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Debating an Austrian: Handy List of Terms
One of the questions every great biologist invariably faces is "Do we debate the creationists?" Similarly, all great economists must ask themselves the question "Do we debate the Austrians?" John Maynard Keynes did it in the 1930s and won. Now the Austrians are whining that liberal economist Paul Krugman won't debate them. Anyway, whether or not you want to debate one, here is a handy-dandy list of Austrian terms/dog whistles that can either act as a brief dictionary or help you avoid a fruitless debate (and debating Austrians is always fruitless) by recognizing undercover Austrians.
- A priori/Deductive: The best way to understand economics, because empiricism doesn't work.
- Act/Action/Human Action: Because of the Action Axiom, Austrians really like to use the words "act" and "action." A lot.
- Aggregate/Aggregation: Evil. The "aggregation problem" can be used to handwave away any form of statistical argument. See Atom.
- Atom: What humans aren't. As in "You can't just force human action into an equation! Humans aren't atoms. Economics isn't physics."
- Behavioralism: The strictly hypothetical economic "science" of how a human being might react to economic puzzles. Useless.
- Bureaucrat/Government Bureaucrat: Idiot. Because government workers are not in the private sphere, they never have any incentive to do a good job, ever. Once you work for the government, you automatically become a drooling, blithering moron sucking at the taxpayers' tit. Often appears as: "You want to entrust the decision to sell your lungs for money to a government bureaucrat?!"
- Coercion/Coercive force/At gunpoint: Any government policy is coercive by nature. It is always enforced at gunpoint. By jack-booted thugs.
- Deflation: Good. It eliminates the evil inflation. What? It can cause unemployment? Well, those people just need to try harder.
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Definitive proof that government can't do anything right, ever.
- Economic fallacy: Anything at odds with Austrian School tenets. For example, Keynes' paradox of thrift is considered an "economic fallacy," because savings are good, and by methodological individualism, good + good = good, so everyone stuffing cash under their mattresses and never spending it isn't a bad thing for the economy.
- Empirical/Empiricism: Flawed method of understanding economics. Because variables can't be isolated via experimentation, empirical and statistical methods are too inherently flawed to bother with. Historical sciences? No such thing.
- Fallacy of the Broken Window: Refers to the parable of the broken window, but called a "fallacy" because it does not align with Austrian assumptions.
- Federal Reserve: The arm of the government that creates the business cycle. When it lowers interest rates, that sends out radio signals to investors' brains and makes them too dumb not to make ridiculous loans.
- Free Market: Always wins. However, because government intervention in markets has always existed, there has never been a truly free market. Black markets, for some reason, don't count because they are illegal (anarcho-capitalists and minarchists disagree on this point). Therefore, there has never been a truly free market society, so the free market has never actually failed. Much like how commies say "real" communism was never put into practice.
- Gold/gold standard: Best thing ever. Gold prevents the evil government bureaucrats and jack-booted thugs from creating the evil inflation. It also gives you something to invest your worthless paper money in so you have something to eat when the Economic Armageddon comes.
- Government: Evil. The thing that burdens all the John Galts of the world with unnecessary regulations and employs jack-booted thugs via the IRS to steal the peoples' money through outright theft, which is renamed "taxation."
- Inflation: Evil. The driver behind fake growth. It's well-known that Ludwig von Mises' parents were eaten by inflation.
- Intent: The reason for any action.
- Jack-booted thug: See Bureaucrat. Except this time with a gun.
- Malinvestment: Bullshit investment.
- Misallocation of resources: Making bullshit investments on a massive scale as in the dot-com bubble or housing bubble. Usually happens because of the Fed.
- Natural Monopoly: An economic fallacy. Only the government can create a monopoly. At gunpoint.
- Peter Schiff: Always right.
- Praxeology: The one true and certain method of acquiring knowledge. It consists of starting with completely undeniable absolute truths,, and then deriving informed conclusions respecting economic fact from those truths.
- Public roads: A sign of creeping socialism.
- Rational: Having some utility value to a person. Basically, everything is rational because Austrians rely on extreme subjectivism, so any action can be considered "rational" as long as it fulfills the desire of the person who take that action, but not necessarily "moral."
- Recession/Depression: A means by which the market purges itself of malinvestments.
- Real loanable funds: Loanable funds is a common self-explanatory economic term. By "real," Austrians mean hard cash moneys. Anything else is just an IOU that creates inflation and thus not "real" and evil.
- Reallocation of resources: After a bubble bursts, the malinvestments are set free to be reallocated. Those who lose their jobs due to the reallocation had it coming anyway.
- Say's Law: For Austrians, basically means supply always precedes demand. Austrian school is supply-side. Because the first person to ever trade something had to find or make the product first, supply must always come before demand. Always.
- Social Security: Government Ponzi scheme. Screw old people, privatize it.
- Statistics: Math is hard. See a priori and empiricism.
- Taxes: Legalized theft.
- Uneconomical: In disagreement with Austrian theory. What is economical is also always good and moral.
- Unintended Consequences: Because all public policy will have unintended consequences, government should do nothing.
Names to watch out for: F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Peter Boettke (or most other profs at George Mason University, which is a public university, the last bastion of the Austrians inside academia), Peter Schiff, Carl Menger, Frederic Bastiat.
- Greaves, Percy L. Mises Made Easier. 1974.