living through a world war, watching his country fall apart, and dodging nazis for a few years, Von Mises migrated to the United States in 1941. Here, he wrote his magnum opus, Human Action.

Von Mises wrote Human Action in response to a problem with his economic model. There was a huge counterexample to the idea that all governments are evil even when they try to be good. The heroic counterexample to that emotional European theory is us. We plucky Americans over here in the good old US of A with our New Deal, our Tennessee Valley Authority, Works Projects Administration, Rural Electrification, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation were the monkey wrench in the Austrian system that broke the whole model to hell. We proved quite clearly that good government, well run, could be an integral part of a powerful economic engine that turned the United States from a second-rate backwater into the most powerful economy that the world has ever seen. The United States was the counterexample that completely shattered his economic theories.

Those facts don't matter, though, because if you're Von Mises you just know that government is a great and irredeemable evil, and you don't need no stinking facts. Von Mises decided that it was time to fix those pesky little "facts" that didn't agree with his theory, so he created a magical world where the numbers always say exactly what the Austrians want them to say. Where no research is neccesary. Where the only experiments are thought experiments. And that's what he wrote about in Human Action.

Get ready to wade through the thickest bog of complete bullshit you've ever read. Von Mises writes in a way that is so dense, so hard to get through, that it's almost as if he made it intentionally difficult just to keep people from realizing that he's making it all up as he goes along.

In historical experience we can observe only complex phenomena, and an experiment is inapplicable to such a situation. Sometimes it is said that a mental experiment (Gedankenexperiment) could take its place. However, a mental experiment, logically considered, has an entirely different meaning from a real experiment. It involves thinking through the implications of a proposition in the light of its compatibility with other propositions that we accept as true. If these other propositions are not derived from experience, then the mental experiment makes no reference to experience.
To translate, If I create a thought experiment that isn't based on any evidence, then you can't use evidence to disprove it, because I just made up a rule that says so! Instead, you have to have to use all this other bullshit I made up to disprove the new bullshit I just made up! And you can't use anything as part of an argument that isn't bullshit that I already agree with. Suck on it, socialists!

And then there's the "Action Axiom." I don't want to inflict more Von Mises on you, so here's some Murray N. Rothbard talking about the Action Axiom and Praxeology.

Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human
beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals. This concept of action contrasts to purely reflexive, or knee-jerk, behavior, which is not directed toward goals. The praxeological method spins out by verbal deduction the logical implications of that primordial fact. In short, praxeological economics is the structure of logical implications of the fact that individuals act. This structure is built on the fundamental axiom of action, and has a few subsidiary axioms, such as that individuals vary and that human beings regard leisure as a valuable good. Any skeptic about deducing from such a simple base an entire system of economics, I refer to Mises's Human Action. Furthermore, since praxeology begins with a true axiom, A, all the propositions that can be deduced from this axiom must also be true. For if A implies B, and A is true, then B must also be true.
Did you see what he did there? If you disagree with me, just go read Von Mises' Human Action. Your disagreement is a sign that you don't understand! Furthermore, because human beings act, everything I say is true! Furthermore because the action axiom is true, the praxeological method is true because the action axiom is true because the praxeological method is true because the action axiom is true because the praxeological method is true because the action axiom is true because the praxeological method is true because the action axiom is true... et cetera ad nauseum. Austrian Economics is the most epic case of circular reasoning ever constructed. A therefor B therefor C therefor D therefor A.

The best part: we KNOW that this is all bullshit, and we can prove it with facts and evidence (which is why facts and evidence are illegal under the praxeological model.)

From the viewpoint of von Mises human action cannot be studied with experiments, which means the entire field of psychology goes right out the window. Take the example of the 'Bystander Effect'. This principle states that people are less likely to offer aid to someone obviously in need when other people are present. Studies have been done on this and there is the famous case of Kitty Genovese. Under a praxological  view this entire principle goes out the window simply because I wouldn't stand by and let something like that happen, would you? No? K, then the bystander effect is false because our thought experiment says so.

The Milgram Experiment, too, goes right out the window because I would never shock a human being to death just because a lab scientist told me to. Would you ever shock a human being to death because a lab scientist told you to? I mean, sure, the Data says otherwise, but you and I just did a thought experiment, and because we didn't use any evidence, that means you can't use evidence to disprove us! See how easy it is to completely disregard the data?

I'm going to go write a horribly written and mind mindbogglingly dense book where I use unnecessary wordiness to hide the fact that our new theory about human behavior is complete bullshit! And if anyone ever disagrees with you, tell them to read my horrible book!

Under the Austrian model, informed people are incapable of making huge world-destroying mistakes. Evidence completely disproves that idea but again, you can't tell them this because "the mental experiment makes no reference to experience." Because Von Mises and Hayek don't use evidence, you can't use Kitty Genovese or the Milgram Experiment as a rebuttal.

Von Mises and Hayek created a world where math does exactly what they want it to do. To break it down even further, Praxeology is based on the following three things:

  • First, it rejects the scientific method, instead deciding that you can just make shit up.  You have to look at what human beings would rationally do, and that thought experiment will tell you all you need to know.  It's true as long as it agrees with the "Action Axiom" and all the other bullshit already made up by Austrians. Hence, 2+2=Potato if Von Mises and Hayek say so.
  • Second, all economic models, all statistics, all data is automatically flawed and untrustworthy, because otherwise it's really really bad for the Austrian argument. They have this whole spiel about human action being complex that flies in the face of what we know about psychology.
  • Third, testability, the foundation for all intellectual discourse, is impossible in economics. Never again would Von Mises have to hear those horrible words "If that were true, would work differently."
  • And that last point is the most important. You cannot test the Austrian theory, because the Austrian Theory is automatically Correct According to the Austrian theory. A therefor B therefor C ... therefor Y therefor Z therefor A. Or to condense it. A, therefore A.

There's more to this citadel of cow manure, but the good news is that it's all built on the toothpicks of anti-empirical, flimsy, emotional thought experiments. You don't have to attack the Action Axiom or any of Von Mises' economic ideas to disprove the Austrian school. All you have to do is prove that the intellectual theory it's built on is nonsense, and the rest falls to shambles, and that is absurdly easy to do.

All you have to do is refuse to accept any argument that isn't based on hard, empirical evidence. Throw up a wall of reality, and prevent them from bringing anything across that line unless they use empirical evidence to prove it. Say "If it's true, there will be evidence to back it up."

Austrians never want to talk about whether Praxeology and the Action Axiom actually work under the scientific method, because the position is entirely indefensible. So if you get into a debate with an adherent of the Austrian school about these principals, they're likely to rage quit, and run into the night screaming about socialism (just like Von Mises did when his arguments couldn't stand up to the facts.)

That's a true story by the way. Quoting Milton Friedman on Von Mises, who he knew personally:

[It] happened at the initial Mont Pelerin meeting when he got up and said, "You're all a bunch of socialists." We were discussing the distribution of income, and whether you should have progressive income taxes. Some of the people there were expressing the view that there could be a justification for it.

Another occasion which is equally telling: Fritz Machlup was a student of Mises's, one of his most faithful disciples. At one of the Mont Pelerin meetings, Fritz gave a talk in which I think he questioned the idea of a gold standard; he came out in favor of floating exchange rates. Mises was so mad he wouldn't speak to him for three years.

I'm not joking when I say that Austrians will throw epic temper tantrums when you ask them to rely on facts or data, or bring in any kind of evidence that they don't automatically agree with.

Here's the issue: When someone has created a special world where they're always right and 2+2=Potato, you can't actually sit down and debate them like you would anyone else, because according to their own rules, they're right. And if you're not careful, you'll end up playing by their rules.

And here's where it gets fun. All of Austrian economics is built on a logical fallacy, called begging the question. In a court of law, it's objectionable: "assuming facts not in evidence." When you start an argument assuming that you're already right, and refuse to let people question whether you're right or not, you're begging the question.

OF COURSE, 2+2=Potato if you make up a magical world where 2+2 always equals potato. OF COURSE, Milton Friedman is a socialist when you define socialist as "anyone who thinks that governments aren't irredeemably evil." OF COURSE, Von Mises is right when he creates a special world in which he's always right.

If you do this to another human being you're in a relationship with, it's a kind of emotional abuse referred to as gaslighting. The abuser makes up a fantasy world where they're not really an abuser.

Don't even bother talking about the Action Axiom or the value of money. It's all bullshit because it's built on bullshit, and you're never going to beat them if you follow them into Nutty Narnia. You have to stand at the door to the magical wardrobe, point to it, and explain to them that they've departed the real world and need to come back to reality if you're even going to begin to have a discussion with them. Yes, talking lions may exist in Narnia, but we're not having a debate about the thought experiment that is Narnia, we're having a debate about the real world where lions are quite incapable of discussing the finer points of moral philosophy.

You wouldn't argue about the Garden of Eden with a creationist, because once they've gotten you to the point where you agree that The Garden of Eden exists, you've already lost the debate.

But that's where Austrians want to start the debate about libertarian economics, with you already assuming that economic models don't work, that facts are irrelevant, that all governments are evil, and that everyone who disagrees is a socialist. If you let them pull the wool over your eyes, you'll start the argument agreeing that 2+2=Potato.

The Austrian Theory is a fantasy where the rules are made up and the facts don't matter. It is the young-earth creationism of the economic world, and isn't the sort of thing that intelligent people should actually believe, but the man who would be our Vice President has bought this nonsense hook, line and sinker.

I wish that "Facts matter" wasn't a mind-blowing revolutionary statement, but that seems to be where we are in the world today. We live in a world where facts matter, where data matters, the conservative movement has decided that reality is whatever they want it to be. That's incredibly dangerous.

Luckily the Obama Administration has noticed. Mitt Romney came to the last debate pretending to be a different person from the man he's been for the past two years. If Paul Ryan tries the same nonsense tonight, I think Joe will be ready for it. They're not going to let Paul Ryan hide from reality. And I don't think they'll let Mitt do it again.

This Diary was originally almost twice as long. I had a special section on Arguing with Austrians, which I've condensed into the previous few paragraphs. If you'd like to read a second diary on debating people from the Austrian School, let me know in the comments.

10:04 PM PT: Wanted to add a word of thanks to the Rescue Rangers for putting this up on Community Spotlight. Thanks!

Originally posted to Writing by Will McLeod: A Better World is Possible on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 12:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They fancied themselves as big heads (13+ / 0-)

    They sure do sound a lot like many "fiscally libertarian" types.  

    When people try to tell them that it's bullshit, they say that someone just doesn't get it, because they aren't smart enough.

    I say, "No, I don't get it, because it's bullshit."

    Incarceration Nation has a Jail Jones to feed its Imprisonment Addiction

    by otto on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 12:23:06 PM PDT

    •  or if you are supposed to believe it nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glitterscale
    •  This. (7+ / 0-)
      I wish that "Facts matter" wasn't a mind-blowing revolutionary statement, but that seems to be where we are in the world today.
      •  This diary reminds me of the Bush aide (0+ / 0-)

        (probably Rove) who made the remark about the "reality-based community". He said his side made their own reality while the reality based community spent its time trying to make sense of the reality it perceived . . .

         I'd never heard of this Australian School and am delighted to be introduced to it as one of the pseudo-intellectual underpinnings of the Rovian right wing.  I do think the right wing has been successful in breaking down the shared consensus about meanings. authorities and how things work  that are so important  to shared cultural identity.

        In another diary here just today I commented on how they have managed to undermine the agreed upon meanings of words in order to make constructive communication between those with differing views mostly impossible.

        Thanks so much for the diary, very informative.

        Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth -- B. Dylan

        by ponderer on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 10:17:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hayek and Keynes knew each other. (18+ / 0-)

    Keynes was older, better-known, and more important than Hayek. It is fair to say that Hayek was impressed by Keynes. It also fair to say that Hayek, Mises, and Friedman were professionally jealous of Keynes. But to achieve fame and fortune they had to come up with worthy ideas. They did not want to be alcolytes of Keynes and merely extend his ideas. Instead they determined to develop their own, contrary ideas. The problem with this approach is that Keynes' ideas are true, and there are no valid contrarian ideas. But in the field of economics fantasies that were consistent within their own frame of reference were useful to the snakes who advised governments or ran schools of economics. Because of this Hayek, Mises, and Friedman gained professional luster that they did deserve much as Paul Ryan has done today.

    All of this demonstrates that economics is a sorry excuse for a professional field of study, and that the Austrian School is a joke.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 12:38:13 PM PDT

  •  You're on target with the Garden of Eden riff... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, 207wickedgood, caul, George3

    A priori "knowledge" and all.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 12:54:45 PM PDT

    •  my favorite hayek story... (8+ / 0-)
      Joan Robinson (1972 Richard T. Ely Lecture):

          What was the state of orthodox opinion when the world was struck by the great slump? First of all, there was the famous Treasury View of 1929…. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was Churchill; he could not bring himself a second time to defend deflation and sound finance. It was left to the officials to produce the argument for the Treasury. Their case was very simple. It was based on the idea that investment is governed by saving. If the government borrowed £100 million to spend on public works, there would be £100 million less for foreign investment. The surplus of exports would fall by a corresponding amount. There would be a transfer of employment but no change in the total. It is not fair to put much weight on this. The Treasury, after all, was required to say something and this was what they thought of to say. The fact that it appeared to be a respectable argument, however, certainly was a symptom of the state of opinion at that time….

          While the controversy about public works was developing, Professor Robbins sent to Vienna for a member of the Austrian school to provide a counter attraction to Keynes. I very well remember Hayek's visit to Cambridge on his way to the London School. He expounded his theory and covered a black board with his triangles…. R. F. Kahn… asked in a puzzled tone:

              Is it your view that if I went out tomorrow and bought a new overcoat, that would increase unemployment?

          "Yes," said Hayek, "but," pointing to his triangles on the board, "it would take a very long mathematical argument to explain why."

      A standing army is like a standing member. It's an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure. Elbridge Gerry - Constitutional Convention (1787)

      by No Exit on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:46:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  rec'd for using the work plucky!! :-) (14+ / 0-)

    Seriously, OllieGarkey,  thank you and I appreciate the time it took to put this together and share with us. It is extremely informative and sheds a lot of light on Ryan's thinking and worldview...well other than the fact that I think he's a clinical narcissist and the sooner November 6th comes the sooner he can get into some therapy. That's just my strictly civilian opinion however.

    Warning: That light at the end of the tunnel just might be an oncoming train.

    by history first on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 01:34:19 PM PDT

  •  Kicking Austrian Ass on Daily Kos (8+ / 0-)

    since 2010, thanks Ollie.

    2+2= potatoe

    Ha ha ha ha hahahahahhahahaha

    TnR

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 01:50:06 PM PDT

  •  MOAR! (8+ / 0-)

    im surrounded by them!

    The Republic has fallen.

    by Dude1701 on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 02:03:58 PM PDT

  •  One of the magic tricks of the social sciences (12+ / 0-)

    has always been in how you define your terms.  Economists, it seems to me, have long been the worst of the bunch in regard to the sin of just defining away the problematic nature of your theory.

    I think Economists only know true Scotsmen.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 02:41:26 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely. (7+ / 0-)

      I think Political "Science" might be a bit worse than Economics, but only because they do exactly what the Austrian School does by completely ignoring inductive reasoning for pure A Priori deductive reasoning. When they use evidence at all, it's usually cherry picked to support a favored theory.

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 03:23:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a political professional, the WORST experiences (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey, George3, madhaus, shaharazade

        I have had discussing politics have been with poli sci academics. Truly.

        It is unbelievable how far up their butts they can get their heads: and the upside-down worlds they have found in there.

        And--with a handful of exceptions I can think of--they have utter contempt for actual political strategy, policy development, and governance. Wouldn't dirty their hands with it.

        Have a flagon and discuss the news of the day at the sign of the Green Dragon, or hear me roar on Twitter @MarkGreenFuture

        by Dracowyrm on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 11:55:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Economics is a social science that believes it is (8+ / 0-)

      mostly hard math.

      BZZZZZZZZZ!!!

      This is especially the problem with the Austrian school.  These people are certain that everything reduces to math because they assume that consumers usually (if not always!) act in their rational self-interest.  Yeah, that's verified, right?

      Sociology first; math second, if not third.

      Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

      by Leftcandid on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 06:51:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Old Joke (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OllieGarkey, Sinan

      Scientist, engineer and economist are stranded in the desert with only a sealed can of juice between them.

      Engineer: We can wedge it between rocks and use another rock to split the seam.

      Scientist: No. No. you might spill some. We can rig a series of lenses from our eyeglasses and use sunlight to burn a hole into it.

      Economist: No, it would burn and anyway the problem is much easier than that ... just assume I have a can opener.

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:48:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Old Joke (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OllieGarkey

      Scientist, engineer and economist are stranded in the desert with only a sealed can of juice between them.

      Engineer: If we wedge it between these rocks, we can use another rock to split the seam.

      Scientist: No. No. Some will spill. We can rig a lens from our eyeglasses and use sunlight to burn a hole in the can.

      Economist: No. No. It might burn. Anyway the problem is much simpler than that ... just assume I have a can opener.

      It would be funny if it weren't a reply in this diary.

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:52:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shouldn't it be... (11+ / 0-)
    ...  2 + 2 = Kartoffel?
    I mean, it is the Austrian School after all.

    Nicely done.  ;-)

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 02:45:43 PM PDT

  •  I'm completly humbled (9+ / 0-)

    Man, there are a lot of smart people here. Thanks for the post.

    The Ghost of Tom Joad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jVZHCUbS4U

    by Illinois IRV on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 05:29:45 PM PDT

  •  von Mises worked for Mussolini imitator Dolfuss (12+ / 0-)

    who stomped on Austrian trade unions. Yes, he was anti-Nazi and Jewish origin  but certainly a fascist of another stripe.

  •  Call him Congressman Ryan. He hates it! (6+ / 0-)

    Americans hate this horrid Republican Congress.

    Excellent post. Austrian economics misspelling correction suggestion was Faustian economics.  Spellcheck got it right.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 05:37:06 PM PDT

  •  One thing that is different about the Austrians is (5+ / 0-)

    they do reject mathematical models. They decry them. They feel that you cannot predict human action through equations.

    Anyone wishes to respond???

    •  Individual or in aggregate? (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, OllieGarkey, George3, madhaus, semiot, offgrid

      Mathematical modeling of individual behavior is dicey at best. Mathematical modeling of millions of people's aggregate choices isn't perfect, but within a margin of error, it's got value. What else is (classical) economics? We don't estimate one individual's change in driving behavior when gasoline goes to $5/gal, but we do estimate (rather well) what will happen to the total number of miles driven, how many people will switch to public transit where available, etc.

    •  It's not equations, and don't let them use the (4+ / 0-)

      word equations. Then bring out the Milgram experiment and say that it's impossible to discuss human behavior without evidence and study.

      Explain to them that while you have math, they have magic, and unless they're willing to provide some hard evidence for their claims, you're not willing to take their ideas seriously.

      Don't let even let them pretend that their ideas are serious. The tactical application of complete derision to a silly idea a la Joe Biden is what you want in that kind of debate.

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:17:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This may be the origin of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid, OllieGarkey

        epistemic closure. The Austrian School is the 20th Century version of Scholasticism. The counting of angels on the head of a pin. The victory of deduction over observation. It is easy for pseudo-intellectuals to manage in their minds.

        Having said this however modern philosophy (since the Enlightenment) has shown that there are problems with what we can know, experimentally or otherwise. Relying too heavily on models economic, political, or social has gotten us in real trouble in the recent past. The new method of Behavioral Economics shows great promise by rejecting the mistakes of previous schools of economic inquiry and asking about what real humans do. This is done through experiment and observation.

        One problem that affects hard atheism shows is an egocentric conviction that it has the answers. Science of all sorts needs to avoid such certitude or fall in to the trap of the Austrian School. The Austrians have no doubts. True science and philosophy of all types can not indulge in such thinking (or lack of).

  •  i would be interested in the longer diary (9+ / 0-)

    I am constantly getting well meaning austrians on my blog.  I would love a better strategy to keep them from overwhelming my comments section with their talk about gold standards and goverment destroys wealth talk.

    Our Dime: Understanding the Federal Budget

    by Dustin Mineau on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 07:45:54 PM PDT

  •  Another Austrian wing (5+ / 0-)

    wants nothing to do with Ryan (or Biden).  The folks who supported Ron Paul, that is.

  •  Very nice summary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devis1, KJG52, caul, OllieGarkey, George3

    Please write the longer article on how to argue with these people, because I've never been able to break the hermetic seal on their stupid.

    I remember reading some of this crap in school. (von Mises I think.) My macro professor handed it out as a some sort of optional reading material without first telling us what it was. I read some and tried to understand, read some more, and it Just. Didn't. Make. Any. Sense.

    So I asked the professor, who said something along the lines of, "that's because it's all gibberish". I got a little upset, not because of him not telling me that in advance, but at myself because I wasted so much time on it.

    My only problem with macroeconomics was the incredibly lame jokes. Maybe it was just my professor, but referring to the seminars he attended at the University of Chicago as "liquidity preference functions"? Seriously? And that was actually one of the better ones.

  •  Brain Science and Why Facts Do NOT matter (5+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry to dump my reference file on you, but it's late.

    “The Science of Propaganda”
    Great forum with George Lakoff and others.... view or listen online:

    http://www.c-spanarchives.org/...

    The book:
    http://www.powells.com/...

    "What Orwell Didn't Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics"
    Edited by ANDRÁS SZÁNTÓ

    "As Lakoff tells us,

    'A few words in political language can activate large portions of the brain: War on Terror, tax relief, illegal immigration, entitlements (turned to conservative use by Ronald Reagan), death tax, property rights, abortion on demand, cut and run, flip-flop, school choice, intelligent design, spending programs, partial birth abortion, surge, spreading freedom, private accounts, individual responsibility, energy independence.

    When they are repeated every day, extensive areas of the brain are activated over and over, and this leads to brain change. Unerasable brain change…. And every time the words are repeated, all the frames and metaphors and worldview structures are activated again and strengthened -- because recurring activation strengthens neural connections. Negation doesn't help. "I'm against the War on Terror" just activates the War on Terror metaphor and strengthens what you're against. Accepting the language of issue and arguing the other side just hurts your own cause.'

    Drew Westen, a psychology professor and political consultant, supports Lakoff's statements as well as his contention that in America these techniques have been exploited far more intelligently by the political right than by the center and left, which are hampered by what Soros calls "the Enlightenment fallacy" -- that is, the fallacious assumption (dating from the 18th century) that freedom of thought and speech will ensure that reason will prevail. The media and the Democratic leadership, Westen says, are unwittingly "smuggling Trojan horses into popular discourse" by parroting terminology created by those in power, "essentially advertising the 'product line' of the Republican party and selling its 'brand.' "

    From Barnes & Noble book review by Brooke Allen:
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/...

    George Lakoff, an author and professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley who calls himself a "cognitive activist," says this: "One of the fundamental findings of cognitive science is that people think in terms of frames and metaphors – conceptual structures. The frames are in the synapses of our brains – physically present in the form of neural circuitry. When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts ignored."
    In other words, forget winning on the facts or the science. It's all about the story. And once stories take hold, they're hard to dislodge. "
    http://www.alternet.org/...

    ----------------------------------
    "It goes against our nature; but the left has to start asserting its own values"
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    SNIPPET:
    . . . . . Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology. It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight that now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change.

    Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires.

    A host of psychological experiments demonstrate that it doesn't work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information that confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.

    SNIP

    Our social identity is formed by a mixture of values. But psychological tests in nearly 70 countries show that values cluster in remarkably consistent patterns. Those who strongly value financial success, for example, have less empathy, stronger manipulative tendencies, a stronger attraction to hierarchy and inequality, stronger prejudices towards strangers and less concern about human rights and the environment. Those with a strong sense of self-acceptance have more empathy and greater concern for human rights, social justice and the environment. These values suppress each other: the stronger someone's extrinsic aspirations, the weaker his or her intrinsic goals.

    We are not born with our values. They are shaped by the social environment. By changing our perception of what is normal and acceptable, politics alters our minds as much as our circumstances.

    Writing in The New York Times in 1971 and surveying the problem of intolerance and violence worldwide, Dr.[Paul] MacLean found that “language barriers among nations present great obstacles.”

    “But the greatest language barrier,” he concluded, “lies between man and his animal brains; the neural machinery does not exist for intercommunication in verbal terms.”
    Neuroscientist Who Devised ‘Triune Brain’ Theory

    ~
    This Is Your Brain on Metaphors
    By ROBERT SAPOLSKY
    SNIP
    "Jonathan Haidt, of the University of Virginia, has shown how viscera and emotion often drive our decisionmaking, with conscious cognition mopping up afterward, trying to come up with rationalizations for that gut decision. .. . ."
    SNIP
    "Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.” He meant talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world."

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/...
    ~
    Upper-class people less empathetic than lower-class people: study
    http://www.rawstory.com/...

    "The rich are different — and not in a good way, studies suggest
     The 'Haves' show less empathy than 'Have-nots'"
    msnbc.msn.com
    "The rich are different and not in a good way, studies suggest

    by Brian Alexander  •   Aug. 10, 2011  
    " Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.

    In fact, he says, the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class "ideology of self-interest."

    “We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it’s the same story,” he said. “Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”
    SNIP
    There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal.

    The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was."

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...
    •  Lakoff was dead, 100% wrong when we (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OllieGarkey

      consulted him for his ideas on messaging for environmental organizing in the San Francisco Bay Area...where he lives!

      And we're not talking small stuff, either. More like dunce-cap stuff.

      So personally, I wouldn't expend a lot of energy paying attention to his opinions. He has Academics' Disease.

      Have a flagon and discuss the news of the day at the sign of the Green Dragon, or hear me roar on Twitter @MarkGreenFuture

      by Dracowyrm on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:17:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Examples? Details? Diary? (3+ / 0-)

        This sounds intriguing, actually, knowing what didn't work that he thought would work.

        In capitalist America, bank robs you!

        by madhaus on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:21:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's an example. (0+ / 0-)

          He argued that "growth" is seen as a positive by voters, and environmentalists should avoid arguing against it.

          At the time--and still, for the most part--limiting growth (meaning, speed of new housing and commercial development) is the single most persuasive environmentally-related issue of concern for Bay Area voters, hands down. Nothing else is even close.

          Have a flagon and discuss the news of the day at the sign of the Green Dragon, or hear me roar on Twitter @MarkGreenFuture

          by Dracowyrm on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 10:23:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Limiting growth should be phrased as (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OllieGarkey

            limiting sprawl....as weeding out the cancer that sucks the life out of the Bay Area..........

            Growth is a positive thing to the human subconscious and psyche.

            I believe Lakoff was suggesting that there be better shading...........

            Growth can be framed as improvement, bringing more light and life and possibility to the community, more benefits other than square footage and profit for real estate industry.

            You can win by saying 'limit growth' only if your audience already knows and deeply appreciates what you mean already.

  •  Contrast Ryan, Austrian School (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, caul, madhaus, SolarMom, offgrid

    First I have to add that in my decades of rubbing elbows with corporate leaders......They're always telling themselves  and each other that two plus two equals potato. One retired (female) executive told me that before the  Latin American debt crisis some decades ago, when everyone else was buying into the mirage. . . . when she said she didn't see the basis for all the excitement, she was condescended to and told that she just didn't understand.
    As if she were the stupid one.

    OK. Contrast Ryan, etc. = George Soros and his mentor:

    George Soros' mentor was the #1 opponent of the Republicans' dearest mentor, and Republicans believe that chaos and total degeneration will result if we don't follow THEIR path.
    Both mentors were reacting to the Nazis and Stalinism in their day, but they came to OPPOSITE CONCLUSIONS about what we should do.

    Bear with me, because I'm not good at explaining things.

    Soros is a loud and active advocate of Open Society, democracy. For example, when the Soviet Union crumpled he formed institutions for training future leaders in democracy, in making the transition out of communism:

    The Open Society Institute works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Read that Mission Statement and realize that to the Republicans it's a shot across the bow, a real threat to their way of gaining and keeping power.

  •  This is a terrific diary. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, OllieGarkey, madhaus, SolarMom, offgrid

    Awhile back, I compiled a big gallery of graphs and tables on my blog to create a 1-stop source for debunking supply-side economics and Republican economic lies about the Obama Administration.

    I'm going to add a link to this diary so people can access your demolition of the Austrian School of Magic Market Pixie Dust.

    Also, I like potatoes.

    Have a flagon and discuss the news of the day at the sign of the Green Dragon, or hear me roar on Twitter @MarkGreenFuture

    by Dracowyrm on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 11:44:31 PM PDT

  •  Von Mises and Hayek we're and remain cranks.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    that anyone has ever considered their work creditable, in any sense, is purely a function of the "Cold War" revanchism of the mid-20th century. The "Right" needed an economic theory that would justify a return to Laissez-Faire and their mystical devotion to the gold standard, voila the "Austrian School."

    The analysis you have put forward is very good, I enjoyed it immensely.

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:01:21 AM PDT

  •  Economics as told by the Brothers Grimm... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, madhaus, offgrid

    fairy tales.

    Mitt Romney treats people like things. And he treats things - corporations - like people.

    by richardak on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:23:30 AM PDT

  •  A small aside on the Kitty Genovese Case (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus, OllieGarkey

    Most of the popular information on the case was wrong; later research presented a very different overview of the case vs the popular view of the case which most people cite.  However, the use of limited data is quite common in psychological theory; for example, Freud based the entire theory of the Oedipus Complex upon one pt, a young boy named Kleine Hans (Little Hans) and his attachment to his mother.  The Electra Complex was theorized without any pt data at all.
    Here are some critiques of the case
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/...
    http://www.openculture.com/...
    http://ezinearticles.com/...
    http://www.thepsychfiles.com/...

    •  Thanks for mentioning that, if you hadn't I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OllieGarkey

      would have.  Several people called the police over Kitty Genovese's attack.  The error was made by the newspaper editorialist, who moralized over his view of what didn't happen, and didn't do his fvcking job of finding out what actually did happen.

      In capitalist America, bank robs you!

      by madhaus on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:24:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ryan's a fan of FANS of Hayek (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sewaneepat, OllieGarkey

    These guys never do all the hard, boring work of sifting through the literature and tedious debates.

    They just have to have the right friends and know what those friends' intellectual friends like, and then they like that.

  •  The Austrian "School" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thor Heyerdahl, OllieGarkey

    In this example, "school" doesn't refer to "a place of learning", but rather the other definition "a bunch of very dumb animals milling about", i.e. fish.

  •  Wow - thanks for this diary! nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey
  •  Awesome diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    Love the young-earth creationist analogy. Arguing with those fools is truly a 2+2= potato experience. I actually had one who alleged that radioactive decay was unprovable because he didn't understand the math and besides math isn't in the Bible, so there.

    Just shoot me.

    More Arguing with Austrians, please!  It's truly an inter-disciplinary sport these days!

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:29:35 AM PDT

  •  When you base your method on believing that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    people always act in rational ways toward defined goals, it seems obvious that you are basing your method on an patently false premise.

    Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human
    beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals. This concept of action contrasts to purely reflexive, or knee-jerk, behavior, which is not directed toward goals

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:39:27 AM PDT

  •  My understanding is that they acknowledged (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, offgrid

    a proper if regretable role for government in two areas. One, for national security, and two, in cases of extreme economic or other crisis. I also think that Hayek believed in the necessity of some social safety net, just one far smaller than the one we have today and only for those truly unable to care for themselves. I think you may be ascribing today's radical, distorted and simplistic misinterpretation of the Austrian School by teabaggers and wingnuts to their ideological idols.

    In any case, the school itself seems to me above all to be undermined by the worst intellectual flaw of all, which as you said is to put one's premises before what the evidence shows, and to then fit that evidence to one's presumptions, such that one is never wrong. I.e. none so blind as those who will not see.

    Credible ideas respond to and evolve with reality. Non-credible ones stay locked in time, as wrong today as they were when they were first thought up.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 07:00:42 AM PDT

    •  Absolutely. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie

      Credible ideas are based on reality. You look for reality and let it shape your ideas, and then in turn use what you know about the world to build a better one.

      The ideas of most conservatives are attempts to warp reality just by playing pretend really really hard. There are plenty that don't buy in to the really silly stuff but they're not the ones running the republican party right now.

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:07:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Conservative" isn't a very useful term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey

        It can and does refer to and mean so many things to so many people as to be like calling something "good" or "better"--a subjective standard that doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny.

        I have a certain amount of respect for classical, Burkean conservatism, and for "conservatism" as a way of approaching certain things in a "do no harm, look before you leap and if it ain't broke don't fix it" sort of way. These seem to be reasonable to me. But conservatism that is really reactionism, regression or repression by another name, or parasitic and sociopathic corporatism calling itself conservatism, I have no use for, and don't really consider them to be conservatism at all, but ideological cover for organized theft and oppression.

        One of our challenges is to retake the ideologic ground and recast our true ideologic debate as being between progressive liberalism and classic conservatism, and let the crazies and corporatists fightit out for the scraps. I.e. between two different views of freedom, justice, fairness and equality and the proper role and scope of government in securing them.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:39:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I really like this comment a lot. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie

          If you ever write a diary about this, send me a kosmail, and it's got my Tip and Rec.

          I think you're spot on here.

          An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

          by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:42:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have such a long backlog of diary ideas (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OllieGarkey

            in my head I'm afraid I'll never get started on any of them. Between being an anal-retentive perfectionist and dreading the inevitable need to "babysit" my diaries to respond to comments, I keep putting them off. But I'll certainly keep you in mind if I ever diary this or a related topic.

            And thanks for the kind compliments. :-)

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 04:46:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  good point about that fuzzy term n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  More, please! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dracowyrm, OllieGarkey

    Saw a diary about the Austrian school, thought "Hmm, this should be good," then saw it was by OllieGarky and thought "Yes, this will be very good!"

    And it was very good. Hit the old nail on the head, they are living in a self created fantasy world, like conspiracy theorists, where it all makes sense as long as you redefine "sense" to mean something else.

    I would love to read more tips for arguing with these folks. Most of them are not stupid. They are almost all intellectually vain though. I try to attack the roots of the mind set, pointing out how inconsistent and self serving it is, how and really introspective and smart person sees that, and how foolish they look to other smart people when they embrace a theory that is that juvenile.

    "Austrian economics? You mean that debunked theory designed to make stupid rich people feel good about themselves? Why would I want to hear about that? It's a very silly theory for silly people."

  •  Excellent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    What is missing from today's economic debates is the history of the philosophy of economics which almost always points to very smart people making shit up without any data whatsoever. Your excellent post proves this point.

    Do facts matter anymore?

    by Sinan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 08:51:53 AM PDT

  •  Pure Enlightenment Rationalism. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, offgrid

    The truth is to be logically deduced from self-evidently true propositions. Its center was France.

    The other Enlightenment school, empiricism, came out of the great Scottish universities. To these wily Scots, data was very important. Put me down for an empiricist.

    "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-900-8

    by Kimball Cross on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 09:39:57 AM PDT

  •  Had the misfortune to be a colleague (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dracowyrm, OllieGarkey

    of Murray Rothbard once upon a time.  Absolutely a vicious human being and intellectually dishonest to boot, although this piece pretty well identifies the intellectual dryrot that is Austrian economics.  
    My favorite Murray story, during the 1992 Presidential campaign, he wrote an oped for the LA Times claiming that after the election that horrible DFH Hilary Clinton would be back to wearing her college radical jeans and tshirt outfits.  Since Hilary was a corporate lawyer before Bill ran for Pres, this is a perfect example of how detached from reality the Austrians are.

    Reporting from Tea Bagger occupied America

    by DrJohnB on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 10:09:41 AM PDT

  •  thanks for this post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    The Von Mises quote...

    However, a mental experiment, logically considered, has an entirely different meaning from a real experiment. It involves thinking through the implications of a proposition in the light of its compatibility with other propositions that we accept as true. If these other propositions are not derived from experience, then the mental experiment makes no reference to experience.
    ...is a really good example of something that SOUNDS like it might make sense, but is really little more than a nice dodge of empirical reality (or anything that argues against what you are trying to put forth).  Sure, "thought experiments" can be useful and valuable, but at some point they have to be checked against some sort of reality or actual condition.  But when there are no external checks, let alone boundaries to assumptions, well, ideas start to run wild.  What's interesting is how certain economic theories are built upon completely unfounded assumptions about human behavior (like the idea that all people are rational, self-interested, etc).

    The whole "praxeology" thing takes it to another level.  This statement is rich:

    Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals.
    That one looks like it means something, but there's not much there.  Basically, it says that people consciously work toward goals--as if that's some major statement about human behavior.  It's so vague it's almost meaningless.  What people?  What are "goals"?  Whose goals?  Is this all they do?  More importantly, based upon what evidence did they come to this super vague conclusion?  It all comes out of assumptions and thin air.  Yet, certain folks felt this was such an important statement that they called it an axiom.  Funny.

    This is another good statement that looks like it means something important:

    In short, praxeological economics is the structure of logical implications of the fact that individuals act.
    Ya, so individuals act.  That's about as insightful as saying that people suck in oxygen and expel Co2.  It SOUNDS like it means something, but there's nothing there.  Completely vague, and they move forward and build their theories on little more than assumptions about what people do.

    Anyway, thanks again for this post and the way you approached this issue.  One of the major problems with a lot of econ theory is that far too many people accept it and champion it without looking closer at some of the basic assumptions upon which everything else is built.  Granted, not all economists think like the Austrian school folks, so that's good news.  It's important not to lump them all into one big camp--there are plenty who are actually more open to looking into actual human behavior rather than basing everything they say on assumptions, made up stuff, or guesses.

    In other news, you ever read the work of economic anthropologists?  You might dig some of what they do.  Check out: David Graeber and Keith Hart for starters.  Hart has some new work about "the human economy" that's good stuff.  Graeber is well known for his connection to the Occupy thing, but his anthro work on money, economics, and value is really good.  He can write too, which helps.

    •  I'll absolutely look them up! (0+ / 0-)

      Economic Anthropology sounds absolutely fascinating, but is it Economics from an anthropological perspective, or Anthropology from an economic one?

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:03:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good question. Economic anthropology... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is an anthropological take on economics.  Economics has been a key focus of anthropology from day one (subsistence, money, trade, barter, commerce, etc).  For early anthropologists such as Bronislaw Malinowski, the whole question of "economic man" was a central question he sought to explore and challenge.  Anthros tend to have a very different take on many aspects of economics, money, value, etc....based upon fieldwork among actual living populations.  There has been a long-running debate between anthros and econs about things like human nature, the whole question of "self-interest," and the meaning and origin of money, among other things.  Unfortunately anthropologists aren't exactly all that well known (mostly their own fault because not too many write for wider audiences these days), so a lot of people haven't heard too much about their take on economics.  Folks like Graeber and Hart have worked toward changing that.  Personally I think that dialog and some sort of collaboration between anthros and econs is vital, since they each bring something important to the table (the anthros bring empirical research and experience with actual human communities, and the econs bring a solid approach to large-scale or "macro" issues).  

        Oh, full disclosure: I am currently a grad student in anthro, focusing on economic and ecological issues in my research.  So if there seems to be a bias toward anthropology, well, that explains it.  I am one of "them"!!

        PS: sorry for the long-winded comments.  I blame academia.

      •  PS: I think you'll really like (0+ / 0-)

        Graeber's book on Debt.  You can a summary/early work in progress of the book from 2009.  It's a PDF, about 25 pages.  The actual book was published in 2011.  Anyway, here's the summary:

        http://theanarchistlibrary.org/...

        •  Thanks for both of your comments! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ethnografix

          I'm going to check this out, it really does seem absolutely fascinating!

          An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

          by OllieGarkey on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 04:51:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This was AWESOME!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey, Roger Otip

    My brother-in-law is incredibly intelligent but runs around in his "One Lesson" t-shirt with Hayek's mug on it.  How do people believe in such fantasy?

    Ollie, please do the diary on arguing with one of these people (like my BIL).  I'd love to read it and make use of it next time I debate him from my modified-Keynesian perspective.

    Thanks!

    "The political system, including elections, is carefully managed to prevent the threat of democracy."  ~Noam Chomsky

    -7.38, -6.97

    by cotasm on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 10:56:37 AM PDT

  •  Please do post the Arguing with Austrians diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 11:39:20 AM PDT

  •  This is good work. Thank you for it! :) n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
    Economic
    Left/Right: -7.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

    by Bud Fields on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 11:47:34 AM PDT

  •  "Trade unions=Fascism"=Steady Work Post WW2 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    Once Fascism was beaten (mostly) in WW2, the powers that be weren't about to concede any power to unions or anyone else. So they pivoting to make the claim that unions and school lunches would inevitably lead to new death camps.  And the intellectuals that made a living pushing back against fascism simply rewrote their screeds to attack anything the slightest bit socialist, which was steady work with a nice payday for them.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:23:20 PM PDT

  •  Communism (0+ / 0-)
    I know that communists argue for a worldview where all property is held by the state supposedly for the people
    Didn't Marx argue that under communism, a truly classless society, the apparatus of the state would wither away? See stateless communism.
    •  Right but there's Marxism, Leninism, Maoism (0+ / 0-)

      Bolshevism, Stalinism, and I'd even say Castroism.

      There are so many different kinds and flavors of what we call communist that I was just going for the general principal of what we've actually seen, which is central planning and centrally controlled state capitalism.

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:34:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Best anti-Austrian blog extant: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    nothin' to see here folks, just a massive labor uprising.

    by WesEverest on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 12:51:34 PM PDT

  •  Most liberatarians are.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    ..what I call "Trojan Horse Republicans".  In fact they are actually more sneaky and dangerous than the current Republicans or the TeaParty types. The TeaParty types are actually upfront in their naive radical views. Libertarians like to hangout with the cooler "Democrat" kids melding in with their apathetic views towards radical social and religious topics, but are far more radical in their journey eradicate progress made in this country since the 1900s. Keep in mind that the infamous "47%" Romney video espouses views which are quite common amongst libertarians.

    •  Oh absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

      They're not even friendly to democracy, because they see it as just a step away from Communism. They really do want to shrink the state to the point that it doesn't exist anymore and then defend their homes with their guns.

      Because moving back to the dark ages of roving war bands is progress!

      An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

      by OllieGarkey on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:36:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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