Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quote Day with Ludwig von Mises

We’re having another quote day today. The theme is the relationship between morality/civilization and economics. You might notice it’s also a little collection from Ludwig von Mises and followers. If you haven’t discovered this source of free-market thought, check it out at

“If our community does not beget men who have the power to make sound social principles generally acceptable, civilization is lost, whatever the system of government may be.”—Ludwig von Mises

“No foreign aggressor can destroy capitalist civilization if it does not destroy itself.”—Ludwig von Mises

“Socialists have generally tried to do two things: dethrone and kill God so that The People or The State might be exalted, and repeal the laws of economic.”—Art Cardon, “Looking Hard at Pictures of the Socialistic Future, 5-2-2011, for Ludwig von Mises Institute

We are in fact surrounded every day by nonscarce goods exactly like the loaves and fishes. All ideas are of this nature. I can come up with an idea and share it with you. You can possess it, but in so doing, you do not take that idea away from me. Instead, you hold a replica of it—just as real and intact as the original version. Words are this way: I do not need to parse them out in order to save some for myself./ Tunes in music are this way, too. I can sing a tune to you, and you can repeat it, but this action does not remove the tune from me. A perfect copy is made, and can be made and made again unto infinity.

This is completely different from the way things work in the realm of scarce goods. Let’s say that you like my shoes and want them. If you take them from me, I do not have them anymore. If I want them again, I have to take them back from you. There is a zero-sum rivalry over our use of the goods. That means there must be some kind of system for deciding who can own them. It means absolutely nothing to declare that there should be something called socialism for my shoes so that the whole of society can somehow own them. It is factually impossible for this to happen, because shoes are a scarce good. This is why socialism is sheer fantasy, a meaningless dreamland as regards scarce goods.—Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Why Religious People Struggle with Economics,” available here, Mises Daily, 3-30-2011

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