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Then & Now: My Attitude on Convincing Non-Austrians

I can vividly remember my first exposure to Austrian Economics. Around 7 years ago, during the dot-com crash, I stumbled upon an article by George Reisman that explained the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. My eyes were instantly opened, and I've been a serious student ever since.

After devouring book after book and basically living on, I began to notice a few things. First, most of the people around me did not understand free market economics. After all, how could they? You don't learn it in school. Second, I found myself very determined to show others the errors in their thinking. Sometimes I succeeded and other times I failed. It is the times when I failed that I'd like to talk about now.

In many instances, I would spell out my argument as simply and as logically as possible. Yet it didn't seem to matter.

I'd try another angle, and dice.

This used to bother me. I would struggle with trying to find the perfect way to make my case.

Then it dawned on me...there's no need to try to convince everyone. For an idea to succeed, everyone does not have to agree with it, understand it, like it, etc.

I'd like to use an analogy. If you were to look at stock shares of Google from 2004-2008, you'd notice that the price traded from around $100/share to $700/share. Every step of the way, there were two individuals who had a difference of opinion. Every single trade along the road of $100-$700 contained one party that was a seller. Yet, the shares reached $700 anyway. Everyone did not agree, yet the bullish view dominated during that time period.

And so it is with every political and economic idea. The key question is: "Which one dominates?"

You can also take the above analogy a step further: Let's say you are a buyer of Google shares today. You believe the shares will trade higher. The person that sells you his/her shares has a different opinon. Will you try to convince that person that you are right? No. In fact, chances are excellent that the trade will be done electronically, and you will have no idea who the seller even is...and you could probably care less.

Seven years after my introduction to Austrian Economics, this is the attitude that I've taken when getting into economic/political debates. In the end, it's the dominant idea that has the day in the Sun. These days, when in a conversation with someone, and I see that there's no chance of him/her coming around, I let it go and move on. I've actually found that the ideal situation is when someone asks me a question about say gold, or the detriments of universal healthcare, etc. That gives me an indication that they are open, and the success rate is much higher.

In fact, Ron Paul is the perfect example of someone who is convincing open-minded people on a much larger scale. Dr. Paul has been preaching the same thing for 30 years. Just look at his speeches from the 1970's; they're just about identical to the speeches that he gives today....But there's one major difference...people today are searching for the answers that he's been championing all these years.

When the time arrives that the ideas of Austrian Economics dominate, the statists, interventionists, and socialists will still abound. Their ideas won't be in the limelight, and they won't drive policy anymore, but they'll surely be vocal every step of the way. In fact, that's the very essence of freedom. No matter what the dominant ideas are at the time, man is free to think the opposite if he'd like to.

So for those of you who are new to Austrian Economics and are all fired up with what you have learned, I hope my experience and analogies can be of value. Choose peace of mind. There's no need to convince everyone you come in contact with. Look for quality rather than quantity...with quality being those who are searching. As time goes on, more and more people are going to be searching for the answers that you have. Make sure you're prepared to give it to them


Posted Jan 27 2008, 11:01 AM by ChrisR
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