On George Selgin, Fractional Reserve Banking, and the Curious Sport of Insulting Austrian Economists

August 12, 2013
Don't make cats sad.

Don’t make cats sad.

Insulting Austrian economists is a popular sport among non-Austrian economists. Paul Krugman reigns as champion, with his latest feat of derogatory dexterity appearing in his column of July 16th, entitled The Paradox of Flexibility:

Well, Hazlitt has been wrong about everything for more than 80 years, and is still regarded as a guru. Bad ideas, it appears, are extremely robust in the face of contrary evidence.

Nice jab, Paul. Good one!

I was nonplussed this morning to witness George Selgin get in on the fun. Selgin is a self-styled former Austrian economist whom I understood as well regarded among the Austrian marketeers that I’ve heard speak. His lecture for the Austrians at the Ludwig von Mises Institute entitled The Private Supply of Money is one of my all time favorites from that outfit, so imagine my perverse interest when I happened upon a post of his entitled A Theory of Banking Made Out of Thin Air, which began thus:

Instances of self-styled Austrian economists bungling their banking theory seem almost as common these days as instances of theologians bungling their cosmology were six centuries ago.

Ouch, George! I didn’t know you could dish ’em out like that!  Read the rest of this entry »


Links for February 23, 2010: PZ Myers Pooh-Poohs Libertarianism, Climate Change Proponent Responds to the Skeptical Environmentalist.

February 25, 2010
PZ Myers

PZ Myers
pooh-poohs libertarianism. (image source: Wikimedia Commons)

  1. Pharyngula | Libertarianism defined

    PZ Myers. An atheist intellectual that I respected until I about ten minutes ago. The anti-libertarian post is an ad-hominem joke. Since there is no substantive argument, there can be no substantive response. Myers links to a “previous commentary” in which he relays the allegory of a Libertarian, LIB, and a Scientist, SCI. LIB is a pathological, deranged, driver headed at top speed directly toward a lake. SCI is an intellectually superior passenger who insists that LIB turn the car. LIB naturally refuses, placing faith in the free market and a sock puppet. The allegory could accurately describe the relationship between man and environment, but Myers made no attempt whatsoever to describe the relationship between man and State. By the end of the allegory, SCI should cock a pistol and order LIB at gunpoint to turn the car. We can debate whether this hijacking is appropriate, but to ignore the hijacking, or to be unaware of it, is to avoid the libertarian’s primary concern.

  2. Mother Jones | Fact Checking the Skeptical Environmentalist

    The best way to learn about an issue is through a direct call-and-response, like this one. If I ever have enough free time to learn about global warming, etc., I’ll start with The Skeptical Environmentalist, and then move on to The Lomborg Deception. I’d like to see a rebuttal from Mr. Lomborg as well.

    Update:The wikipedia page for The Skeptical Environmentalist briefly describes the the Cambridge University Press’s peer-review process, which Lomborg’s book passed prior to publication, as well as previous efforts on Lomborg’s part to respond to criticism. I expect there to be a healthy debate here.