A short book describing a very particular set of criticisms related to Austrian economics, in particular related to the ability of praxeology (the "loA short book describing a very particular set of criticisms related to Austrian economics, in particular related to the ability of praxeology (the "logic of human action," the foundational framework of the Austrian school) to predict future events. The particular question relates to the Austrian idea that the free market tends toward equilibrium. Selgin suggests that this equilibrium can be seen through the concept of equilibration, that is, the destruction of profit opportunity upon market action. "Wherever there is action, there is an imagined profit opportunity. Where there is no action, there are no such imagined opportunities; and where there are no imagined profits, there is no action—that is, viewing things in a dynamic context, there is no basis for the modification of plans.” Thus, a market action is taken because profit opportunity exists; but once that action is taken, the profit opportunity is gone: Any imagined profit related to that action is either realized or unrealizable, meaning no further profit opportunity exists. Any further profit opportunity would relate to a new market action.
This is all well and good, but I didn't actually read this book for its economic lessons, but rather for its praxeological ones. As it happens, the first third or so of the book is a good primer on praxeology as a general study, as opposed to its application in economics where has historically most often applied. I believe there may be a variety of ways that praxeology could be applied to other disciplines beyond economics (and closely related fields, like game theory), but unfortunately most of what is discussed about praxeology is couched in economic terms – distinguishing what is praxeology and what is economics from a praxeological perspective is sometimes quite difficult. In developing his argument, Selgin does a good job here of placing praxeology in context of opposing nihilistic views of historicism and positivism/empiricism....more
Overall, a very interesting analysis of literary works that either emphasize motifs of economic freedom, or which (in the essayists opinions) fail toOverall, a very interesting analysis of literary works that either emphasize motifs of economic freedom, or which (in the essayists opinions) fail to shunt them. Although I have not read many of the works covered in this collection, the authors did a good job of elucidating how they fit in with this sort of economic analysis. I came out of this book realizing I need to read more Ben Jonson, Willa Cather and Joseph Conrad. A dash of Thomas Mann probably wouldn't hurt, either....more
Very good book of essays on the problems surrounding contemporary implementations of copyright law in the U.S., and why libertarians and conservativesVery good book of essays on the problems surrounding contemporary implementations of copyright law in the U.S., and why libertarians and conservatives should be dubious of so-called "intellectual property." I have been aware of the issues surrounding copyright for some time now, mostly through my work with Project Gutenberg — which, incidentally, has afforded me the privilege of having my name appear near Eric Eldred's, of Eldred v. Ashcroft fame, on a couple Hawthornetexts, though I've never met Eric nor had any "real world" contact with him — and I have largely been of the we-need-to-scale-back-copyright-restrictions opinion. So, in that regard, this book hit all the right buttons for me.
I won't say that I agreed with everything in this book, but it's definitely a great place to start if you want to understand why "strong" copyright laws actually hurt everyone, content producers included, and violate the very purpose of copyright as outline in the constitution. ...more
Harry Browne did more to help me recognize my libertarian nature than anyone else, and I've striven to adopt his common-sense, positive, and dare I saHarry Browne did more to help me recognize my libertarian nature than anyone else, and I've striven to adopt his common-sense, positive, and dare I say even loving, approach to being a libertarian (as opposed to more in-your-face styles of libertarianism that piss me off even when I agree substantially, or at least sentimentally, with the arguments being made). I was fortunate enough to stumble upon his short-lived radio programs, and went on from there to read Fail-Safe Investing when I still had money to invest. (I still follow an ETF-based version of his "Permanent Portfolio" in my IRA.) Having two daughters of my own, I always try to remember to read his "A Gift for my Daughter" each Christmas, some paragraphs of which are found verbatim in this book. My only regret is that I discovered Browne (and libertarianism generally) too late to cast a vote for his presidential bids.
How I Found Freedom... has been on my list for awhile. Given my familiarity with Browne's ideas, I didn't find much surprising in it. The only eyebrow-raisers were his chapters on marriage and government — both of which he half-recants in the Epilogue of this 25th Anniversary Edition. Knowing that Browne was happily married for quite a long time before he died, and given his two-time presidential candidacy with the Libertarian Party, I suffered a little cognitive dissonance reading those chapters. (I also bit my lip a little at his multiple exhortations against "organizing" against the government, considering he co-founded Downsize DC.) The anniversary edition could've benefitted from a little more editing to clarify these positions earlier. That, along with perhaps a slightly less "self-help" feel in the last few chapters would've let me give this book 5 stars.
Still, it's well worth the read, for both libertarians and those who are simply curious to know more about the practical side of freedom (vs. the political side)....more
Abandoning for now. I've read a lot by and about Dr. Paul, so I have a good idea of his beliefs already. May pick this back up at some point. Just tooAbandoning for now. I've read a lot by and about Dr. Paul, so I have a good idea of his beliefs already. May pick this back up at some point. Just too much to read for the time being....more
Ron Paul is awesome. I have yet to find any point that he makes that I disagree with. I was not necessarily surprised by anything in The Revolution, aRon Paul is awesome. I have yet to find any point that he makes that I disagree with. I was not necessarily surprised by anything in The Revolution, as I was a pretty ardent follower of Dr. Paul's since before he was a presidential contender for the second time (in the 2008 election cycle). Nevertheless, it was refreshing to read all of his views in a single text that is clear and well-written.
Dr. Paul starts out in a fashion that some might consider ironical given that he wrote the book during his bid for the office of POTUS. He basically describes the situation that anyone who has ever seriously investigated a "third-party" candidate already knows about: Namely, that the "choices" offered by the two major parties are effectively not really choices. There are a whole lot of assumptions built into the political race process that Dr. Paul says we are never allowed to question: Like, why do we assume that the government has the right to take any taxes from us, rather than arguing what the appropriate amount of taxation (which would theft if anybody else tried it) should be?
I won't go through the book chapter by chapter, but he basically works his way through various issues that most candidates simply aren't willing to question fundamentally. He tackles foreign policy (why do we still need 64,000 troops in Germany?), trade (why do "free trade" agreements need 3,000 pages of legislation?), economics (what is the purpose of the Fed and do we even need it?), civil liberties (why do some people get so uptight about rights affirmed by the first amendment but willingly give up rights affirmed by other amendments?) and many other topics.
The only qualm I have with the book is an inconsistency in the citation of sources for various data, but considering it is written for a popular audience and not a scholarly one, it might be forgiven. Dr. Paul does give a bibliography at the end for anyone who wants to know more about the various topics he discusses. I am sure to tackle many of the books on the list in the near future (some of them I already own...)....more
**spoiler alert** This book is my least favorite of Rands, although still worth reading. I don't recall any paramount passages (such as d'Anconia's sp**spoiler alert** This book is my least favorite of Rands, although still worth reading. I don't recall any paramount passages (such as d'Anconia's speech about money in Atlas Shrugged), and the plot is pretty straightforward: Guy lives in socialist society, guy starts liking girl, guy convinces girl to run off with him and live in a cabin in the woods, they become individuals.
If you're reading Rand's books to get a better sense of her ideas, there's no reason to read this one. If you want something that doesn't require too much thought and can be polished off on a rainy Saturday afternoon, there are worse choices....more
Where Atlas Shrugged is Rand's overarching philosophical and political treatise, The Fountainhead is her tribute to art, love and the romantic spiritWhere Atlas Shrugged is Rand's overarching philosophical and political treatise, The Fountainhead is her tribute to art, love and the romantic spirit.
Of course, in Rand's conception art, politics, love, philosophy and human interaction all are interwoven, so it's no surprise that to her that the true artist constantly has to struggle against the whims of politicians who use their petty power to sway the masses and fund outlandish and inefficient architectural projects for their own gain. As he struggles, the true artist has but to find solace and security in the knowledge that he is, in fact, being true to his own nature and the sensibility of the art that he creates.
As may be expected, Rand explores a host of ideas in this book, which include but are not limited to: Finding contentment with one's self and actions, the nature and utility of art, what constitutes love, etc.
Atlas may be considered her crowning achievement, but in my opinion this book is far better....more
This was on my "to-read" list for a long time until I finally buckled down and--well, listened to it.
To be honest, I don't think I could have finishedThis was on my "to-read" list for a long time until I finally buckled down and--well, listened to it.
To be honest, I don't think I could have finished reading it. Not to say that I wouldn't have wanted to, but it is a weighty tome, and even listening to it was a daunting task.
But it was a great book for the ideas it presents. Even if you don't agree wholly with Rand's "Objectivist" outlook (which at times seems not exactly objective in the usual sense of the word), the concepts that she presents as her characters struggle through their sundry and varied persecutions are indeed fascinating.
There are two shining gems of this book which are must-reads for anyone interested in the ideas of freedom and individual responsibility. The first is d'Anconia's speech about money, which offers keen insight into the oft-stated but more often misunderstood quote "love of money is the root of all evil." The second is John Galt's radio speech, which goes on for many pages and traverses many topics.
The rest of the book is background to these two speeches. In part, that's what makes this book "really good" instead of "great" -- because it takes Rand so long to get around to saying what she really wants to say. Of course, there simply may not have been any other way to do it well....more
The Gay Deceiver is hands down the coolest ship ever constructed. As the genesis of Heinlein's concept of pantheistic solipsism, this book isn't too sThe Gay Deceiver is hands down the coolest ship ever constructed. As the genesis of Heinlein's concept of pantheistic solipsism, this book isn't too shabby either. While the "journey to new universe, explore, get into trouble, escape--wash-rinse-repeat" cycle gets a little tedious in a few spots, Heinlein's imagination and ability to keep you engaged is definitely worth the read....more
One of his more popular, non-Future History books, this is a decent read (or listen, as I did). Heinlein plays on the common human fears of alien cultOne of his more popular, non-Future History books, this is a decent read (or listen, as I did). Heinlein plays on the common human fears of alien cultures, invasion and a sudden suspension of the ability to control one's own free will. The plot has been redone many times (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.), but none as good as Heinlein's original....more