Austro-Bohemian Adventures

On Friday the 12th I’m off to Prague for the PCPE (which means I’ll unfortunately miss most of the ASC here in Auburn, though I do plan to drop in on the first day, the 11th).

Kohlmarkt, Vienna

The PCPE doesn’t actually start until the 19th, but its coinciding with my spring break means I can spend a little extra time, so once I arrive in Prague I’ll be off by train to spend a (frustratingly brief) couple of days in Vienna, thus making this trip doubly Austrian.

I’ve been to Prague before, but this’ll be my first trip to Vienna. I’ve wanted to see Vienna for a long time; even before Mises, Hayek, and Wittgenstein entered my life, it was the city of Die Fledermaus and The Third Man (to pick two rather different visions of the city). When I first started the Austro-Athenian Empire, I’d been to neither Austria nor Athens; by next week I’ll have seen both!

Charles Bridge, Prague

After Vienna, back to marvelous Prague and the PCPE, where I’ll be giving a paper on Platonic Pitfalls for Austro-Libertarians – in which I sadden Rothbardians by venting my heresies on fractional-reserve banking and the productivity theory of wages, but then cheer them up with some anarchy at the end. (Readers of my blog have seen most of this stuff before.)

After that I’ll be staying over a couple of extra days for still more anarchy, i.e. to give a talk on the 23rd at the CEVRO Institute (a college run by a free-market think tank and headed up by libertarian activist Josef Šima, who’s also one of the organizers of the PCPE) on Why Classical Liberals Should Prefer Anarchy Over State Power. (No prepared text, but I’ll probably cover much of the same territory as in my ten objections talk.) I’ll return to the u.s. on the 24th.

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5 Responses to Austro-Bohemian Adventures

  1. Michael Wiebe March 7, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    Regarding Platonic Pitfalls, what do you think of the idea of “Platonic force monopoly”: public goods theory assumes that government has a monopoly on force and can coerce free riders to produce public goods.

    But as Boétie’s Law shows, government mostly has power to the extent that citizens choose to obey it. So government cannot simply coerce free riders, but must rely (partly) on their voluntary cooperation.

    Hence public goods theory depends on the Platonic assumption that government agents are omnipotent or Kryptonians. Barring this assumption, we must conclude that even government provision of public goods depends on voluntary cooperation, and not on brute force alone.

    The next step is determining just how much government relies on voluntary support.

  2. Joel Schlosberg March 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    And of course Austria’s the country of The Sound of Music, which was featured in a recent Freeman column by Lawrence Reed as a pro-freedom film that had a huge effect on him:

  3. scineram March 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Why is everything in .doc? It’s sooo nineties.

  4. Blau Kevin March 28, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    About the Platonic Pitfalls, I don’t see why it should sadden a Rothbardian. I may be that what seems clear to me don’t seem as clear to others. It may be that I misunderstood Rothbard in a way that made me think he agreed with your criticism.

    About fractionnal reserve banking, I get your point that the difference between a loan and a bailment is only a matter of degree. It’s an interesting view I have never considered before. But I’ve always thought we were against fractionnal reserve banking only in cases where bankers lying to their customers. I thought it was only a matter of contract. Investment banks lend the money you give them and I don’t see why a libertarian would stand up againt them although it might technically be considered as a fractionnal reserve bank. Who says people aren’t supposed to lend other people’s money when they have their consent?

  5. Blau Kevin March 28, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Then about the productivity theory of wages, again, I don’t the the problem. It seems to me that you attached some implicit objective-value premises to the productivity theory you criticised. I would hope any rothbardian would reject the productivity theory as exposed in your article.

    You are right saying that in the read world wages don’t perfectly reflects one marginal productivity. No one denies that the real world is not perfect. Rothbard as well recognised that fact. But no one denies that wages tend to match marginal productivity through competition. Even you admit it.

    But you say that there are cases where disparity between wages and marginal productivity can persist nervertheless as in gender discrimination. If value is subjective, then marginal productivity too has to be evaluated in subjective terms. How can you mesure one’s productivity? The easiest way to do so is money but a praxeoligists like Rothbard knows better than that. They knows nothing about what’s going on in one’s value scale. A hot but crapy female secretary may be more productive than a brilliant male one if the employer’s end is to hang around beautiful women. Given his valuation scale, hiring a young brilliant man would be counter-productive. Then, in his firm, women would tend to have higher wages. It is fully consistent with the marginal productivity theory of wages. In order to prove that wages don’t match productivity, one would have to objectify the value of the empoyees’ services and that’s a dead end.

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