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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises was born 129 years ago today on September 29, 1881. It is no exaggeration to say that Mises was one of the greatest economists who ever lived. His treatise on economics, Human Action, published by Yale University Press has influenced (and is continuing to influence) some of the best economists in the world since its publication in 1949.

He was also one of the most passionate advocates of liberty in the 20th century. He actively fought for liberty even in times where the prevailing views were just the opposite. His fight against socialism led him to demonstrate not that socialism was flawed in the incentives it created (it was, as he was fully aware) but that it was impossible because it could not achieve the material well being it promised without rational economic calculation, which cannot occur without market prices. He resisted Keynesianism, stating that Keynes was simply a prophet of inflation and an apologist for existing policies, at a time when Keynes dominated macroeconomic thought.

Mises holds an important place here at FEE. Leonard Read quickly adopted him as FEE patron saint of economics. Later in his life FEE even paid him a salary. He gave many lectures and speeches in Irvington and even on the road for FEE. Today’s document is simply a short letter from Mises to W. M. Curtiss where he gives the title of a lecture he would soon give at FEE, The Market Economy and Its Social and Political Consequences. FEE played an important part in Mises time in America but more importantly he played an important part in the early days of FEE.

Download the April 7, 1966 Letter from Mises to Curtiss here.

  • Nicholas Snow is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kenyon College in the Department of Economics, and previously a Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University Economics Department. His research focuses on the political economy of prohibition.