Böhm-Bawerk for the Citizen
JANUARY 26, 2012
Economics is often considered the dismal science. To the average person it appears dry and boring but this should not be the case. While economics is not as dismal as it is often portrayed, it is not something the average person must learn. As Murray Rothbard once said,
It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
In the current world, however, there are fewer excuses for not familiarizing ourselves with economics. This is because, as Peter Boettke often says, while economics is a deadly serious subject, it can explain in simple terms the world around us. Issues such as inflation, the financial crisis, unemployment, unionism, protectionism, taxation, the war on terror, the war on drugs, and more are all tied in with economics and our everyday lives. And as Ludwig von Mises said,
A man who talks about these problems without having acquainted himself with the fundamental ideas of economic theory is simply a babbler who parrot-like repeats what he has picked up incidentally from other fellows who are not better informed than he himself.
In today’s document Mises explains Capital and Interest should be read not only be professional economists, but also by the average person. Capital and Interest is a technical work, but as Mises put it,
Although Böhm-Bawerk’s great opus is “mere theory” and abstains from any practical application, it is the most powerful intellectual weapon in the great struggle of the Western way of life against the destruction of Soviet barbarism.
While our current threats may no longer include Soviet barbarism, technical works in economics are important for any concerned citizen hoping to sound off on our current issues in an informed and intelligent manner. While Capital and Interest may not be the most exciting book on economics it is important and insightful.