From R.C. Hoiles
May 7, 1962
Dr. Ludwig von Mises
777 West End Avenue
New York 25, N.Y.
Dr. Ludwig von Mises:
I was very much interested in your article in the April 3 issue of “Christian Economics” under the heading of “A Dangerous Recommendation for High School Economics.” I had just read “The Economic Literacy of The Americans” by the C.E.D.
They realize that economics is not being taught in the high schools, but what they do not realize is that it cannot be taught in high schools supported by taxes. As I take it, all economics, all government, in the final analysis, resolves itself into the question of right, justice and freedom, and since government schools are based on might-makes-right, the end justifies the means, it is impossible for them to teach the exact opposite from what they are doing.
You had a splendid representation with the exception of one paragraph, which I think greatly weakens your stand. The paragraph I refer to is: “In order to demonstrate the inferiority of the market economy as against government action, the report takes pleasure in affirming repeatedly that there are things that private enterprise cannot achieve, e.g., police protection and provision of national defense. This observation is entirely irrelevant. No reasonable man ever suggested that the essential function of state and government, protection of the smooth operation of the social system against domestic gangsters and foreign aggressors, should be entrusted to private business. The anarchists who wanted to abolish any governmental institution, as well as Marx and Engels who muttered about the 'withering away' of the state, were not champions of free enterprise....”
I cannot help but wonder what you use as a standard to determine whether or not a man is rational; that is, reasonable. You certainly do not use the Declaration of Independence or the Coveting Commandment or the Golden Rule, nor a precise definition of freedom. You seem to have your own interpretation of a reasonable man.
In the first place, you do not know all the men of the past ages, let alone all the men in the United States or the world today. If you were a rational man, it seems to me that you might say you know of no rational man who “ever suggested that the essential function of state and government, protection of the smooth operation of the social system against domestic gangsters and foreign aggressors, should be entrusted to private business.” I happen to know several people who so believe. Robert LeFevre, the founder of the Freedom School, I believe, believes that the market place is the best way to protect life and property. F.A. Harper, Orval Watts, my son Harry Hoiles, Rose Wilder Lane, all certainly believe the Declaration of Independence is exactly what it says, because nobody can give a man's consent but that individual himself.
Would you have the majority determine what the government should do? If that's the case, then where would you draw the line?
I would like to have you give a precise definition of freedom, of justice, and of righteousness that permits the state or the majority to do things that no individual has a moral right to do. It seems to me you have a double standard of rightness, which, in reality, means no standard of rightness at all.
Maybe you can straighten me out, but as it stands now, it seems to me you convict yourself of not being reasonable when you make the statement you have made, because as stated above, you do not know all people of past history, nor do you know all people in the world today. I think you are completely out of harmony with the Declaration of Independence, and I believe the ideas were presented by Tom Paine rather than Jefferson, as is taught in most textooks.
I am enclosing an editorial written by Robert LeFevre on “Democracy with a Small 'd'.” I think he is presenting things in a reasonable, rational manner.
Yours very truly,
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