Perhaps the greatest contribution of socialism to economics was to cajole Austrian economists into understanding just how different their theoretical approach was from the main stream of economics. At first, Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek thought they were on the leading edge of that main stream. But the two major debates that they engaged in in the first half of the 20th century — over business cycle theory and regarding calculation in the socialist society — both proved vexing. They should have won both debates. They had the better arguments. But in both cases the majority of economists sided against Mises and Hayek.
Islam was founded by a successful merchant, and the religion was largely pro-market until the colonial disease of socialism infected the Muslim world. The Koran calls the merchant the most honorable man, saying that nine of ten of God’s bounties come from trade.
I, for one, am sick of the Robin Hood myth and movies. Or I thought I was. On the latest episode of Mark Kermode’s BBC film reviewpodcast, there’s a fascinating discussion with Russell Crowe and Billy Bragg about the upcoming Ridley Scott film Robin Hood, starring (and co-produced by) Crowe. The new movie is a departure from other versions, with Robin Hood involved in the Magna Carta and also the Forest Charter which, “In contrast to Magna Carta, it provided some real rights, privileges and protections for the common man against the abuses of the encroaching aristocracy.” One line I like from the Forest Charter:
Any archbishop, bishop, earl, or baron who crosses our forest may take one or two beasts by view of the forester, if he is present; if not, let a horn be blown so that this [hunting] may not appear to be carried on furtively.
The discussion about this with Crowe and Bragg (9:00 to about 32:10 of the podcast) goes into how the Norman aristocracy unjustly invaded the land rights of the common people, which was redressed to some degree by the Forest Charter. Sounds interesting.
Reason.tv interview with Harvard professor and libertarian Jeffrey Miron about his forthcoming book Libertarianism, from A to Z, which I just downloaded on the Kindle app on my iPad. Miron appears to be a consequentialist, but any new voice championing liberty is to be welcome; with the new Woods book, this one, and the forthcoming Libertarianism Today by J.H. Huebert and The Conscience of an Anarchist by Gary Chartier, there will be a wealth of great new introductory material available this year.
Bonus podcast pick: Scott Horton’s absolutely riveting interview with Peter Lance about terrorism, the FBI’s incompetence, and related matters.