Steve Horwitz 1

07 Aug 2017, 05:14 PM

I'm Steve Horwitz, Schnatter Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise at Ball State University, Ask Me Anything Friday, August 11th, 12pm-4pm ET

You can ask me about Austrian economics, libertarianism, Hayek's social and political thought, progressive rock, hockey, diner hash, or Monty Python. Questions related to a certain role playing game popular in the 1980s will be placed at the end of the queue.

Comments (72)

  • Grant Brown

    about 5 months ago

    What is your name?
    What is your quest?
    What is the average airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow?

    • The Federal Farmer

      about 5 months ago

      Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Well I am always happy to start with a troll. :)

      First, I advise a string between two swallows, held just under the dorsal guiding feathers.

      But I will answer the quest question:

      My quest is two-fold. First, to bring the economic way of thinking, especially the Mises-Hayek version, to as many people as possible, both other scholars and students of all ages.  Second, to persuade people that understanding economics and related disciplines helps us to see why freedom works in giving us a cooperative, peaceful, humane, and prosperous world. Free markets and free minds are the way humanity reaches its potential.

  • Isabelle Smith

    about 5 months ago

    Tell me more about diner hash

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Diner hash... it's the best bad food ever. The more basic, the better. It's usually corned beef, potatoes, and onions made into something roughly the consistency of raw hamburger, then cooked on the flattop, preferably until it's crispy. 

      My third quest is to find perfect diner hash.  It should look like this:  http://roadfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/rfl_23922.jpg

      And the worse the ambiance at a restaurant, the more likely its hash is to be excellent!

  • Manvendra Kachole

    about 5 months ago

    I am from India. I have not seen any discussion (liberal perspective of course) on Marshall Plan for Europe, its importance or analysis of its effect on post WWII England, France, Germany, Italy and other countries. In India, central planning and market intervention for almost 70 yrs after the end of British rule in 1947 has devastated agricultural and rural economy. More than 400 thousand farmers have committed suicides in last two decades. Even after so called liberalization of Indian economy in 1990s, agriculture and commodity market remains tightly controlled even today.

    Under these circumstances, we are discussing the possibility of Marshall Plan like massive investment and efforts for building up rural India. It is also argued that any such package would have limited/ negligible effect or even may be harmful. I would appreciate if you could talk/ write on this issue.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Hi Manvendra.

      In fact, several free market scholars wrote pieces on the Marshall Plan back in the 90s. Here's a great Tyler Cowen piece on it:  https://www.gmu.edu/centers/publicchoice/faculty%20pages/Tyler/Marshall_Plan.pdf

      I wrote one of my own:  “Does Eastern Europe Need a New (Marshall) Plan?” in The Collapse of Development Planning, Peter J. Boettke, ed., New York:  New York University Press, 1994, pp. 210-227.

      The basic argument is that the Marshall Plan didn't reconstruct Europe after WWII. The key to growth is NOT massive investment of resources per se, but having the right economic/political institutions combined with what Deirdre McCloskey would call "the bourgeois virtues." The way to help India is to continue to push for reforms that lead to clearer and better enforced private property rights, sound money, and, especially, the rule of law. It's not a matter of resources, but institutions and ideas.

      I hope that's helpful!  I hope that India continues to liberalize. Freeing up the immense potential of the Indian population to really contribute to the world's productivity would be a huge step to overcoming global poverty.

       

    • Manvendra Kachole

      about 5 months ago

      Thank you Prof Horwitz for your reply. 

      I will study the resourses you mentioned and am sure it would be helpful in shaping the future course of our activities.

      Manvendra.

  • Tricia Beck

    about 5 months ago

    Can you share an adorable Sarah Skwire moment with us?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Well there are just SO many to choose from!!

      I actually think one of the most adorable and sweetest things she ever did was how she chose to celebrate on Facebook my getting the job at Ball State.  Those of you with Facebook can see it here:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153950273381249&set=pb.521446248.-2207520000.1502467999.&type=3&theater

      It was sweet, adorable, funny, and loving.  Pretty much Skwire right there.

  • Dan Sanchez

    about 5 months ago

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for doing this! Could you elaborate what you mean by "ought implies can"?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Yeah, it actually comes from Kant, no pun intended. Simply put, it means that if you say someone or some institutition, or we as a society, "ought" to do X, they actually have to be able to do X. 

      Ethical imperatives cannot ignore empirical social science. "We ought to plan the economy so that it's more productive and just." What does "ought" mean there if it's not possible to engage in such planning?  "We ought to tax the rich to help the poor."  What if redistribution doesn't actually helpt the poor?  Then what does it mean to say we "ought" to do that?  

      Does that clarify?

  • Jason Riddle

    about 5 months ago

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything that stands out as far as insights you've learned from so actively engaging with your facebook audience over the years?

    Thank you,

    Jason

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      well based on one of the questions below.... :)

      Here's some things I've learned:

      1. Young people are really hungry for learning good economics and for having what we used to call "intellectual ammunition" in their conversations with their peers (and perhaps their profs). Using FB as a way to bring good analysis and good sources to them is very satisfying to me and they seem to appreciate it.

      2. Despite what the culture and media keep telling us, and despite some notable exceptions, most of the conversations on my FB wall are civil and productive. I've tried to create an environment there that promotes it. And I try to model it. But I'm not perfect and I do mess up from time to time. Still, those interactions have persuaded me that such positive discourse is possible if you work at it.

      3. FB has also brought me some really great professional opportunties and I recommend it to my faculty colleagues all the time. Networking is good and FB is a powerful one.

      4. One of my favorite things on FB is when people I know from two different parts of my life interact, and even become friends in real life. I call that the "wedding/bar mitzvah effect." 

      There's probably more but there's a few.

  • Rachel Lomasky

    about 5 months ago

    How do we ensure that people who have extreme medical costs get care in a libertarian society?  I’m thinking of people with severe chronic conditions, probably from birth, whose bills with total hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over a lifetime.  Essentially, their entire care would be “catastrophic” and their premiums unaffordable. I’ve heard “charity,” as an answer, but frankly, that feels like a cop out to me.  I’ve also heard, “Oh, parents would buy insurance for their babies before birth.” but that would essentially screw a disabled kid for life whose parents didn’t do this.  Is this a case where the state would need to step in and ensure the funds for a basic level of care?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      These are indeed, as you say, the tough cases. And one of the great things that markets and competition have done for us is to make us prosperous enough that we can even think about providing a meaningful life for kids with those kind of conditions. This conversation would not have happened 100 years ago or more. Or even less. Or even still in much of the world.

      I don't think "charity" is necessarily a cop out when you look into the history of things like mutual aid societies.  (Those who haven't read David Beito's terrific book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State should do so.) Helping our friends, families, and community members can take a variety of forms. There's no guarantee, of course, but if it's insufficient, it suggests that perhaps folks aren't giving enough. 

      I can also imagine that hospitals and medical research facilities might be willing to donate time, talent, and resources as a way to learn more about the disease in question. 

      Also keep in mind that if some or many parents buy that kind of insurance, it at the very least reduces the scope of the problem and makes it easier to imagine that "charity" could help with what remains. 

      But beyond all of that, the real question is this:  however imperfect those solutions are, are we confident that government involvement woudl solve the problem any better (and at what cost)? These are the same arguments people raised for getting the state involved in help for the poor, and it's not at all clear it's been more successful than the things it replaced. Be careful not to invoke Mungerian unicorns here!

      Finally, if we swapped out the current welfare system for some form of UBI or birth-grant or any of a number of proposals out there, it might help this problem as well. 

      I'll get to your other question later. :)

  • Rachel Lomasky

    about 5 months ago

    Has there been research into a correlation between the economic status of a city and the passion for its sports teams?  Just anecdotal, it seems that maybe in cities that are experiencing difficulties, the people use their sports teams as escapism.  I’m thinking of the 1968 Tigers and the 1972 Steelers as outlier examples, but also true in general.  I’m not sure exactly how you’d measure that, maybe something like percentage of per capita income going to the city’s sports teams.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      The New Orleans Saints after Katrina is another great example. I don't know this literature well, but there is something to the idea that sports teams can pull cities together in the ways you're talking about. A good season can make people feel positive about themselves in a difficult time, and that can have real economic effects. There's lots of research on sports and economic outcomes.

    • Cory Massimino

      about 5 months ago

      Dr. Horwitz, what do you think of the idea that sports basically act as a peaceful outlet for instinctive tribalistic/illiberal impulses we naturally have but must supress in modern society? 

  • Nikolas Haring

    about 5 months ago

    What would you say is the most important difference between austrian monetary economics and market monetarism?

    What is, from your perspective, the best argument against market monetarism?

    The position of which market monetarist is closest to your own?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I actually don't think there's a lot of difference at the level of theory, at least for those Austrians who take a monetary disequilibrium perspective on monetary theory.  For more on this, you should listen to the podcast I did with David Beckworth a month or so ago.  https://soundcloud.com/macro-musings/horwitz

      So the position of theirs closest to my own is that whole emphasis on the importance of avoiding excess demands and supplies of money. This is an old insight that can be found in both Mises and Wicksell, as well as the early American monetarists and people like D. H. Robertson, and more recently, Leland Yeager. 

      The biggest debates are really more empirical and policy oriented. For example, MMs tend to think that the Austrian free banking solution is perhaps the best way to go in theory, but given how unlikely it is, they are more interested in thinking about how to get the Fed to mimic what a FB system would do. Austrians are skeptical of that. Austrians and MMs also disagree about what the appropriate steps were during the financial crisis. I think both sides (again, at least MET Austrians) agree that the Fed needed to provide liquidity in the immediate crisis in the fall of 2008, but Austrians are much more skeptical about the subsequent expansions of the money supply via QE. MMs tend to think those were needed. 

      Notice that the disagreement is about the facts on the ground, not the theory. 

      So there's a few things to consider.




  • Sarah Skwire

    about 5 months ago

    Here's a question that I think might be an interesting one for students who read and like your stuff. 

    How has your thinking about economics and about libertarianism changed from the time you entered grad school? What are the differences between the intellectual worlds of 20-something Steve and 50-something Steve.

    Also are you picking up the Chinese food tonight or am I supposed to stop and get it with the kids after taekwondo? 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      This is an interesting question for many reasons, but one of them is that the biggest shift in my thinking took place during my undergraduate years, when I decided natural rights defenses of liberty didn't work and focused on consequentialist ones.

      But since grad school....

      I think the biggest change intellectually for me is my interest in economic history. I worked on 19th century US monetary history in grad school, but that was always subservient to my interest in money and macro. All of the stuff I do now about rising prosperity and standards of living was never part of my imagined scholarly future. It's now central. Like much else for me, this grew out of teaching. I had the chance to teach American Economic History at some point in the 1990s, thanks to a colleague's sabbatical, and that started things rolling.

      The other big intellectual change is the research on gender and family. I was not trained in those areas, though I always had an interest in feminism and what a libertarian feminism would look like (ask Boettke and Prychitko, as they made fun of me for this in grad school!). I got interested in them partially through the economic history stuff, but moreso when I had the opportunity to teach an interdisciplinary course on the family, first with a lit scholar and a sociologist and then, for many years, with a psychologist. My recent book on Hayek and the family is the result of all of that. That whole set of issues was nowhere on my radar back then.

      I should add that the idea of studying Hayek as Hayek, as opposed to as part of Austrian economics, is also something that has arisen sincd grad school. I'd like to think I have a reputation as a major Hayek scholar. I didn't imagine that either.

      The biggest change in my libertarianism, though, is surely the bleeding heart libertarian type influence. Thinking in terms how liberty helps the least well-off and making that central focus of libertarianism has been a development really in the last 10 or 15 years. I am not sure it's changed the substance of my thinking, but it has certainly changed the rhetoric and focus.

      And... message me when you are getting ready to leave TKD and I'll place the order online and you can grab it on your way home. :)

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Oh yeah... this whole economics and literature thing that you might be familiar with is another line of thinking I never would have imagined in grad school. However, I did teach a really fun course a couple of times at SLU on the Economics of Utopia where I used a bunch of fiction.

    • Zoe Miller

      about 5 months ago

      Are course materials available? 

      Also, lists of fiction with free markets? I love Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and would like to find more with plot elements around economic freedom.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I probably have an old syllabus somewhere.  Can you email me at [email protected]?  When I'm don with teh AMA,I'll take a look.

  • Jason Kelly

    about 5 months ago

    Over/Under 9.5 wins for Michigan football this year? (not including the bowl game)

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Wow.  Hardest question yet. They are so young, yet so talented. It could go either way. If I had to bet, I'd say over, but my confidence in that prediction is low.  But watch for Rashan Gary to have a breakout year on the D-line.

  • George Quick

    about 5 months ago

    Good morning,

    I have interest in the ubi, I wanted to summarize my format and hear your thoughts. Money paid by the federal government to all adult citizens split evenly based on an average of the remaining budget after all other expenses plus 2%. This Incentivises the citizens to pressure lawmakers into keeping expenses low (and taxes high), it would be modestly counter cyclical and would be efficient while maintaining a blind safety net.

    Thank you for your time, and your commitment to educating your social media followers. 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Hi George. 

      This presumes that a UBI is the best way to go, and that it would replace the existing system. For me, that second part is key. A UBI on top of the existing structure would be a social and fiscal disaster. The question then become how likely it is that such a swap would take place. 

      Backing up for a second: let me be clear about my position on all of this. My preferred world is one where markets and the various institutions of civil society are responsible for helping those in need. I don't think the state does this very well. As I said to Rachel above, no matter how imperfect markets are, governments usually do worse. That said, I would support something like a UBI if it replaces the existing system. I think it would be less bad than what we have. Or at least could be. The danger of supporting a UBI is that you risk getting both, which is the worst of all worlds.

      It's also important to remember that there are multiple proposals out there, from a guaranteed minimum income, to something more like a negative income tax, to leftist proposals to give each newborn a large lump-sum grant that they could access at 18 or 21 to use for whatever they wished. 

      As for your particular proposal... I think there's some unicorn thinking going on there too. What's to assure that gov't actually follows this an dwhat incentives would politicians have to bind themselves this way?  Plus, it's not clear to me why we want a system that encourages taxes to be higher. I like what you're trying to do here, which is to link the UBI to reducing expenditures. However, the proposal seems to treat taxes and spending as unrelated, as if there's just this pool of tax revenues out there and if we reduce expenditures, what's left will be UBI. But in reality, all of those fiscal decisions are interrelated and made together by the same politicians who have to be aware of what will and won't get them votes.

      Finally, are there rational ignorance issues in the ability of voters to serve as effective principals for politician-agents?

    • George Quick

      about 5 months ago

      Thank you for your reply, I had been curious on your position to this issue for a while. One of the reasons that I structured it this was to solve the problem of having both a ubi and some of the current welfare programs. This could be used as a stepping stone. As other programs are wound down the ubi would automatically adjust to replace them. And yes the plan as you pointed out would be to encourage politicians to reduce spending, but I admit I see no reasonable way to prevent them from instead increasing taxes, thank you for your reply and insight.

  • Steve Horwitz

    about 5 months ago

    Hi everyone. 

    Thanks for coming by. I'll do my best to answer these in order and keep up with any sub-threads and new comments. Let's do this!

  • Joseph

    about 5 months ago

     Why do you call yourself an Austrian when you get it wrong (empirical observation, the austrian business cycle, banking, etc)? Why didn't you issue an apology to Deist for your accusations? Why do you call people nazi apologists when they disagree with you? Why do you defend an actual fascist state while calling others fascists for disagreeing with you? When someone brings up a good argument towards you, how come you often drop your credentials and experience in academia as some sort of trump card vs address the argument? Asking for a friend.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Don't go away Joseph. I will answer all of those after I get to the folks ahead of you.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Let's tackle these one at a time:

      1. Your assertion that I "get it wrong" is just an assertion. You are assuming your conclusion. As I'm sure you know, there are multiple strands of thinking within Austrian economics. I have always grounded my own work in the work of Mises and Hayek. My views on empirics, the business cycle, and banking can all be found in Mises and in Hayek, not to mention Menger and others. All of the scholarly work I do on those issues is supported by citations and evidence from those thinkers. I think that is more than enough to justify calling myself an Austrian. What makes you think those aren't Austrian positions?  I'd be happy to have you go through one of my books and show me what's not Austrian there.

      I would add that I received my PhD from an institution that provides formal instruction and mentoring in the Austrian school, including offering a field exam in Austrian Economics. I am also a founding member, former president, and long-time secretary of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. Many other people who consider themselves Austrians consider me an Austrian. So why ask this of me?  Do you ask it of them as well?

      2. On Deist and Nazis...   I will point you and others to my recent BHL post where I made my position on this clear.  http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/08/rhetoric-libertarians-unfortunate-appeal-alt-right/

      My accusation was not that Deist or the MI folks are Nazis. If you are making that claim, please feel free to provide some evidence of it in the  comments. My claim was that Deist used a Nazi-era phrase and argued that it was something that libertarians ignored at the risk of our irrelevance. If you look at the entire speech, it was one long call for a kind of nationalism and localism that is exactly the opposite of the long liberal tradition, including in particular the views of Mises. To invoke "blood and soil," with its absolutely clear Nazi history was either really tone-deaf or was a dog-whistle to the alt-right. Take your pick. I will not apologize for calling it a dog-whistle. 

      I do not call people Nazi apologists when they disagree with me.  I didn't call you one for disagreeing with me about what Austrian economics is, did I?  I call people Nazi apologists when they think it's just fine to argue that libertarians should appeal to the same "blood and soil" nationalism/anti-Semitism/racism that was central to Naziism. If you can't understand how that entire talk, and that phrase in particular, is so profoundly anti-liberal, I actually feel sorry for you. Whatever you think libertarianism is, you've been dramatically misinformed and you appear to not understand very much about the actual history of Naziism. That's unfortunate. All I can suggest is that you do some reading on the Holocaust and then read Mises's Liberalism and Omnipotent Government for a different perspective. 

      3. I'm perplexed by the claim I defend an actual fascist state.  For one thing, most days I'm an anarchist.  But if you're referring to Israel, notice what you've done here. You've criticized me for calling people Nazi apologists when they disagree with me but you've now turned around and called me an apologist for fascism because we disagree about Israel.  If you want to discuss Israel, then have the courage of your convictions to name it and make your case for why it's fascist, and then live up to your own professed standards of civility and stop accusing me of being an apologist for fascism because we disagree (presumably).

      4. One thing you have to understand about many of the debates about libertarianism and the like that I get into on social media is that I've been having these debates for the 36 years I've been a libertarian. Often I've had them on my own Facebook wall. Like a day or two before. Frankly, I'm just tired of repeating myself, especially when I've addressed many of these issues (like fractional reserves, for example) in my books and articles. In addition, I actually have a job, and it requires time to do well, so the combination of those two things often leads me to just point to my work and expertise rather than do what many seem to want me to do, which is spend 24 hours a day on Facebook. I also have a wife and step-kids who I enjoy spending time with.

      The fact that I have books published by major academic publishers and over 60 peer-reviewed articles actually does matter for addressing the argument. Credentials and expertise do matter. And given the constraints on my time, I simply cannot participate in every single argument someone is having on social media.

      Finally, sometimes I withdraw from discussions because I find myself getting unjustifiably frustrated or angry, especially when I'm engagin with people I like and respect. I don't think social media debates should ruin friendships, and I'd rather be thought of as walking away from an argument than being the guy who says things that ruin friendships. I tend to do this when friends of mine are behaving in uncharacteristically uncivil ways and I don't want to go to their level.

      I hope that answers some of your friend's questions. I appreciate the fact that you came here to ask them.

    • Joseph

      about 5 months ago

      1. It isn't an assertion. For instance, your article "The Empirics of Austrian Economics" was a complete misreading of Mises and your article "Is the Austrian Theory Enough?" is a misreading too. Newsflash: You also can't explain computer science with the theory of gravity. We cannot ask more from a specific theory than the science can answer. I think it would be more wise to not call yourself an austrian but come up with a new name that split from the Austrian school. I'd refer you to some rebuttals on these topics but I am sure you will revert to the genetic fallacy of them not being Austrians which you do often because its LvMI.    
      2. I will refer you to a) Jeff Deists follow up post regarding your accusations that many people showed you b) the comment section of the blog where there were many legitimate and well rounded responses to your assertions in defense of Deist. The point Deist is trying to make is that trying to convince a person to abandon their devotion to his family and community aka blood and soil is a foolhardy mission. We should instead convince those people that libertarianism is better for protecting his family and community than the state.   Deist is saying we must recognize this about them and, to some extent, meet them where they're at with our rhetorical approach. We don't need to champion tribalism or nationalism (which Deist wasn't doing), but, to bring them along, we must recognize and let them know that we understand their beliefs, passions, and commitments. To convince your audience, you had better understand their current beliefs, passions, and commitments. If you can't do this, then at the end of the day, you're just going to be alone tickling yourself. Understanding that persons are committed to their homeland and its mythology (are you really going to stand face to face with a Sioux indian, black woman, muslim, transgender, or rabbi and tell them their history, culture, land, and family is toxic to libertarianism?), allows us to understand their fears and hesitations. We might be able to talk to the closed border advocate, discover that he's not simply anti-immigrant, per se, but discover, with him, that he's actually anti-immigrant because he fears that allowing immigration will encroach upon x. Maybe x is a shared value between us and more we can ease his worries by demonstrating that x will not be encroached by open borders.   This isn't difficult, but for some reason a significant number of libertarians (not most, necessarily) wilfully neglect the fact that real humans are real humans, loaded with all sorts of superficial tribalist beliefs, passions, and commitments. Acknowledging this undisputable fact in no way means we must champion tribalism. It means we must be attuned to it, tailor our arguments to it, or risk being absolutely irrelevant in applied philosophy. The fact that you glossed over the message that the article was saying and focused on that one line (as if nazis have a monopoly on words) is rather telling. It is also rather telling to assume only people on the right care about their culture, family, history, etc (many people on the left care about these things too). In other words, if there is one premise, one incidental fact that the alt-right believe that is true, we should stop saying those true things so as not to appeal to them. If they believe 2 + 2 = 4, we should stop saying it. If they believe that people in the general population care about culture, we should ignore culture.

      P.s. You actually called an employee of the Mises Institute a nazi apologist on your very first post on the topic. Your words were "Thank you for making clear your willingness to engage in nazi apologetics. Much appreciated."  

      3. They literally check off all the boxes now that they've banned Jews that criticize government policies from entering and have expanded press censorship. You practically fawned over your FFS with remarks about it being the only "liberal free market state" in the region. Economically they were always a fascist state, but under their leader of the last generation they've gone off the deep end in that direction.  

      4. Ok, but how long you have spent on academia doesn't necessarily speak to whether an argument is true or not. If Mises never spent a day in academia, then wrote Human Action, the arguments within would still be true. If Mises were to argue in contrary to what you have said on the empirics of Austrian economics (and he would), for instance, the argument would still be accurate. If you are really so agitated about having to speak about the same topic over and over then perhaps you should step down from the limelight you have made for yourself because it comes with the territory. You just come off as a pompous ass otherwise, particularly to new people who are new to this school of thought.

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I am impressed with how much your writing has improved over the last few hours. It's startling really.

  • George Crock

    about 5 months ago

    Hey Steve,

    Wanted to ask you a three fold question on the topic of progressive rock: why do you think the mainstream music critics (e.g. Rolling Stone) were so harsh on this kind of rock music? And now that Yes and ELO are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what do you think are the chances that the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Asia, Styx, and King Crimson will be inducted in the future (also what are your personal thoughts on each band)? And finally, do you think progressive rock is the closest rock/pop music genre that embodies universalism/cosmopolitian libertarianism of Hayek, Mises, Rand, etc.?

    Tyler Crock 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Yay!  New topic!!  And great questions.

      1. I think they were harsh because the mainstream view has always been that the "authentic" roots of rock were blues/African-American. Prog rock was white and European and thus was seen as what we'd now call a kind of "cultural appropriation."  There's a recent piece going around FB making the point about how white prog was (and that's why it's bad). I think that's a bunch of nonsense, unsurprisingly. If you also add that rock was seen as political and protest music, especially from the working class, prog was largely apolitical (though not totally) and most definitely middle class or  higher. Chris McDonald's wonderful book on Rush makes this point in the context of their music:  http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/productinfo.php?productsid=130232

      2. I think all of those except Asia deserve the HOF and will probably get in at some point. Asia won't. They were a supergroup for one thing, and if the others get in, you don't need to induct them. They also didn't have the long string of success. Their first album is great (the soundtrack of the summer after my first year of college - saw them live too), but that's about it really.

      So quick comments on those bands:

      Moody Blues:  I am a fan. I just own two or three of their CDs, but I love them and I like a lot of their other songs. They were great and lasted a long time and deserve the HOF.

      Tull:  I am not a huge fan. I find them too, for lack of a better word, weird. Thick as a Brick is brilliant (though still weird). That said, they deserve the HOF.

      ELP: Love their best-known stuff, esp. Brain Salad Surgery, but I think they were guilty of many of the sins that critics of prog throw around. Too full of themselves and lost the ability to weave a melody through their pieces.  They stopped writing songs at one point.  They too, however, should be in. HUGELY influential and extremely talented.

      Styx: I don't consider them prog. I think they borrowed some things from prog, as Boston did too, but were not prog themselves. I'm actually a pretty big fan.  "Foolin' Yourself" is one of my fave songs period and their early stuff is highly underrated. The dam will break and Styx and Boston and the bands of that era will be recognized for their contributions.

      KC:  I have a great deal of respect for them, but their music never hooked me. My taste in prog tends to be less ornate and more melodically straightforward than is true of some of the major prog bands. It's why I love Spock's Beard but can't stand Dream Theater.  SB can write a damn melody! :)

      3. I don't think prog is political in those ways. I think what prog does, for me, is to bring complexity and virtuosity to rock. Those are aestheic values of mine, not political ones. The best prog bands are like great athletes, or better yet, great sports teams. I think that complex and challenging music is really enjoyable - intellectually and aesthetically. I really love watching talented people push themselves and do hard things. If there's anything Randian about prog, it's more the message of The Fountainhead than Atlas Shrugged, if that makes sense.

    • George Crock

      about 5 months ago

      Thanks for the answers Steve!  I agree with all three.

      Also, forgot to add Supertramp.  Do you think they, along with Boston, Foreigner, and Peter Frampton will be inducted.  Also, being from Michicgan, do you Ted Nugent getting into the Hall of Fame?

      Also, what are your thoughts on 1980s Glam metal (i.e. Motley Crue, Poison, 80s era KISS, etc.)?

      And, is there a list of artists that you know critics like, but you just can not cotton to them (i.e. David Bowie) and why?

      Tyler

  • George Crock

    about 5 months ago

    Hey Steve,

    Wanted to ask you a three fold question on the topic of progressive rock: why do you think the mainstream music critics (e.g. Rolling Stone) were so harsh on this kind of rock music? And now that Yes and ELO are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what do you think are the chances that the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Asia, Styx, and King Crimson will be inducted in the future (also what are your personal thoughts on each band)? And finally, do you think progressive rock is the closest rock/pop music genre that embodies universalism/cosmopolitian libertarianism of Hayek, Mises, Rand, etc.?

    Tyler Crock 

  • Zoe Miller

    about 5 months ago

    Hi, I'm interested to understand on a granular basis: how step-by-step did Germans give up their liberty to fascism during Hitler's rule? (Is there a book or other source?)

    And, any other Stalin/Mao/etc cases where those rulers were significantly helped by parliament, media, popular stars.


    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Hi Zoe.

      I wish I could answer this one well. I am not an expert on the rise of Naziism. There are a lot of books on that topic, not surprisingly, but I honestly don't know the literature well enough to recommend one. 

      One thing I can says is that almost every authoritarian regime has made use of media and pop culture icons to promote their ideas and bring the public to their side. This includes FDR during the New Deal. If you're not familiar with the propaganda around the National Recovery Administration, among other things, you should investigate it. Start here with this example:  

      love showing that clip in class to see how 21st century young people react to it and for them to realize that this is part of their own history as well.

  • John Lindley

    about 5 months ago

    If you could only suggest one economics text for someone who dies a little reading economics books what should I read?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I'm going to suggest three, depending on exactly what your interests are:

      An intro Econ textbook:   The Economic Way of Thinking by Heyne, Boettke, and Prychitko (11th edition or later)

      An intro to econ non-textbook:  Free Our Markets by Howard Baetjer

      A classic:   Economics in One Lesson by  Henry Hazlitt

  • Sam Raptis

    about 5 months ago

    A wild progressive appears and accuses you of wanting to cut a gaping hole in the social safety net. How do you respond?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      My first response would be to say "who, me?"  I say that because my own view is that before we dramatically cut welfare programs, we need to free up markets to make it easier for those who rely on those programs to earn their own living. Government is handing out crutches to people whose legs the gov't is responsible for breaking! 

      So my first response would be:  "No, before we start cutting, let's do this:  1) get rid of occupational licensure and zoning laws, and other small business-specific regs, that prevent people of modest means from earning a legitimate living; 2) end minimum wage laws and open up more job opportunities to the lower-skilled; 3) end the war on drugs and its horrific effects on the cost of doing business in poor areas; 4) open up the schools to meaningful competition so that folks can improve their human capital."  Once we do that, then we can talk about what needs to be done with welfare.

      With respect to that: part of my response would be:  how well has that safety net done?  We frequently hear the same progressives who make the argument you are making then turn around and complain how bad poverty is.  Perhaps thinking differently about these issues is worth doing givin that we've had those programs for 50 years and you tell us things are no better. Asking whether the programs we might eventually like to cut actually work is a question worth asking.

      Finally, I would point to how charitable Americans are (more than any other country) and talk about some of the history I mentioned earlier. There are civil society ways of addressing poverty. It's not a matter of "government or nothing."

  • Sam Raptis

    about 5 months ago

    A wild progressive appears and accuses you of wanting to cut a gaping hole in the social safety net. How do you respond?

  • Garrett Watson

    about 5 months ago

    What is your view on the prospects of a liberal yet centrist political figure or movement emerging (echoing the success of France's En Marche!) in the U.S. over the next five years? Would this be a positive development for classical liberals, a mixed blessing, or a distraction? 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I would love to have a sane, centrist/liberal figure/movement emerge. Given the choice between a party drifting toward Bernie Sanders and one commiitted to Trump, anything in the middle would be a good thing. I'm not a "burn it all down" guy because I think the risks are too great. Someone who was broadly liberal and who was an adult in the room would be most welcome. I think such a person could also be open to persuasion from a more libertarian direction. Sanders and Trump won't hear it.  I'd be really happy if that centrist was pro-immigration and pro-trade, as that combined with more skepticism about the US military would be a combination that would be MUCH better than what we seem to have before us now.

  • Cory Massimino

    about 5 months ago

    1. Is the practical insight of understanding and appreciating spontaneous order that we should 1) be very skeptical of attempts to radically redesign the social order away from the status quo, 2) be very skeptical of attempts to radically redesign the social order away from voluntary market processes, or something else? 

    2. How's your book on the Great Depression coming?

    3. What advice do you have for an undergrad who's endlessly interested in economic methodology, political economy, and history of economic thought but loathes math?

    4. Why do you like Firefly?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Great questions as always Cory.

      1.  I think it's number 2, but there's an important point in number 1 that I don't want to neglect. So what I'm about to say might end up being "something else." I think that spontaneous order theory points our attention to the difference between the rules of the game and the outcomes within those rules, a la Buchanan. What it tells us is that 1) we can't engineer outcomes directly; 2) the rules matter for the outcomes taht emerge unplanned from the play of the game; 3) we do have a limited capacity to tinker with the rules to get better patterns of outcomes, though we cannot plan or predict the specifics. So... with respect to your 1, we do have some power to shift the social order away from the status quo, but not through "radical redesign," but, to use Popper's term, "piecemeal" reforms of the rules. 

      2. Don't ask. :)

      3. Consider philosophy or history. Seriously. I think you could do interesting work on those topics and related ones in either of those fields. It's also why we need PPE PhD programs!  Understand that even if you loathe math, you'll still have to do some in a PPE and possibly in a history methods course. But if you really don't want the math of an Econ PhD, those are options.

      4. Well the writing is sparkling. (Or shiny even.) The characters are also well-developed and complex. It's just well-written and well-executed drama with just enough snarky humor to be fun.

    • Cory Massimino

      about 5 months ago

      Thanks for the answers!

  • Aaron Spencer Morton

    about 5 months ago

    Mr. Steve Horwitz,

    I just want to thank you for all you have done for the libertarian movement! I love your articles, videos, and talks.

    Now for the question:

    What are your thoughts on Georgism and the Land Value Tax? 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Thanks for your kind words Aaron.

      I have not read a lot of George, so most of what I know is second-hand. It seems to me that the biggest flaw in Georgism, certainly from an Austrian perspective, is to think that land is "different." For Austrians, it's capital like all the other inputs and all of the same basic concepts from capital theory apply to it as well. So thinking there's something special there that means it deserves different treatment, including the land value tax, is a conceptual error. 

      Another criticism of the Georgist story can be found here:  http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/georgism.pdf

  • Heather Bone

    about 5 months ago

    I'm an economics student at U of T interested in labour economics (in particular welfare reform) and becker-style analysis of the economics of life.

    What schools should I be looking at for a doctoral program? 

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Here's some general advice about picking PhD programs that I think apply to any field:

      1. Find the highest ranked program you can that will give you money

      2. Do not pay to get a PhD

      3. Search for programs by the faculty who teach there. If you are already writing papers as an undergrad, whose work are you citing that you find fascinating?  Whose work is interesting but seems to have obvious places where it could be (critically) extended? Those are the people you want to work with, so explore the schools where they teach and see if they have PhD programs. Then consider them under numbers 1 and 2 above.

      4. It doesn't sound like you're interested in Austrian econ in particular, but if you are, I can give you more specific advice. But even there, number 3 is the key. 

      Remember that PhD programs are mentorships. Like musicians who go to a school to be in a musican/professor's "studio," so it is with PhDs, at least in Econ. You should go to the place with the people and research agenda that fascinates you, subject to the constraints of quality and funding. How you trade those off is more tricky, but that's the basic idea.

  • Daniel Benavidez (d4nc3d4nnyd4nc3)

    about 5 months ago

    Would dropping care packages in DPRK internment camps and for the citizens likely cause a loss of faith in the Kim regime or cause the regime to become stronger in some unintended way?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      A great question. I suspect the flights dropping them would get missiles shot at them, but that's a different question.

      I think how best to help the North Korean people is a really challenging question. I think it's probably a better strategy to do what we can to penetrate that closed society with accurate information about the world outside of it, especially the US. One way Trump's bluster is hurting them is that it makes it harder to make the case that the US is their friend (even if we loathe the regime). Some of the things that worked in opening up China (exposure to western culture through tech) would be great... if NK was wealthy enough to even have the tech!

      So care packages just aren't a likely option and I don't think they'd do much anyway.

  • Emperor

    about 5 months ago

    In your online article on the LTV (here), you stated the following:

    "The classical economists, including Marx, offered explanations for all of these apparent exceptions, but, like the increasingly complex explanations of the geocentricists, they began to feel ad hoc and left people searching for a better answer."

    In what way is the LTV an ad hoc theory?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Marx's theory is ad hoc in the sense that it really can't explain what it purports to explain and therefore has to come up with workarounds that make the theory overly detailed. At some point, it's not even a theory anymore. Bohm-Bawerk made this point in his criticisms and others have as well. Those explanations for the exceptions are the problem here. A good theory should not have to do that in any extensive way.

      And as for your other question:  I think the LTV is better understood as the Labor Theory of Price in the sense that he's trying to explain where the price of a good comes from.

  • Emperor

    about 5 months ago

    How do you think Marx defines 'value' in his Labour Theory of Value?

  • William

    about 5 months ago

    Dear Prof. Horwitz,

    I once saw a fb post of yours on social constructs and how spontaneous order had a role to play in creating them. Could you elaborate on that? How do you view the relationship between evolutionary psychology and the formation of social constructs? What would would be a good starting point for getting to know some interesting ideas in evolutionary psychology from a libertarian albeit honest point of view?

    Thank you

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      Lots going on there!

      Cultural products are often spontaneous orders in the sense that they emerge and evolve in processes no one controls. The best example is language. Both Mises and Hayek recognized the way language structures our various thinking in ways that enable us to understand some things and understand them only in particular ways. So how we've come to understand "feminine" is a product of lots of different cultural influences leading to a particular set of things we associate with that word. And when we learn the language, our thoughts are structured (though not determined) by those words and their meanings.

      On evolutionary psych:  read Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. They are pioneers in EP and are both broadly classical liberals. You should also read Hayek's The Sensory Order. It's a tough read by it will help understand cognitive psych in a way that's rooted in evolution and related to these issues of language and socialization.

      We are not blank slates is the consistent thread here.

    • William

      about 5 months ago

      Thank you. I'll check those out

  • Seth Martin

    about 5 months ago

    Hi there! I have two questions if that's okay. 

    I've noticed a distinct vulgarity from many libertarians in regards to transgender people taking cues from people like Ben Shapiro. Which ways would you encourage to talk with people who are so adamantly against trans rights or is a situation where it's a lost cause?  I originally thought there were more allies in the libertarian tradition but it's a tough subject. 

    My second question is about your thoughts on the universal basic income and the land value tax?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      On the second, see my earlier responses on both topics.

      On the first... I agree with your concerns here, suffice it to say. And I honestly don't quite understand why self-described libertarians, who would seem to value individual expression and respect for individual decision making, would be so bothered by a person's decision to want to change genders, if not, over time, their sex. Why should it trouble me if you decided to identify as female and wish to be called Samantha, for example?I just don't get why we aren't just following Leonard Read's advice and accepting "anything that's peaceful?"  Who is being harmed by this?

      So there's my rant. :) 

      I think the only way to respond to it is along those lines. If your conversation partner is a NAP libertarian, ask them where the aggression is here. If they are more of a consequentialist, ask them where the harm is. Much like the same-sex marriage issue, I just don't see what the negative externality is.

      Also worth noting that transfolks are especially likely to be victims of both private and state violence. If as libertarians we really do oppose coercion and violence, then don't we have an obligation to help create a culture that is more tolerant of transfolks?  If so, how is the nasty rhetoric doing that, and how much more violence is it indirectly contributing to?

      You also might show them this:  

  • Josh Hanson

    about 5 months ago

    Among thinkers with whom you disagree (Austrians or otherwise), who do you find you respect the most?

    • Steve Horwitz

      about 5 months ago

      I love this question and it's one I wish more people would ask academics.  

      Elizabeth Anderson, the political philosopher. She's brilliant, challenging, funny, and deals with libertarians in good faith. She's a role model of how to be a great progressive thinker.

      Don Herzog, legal/political theory. Same for Don.  Interesting that both are at my alma mater, Michigan.  I never had Liz for class, but have met her in person. Don I had for two classes.

      The late Warren Samuels was a non-Austrian economist whose work I respected deeply for many of the same reasons. I always learned from reading him.

      Finally, an Austrian, and one that might surprise some reading this:  Bob Murphy. Bob and I disagree on a number of things, on both economics and libertarianism, but Bob is an excellent economist whose work I respect. His book Choice is a terrific companion to Human Action and teaches well.

  • Steve Horwitz

    about 5 months ago

    It's just after 4, so thank you all for hanging out and asking some great questions.  Have a great weekend!

  • Luke McCormick

    about 5 months ago

    Hi Steve.  I want to ask you a question about one of my favorite topics, minimum wage laws.  Now (unless I'm gravely mistaken) you share my belief that they are not a good thing.  I frequently find myself explaining microeconomics to friends and acquaintences who haven't studied as much economics as I have, explaining how the quantity of hours demanded will fall in the face of a price floor. 

    Here's the thing: while I feel comfortable defending these ideas to people who have less training then I do, I'm aware that there appear to be a lot of people with far more training then me -- Ph.Ds, professors, hell Nobel and Clark medal winners -- who support wage minimums, even raising them.  The Chicago survey says that even though the majority of economists oppose them, about a third support them.  That's an awful lot of smart, well-trained people on the other side, far too many for me to feel very comfortable dismissing them.

    I know it's awkward to explain somebody else's ideas that you don't believe yourself, but...could you?  I know very little about macro, and what I do makes me not trust it :)  Is there merit (even if it doesn't convince you) in their arguments?  Can you point me towards anything I can read in defense of minimum wages that doesn't fall apart immediately?  What are possible justifications?  Is there anything to the "bargaining power" theory I've heard?  (I've taken classes on negotiation, and I'm not aware of any strategy that says people gain power when their options are limited by a third party.)