Today’s Assigned Reading
Posted by Nancy on June 18, 2009
What would you think of a book that contained the following quotes?
“The characteristic feature of present-day policies is the trend toward a substitution of government control for free enterprise. Powerful political parties and pressure groups are fervently asking for public control of all economic activities, for thorough government planning, and for the nationalization of business. They aim at full government control of education and at the socialization of the medical profession. There is no sphere of human activity that they would not be prepared to subordinate to regimentation by the authorities. In their eyes, state control is the panacea for all ills.” (p. 4)
“America is faced with a phenomenon that the framers of the Constitution did not foresee and could not foresee: the voluntary abandonment of congressional rights. Congress has in many instances surrendered the function of legislation to government agencies and commissions, and it has relaxed its budgetary control through the allocation of large appropriations for expenditures, which the Administration has to determine in detail.” (p. 5)
“The political conflicts are no longer seen as struggles between groups of men. They are considered a war between two principles, the good and the bad. The good is embodies in the great god State, the materialization of the eternal idea of morality, and the bad is the ‘rugged individualism’ of selfish men. In this antagonism the State is always right and the individual always wrong. The State is the representative of the commonweal, of justice, civilization, and superior wisdom. The individual is a poor wretch, a vicious fool.” (p. 76)
What would you say if I told you it was written in 1944? In Austria?*
These quotes are from Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises, a member of the Austrian School of Economics. He and fellow economist F. A Hayak (The Road To Serfdom) wrote during the time of Hitler, but are drawing wide attention recently among modern readers.
For further information you may want to check out http://mises.org/. Better yet, check your local bookstore or online vendor for copies of their books. They may have been defending capitalism from fascism when they originally wrote their books, but their insights are prescient of current times.
*Contrary to our president’s statement, German is spoken there, not a non-existent language called “Austrian.”