It's one thing if these people could argue toe to toe with Congressman Paul about the regression theorem, the proper methodology for a science such as economics or the damage that Fed money printing does to the structure of capital in an economy, but they can't. So they put on a carnival act of words in fear that if they actually challenged Congressman Paul on his well grounded and deep economic understanding, their confusion about basic economics would be laid bare for all to see.McArdle has not responded in full to the three questions I placed in my post, however she sent out a tiny tweet to me. She thumbs:
@wenzeleconomics The brief answer is that no intelligent person thinks that the key to any science is "all there" in the work of two writersThis tweet proves my point about how nervous they are about responding to specific charges. Even in a tiny little tweet of 124 characters, she has revealed a lack of knowledge so truly astounding that I can't think of 124 characters where one could reveal greater ignorance.
Her tweet is in response to this in my post:
Don't tell me you can't find Congressman Paul's thoughts on this. As he has said many times, he derives his understanding of economics from the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. It's all there.Now she builds a nice strawman here. The "all there" is referring to the three questions I posed in the post. The three points that I raised are all discussed by Rothbard and Mises.So my point was the answers to the three questions are "all there".
McArdle stretches this to mean that I am saying that all of economics is in Rothbard and Mises (and possibly that Congressman Paul thinks so also). Now, there is a remarkable depth of understanding in the writings of economics in Rothbard and Mises, but a comment like it's "all there" also contains a nuanced meaning which quite possibly underscores a tin ear on the part of McArdle. It could simply be a tribute to Rothbard and Mises in that their understanding of economics is so great, which it is, that it's "all there." Not meaning that every correct word ever written by Rothbard and Mises are the only correct words written about economics, but simply that the depth of their writing is so great that one could say it is "all there", but not mean it in a complete literal sense.
However, if you want to take the vicious view that McArdle takes, I am an ignoramus and think all economics is in Rothbard and Mises and no other, then it is quite reasonable to say that McArdle has taken the most idiotic clueless method of attack that one could take on this subject, since Rothbard and Mises more than any other economists held the view that economics is far more than a science where the "all there "is in the work of two writers.
Rothbard was unrelenting in arguing about the dangers of the "Great Thinkers" syndrome:
Straussians take a few what they call "great thinkers" — I'm going to criticize that too, the concept of taking only great thinkers — they take a few great thinkers, more or less arbitrarily selected. How do they know they're great thinkers? Well, everybody says they're great. Machiavelli, Aristotle, Dewey, whatever. Hobbes.
Then they say, "Since this guy is a great figure, he must've been consistent. Why does he have to be consistent? Well, he's a great thinker? Who am I, a schnook professor, to challenge the greatness of this guy?" The assumption is this guy's a great thinker.
Most of these guys are very inconsistent. They contradict themselves on every page. Keynes did this all the time.
It looks as if he contradicted himself, say the Straussians, but he couldn't, because he's a great thinker and therefore consistent. So we have to look for the "deep inner consistency." The deep inner consistency amounts almost to astrology. It's numerology. Strauss will say if you take the fifth book of Machiavelli's Prince and compare it with the fifth book of the Laws, it's this number magic, you see, the five, you look for the deep things, really explain what he's saying. It's really bizarre.So understand what is going on here. McArdle attacks me for referencing only Rothbard and Mises and says that it is dangerous to think only two economists have all the answers. Well, golly gee, who the hell would understand this better than a Rothbardian?
Whiggism gone hog wild. And he desperately, actually, thinks everybody's great, and consistent as well as contributing to the edifice of thought.
So we have to realize, it seems to me, that it's just the opposite: many thinkers are great; other thinkers are lousy. Some developed truth; others sank into error. Therefore, analyzing economists, separating who these guys are, we have to ask, To what extent were they correct? To what extent were they bad? To what extent did they push economics in a wrong detour? Etc.
As for Mises, he believed that economic writings of others should not only be read, but read in their original languages. Bettina Bien Greaves recounts:
I'll never forget Mises saying in his seminar, again and again, that languages are important.Mises great work, Human Action, made references in so many different languages and to so many obscure theories of others that a companion glossary, Mises Made Easier, was put together.
Rothbard wrote a 2 volume history of economic thought. In this writing, he points out that economics started way before Adam Smith and hailed the Spanish Scholastics and the School of Salamanca. He wrote about Richard Cantillion, who he considered the founding father of modern economics,of the brilliance of Anne-Robert Turgot, and on and on.
Thus, to tweet to someone like me, who mentions Rothbard and Mises, and to say, you know economics goes beyond Rothbard and Mises, is a combination of sheer lunacy and ignorance that is hard to match.
Yes, Ms. McArdle the Austrians do know that economics goes beyond Mises and, Rothbard. I pull from my shelf:
Hayek, Kirzner, Machlup, Morgenstern, Lachmann, Cantillon, Turgot, Bastiat, Menger, Bohm Bawerk, Robbins, Haberler, Schumpeter, Hazlitt, Hutt, Keynes, Robinson, Marshall, Rueff, Mill, Bayer, Marx, Cannan, Knight, Jevons, Lange, Friedman, Philippovich, Hicks, Galbraith, Ricardo, Fisher, Samuelson, Wu, Block, Higgs, Salerno, Boettke, Cowen, Baum, Murphy, Dilorenzo, Say, Rizzo, O'Driscoll, Thornton, Harper, Krugman, Greaves, Ebeling, Mankiw, Anderson, Garrison, Sunstein, Thaler, Butler, Soros, Raico, Shackle, Woods, Hoppe, Sowell, Maltsev, Levitt, Stein, Roubini, Armentano, Erhard, Gordon, Hulsmann, Taleb, Bernanke, Sabrin, Kinsella, Ropke, Klein, LeFevre, Greenspan, Sennholz, Rubin,Williams, Solow, Roberts, Browne, Laffer, Wanniski, North, Hummel, Fetter, Reisman, Butler, Schmoller, Reich, Wieser, Shenoy, Walras, Stiglitz, Mundell, Phelps, Becker, Buchanan and on and on... We read them all, when they are right and when they are wrong, so we can understand the thinking and refine our own arguments.
For you to say to an Austrian that economics is more than just two writers, is like saying to an NFL football player, "Jeez, I hope you wear a jock strap out there."
You have embarrassed yourself in a tweet far beyond any other tweet I am aware of.