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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not-so-Easy Listening

A few weeks ago an acquaintance of mine, upon reading something I posted on Facebook, made the comment that perhaps it was time to start listening to Rush. I quickly let him know that listening to Rush was an enormous waste of time if one wants to start to really understand what is going on in Washington. I offered to put together a solid list of podcasts that would be of much greater value. Well, it took longer than I expected, but here is the very incomplete, but certainly listen-worthy list:

The easiest thing to do, if you use iTunes, is to subscribe (its free) to The Lew Rockwell Show and to Mises Institute Media (also free) and download their entire catalogues.

Start with the Lew Rockwell show. They are shorter (usually about 15 minutes) and generally less technical. All of the podcasts are of interest, but I would start with the following:

Episodes 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, 14, 16, 17, 19, 27, 28, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 57, 58, 63, 72, 75, 76, 82, 98, 99, 104, 110, 117

Then move on to the Mises Institute. Some of these are full-blown lectures by professors, economists, and the like. Mises doesn't index its podcasts in episodes so they can be a bit cumbersome to find. Well, at least I haven't been able to come up with an easy method. I'm a long-time podcast subscriber so I have them all rated. Here are the ones I would listen to first:

What Must Be Done
A Plea for the Real Union
Philosophical Foundation of Keynesians
Keynesians and Neo-Keynesians
Modern Myths of Keynesian Economics
The Origin and Nature of Money
The Origin and Nature of Banking
The Future of the Dollar
The Rise of Social Democracy
Democracy: The God that Failed
Free Markets: An Interview with Walter Block
The Truly Unintended Effects of the Fed
John C. Calhoun on Free Trade
Cycles, Business and Otherwise, in the Austrian World View
Meltdown: An Interview with Tom Woods
Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One
Endangered Specie: Monetary Debasement in the U.S.
I, Pencil
80 Years Later: Parallels Between 1929 and 2009
A Recipe for the Next Great Depression
Why You've Never Heard of the Great Depression of 1920
Free Markets: An Interview with Joseph T. Salerno
'Which is to Be Master?' - The Indefensibility of Political Represenation
Not Yours to Give

If you want some supplemental reading, I would highly recommend the following as a great place to start. They aren't too long and are written for the average person and aren't full of economics jargon.

Economics in One Lesson - $12.00
by Henry Hazlitt

What Has Government Done to Our Money? - Free
by Professor Murray N. Rothbard

Meltdown - $21.00
by Dr. Thomas E. Woods

Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth
by Professor Ludwig von Mises

The Anatomy of the State - Free
by Professor Murray N. Rothbard

This is absolutely the equivalent to at least a full year's worth of college level study in Economics and Political Science, for about $35.

I will offer some advice. First, it is almost certain that you are going to hear and read things in the above that are in absolute disagreement with everything you have been taught your entire life and that are constantly ridiculed by the talking heads in the media. Some of it will likely make you uncomfortable and you will be tempted to dismiss it. Don't. I first came across most of this about ten years ago, read a bit, and tossed it aside. Clinton's second term was coming to an end, Bush and the Conservatives were going to be in control and do it right. Man, was I wrong. I wasted the better part of ten years chasing a fantasy. You may never come to agree with or accept everything you hear and read but it will make you see the world differently going forward.

Second, as tempting as it may be to jump into some of the other books, go through the above first. It might seem strange that I'm recommending so much at an institute named after Professor Mises but only one of his books. Most of his work was written for professional economists and professors not the average reader. You might also notice that I haven't recommended anything by Professor F. A. Hayek, a student of Prof. Mises and Nobel Laureate. It is for the same reason.

Finally, and this is related to my second recommendation above, you will see and hear frequent references to Human Action, Prof. Mises magnum opus. It is a monster of a book at close to 900 pages and it is an intellectual Everest. I am a fairly intelligent, moderately well-read, college educated professional that spent two years studying economics, passed the CPA exam and received my Certified Financial Planner designation - and that book has been sitting on my shelf along with a 380 page chapter-by-chapter study guide, untouched, for six months, and, I am dying to read it. But, I know that I'm not ready. I am spending the entire spring and summer reading four other treatises, three by Nobel winners and the other Prof. Mises first masterpiece written 37 years earlier, in preparation for tackling Human Action late this fall and into the winter.

I know I'm hammering on this but I am all too familiar with being tempted to skip the "fluff" and jump directly into the heart of the matter.

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