Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gary North on Murray Rothbard

Last week, the Mises Institute held another edition of its Mises University.

The faculty at this event is always an awesome lineup of the best minds in the field of economics and related fields. If you really want to understand what is going on in the economy, listen  to this collection of lectures, available here.

One of the speakers was Gary North, who gave a lecture on the remarkable Murray Rothbard as an academic role model. This is not easy to do.  I had the good fortune of meeting Rothbard on four occasions, and Bob Murphy has been after me to write up my recollections. It's coming, but not right away. First, because I want to make sure I don't forget anything of significance that occurred during my encounters with Rothbard, but also because Rothbard was such a unique man. It is really hard to convey just how special he was, the breadth of his knowledge, how inspiring he was, how entertaining, how kind. Men like Rothbard don't come around  very often. In fact, I doubt anyone like Rothbard has ever walked this planet before. A post on the recollections of Rothbard should not be thrown up in the five minutes before one is headed out to a lunch meeting.

That said, North knew Rothbard much better than I did and his recollection of the man provides a great glimpse of Rothbard. I say glimpse, only because North had only an hour to speak. To do justice to the Rothbard intellect, the  Mises Institute would have to devote a full week of lectures.

On a side note, in North's lecture he brings up Richard Burton. This is not the first time North used Burton to make an economic point. Many, many decades years ago, North went around the country giving speeches for Pacific Coast Coin Exchange (now Monex). His travelling show came to Boston. I wasn't old enough to drive at the time, but I got my father to make the one hour drive into Boston so that I could  hear North.

Silver at the time was probably around $1.60 and gold was around $42.00 per ounce. North made the case that, on a long-term basis, they both would be excellent investments and hedges against inflation. Uh, this advice really worked out.

Burton had just bought Elizabeth Taylor a huge diamond engagement ring, so huge that news about the ring made headlines across the country. At the seminar, the mild mannered (especially back then) North roared, "That ring Richard Burton bought that woman is not a symbol of love, it's an inflation hedge." I remember the moment as though it happened yesterday, not many, many yesterdays ago.

The North lecture, Murray Rothbard as an Academic Role Model, which contains many memories about Rothbard,  is here.

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