On to London, Oxford, and Berlin….

I am preparing to leave wonderful Austria, feeling much better due to having finally gone to an Apotheke last night for the evil gut bugs I got in Cairo (“Norita” pills of medicinal coal, of all things, seem to have been very helpful). I will miss Vienna, but I look forward to seeing friends in London and Oxford again and to speaking in London at the Institute of Economic Affairs on “Realizing Freedom” and in Oxford before the Oxford Libertarian Society on ‘Anarchism, Limited Government, and Liberalism: A Modest Case for Sacking the State.’ Then, after a very short stay, it will be on to Berlin for two conferences of the Council on Public Policy on the occasion of 250th anniversary of the publication of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which will be intellectually stimulating and challenging and, as well, a good occasion to spend time with good friends. (I have read The Theory of Moral Sentiments and a good deal of secondary literature, as well as much of Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations again. It’s not such light stuff.)

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4 Responses to “On to London, Oxford, and Berlin….”

  1. Ben Southwood

    Hi Tom

    Thanks again for coming to visit us in Oxford.

    I’m leaving this comment as a way of communicating a potential compromise/conclusion to the free banking/fractional reserve intra-libertarian debate.

    Would “your side” of the debate concede that it is possible to have bailment type deposit contracts (e.g. “ringfence” agreements) in a free banking system, just as it would be possible to have loan/bond type contracts, and pay on demand deposit contracts as well.

    And surely “your side” of the debate would then be forced to concede that banks could theoretically act immorally in issuing more tickets to reserves than existing reserves. (In a free society, justice would be achieved morally).

    This would only mean that in the future contracts would have to be explicit in their meaning.

    Ben Southwood

  2. Tom Palmer

    Dear Ben and Friends,

    It was a great pleasure. I enjoyed the discussions immensely.

    I’ll have to do some more thinking on this issue. But overall, I prefer to let people write their own contracts and make their own agreements, without insisting that they have to consult me first. But I will think about it.


  3. Ben Southwood

    A final point:

    Notice how favourable “the Austrians” (mises.org) has/ve been towards the recent Sverige Rikesbank Prize (Nobel Prize) winners Ostrom and Williamson, despite their clearly being neither members of the Austrian School, nor libertarian.

    Not quite as culty as some might say, right?

    Thanks again
    Ben Southwood

    p.s. with regards to the previous post, I was not arguing that others should oversee the contracts, only that were certain contracts made, the over-printing of tickets could be an immoral/unjust act, and as such the Rothbardian argument could be partially, although not fully, true

  4. Tom G. Palmer

    Sure, if you write a contract and it’s broken, it’s a broken contract. I still don’t see any reason to outlaw business relations or products that Murray Rothbard objected to for utilitarian reasons and then concocted a non-utilitarian reason to insist on outlawing. Regarding the cultishness, I haven’t followed their treatment of Ostrom and Williamson. I did follow the treatment of Coase (shameful distortions and bizarre denunciations), Gary Becker (“worse than a communist”), Milton Friedman, and others and I think that the term “cult” is accurate. One announcement that economists with such important insights got a prize does very little to subtract from the overall cultishness of the group. But I suppose it’s a nice gesture.

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