Learn (Austrian) Economics in an Hour?
By Arnold Kling
The Institute for Humane Studies has put together instructional material on basic concepts related to libertarian thinking. One set of videos pertains to economics, and it has a very strong Austrian flavor. I have only watched a few of them. It appears that all together they take about an hour to watch. One recommendation I would have is that they create a combined version of all of them, so that somebody could just watch the whole thing at once. Then you could go back and review individual videos.
I find myself longing for more intellectual context. There is the Keynes vs. Hayek theme, which one can find in the classic “Commanding Heights” series or in the more recent rap videos. But that has already been done, and arguably over done.
For example, Don Boudreaux has an engaging explanation of subjective value. I would like to see the context expanded to articulate the way that this concept affects how Austrian economists view the world. Subjective value is one of the reasons that goods and services should be allocated via trade and not by a central planner. Often, the desire to regulate in markets reflects an attempt to resolve differences in preferences by imposing one person’s preferences on someone else.* Support for free markets is closely tied with tolerance for other people’s preferences when they differ from your own.
*In some ways, behavioral economics is even worse. Instead of saying, “I would rather that you not eat a high-calorie dessert,” the behavioral economist says, “I claim to know better than you whether or not you would really like to eat a high-calorie dessert.”