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Mises Versus Rawls on healthcare

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Reckless22 Posted: Tue, Mar 8 2011 12:35 PM

Hi everyone! I've been lurking here for about 6 months now and I’ve enjoyed the discussions. I now come to you for some advice.


I am writing a senior thesis on the political theories behind healthcare. I am using Mises to represent the free market school Human Action with some help from Rothbard The Ethics of Liberty for the ethical framework versus John Rawls and the Social Democratic school. The paper will focus mostly on political theory not policy but some policy arguments may be helpful. I was wondering if anyone here on the Mises forums recommend articles from Mises on the issues of Social Justice, the idea that Free Markets=Monopolies and positive rights (hopefully in dialogue is Isaiah Berlin.


I am not new to Austrian Economics or Libertarianism. I've considered myself a follower for about 2 years now. Needless to say i have been forced in the pursuit of my Political Science degree to read nothing but socialist propaganda for the last 4 years. Therefore I am woefully ignorant to the full body of work by these philosophers. My school library has few books by any of them. Pretty much Human Action, The essence of Hayek and The Ethics of Liberty.


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"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Reckless22 replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:52 AM

I found the Machan article helpful but it does not having anything on if Mises said anything about Social Justice. It did get me some way on Martha Nussbaum . As well as some new ways to argue against postitive rights as a stysemtic theory. Any thoughts on where i might find Mises directly talking about Rawls' Origional Posistion or his conception of Social Justice?

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 5:53 PM

"From this aspect, therefore, the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

Nine-tenths of the economic fallacies that are working such dreadful harm in the world today are the result of ignoring this lesson. Those fallacies all stem from one of two central fallacies, or both: that of looking only at the immediate consequences of an act or proposal, and that of looking at the consequences only for a particular group to the neglect of other groups.

It is true, of course, that the opposite error is possible. In considering a policy we ought not to concentrate only on its long-run results to the community as a whole. This is the error often made by the classical economists. It resulted in certain callousness toward the fate of groups that were immediately hurt by policies or developments which proved to be beneficial on net balance and in the long run." Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson

The last paragraph, I think, really demonstrates the difference between the social justice theorists and the Miseses and Rothbards, etc. The social justice theorist sees the short-term, but cares little to none about economic realities and consequences. 

"The revolt against reason, the characteristic mental attitude of our age, was not caused by a lack of modesty, caution, and self-examination on the part of the philosophers. Neither was it due to failures in the evolution of modern natural science. The amazing achievements of technology and therapeutics speak a language which nobody can ignore. It is hopeless to attack modern science, whether from the angle of intuitionism and mysticism, or from any other point of view. The revolt against reason was directed against another target. It did not aim at the natural sciences, but at economics. The attack against the natural sciences was only the logically necessary outcome of the attack against economics. It was impermissible to dethrone reason in one field only and not to question it in other branches of knowledge also."

This is from Mises, Human Action, ch.3

This is what I came to realize not too long ago. He goes on to argue that Marx had to come up with the "bourgeos economics" idea because he could not counter the arguments and refutations of his earlier ideas in Das Kapital, etc.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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See if you can find anything by George Reisman. He's an Austrian economist who writes from an Objectivist perspective. I'm sure you can find something enlightening about health care from him.

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