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Elements of economics by a disciple of Ludwig Von Mises

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In economic theory, everybody is both producer and consumer

  • Nov 5, 2010



I have recently accepted an invitation to meet once a month for two hours after supper with the Asheville, NC Ludwig von Mises Club.  ***  

At each meeting attendees currently dissect one chapter of  Faustino Ballve's ESSENTIALS OF ECONOMICS: A BRIEF SURVEY OF PRINCIPLES AND POLICIES. First issued in Spanish in 1956, and available in English since 1963, my paperback copy was published by the Ludwig von MIses Institute in Auburn, Alabama in 2008. After only 99 pages of presentation and argument come three pages of Notes on the ten chapters, then seven pages of name Index. In other words, ESSENTIALS OF ECONOMICS is short and compressed.   ***   


Ideally, at least for the way in which I personally learn, I would prefer not to read  ESSENTIALS OF ECONOMICS until after I have heard a full semester's lectures on each of its meaty topics, including Chapter 4: Capital, Labor, and Wages, Chapter 8: Nationalism and Socialism and Chapter 10: What economics is not about. The little book by Professor Ballve would then function as a kind of Cliffs Notes pulling together the highlights of an oral presentation perhaps eight times as long. ***   


But in my monthly meetings with the von Mises Club, the proceeding is the reverse. A leader first distributes a one-page summary, then adds to, fleshes out, decompresses, unfolds a tightly compressed chapter by way of a 10-minute case study. He then throws the floor open to attendees for clarification, questions, objections and more concrete examples from their own entrepreneurial or consumer experience.   ***   


Here from Chapter 4: is a sample to help you make up your mind whether and under what ideal conditions to read Faustino Ballve's little book. The concept is "disutility":


To     have acquired cash you have done so by  "some disutility, by the expenditure of some kind of effort." In exchange for a disutility you receive "a utility (i.e., a commodity) ... in the market in what is called a production. That is the physical and mental exertion needed to place a commodity at the disposal of the consumer. In this sense, we are all producers, just as we are all consumers."  


My only recommendation is: do not try to learn basic economics from this book all by itself. Take a course for which it is the textbook. Or discuss it once a month in a small circle of like-minded friends.   -OOO- 

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About the reviewer
(Thomas) Patrick Killough ()
Ranked #6
I am a retired American diplomat. Married for 47 years. My wife Mary (PhD in German and Linguistics) and I have two sons, six grandsons and two granddaughters. Our home is Highland Farms Retirement Community … more
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