Monday, April 11, 2011

CHAPTER 6: Paradigms, spontaneous order, natural rights, property, morality, and law.  According to Thomas Jefferson and others, human beings are born with natural rights.  However they are not born with a particular morality.  That must be learned.  Law is the process of enforcing a paticular moral system.  Morality, properly understood, is not subjective.   Spontaneous order is social organization under a moral system of natural rights.  Most people intuitively understand the paradigm of hierarchy but not spontaneous order.

Consider, for example, TAXATION. 

Ownership (having exclusive control) of your own production or what you trade for with other people is a natural right.  Note that natural does not connote good or bad.  That's a question of morality.  CHARITY is voluntarily giving up some of your property for the benefit of another person or group of persons.  Taxation is not charity. 

Taxation requires coercion (as in "your money or your life").  Is it right or wrong to take money, using whatever force is necessary, from some people for the benefit of other people? 

Currently the law comes down on the side of yes it is right and moral.  But since it is not natural for people to give up their money to benefit strangers (like a dam holding back the water from flowing down a river is not natural) this transfer requires construction and maintenance.   And this can get very expensive and complicated as you know if you have ever been audited.

So what does all this have to do with economics?  Let's go there now. 

The paradigm of spontaneous order is at a disadvantage when competing with the paradigm of hierarchy because the former requires a working knowledge of economics which in turn requires some time and effort to understand.  Ready? 

In economics there two major competing paradigms.  They are the KEYNESIAN/NEO CLASSICAL paradigm (hierarchy, utilitarianism, mathmatics) and the AUSTRIAN SCHOOL paradigm (spontaneous order, natural rights, deductive logic). 

Your chances of learning about the second one are slim to none if you take traditional college courses in economics.  When I taught at the University of Arizona I supervised 3 doctoral candidates in economics.  At this late stage in their education none had ever even heard of the Austrian School let alone being able to debate the pros and cons of this paradigm.

So what exactly IS Austrian economics?  Read this.

Review Questions:   What are the basic principles of Austrian economics?  What is the history of Austrian economics.

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