George Reisman: Defender of Capitalism | A Reading List

Today we look at a regretfully unknown figure in economics to “millennial libertarians,” George Reisman. I write “regretfully,” because Resiman is an absolute giant. Taught directly under Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand at various points in his life, Reisman developed an interest in the constitution at the age of 5, and began his study of economics at 13. He is the author of one of the best books on capitalism ever written, as well as hundreds of articles spanning half a century.

Listed below is a selection from some of his work, which is well worth reading if you want a serious look at capitalism through the eyes of one of its most ardent defenders. The list covers competition, capital, regulation, science, society and the environment.

Platonic Competition:

 “The “pure and perfect competition” doctrine denounces capitalism because businessmen refuse to suffer losses. The argument of the supporters of “pure and perfect competition” is not that businessmen make excessive profits through any kind of “monopoly,” but that they are “monopolistic” in refusing to sell their products at a loss — which businessmen would have to do if they treated their plant and equipment as costless natural resources that acquired value only when they happened to be “scarce.”

An Open Letter to Warren Buffett on the Subject of Class Warfare:

“The end result has been an economic system in which the average person today enjoys a standard of living far above that of kings and emperors of a few generations ago, a standard of living far higher not only than that of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Louis XIV, and Napoleon, but even Queen Victoria, who lived into the 20th Century. The hated capitalist “exploiters” have produced an economic system in which the enjoyment of scientific and technological marvels is a normal feature of daily life.”

Ebola Won’t Wait for the FDA:

“The FDA regimen that we have for the development of new drugs was established for the intended purpose of making new drugs safe and effective. But its actual effect has been to leave us in a position in which we have drugs of zero effectiveness because those drugs have been prevented from even existing in the first place, and in which we are all terribly unsafe because of the absence of those drugs. The effect of the FDA’s regimen has been to prevent the development of the medicines on which countless lives depend.”

Where the New York Times is Coming From:

“Below are the headlines of four obituaries that have run in The New York Times. The first is that of the recent obituary of the Anti-Communist Augusto Pinochet. The next three are those of the obituaries of the Communist mass murderers Mao, Stalin, and Lenin. Please be sure to note how many are described as having ruled by terror.December 11, 2006, Augusto Pinochet, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies at 91

September 10, 1976, Friday, . . . Mao Tse-tung Dies in Peking at 82; Leader of Red China’s Revolution 

March 6, 1953, Friday, Stalin Rose From Czarist Oppression to Transform Russia Into Mighty Socialist State; RUTHLESS IN MOVING TO GOALS

The Green Business Racket: Con Customers, Cut Corners, Boost Profits:

“Hotel guests should protest vehemently against any loss in their comforts or conveniences for the alleged sake of the “environment” or the “planet.” They should demand lower rates as compensation for any sacrifices they are asked to make and tell the hotels that they resent being abused for the sake of a dishonest profit being made at their expense. Either in making reservations or at check-in, they should ask about the hotel’s policy with respect to sacrifices for the environment and have it noted that they want no part of it.”

A Root Cause of the Failure of Contemporary Education:

“With little exaggeration, the whole of contemporary education can be described as a process of encumbering the student’s mind with as little knowledge as possible.”

Free-Market Science vs. Government Science:

“State control of science is the attempt to combine opposites. In essence, science is mind; the state is physical force. Science makes its way by means of the voluntary assent of the individual human mind to its recognition of truth. In contrast, the state and what the state sponsors makes its way by means of the use of physical force and the threat of physical force.”

Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union?:

“Without the UAW, GM would have been free to produce in the most-efficient, lowest cost way and to introduce improvements in efficiency as rapidly as possible. Sometimes this would have meant simply having one or two workers on the spot do a variety of simple jobs that needed doing, without having to call in half a dozen different workers each belonging to a different union job classification and having to pay that much more to get the job done.”

The Global Warming Bugaboo:

“They tell us that if we destroy our capacity to produce and operate refrigerators and air conditioners, we shall be better protected from hot weather than if we retain and enlarge that capacity. They tell us that if we destroy our capacity to produce and operate tractors and harvesters, to can and freeze food, to build and operate hospitals and produce medicines, we shall secure our food supply and our health better than if we retain and enlarge that capacity.”

Pick Your Gender and We’ll Enforce Your Choice, Says New York City’s Board of Health:

“What is present in the rule being considered by New York City’s Board of Health is an attempt to forcibly impose the fantasy of some people on everyone else. It is an attempt to elevate fantasy to the level of actual reality and to compel everyone else to accept it as though it were reality.”

You can learn more about Reisman and his work on his personal blog, which is no longer being updated but has an archive back to 2006.


Also Check Out: A Summer and Fall Semester Reading List for Free Thinkers


Derek Magill is a (former) LSA student in the Classics Department. He dropped of the University of Michigan during his Sophomore year and is now the Director of Digital Strategy at Praxis. He writes at his personal blog, Howard Laughed, and Praxis.

(Visited 393 times, 1 visits today)

About Derek Magill

Derek Magill is a (former) LSA student in the Classics Department. He dropped of the University of Michigan during his Sophomore year and is now the Director of Marketing at Praxis. Praxis is a 9 month startup apprenticeship program for people who want more than college.