A Readable Book About Economics
by JBS President John F. McManus
Harry C. Veryser is an unusual individual. A businessman who owned an auto supply company for many years, he also spent many years teaching economics at the college level. Most who teach what is wrongly termed “the dismal science” at that level have no experience in the business world.
Now an author, Veryser had written a very readable book entitled “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way.” The book’s jacket entices readers with: “Why Boom and Bust is Unnecessary – and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle.” Unfortunately, many Americans think the “Austrian School” is located in a building somewhere in Austria, probably in Vienna. Not so! The Austrian School isn’t a place; it’s the viewpoint of many economists who derive their attitude from a study of history and of human nature, and from Ludwig von Mises who was born in Austria and lived most of his life in the United States. The author of numerous valuable treatises dealing with economics, Mises always claimed, and backed his claims with clarity and forcefulness, that boom and bust cycles afflicting numerous nations – certainly including ours – are both unnatural and unnecessary.
Veryser explains that mainstream economic thinkers view economics as though it were similar in many ways to physics, a discipline that can be reduced to numbers and mathematical formulas. No, he says, economics is an understanding of human action that “distrusts” the mathematical modeling that brought on the financial collapse in 2007, and many other busts throughout the years. His book presents a clear explanation of what anyone studying economics should know, even including how the Great Depression of the 1930s could have been avoided.
In addition to von Mises, clear thinkers presented by Veryser include Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and recent Mises disciples such as Carl Menger, Friedrich Hayek, and Henry Hazlitt. Along the way, a reader will find explanations of the nature and history of money, condemnations of the different types of inflation, and the harm done by governments when they meddle in matters of economics. One conclusion stated emphatically by Veryser insists: “There is hardly a country in history that has not experimented with debasing its currency.” In each country where the practice of debasement occurred, starting with the sixth century B.C. in a country then known as Lydia, economic ruin followed as it surely has followed here in the twentieth century.
Borrowing a quote from Hayek, “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way” asserts, “It seems to me that if we could prevent governments from meddling with money, we would do more good than any government has ever done in this regard.” What Harry Veryser has produced is essentially a history book, not the usual book about economics where pages are full of charts, graphs and muddled thinking. Recommended enthusiastically by former Congressman Ron Paul, this book will help anyone to know and love, not something deserving of the term “dismal,” but of how human beings can be expected to act and how governments should leave them alone in all their moral and legal efforts.
Download Understanding Economic Principles, a free 5-page PDF explaining money and its role in the free market.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
Leaving Afghanistan After Its Enormous Costs
By JBS President John F. McManus
President Obama’s announcement that U.S. forces will be pulled out of Afghanistan must have stimulated many somber memories among the families and friends of the 2,300 Americans who died there and the 19,770 who brought home wounds. Same for British families whose losses included 1,100 dead along with a smaller number from Germany and Italy. The U.S. sent forces into this war-torn country in November 2001, only two months after the 9/11 terrorist attack. At the peak of our nation’s commitment, 100,000 were on duty and 32,000 remain today. It is the longest war ever fought by our nation’s forces.
The president’s new plan calls for withdrawing half of the 32,000 by the end of 2014, drawing down to 9,800 by the end of 2015, and removing all but enough to guard our embassy by the end of 2016. Why not bring all but the embassy detail home immediately is a question few seem willing to ask.
The Obama timetable will allow the president to keep his promise to end the war by the time he leaves office in January 2017. If that’s his goal, he deserves utter contempt for having a personal political goal while continuing to jeopardize the lives of those still on station. If, instead, national security interests form his motivation, the slow withdrawal makes no sense because whatever threat remains will still be there for several additional years. His announced plan also counters sound military doctrine which has always held that a combatant should never signal an exit date to his enemy.
Unaddressed by the president, members of Congress, and our nation’s media is the role NATO has played in the decision to withdraw. The overall direction of the military effort in Afghanistan has been the prerogative of NATO for many years, and NATO is a United Nations subsidiary. The UN Charter mandates that all actions taken by NATO must be cleared by the UN.
Will pulling out from Afghanistan lead to the same type of chaos that Iraq has experienced since troops were withdrawn from that nation? Will the plan to continue training Afghan forces during the next two years lead to more trainees turning on their trainers, with deadly results for our troops? Why do forces from America and other nations have to spend lives and treasure keeping peace among the Afghans who have long been mired in tribal or religious wars? Will the overall mission change again as it has so often during the past 13 years – from chasing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, to pacification of villages, to destroying poppy fields, to combatting the Taliban?
Immediately after 9/11, Congressman Ron Paul recommended that Congress use its constitutionally authorized power to issue letters of marque (seize) and reprisal (destroy) aimed at those who were responsible for the terrorist attacks. But President George W. Bush decided instead to go to war without the required congressional declaration of war – and Congress allowed him to proceed.
Now that the end of the Afghan tragedy is in sight, it would be comforting to see that those who arranged such a fiasco might be brought to account for what has long been a monumental tragedy.
To learn more about how terrorism is used as a tool to grow the federal government and the security state, visit our Terrorism issues page.