Today we celebrate Ludwig von Mises for his life-long defense of capitalism.
Mises was born September 29, 1881 in Lemberg, Austria. As a young student at the University of Vienna, Mises discovered what he would spend the rest of his life teaching and defending: the importance of a free-market economy.
Former student and fellow Austrian economist, Murray Rothbard, described Mises:
One of the most notable economists and social philosophers of the twentieth century, Ludwig von Mises, in the course of a long and highly productive life, developed an integrated, deductive science of economics based on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act purposively to achieve desired goals. ...Mises concluded that the only viable economic policy for the human race was a policy of unrestricted laissez-faire, of free markets and the unhampered exercise of the right of private property, with government strictly limited to the defense of person and property within its territorial area.
For Mises was able to demonstrate (a) that the expansion of free markets, the division of labor, and private capital investment is the only possible path to the prosperity and flourishing of the human race; (b) that socialism would be disastrous for a modern economy because the absence of private ownership of land and capital goods prevents any sort of rational pricing, or estimate of costs, and (c) that government intervention, in addition to hampering and crippling the market, would prove counter-productive and cumulative, leading inevitably to socialism unless the entire tissue of interventions was repealed.
Mises' work concerning the effects of government intervention extended to monetary theory. In fact, Mises and a fellow Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek, were of the few economists of the day to predict the crash of 1929 and subsequent depression.
For more on Ludwig von Mises, his ideas, and discussion of the relevance of his theory today, follow the sources and additional links below.
Blog: The Austrian Economists
Blog: Ludwig von Mises Institute