Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy


This wonderful book has been justly recognized for its importance. It won first place in the Templeton Enterprise Award 2007. Foreign translations are stacking up. And just in time: in theological circles, the soft-Marxist analytics of the old days have yet to be displaced. The author here examines this paradigm of thought against sound economic teaching, using the Austrian School in particular as his framework.

In fact, Thomas Woods's book on Catholic social teaching surpasses any other book ever published in this genre. Rather than merely recount what has been said, he subject the corpus to a relentless examination, highlighting contradictions and missteps, while praising the good. Even for those not particularly interested in Catholic teaching, this book is an outstanding elucidation of economic science in light of moral concerns. He covers wages and labor, money and inflation, trade and the division of labor, entrepreneurship and development, and the meaning of a range of concepts such as price and value.

Of particular interest is Professor Woods's primary target: not so much the social-gospel left but the Catholic right, which argues against free enterprise and laissez-faire with surprising intensity. By taking on these critics of the market, as versus easier leftist targets, he has set for himself the most difficult task of providing a corrective concerning economics to those who are most attached to Catholic teaching on faith and morals and yet are dogmatically attached to various forms of government intervention designed to shore up morals and faith.

He shows that market economics is not contradicted by binding Catholic teaching but rather supported by it.

Professor Woods is as skilled an interpreter of Mises, Reisman, Rothbard, Menger, Hayek, and others as he is of Leo XIII, Pius X, Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. His reading of the relevant documents stretching back more than a century--and his careful explanation of their status as official teaching--is a model of fairness and disciplined commentary.

He avoids the error of filiopietism that too often afflicts such efforts, but neither does he dismiss the moral concerns that underlay such social teaching. The result is a book that will offer a continuing challenge to anti-market moral theorists on the right and left, and anyone who claims that economic science should be ignored or otherwise dismissed in light of higher ethical priorities.

In short, this is the book that pastors and Bishops need to read. There is every indication that the fame of this work is growing such that they will have to read it in order to communicate effectively on the topic.

ISBN 0739110365
Paperback, 280 pages.

33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask


Can you really understand American history without understanding economics? Thomas Woods doesn't think so, which is why he wrote this fabulous, pithy, provocative, and supremely enlightening book.

And guess what? His research, and his training in the Austrian tradition of economics, led him to disagree with the mainstream of American history in many surprising ways.

For example, the Indians didn't save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. Thomas Jefferson thought states’ rights—an idea reviled today—were even more important than the Constitution’s checks and balances. The "Wild" West was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. And the biggest scandal of the Clinton years didn't involve an intern in a blue dress.

In America, where history is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation, there’s the history you know and then there’s the truth.

In 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, Thomas E. Woods Jr., the New York Times bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, sets the record straight with a provocative look at the hidden truths about our nation’s history—the ones that have been buried because they’re too sensitive to discuss. Woods draws on real scholarship—as opposed to the myths, platitudes, and slogans so many other “history” books are based on—to ask and answer tough questions about American history, including:

  • Was the Civil War all about slavery?
  • Did the Framers really look to the American Indians as the model for the U.S. political system?
  • Was the U.S. Constitution meant to be a "living, breathing" document—and does it grant the federal government wide latitude to operateas it pleases?
  • Did Bill Clinton actually stop a genocide, as we’re told?
  • Did capitalism cause the Great Depression?
  • Was discrimination the cause of wage disparities?
  • Did unions make wages rise?
  • Can the President really do what he wants in foreign policy?
  • Did Hoover really do nothing to stop the Depression?
You’d never know it from the history that’s been handed down to us, but the answer to all those questions is no.

Woods’s eye-opening exploration reveals how much has been whitewashed from the historical record, overlooked, and skewed beyond recognition. More informative than your last U.S. history class, 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask will have you wondering just how much about your nation’s past you haven’t been told.

Will this book start arguments? Yes, indeed, but such arguments are long overdue. So much of Woods book is answer to the claims that are merely taken for granted in classroom across America, and for many decades.

At last, there is fun-to-read, one-stop answer to all the main ones, a book designed to get America thinking again.

Hardcover 978-0-307-34668-1

A Foreign Policy of Freedom. 'Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship'


There is one and only one voice in Congress for a foreign policy of freedom, and it belongs to Ron Paul, who has stood alone for freedom for many years. Ron is the seemingly impossible: a voice for reason and truth in a den of thieves.

A Foreign Policy of Freedom is his 372-page manifesto, a collection of inspired statements to the House of Representatives that show him to be the most consistent and morally responsible politician, perhaps, in the whole of American history.

This book takes on a special significance with his 2008 run for the US presidency. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., writes the introduction.

Recently, you might have heard Ron condemning foreign aid, the Iraq War, our vast and needlessly growing military budgets, bombings of this country and that, troops in most all countries in the world, and all the other meddlesome activities of the US empire. This foreign policy, Congressman Paul has pointed out, is contrary to American ideals, diminishes American liberty, and ends up making worse the very problems it seeks to alleviate.

But did you know that Ron has been delivering this message through thick and thin from his first day in Congress in 1976 until the present day? That's 31 years of prophetic warnings, 31 years of courageous stands against the tide, 31 years of being proven right by subsequent events. There are no flip-flops, backpeddles, regrets, or coverups. He has told the truth again and again, no matter what it cost him.

In the middle of the Cold War, he decried the endless streams of subsidies from the US to communist governments. At the same time, he stood firm against aid to insurgents seeking to overthrow those regimes. He sensibly pointed out that the Soviet Union would collapse if it had to face financial reality, and an end to US aid would make that possible. He has been a stickler on the power of the presidency, refusing to grant the president authority to start wars without Congressional approval.

Herein you will find a chronicle of hypocrisy. Paul condemned the policy that subsidized Saddam Hussein, and the policy that waged war on Iraq and killed Saddam. The same is true of Noriega in Panama and the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan who later made up the shock troops of Al-Qaeda.

"Our experiment with foreign policy interventionism has failed, just as our experience with domestic economic interventionism has failed," he said in 1982.

He said the same in mid-1990s.

"War, and the threat of war, are big government's best friend," he wrote only recently. "Liberals support big government social programs, and conservatives support big government war policies, thus satisfying two major special interest groups. And when push comes to shove, the two groups cooperate and support big government across the board — always at the expense of personal liberty. Both sides pay lip service to freedom, but neither stands against the welfare-warfare state and its promises of unlimited entitlements and endless war."

In many ways, this book is a history of a quarter century of folly, told by a man who saw what others did not, and had the temerity to state his view publicly. No voice for peace has been as consistent in the demand that government stop its intervention across the board. No supporter of free markets has been so determined to apply the logic of liberty to all aspects of foreign policy.

This book makes Ron Paul's place in history. There has never been anything so forthright, truth telling, and ultimately devastating from a US politician. Not since Taft has there been a book like this, and this one makes Taft's own classic seems vague and abstract by comparison.

ISBN 978-0-912453-00-2 372 pages paperback

The Case for Gold


In 1982, Ron Paul served on the U.S. Gold Commission to evaluate the role of gold in the monetary system. In fact, the Commission was his idea. It was carrying forth a promise made in the Republican platform.

Ron couldn't pick the members, so from the beginning, the deck was stacked. The majority was dominated by monetarists, who saw gold as too scarce and paper as just fine. Ron Paul's team was ready, however, with this marvelous minority report.

Rarely has a dissent on a government commission done so much good!

The result was The Case for Gold, and it was the greatest result of the commission. It covers the history of gold in the United States, explains that its breakdown was caused by governments, and explains the merit of having sound money: prices reflect market realities, government stays in check, and the people retain their freedom.

The scholarship and rigor impressed even the critics of the minority. Ron and Lewis Lehrman worked with a team of economists that included Murray Rothbard, so it is hardly suprising that such a book would result.

It still holds up as an excellent blueprint for moving beyond paper money and into the age of sound money. In particular, Ron favors complete monetary freedom to use any commodity as money, to make contracts in any money, and an end to the monopolization and printing power of the Federal Reserve.

There is a strong piece of history in this book. Not since the 19th century has a political figure made such a sweeping and devastating case for radical monetary reform. This congressman ran circles around even the experts at the Fed. A dazzling performance indeed, and an inspiring and learned book.

245 pages, 6" x 9", paperback

What Has Government Done to Our Money? and The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar


The Mises Institute is pleased to present this very beautiful hardbound edition of Rothbard's most famous monetary essay--the one that has influenced two generations of economists, investors, and business professionals.

The Mises Institute has united this book with its natural complement: a detailed reform proposal for a 100 percent gold dollar. "The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar" was written a decade before the last vestiges of the gold standard were abolished. His unique plan for making the dollar sound again still holds up. Some people have said: Rothbard tells us what is wrong with money but not what to do about it. Well, by adding this essay, the problem and the answer are united in a comprehensive whole.

After presenting the basics of money and banking theory, he traces the decline of the dollar from the 18th century to the present, and provides lucid critiques of central banking, New Deal monetary policy, Nixonian fiat money, and fixed exchange rates. He also provides a blueprint for a return to a 100 percent reserve gold standard.

The book made huge theoretical advances. He was the first to prove that the government, and only the government, can destroy money on a mass scale, and he showed exactly how they go about this dirty deed. But just as importantly, it is beautifully written. He tells a thrilling story because he loves the subject so much.

The passion that Murray feels for the topic comes through in the prose and transfers to the reader. Readers become excited about the subject, and tell others. Students tell professors. Some, like the great Ron Paul of Texas, have even run for political office after having read it.

Rothbard shows precisely how banks create money out of thin air and how the central bank, backed by government power, allows them to get away with it. He shows how exchange rates and interest rates would work in a true free market. When it comes to describing the end of the gold standard, he is not content to describe the big trends. He names names and ferrets out all the interest groups involved.

Since Rothbard's death, scholars have worked to assess his legacy, and many of them agree that this little book is one of his most important. Though it has sometimes been inauspiciously packaged and is surprisingly short, its argument took huge strides toward explaining that it is impossible to understand public affairs in our time without understanding money and its destruction.

This volume's contents include:

  • Preface by Jörg Guido Hülsmann
  • I. Introduction by Murray Rothbard
  • II. Money in a Free Society
    • 1. The Value of Exchange
    • 2. Barter
    • 3. Indirect Exchange
    • 4. Benefits of Money
    • 5. The Monetary Unit
    • 6. The Shape of Money
    • 7. Private Coinage
    • 8. The Proper Supply of Money
    • 9. The Problem of Hoarding
    • 10. Stabilize the Price Level?
    • 11. Coexisting Moneys
    • 12. Money-Warehouses
    • 13. Summary
  • III. Government Meddling With Money
    • 1. The Revenue of Government
    • 2. The Economic Effects of Inflation
    • 3. Compulsory Monopoly of the Mint
    • 4. Debasement
    • 5. Gresham's Law and Coinage
    • 6. Summary: Government and Coinage
    • 7. Permitting Banks to Refuse Payment
    • 8. Central Banking: Removing the Checks on Inflation
    • 9. Central Banking: Directing the Inflation
    • 10. Going Off the Gold Standard
    • 11. Fiat Money and the Gold Problem
    • 12. Fiat Money and Gresham's Law
    • 13. Government and Money
  • IV. The Monetary Breakdown of the West
    • 1. Phase I: The Classical Gold Standard, 1815-1914
    • 2. Phase II: World War I and After
    • 3. Phase III: The Gold Exchange Standard (Britain and the United States) 1926-1931
    • 4. Phase IV: Fluctuating Fiat Currencies, 1931-1945...
    • 5. Phase V: Bretton Woods and the New Gold Exchange Standard (the United States) 1945 1968
    • 6. Phase VI: The Unraveling of Bretton Woods, 1968-1971
    • 7. Phase VII: The End of Bretton Woods: Fluctuating Fiat Currencies, August-December, 1971
    • 8. Phase VIII: The Smithsonian Agreement, December 1971-February 1973
    • 9. Phase IX: Fluctuating Fiat Currencies, March 1973-?
  • The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar
    • Preface by Murray Rothbard
    • 1. The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar
    • 2. Money and Freedom
    • 3. The Dollar: Independent Name or Unit of Weight?
    • 4. Monopolizing the Mint
    • 5. Encouraging Bank Inflation
    • 6. 100 Percent Gold Banking
    • 7. Objections to 100 Percent Gold
    • 8. Professor Yeager and 100 Percent Gold
    • 9. The 100 Percent Gold Tradition
    • 10. The Road Ahead

ISBN 0945466447
Hardcover, 191 pages including index

Not a Zero-Sum Game: The Paradox of Exchange


The key to understanding how society comes to be, works without central direction, and develops into a thriving civilization can be understood through the least understood idea in economics: the division of labor through comparative advantage. It is central to not only Mises's conception of the social order but also to the entire classical-liberal worldview.

This monograph by Manuel Ayau provides what might be the most precise and compelling of the idea in the history of economic writing. He explains how trade and cooperation becomes mutually beneficial to all parties despite differences among them in terms of capacity and talent. He shows how everyone is made wealthier through cooperation, and how it is that the market economy leads to the benefit of everyone.

If this idea of what Mises called the Law of Association were better understood, many socialistic misconceptions about the market economy would fall by the wayside. Ayau explains it through simple diagrams and illustrations that will change the way you think. about issues of trade, equality, and social development.

Also, if you are alreay a "convert" on this issue of comparative advantage, this monograph makes an outstanding book to hand out to others. The excitement of the author and the persuasiveness of the author makes this an excellent tract for spreading the wisdom offered by economic science.

This special edition is made available to the Mises Institute at this very low price, but quantities are very limited.

80 page, paperback, ISBN 99922-799-9-0

Economics for Real People


The second edition of the fun and fascinating guide to the main ideas of the Austrian School of economics, written in sparkling prose especially for the non-economist. Gene Callahan shows that good economics isn't about government planning or statistical models. It's about human beings and the choices they make in the real world.

This may be the most important book of its kind since Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Though written for the beginner, it has been justly praised by scholars too, including Israel Kirzner, Walter Block, and Peter Boettke.

Gene Callahan is a software-technology professional in Connecticut, an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute, and a commentator on economics issues in venues such as Marketplace and The Free Market. This is his first book.

Israel M. Kirzner (New York University): "Even a cursory examination of this book is sufficient to impress the reader that we have here a remarkably well-written exposition for the layman of the highlights of Austrian Economics."

Peter J. Boettke (George Mason University): "Written in a jargon-less and engaging style, Callahan's work provides the most comprehensive introduction to modern Austrian economics currently available to the intelligent layman."

Walter Block (Loyola University, New Orleans): "I don't toss around compliments like this lightly, but the passion, eloquence and sheer witty writing style of this author is also reminiscent of Rothbard. I plan to use it in all of my future intro courses."

Barron's calls Economics for Real People "a terrific new book on economic theory." "If I were teaching an introductory course in economics," writes Gene Epstein (Dec. 2, 2002), "I'd assign Gene Callahan's Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School. I also commend it to folks in search of a good read on the joys of economic insight."

He continues:

"Callahan's reference to 'real people' consciously echoes the more austere title of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises' magnum opus, Human Action. For as the author explains, economics is the study of how real people act to relieve dissatisfaction. For example, dissatisfied with the inconvenience of barter, folks start using more marketable goods for indirect exchange, a practice that eventually results in one or two commodities becoming the preferred medium of exchange, usually gold or silver….

"The first half of the book sets forth basic principles; the second shows how the myriad ways of interfering with the market make matters worse, sometimes much worse. Callahan cites the 'health-care crisis' as a prime example of how 'the problems resulting from one intervention tend to lead to calls for other interventions to fix those problems.' While the hated HMOs are generally viewed as creatures of capitalism, these 'strange entities' are just a response to the soaring costs arising from the government-instituted system of third party payments."

"'We do not see AMOs in the automobile industry or CMOs in the computer business,' observes Callahan. That insight cuts to the core of what is really going on. Auto dealers might also find their professional live unbearable, just as many physicians do, if AMOs told them how to service their customers. But happily, the disease of third party payments has only infected health care."

"On the issue of government subsidizing business to build things, the author quotes from a review by Newt Gingrich of a book about the transcontinental railroad, in which the former congressman celebrates the 'public-private partnership' without which 'the railroad could not have been built for another generation.' To which Callahan responds, 'Gingrich simply assumes that a transcontinental railroad ought to have come before the alternatives that entrepreneurs might have created with those same resources.'"

ISBN 0-945466-41-2
351 pgs.