Is George Reisman the Richard Lindzen of Economics?

For those who are amateur "skeptics" on global warming* like me, guys like Richard Lindzen are heros. Yeah they might be off a little bit, and maybe they overgeneralize, but we think they're basically right and the rest of their field are not nearly as bold.

It occurred to me that perhaps George Reisman plays that role for the economics profession, including Austrian economists. Reisman offers some very bold arguments in his treatise Capitalism. For example, he argues that the notion of "opportunity cost" is a mirage. Really, some radical stuff in terms of economic theory.

Yet nobody has adequately dealt with his critiques. I think he's wrong, but I'm not very confident in my conclusion--do you want to blow off a guy who controls the website ?? At the very least, we should publish why he is wrong.

(This is a self-congratulatory post, since I am currently working on a 3-year-old article that I had started as a college professor and then life happened.)

* Yes I know the preferred nomenclature is anthropogenic climate change. Now do ya love me?


  1. Bob,

    There is always much to think about after reading Reisman's writings.

    Do you read his blog?

    You should.

  2. Bob, global warming is fine with me. You might note that it was Republican political strategy that changed the term:

    Perhaps you missed it, but I've been engaging Dr. Reisman's rather strongly-held views on environmental issues for the past 2+ years:

    To some, I'm an infamous "cyber-stalker" of Dr. Reisman:

    Robert, in my mind at least a real "blog" allows comments. Dr. Reisman's posts at LVMI I have always stirred a number of comments; for those I recommend that you take a look at their links to his many posts (taling off this year) there:

  3. Tom,

    I am interested especially in your first link, but I can't get to it. Can you please embed it in a word? I.e. on my browser, the link is too long and so the end is covered up by the "Leave your comment" box on the right side of the screen.

    So, can you do the a href=... deal to turn it into a hyperlink that I can click?

  4. Anonymous9:59 AM


    Can't wait to read your paper.

    For what it's worth, I think Reisman is simultaneously:

    (1) an embarrassment whenever he opens his mouth about "environmentalist nazis" (and generally seeks to portray as "anti-human" anyone who might think the created order might have a certain natural beauty and worth irrespective of its placement within an instrumentalist means-ends relation with human wants); and

    (2) an great genius for his (selective) rehabilitation of the "Law of Costs," that is the way in which the pricing of reproducible goods is determined immediately (that is, not just through changes in supply) by their cost-of-(re)production. He not only shows that this position was quite clearly accepted by Bohm-Bawerk and Weiser (and only rejected by later Austrians who had inadvertedly adopted Jevons's position), but also how this theory is quite compatible with marginalism rightly understood. Oddly enough, on this ground, Reisman and his own arch-nemesis Kevin Carson appear have converged on quite similar conclusions.


  5. Bob,

    Can you please state your position on Lindzen?

  6. 1) Here's TT's links: first, second, third

    though I don't see what browser would stop you from seeing the full link. Firesux?

    2) Bob, what do you think about Reisman's objection to the claim that when one sleeps with his wife, he is forgoing the income from pimping her out?

    3) I long ago suggested that Person : IP :: TokyoTom : environment, although now we might be getting to Person : IP :: Person : environment!

  7. Silas,

    Stephan Kinsella and I could have told you about the similarity between your posts on IP and global warming months ago. In fact, the moment my cap & trade op ed ran, I noticed a similarity.

  8. Well obviously they're similar in that "I disagree with the popular opinion among people on the Mises blog". Was there another noteworthy similarity? When I made the analogy there I was referring to how "Whenever you post about X, Y chimes in with a thorough counterargument."

    Btw, you missed an awesome chance to quote TT out of context: "Bob, global warming is fine with me."

  9. Araglin,

    I'll post the paper on my website (and link it at CL) when it's under review somewhere. I hope to know within a week or so if they are going to send it out to referees.


    Well, my position is that Lindzen is a bit of an odd duck, but he is one of the leaders in his field and has come up with a brilliant theory that currently (apparently) the majority of his colleagues find to be flawed. And also, his personality seems such that he doesn't care if people are offended by his sweeping remarks.

    So there is an obvious analogy to Reisman. Especially if it turns out that Reisman is right (about opportunity cost being a phantom concept, why relying on money prices is better than having your theories that explain "real" prices, etc.) on these matters, then I would feel bad about how he's been ignored (on these controversial matters) for years (decades?).

    I know the big guns in this area, and nobody has adequately gone through and blown Reisman up on these points. It is not self-evident that he is wrong. People just ignore him because "Duh, how you can doubt the success of the marginal subjectivist revolution? Classical economists thought that if I worked really long on a sh*t pie, then it would be worth a bar of gold. No it wouldn't, duh!"

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