Throughout my time as an economics student at a public university, I’ve been taught lies on a weekly basis. On the first day of my “Principles of Macroeconomics” class, I was shown a quotation from John Maynard Keynes, and the semester preceded with the professor stumping for Keynesian pseudoscience day after day. I was taught that the prices were determined by some equation the professor made up. I learned that business cycles were the result of “animal spirits,” and the only way to solve this problem is for the government to step in and spend more money. Most appallingly, I was taught that central banking and government bureaucracies are what “saved” the economy whenever things went bad.
My experience is far from unique. As I’ve talked with other economics students, I’ve heard similar stories of aggregate demand-aggregate supply models and taking first-derivatives of production functions, as if made-up equations could explain the entirety of human action in a market context. The state of economic science in academia is the reason why Mises University is the most important week of the year. It was also the best week of my life.
From the first lecture on the first day of Mises University, the Mises University staff corrected these lies. Economic law isn’t found through statistical analysis but through deduction from the action axiom. Money isn’t a magical thing made valuable due to government, but a good like any other. The Federal Reserve is a cartel that causes business cycles, rather than smoothing them out. Every single myth perpetuated by our state-funded professors in our undergraduate programs was destroyed by the excellent Mises University faculty.
We got a chance to learn everything from the fundamentals of economic science to applications of economic law. Lectures began with things like praxeology, markets and prices, economic calculation, and entrepreneurship. Then, as the week went on, we heard the Austrian analysis on issues like inequality, Bitcoin, healthcare, and sustainability. The entire week was peppered with occasional lectures on related, non-economic subjects like an analysis of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia or the ethical perspectives held by the Austrian economists. I learned more about economics in a week than I have in my four semesters as an undergraduate in economics.
And yet, let’s set aside the lectures. The Mises University experience offered myself and other students so much more than I could’ve imagined. I expected to go to Mises University, enhance my knowledge of Austrian economics, and try and pass the oral exam. I did all of that, and yet, the best things about Mises University is what I experienced outside the lectures.
I was able to approach the Mises University faculty, and beyond their incredible intellect, they were incredibly kind and open to chatting with students. During the first session of office hours, Dr. Guido Hulsmann spent an extra half hour beyond the scheduled time with myself and nine other students, where he talked about the effects of credit expansion on art, the logical order of wages and interest, and the ethical implications of intelligent aliens coming to earth. Many evenings were spent eating dinner with Dr. Lucas Engelhardt, and it was incredible hearing his stories from graduate school and as a professor. I even got to see parts of Rothbard’s rough draft for Conceived in Liberty Volume 5, thanks to Dr. Patrick Newman.
My chats with other students and Mises Institute staff were just as fascinating, even life changing. A law student from France taught me about objective personality psychology and the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. I talked natural hierarchies and virtue ethics with a graduate student and a professional trombonist. Finally, two staff members at LvMI got me to see how far I’d come, and that I should be proud of my growth both as a student of economics and as a human being. Without the work of the Mises Institute, and the opportunity to attend events like Mises University on student scholarship, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
There is so much more I could talk about. I could talk about the time in the bookstore (and the chats with the folks who manage it). I could talk about late night chats about life with other students. All these, plus the lectures, and the conversations, it really was the best week. The opportunity to attend Mises University is the one of the best gifts I’d been given in almost 21 years, and I know the other students who attended feel the same way.
Noah Mikel is a Mises University Alumnus. To help more students like Noah learn sound economics, please donate to our Fall Campaign.