110. Who Ludwig von Mises?

On today’s episode, Brittany and Connor talk about the legendary economist, Ludwig von Mises.


Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hey Connor.

Connor: So on our show, we have talked about economics a lot, and I remember in college, I took an economics class. In fact, I was just talking with a friend about this the other day. I remember this class I took in college and it was like the most boring class I’ve ever been in. And it was a required class, and there’s charts and graphs and supply and demand and x y axes and all these macroeconomic, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I just remember like, oh my gosh. Like, you know, how, quickly can I get through the material?

Brittany: my brain is just like turned off. Hearing you say those terms. so,

Connor: Oh yeah, And, so what I love about what we do at the Tuttlewins and what you and I have learned over the years is that economics is way more interesting than all that boring stuff. Not to say that that stuff doesn’t have a place, but you know, it doesn’t have a place for kids. I’ll at least say that much, but economics is really just how humans interact and why they do. We have so many families, Britney, that are using our economic curriculum, our free Market Rules curriculum. You guys can find that at Freemarket.tuttletwins.com, and we’ll link to that on the show notes page. And that is a weekly curriculum where you can learn about free market economics but simplified and through examples and stories and, things that just like, the name of our podcast, Brittany, helps us learn the way the world works. Economics is like the language of human behavior and human interaction. I like that. And so there’s no one better to talk about when we’re talking about this stuff than Ludwig von Mises. So, wanted to take an opportunity here. We talked about FA Hayek in the past. Another economist, he wrote among other books Hayek Did, and I’m saying Economics and No, no, that was

Brittany: Those Hazlett.

Connor: Close Hazlett. Hayek was the Road to Serfdom. And so we did the book, the TuttleTwins, and the Road to Serfdom based on Hayek’s book. Well,  the 11th book in our children’s series, the TuttleTwins and the Messed Up Market is based of Ludwig Vaughn Mises’s book, his magnum opus, I guess you can call it, called Human Action. And this is a dense book. This is a book.

Brittany: The dent, honestly, one of the dentists, if not the dentist

Connor: But what’s amazing is it’s so powerful. Like if you just kind of sit there and read a page and think about it, you know, for the adults in the room there, some of the words are big and, whatnot, but, there’s so much meaning there and so much, analysis and observation. Anyways, it’s really interesting. But Blood, we’ll talk about ’em in a second. I remember a couple of years ago someone saying, you know, cuz everyone’s always saying, what’s the next book gonna be about Connor? And, everyone kind of knows the shtick with the children’s books, right? They’re based on original, important books. Well, of course, anyone who’s kind of like a free market economist, they all know and revere this man, Ludwig Von Mises. And so over the years, I’ve had people be like, oh, you think you’ll ever tackle Mises? You know, and they kind like wink, wink, you know, Elbow Me and the ribs. Like, you think you can pull that off? And, so I’ve had in mind to do human action, but wow, trying to boil down the essence of this really powerful, thick economic book into a bite-sized children’s story. I’ll say. it was tough, but I think we pulled it off. It was a lot of fun. Okay, so economics is something that we talk about. It’s important not to know charts and graphs, but to know why people interact. I mean, Frederick Bastiat, right? The first book in our series, he was an economist. We mentioned, Hayek, Henry Hazlett who did Economics in One Listen, which is our Food Truck fiasco book. So today I want to spend a little bit more time talking about Ludwig Von Mises. And so in economics, there’s different, we’ll call them perspectives, right? There’s like the Chicago School, which means that you know, people who kind of have a certain perspective of more government involvement. And there’s the Keynes, approach, which is, John Maynard Keynes, whose kind of a very pro-government, pro-intervention in the economy approach. And so all the people who are kind of Keynesian, are economists who think that the government ought to intervene and ought to stimulate the economy. Well, Ludwig Von Mises, comes from, and, is kind of one of the founding fathers, you can say, of the Austrian school. So if you ever hear the term Austrian economics, that’s what we’re talking about. Austrian economics is really just, free-market economics. And so you can think of Misys like, you know, Disneyland has Mickey Mouse as kind of the mascot. Well, Ludwig Von Mises, you can think of him as like the mascot or the father of, the Austrian School of Economics. And, so let me actually pause there, Brittany, what’s a couple of thoughts that you might have about this guy?

Brittany: Yeah, so the coolest thing about him that I appreciated is he was one of socialism’s, like, biggest enemies. Like when I think of the enemy of socialism, I think of Mises. he also predicted the socialist economies would end up being a complete mess. And as we know now, I mean, look at Venezuela, they were, they were complete messes. He also predicted, and this is something I think is pretty cool, that under socialism, civil liberties would end up being the first thing to go, and again, was proven correct. he wrote 29 books Wow. In both English and German. And those books have been translated into so many other languages. I think it was like at least 10 that I saw listed. I don’t remember which ones they are though. So he, you know, super important man. I would say arguably his most important work was human action. But then I keep going back to Liberalism, which was also a great book. Socialism, which is the book, I mean, that just destroys socialism. So, important, so important to economic liberty and to, you know, more the whole liberty sphere in general.

Connor: So, Mises, you know, he’s got such an interesting story, of course, Austrian School of Economics because, or it’s called that because it, kind of originated in Austria. That’s where Mises was from, as you mentioned. He also wrote his books in German as Native Tongue. And he was actually the chief economic advisor to the Austrian government. And so he was trying to persuade government official.

Brittany: He was a government.

Connor: Absolutely. He was trying to help the government learn free-market economics. He was able to get some stuff done to kind of slow down the inflation. This was way back in the 1920s. So this is about a century ago. He would do his own seminars where he would teach young, you know, economists, this kind of free market, approaches to things. And when the Nazis rose to power, he actually had to flee. He left behind books, essays, notebooks, you know, and like, he just had to get outta Dodge and legit had to like flee to America. And so.

Brittany: He was, was he, Jewish too? I don’t re I think he, his family was, I don’t know if he was practicing or not, but I know he was. Don’t remember. Yeah. Okay.

Connor: I don’t remember. that’s a good little topic for someone to do some research on. If you guys are curious and wanna go look up some biographies about, Mises, what’s interesting is when he came to America, like he continued, teaching economics, he, kind of inspired this emerging Austrian school in the United States, people learning about free market economics. And, it was the year after he died, which was in 1973, that Mises’s most, popular and committed student was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for that student’s work in expanding on Mises’s work. Mises had what’s called, it’s called the Business Cycle Theory. Um, and, and so his student kind of took that, expanded it, continued to flush it out, and was awarded this big prize. Well, who was that student? It was F.A Hayek, Friedrich Hayek, who we’ve talked about before. and who wrote the Road to Serfdom. And so you can kind of see the influence of Mises is kind of one of these founding fathers in the Austrian school, where Britney, as you point out, he’s really critiquing socialism. He’s, really taking to task the government intervention because so many economists praise that type of intervention. They think it’s okay, they think it’s actually beneficial. we’ve talked about, for example, the broken window fallacy, right? Where a lot of economists will be like, well, it’s actually a good thing when there’s broken windows or when buildings burn down because then we have to, you know, pay construction workers to, you know, fix them or recreate them. And that’s great cuz it creates jobs. Well, you know, just like Frederick Baat back in the 1850s, a century later, Ludwig Van Mises was saying the exact same thing. It’s like, no, that’s not actually right how it works because the money that is being spent on fixing the window or rebuilding a home could have been spent on other things so that you’d have a home, you know, or a window plus whatever else you wanted to spend that money on. And so, Ludwig Von Mises, he was first and foremost a teacher. He wrote, as you pointed out, Brittany, a ton of books. And, they’re very persuasive. They’re very poignant because they really explain the importance of this stuff. Of course, he’s working in Austria, Germany, right? The rise of the Nazis, government centralization of power. I mean, who were the Nazis? It wasn’t the national, libertarians it was the National Socialists, right? These people stood for central government planning. This is, you know, World War I, we gotta fix all the monetary supply. We’re gonna go in there. The Government’s gonna control these things. And Mises is saying, no, no, no, no, no. That’s gonna have the adverse approach. Which of course is among the contributing factors that led to the economic problems that prompted World War II and then Nazis to rise to kind of respond and fix the problems with more government. So Mises is kind of in the middle of all this and decides to, I’m gonna head over to the United States, and,  continues teaching and writing and, prompted a bunch of other people, to continue on that legacy just like Hayek did. There’s in fact, even now, there’s the Mises Institute, which is an organization you can find at mises.org, M I S E S. And, they publish a number of books and essays and videos,  where you can learn for free about free market economics in this kind of Austrian school, inspired and kind of founded by Ludwig von Mises. So just a very influential guy overall.

Brittany: They also have, and this is back to the Mises Institute, and this is something I’ve done and it was the most, one of the most rewarding things I ever did. They have a week-long Bootcamp in the summer when there’s not a pandemic happening. I don’t know what’s going on with it now, but, where you can go for seven full days and you go to their building in Auburn, Alabama, and you get kind of a crash course in economics. So this is for anyone high school and older. I have seen, I have seen younger kids there who were homeschooled, but you’re gonna be around people as old as well me. So older, but I’ve seen people of all ages there, so highly recommend that. Another thing I wanted to say about Mises, he was a little bit sassy, which is one of my favorite things about Mises. So there’s, and I’m gonna butcher the word I always do, there’s this economic society call, I think it’s Mount Pelerin, do you know if I’m saying this right?

Connor: Yeah.

Brittany: Pelerin, Okay. Yes.

Connor: Mount Pelerin Society.

Brittany: Mount Pelerin Society, which is for the most part full of like the good guys, right? Not, not all Austrian, but so the Chicago school. the name is typically associated with that too. And I think of David Friedman, but what’s his dad’s name? What I just

Connor: Milton,

Brittany: Thank you. Oh my, wait a second, I’m only, it was, so Milton Friedman is a really big name in economics as well. He’s still technically free market, but he was Chicago School, so not quite as extreme as Mises. Now Hayek was also not as extreme as Mesis in a lot of ways. So there was one story, and this is my favorite Mises story where he’s at the Mount, say it again. Mount Pelerin did I say it wrong again?

Connor: Pelerin, I think.

Brittany: Pelerin. Okay. So he’s at the Mount Pelerin Society, their big meeting, and Mises storms out screaming at Hayek and Friedman going, you’re a bunch of socialists here. You have two guys who aren’t really socialists, right? But compared to Mises, they were. So that is one of my favorite Mises stories ever.

Connor: It’s interesting cuz yeah, there’s the Chicago, which is kind of the middle of the road. There’s Keynesian Economics, which is very pro-government. There’s Austrian, which is very, I’ll say even anti-government, just government,

Brittany: there’s others.

Connor: Outta the economy. Yeah. And so like, there’s kind of a spectrum of how much government involvement, there should be. And, I think, you know, generally speaking, the approach is always let’s be inclusive of anyone who wants kind of a freer market. Yeah, but you’re right. Like Ludwig Von Mises was kind of more of a purist, a very truly free market guy, because I think he understood and he wrote about how if you justify one little intervention, if you justify a little bit of socialism, then you have no legs to stand on in, defending against people who want to move the needle just a little bit more, right? Well, oh, but we did this socialism, so why is this one bad? And it’s kinda the camel’s nose in the tent, right? And so you can see why people like Mises, want to kind be rigid and say like, no, we need to stand up for what’s right and not make all these exceptions. you may not be ready to read his books, but you can at least go look up some videos about ’em, read some articles, check out Mises.org. You can see the Mises Institute. just a very inspiring figure. He has a very rich, interesting life, involved in, you know, back in Austria and when he fled. Uh, so much more to learn about than the tiny little snippet we’ve been able to cover today. and so if this is, made you curious at all, could be a fun little project to learn about this guy as a family and his contribution to a lot of other people, continuing to defend and, promote a free market. So, great topic, good little homework assignment to learn more if you’re interested. Thanks, everyone as always for being subscribed. And Brittany, until next time, we will talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.


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