ABOUT TOM WOODS

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis). A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)



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On Chris Ferrara

Most of the time I ignore my critics and continue pumping out articles, books, and speeches.  This, wise friends have long told me, is the best reply of all.

I am making an exception here, simply because I have never in my career encountered anyone as obsessed with me and my work as traditional Catholic writer and lawyer Chris Ferrara.  He has written many tens of thousands of words denouncing my work, condemning my views on economics and politics, and suggesting that I do not promote the Catholic faith as robustly as I ought.

Well, there’s always room for improvement, but I’ve been doing my best.  A mere six months after the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was released, my book Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass (2008) appeared.  It is a layman’s guide to the traditional Latin Mass, that stupendous liturgical treasure of such great beauty that non-Catholics joined their voices with Catholic ones in bitter protest in 1971 when it looked as if it might be abolished forever.  The book has been enthusiastically reviewed in a wide variety of outlets.

Sacred Then and Sacred Now explains the Pope’s decision to restore the traditional liturgy, discusses his liturgical thought, walks people through the old Mass, and replies to common objections.  When the motu proprio came out, I must have written seven or eight articles, for Catholic and secular periodicals alike, explaining the significance of what the Pope had done.  I became a regular on this topic on Catholic radio, defending the old Mass against critics.  Ferrara himself, meanwhile, spent this time not preparing a layman’s guide to the old Mass, but writing a book criticizing the Catholic television network EWTN for its liberalism.

I might mention two other major Catholic projects by the wicked Tom Woods over the past several years.  In 2007, Columbia University Press published a paperback edition of my book The Church Confronts Modernity, which may be the most sympathetic Catholic book ever published by an Ivy League university press.  I published How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization in 2005.  That’s gone through half a dozen foreign-language translations, with another half dozen on the way.  It’s also been the subject of a 13-episode television series.  The foreword to the Spanish translation was written by the current Prefect of the Congregation for Worship.  Where is Ferrara’s comparable opus?

It could never and will never exist.  When I wrote that book, Ferrara dismissed it in a telephone conversation on the grounds that any Catholic could have written it.  A traditional Catholic, presumably, should confine himself only to tirades and vitriol.  (Where could the caricature of traditionalist crankishness ever have come from?)

But let’s turn now to economics, where Ferrara is at his angriest.  In the one or two times in the past that I have allowed myself to respond to Ferrara, I have been astonishingly restrained.  I can restrain myself no longer.  Discussing economics with Ferrara is like explaining secondary causation to a shaman.  As Richard Tawney said of Martin Luther, “Confronted with the complexities of foreign trade and financial organizations, he is like a savage introduced to a dynamo or a steam engine. He is too frightened and angry even to feel curiosity. Attempts to explain the mechanism merely enrage him; he can only repeat that there is a devil in it, and that good Christians will not meddle with the mystery of iniquity.”

Mercifully unavailable online, Ferrara’s critique of Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State – yes, Ferrara has taken it upon himself to refute a one-thousand-page economic treatise – was excruciating.  I shall detain you with only one example.  In his discussion of costs, Rothbard explains that when a cartel destroys a portion of its product – coffee, say – the waste involved is to be found not in the destruction itself, but in having allocated too many scarce factors of production to coffee in the first place.  Once the decision is made to produce what later turns out to be too much coffee, the damage is done, and the alternative products we might have enjoyed instead are forever unavailable to us.  This is the locus of the waste.  Ferrara’s uncomprehending reply to this analysis castigates Rothbard for not suggesting that the excess coffee be donated to the poor – a remark so far removed from the meaning and purpose of the passage as to make definitively clear just how far in over his head Ferrara is.  Luckily for him, Ferrara’s intended audience knows nothing of any of this material, so embarrassing and laughable errors, coming from the lips of an articulate lawyer, can sound like the sober analysis of a wise man.

This level of ignorance is by no means unusual; reams of examples might be cited.  In fact, I wanted to cite a YouTube exchange in which commenters embarrassed the maker of a pro-Ferrara, anti-Austrian video, showing that — as usual — the poor guy didn’t know the first thing about the Austrian School.  It was one of the most decisive demolitions of anyone, on any topic, I have ever seen.  I wanted to cite that exchange, but the author has (understandably) pulled the video.  I can’t blame him for that — the guy was made to look like a fool, and his feeble responses only made his position worse.  I blame him for embarrassing Catholics by taking dogmatic positions on subjects he is too filled with prejudice and hate to take the time to understand.

I once asked Ferrara what, in the entire corpus of Austrian work he had supposedly studied in such depth, he found of value.  (The Austrians are a school of economic thought, most of whom are not today Austrian by nationality.)  He said he agreed with the Austrians on taxes and regulation.  This superficial reply was by that time par for the course; what exactly Ferrara could have read on those subjects that was distinctly Austrian I cannot imagine.  What, on the other hand, did he think of Austrian price theory?  Did he know what it was, and how it differed from, say, Marshallian price theory?  What did he think of imputation in factor pricing?  How about monopoly theory?  Did he understand the significance of the Austrians’ capital theory?  Did he know what capital theory was?  Did he know anything about the history of economic thought at all, such that he could properly evaluate the Austrian School’s contribution, or was he in fact a mere propagandist who was not entitled to an opinion?  (I leave the answer to this question to the reader as an exercise.)

It is insufferably condescending to claim to feel sorry for your adversary, but that is in fact how I feel about Chris Ferrara.  He can pick up a work of genius like Man, Economy, and State, and instead of wondering what he might learn from it, combs it for wickedness with the determination of a fanatic.  I find it so exasperating to debate Ferrara in part because I can’t even understand him.  I cannot make sense of a person of good will who picks up that treatise, 99 percent of which is purely descriptive, and seeks to find unrelenting iniquity, all while barely possessing enough knowledge to understand the position it occupies in economic thought and therefore the purposes of its various chapters and arguments.  What a drab and dreary world that must be.  That world is a universe removed from Catholicism, thank goodness.

In much of my work I have tried to persuade the world that its caricatures of Catholicism are reprehensible and absurd.  It has not helped to be constantly confronted by the example of Chris Ferrara, who thinks the usual caricature of Catholicism is in fact not a grotesque distortion to protest against but a model to live by.  I can only wonder at his thoughts about the debates on usury in the Late Scholastic period, in which people freely discussed this contentious topic.  I can only wonder because I dare not ask, since I am sure the answer involves the squishiness of popes who allowed intellectual debate to occur unhampered.

Ferrara still pretends to think my position is that the Church may not make pronouncements on economic matters.  His acolytes, who have never read a sentence I have written, have repeated this inane mantra for eight years.  Anyone who wishes to know my actual views may consult the Catholic Social Teaching section of the Articles page of this website, or my book The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy.

In political philosophy, Ferrara treats the state like a Platonic form.  It is sullied by none of the imperfections of the human beings who occupy its offices.  It is the glorious guarantor of “social order” and of the spiritual well-being of the population.  (Modest goals, these.)  When I tried to explain to Ferrara that (for example) the extension of royal power over the adjudication of disputes in medieval England had nothing to do with the king’s pristine devotion to justice and everything to do with his desire to centralize power and collect revenues from having all cases heard in his courts, Ferrara refused to believe me, and dogmatically insisted on his Platonic state without so much as cracking open a book about any of this.

Left out of the Ferrara equation is the fact that such states have nearly always sought to control the Church, often going so far as to appoint Catholic bishops in defiance of the eleventh-century Gregorian reform.  The state, moreover, was practically invisible during the centuries Ferrara cites as Christendom’s most glorious.  Ireland spent two millennia without anything we would recognize as a state today.  The same state that can build up your faith and provide “social order” can also dismantle the structures of that faith and undermine the principles you associate with social order.  (One might think the French Revolution would have taught us something.)  Far more sensible to slash and burn this haven of sociopaths that Ferrara would entrust with the preservation of “social order,” and permit Edmund Burke’s “little platoons” of civil society to manage their affairs as they once did.  At least then there might be a remote chance that here and there we might be able to enjoy the features of civilized life.

Now Ferrara, you understand, devotes himself to the exclusive contemplation of Big Ideas, so those of us who involve ourselves in the issues of the day instead of debating the merits of imprisoning heretics are contemptible wretches who don’t see the big picture.  The “audit the Fed” movement was stupid, according to a recent Ferrara article, because it didn’t address all the moral problems besetting society.  It’s likewise stupid to want to get rid of the Federal Reserve; this, too, is a frivolous concern.  State nullification of unconstitutional laws is also foolish; Ferrara never learned about this in law school.

(In order to be sure to disagree with as many Austrian positions as possible, Ferrara once said he couldn’t find anything to object to in the proposal that, instead of a precious-metal standard, we should have a paper money whose supply would be increased on the basis of the country’s growing productive capacity, as measured in estimated national wealth.  The fatal flaw in this approach is that this estimate of the nation’s wealth is itself denominated in money.  As soon as the money bureaucracy that Ferrara would establish issues money on the basis of this estimate, the result will be higher prices, and therefore a higher nominal value of the nation’s wealth.  This higher figure will then be used to justify another infusion of money, and so on until the currency is destroyed.)

Incidentally, the reader may have noticed a link between these three issues.  I testified before the House Financial Services Committee on behalf of auditing the Fed.  I have written a great deal about abolishing the Fed, as indeed I called for in my 2009 New York Times bestseller Meltdown.  And I just happen to have a new book called Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.  Yet even though I have written more books building up the Church than Ferrara apparently ever intends to, content as he seems to be in devoting his life to unremitting condemnation, I am to be ridiculed and dismissed for writing and speaking on other topics as well, and not spending my every waking moment on Ferrara’s Platonic mountaintop.

Would Ferrara and the newspaper he writes for actually be condemning nullification — a topic on which Ferrara graces us with every pat law school response — had Ferrara and I not had our falling out?  The question answers itself.  This is obviously about personalities and — some insist — envy.

Of course, Ferrara faces the slightly awkward problem that nearly all traditional Catholics who are politically aware agree with me on auditing and abolishing the Fed, and likely agree on nullification as well.  Thus in putatively defending traditional Catholicism from my wily liberalism, Ferrara finds himself trying to defend these good people from themselves.  Good luck with that one, Chris.

On January 27, 2012, Ferrara sent an email to friends making fun of my musical tastes in light of a recent blog post of mine. The guy will not let go. This is deranged.

Why is he so obsessed with me?  It’s his unquenchable thirst for justice and truth, Ferrara will tell us.  Maybe so.  On the other hand, perhaps it’s a dangerous and transparent indulgence in one of the seven deadly sins.  No one can know for certain but Ferrara himself.

On a personal level, Ferrara is upset that I elected not to set forth a ringing defense of him and of the newspaper he writes for when they came under attack from the thought police several years ago.  Left out of this tale of Woodsian treachery is the fact that this paper had by that point refused to publish me for years and had devoted, by a factor of ten, more column inches to attacks on me than any editor in his right mind would have tolerated.  So I am to be shunned and condemned, but I must come running to testify on their behalf whenever they need me.  That sounds fair.

Over the years I’ve been the subject of occasional attacks by people across the spectrum: leftists, neoconservatives, pretend libertarians, and paleoconservatives.  I can handle it; and indeed I think I have usually gotten the better of my critics.  But worse than any of them, in terms of intellectual laziness, dishonesty, lack of charity, and outright nastiness have been Chris Ferrara and the sliver – and it is only a sliver, thank goodness – of traditional Catholics who follow in his footsteps.

Ferrara can devote the rest of his life to ponderous tomes to be read by an echo chamber that insists on living down to the worst caricatures of traditional Catholicism, and I have no doubt he will.  But I remind him that as Catholics we have an obligation to attend to our own households, and to the souls and well-being of our own children, over and above the pursuit of any self-indulgent avocation.  There can be no excuse for neglecting those things in order to embark on self-important, melodramatic crusades to defend civilization against the perversities of Tom Woods.  I mean, really.

Tom Woods

Addendum, January 2011: It has been brought to my attention that Ferrara now denies all of the conversations I attribute to him here.  Every one of them occurred, I can assure the reader, either on the telephone or in long-deleted email threads.  For instance, when Ferrara was trying to determine what non-Austrian view on money he would adopt for himself, he did indeed entertain, because he said he could find nothing wrong with it, the proposal I note above.  The reader must decide for himself which of us to believe.  I thought it only fair to mention this.

Addendum, January 2012: The debate seems to be more or less over now. In August 2011 Ferrara urged Catholics to vote for Ron Paul, who personifies Austrian economics in American politics. Were it truly wicked, sinful, or disobedient to study and learn from the Austrians, he could not have urged Catholics to vote for such a man. He therefore implicitly concedes that Catholics are indeed free to conclude that capital is heterogeneous, that artificial credit creation causes the business cycle, and that indifference curves are methodologically suspect.

  • Tjkozinski

    I’d like to see more discussion of some of Ferrara’s arguments. It’s not enough to say that he says you say the Church can’t teach on economics. The question is if you dissent from CST as articulated in the encyclicals. Prima facie, it looks like you do.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    Thaddeus, just out of curiosity, which of my writings on this subject have you read, and what points that I made in them gave you that impression?

  • http://profiles.google.com/phattonez7 Anthony Fernandez

    The Church cannot deny facts about social relations. Dr. Woods has pointed this out time and again. If a price is set in law that is below the market price, shortages will result. The Church cannot decree that economic reality to be false. The Church can talk about the morality of certain economic actions, but decreeing something to be false that is obviously true is outside the realm of the Church. 

    Dr. Woods is not a dissenter. If he is, then traditional Catholics were dissenters before the old mass was restored. We are allowed to speak out against The Church, the laymen, as St. Thomas Aquinas have said, when it is necessary. Papal infallibility does not extend into the realm of economic facts. 

  • Anonymous

    Just because Hayek or Mises declares something to be an ‘economic fact’, does not make it so.

    One major criticism of Woods and Austrians is they smuggle a lot of normative assumptions and positions into what they declare as ‘economic fact’.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    If we do this “a lot,” would you care to offer an example?

  • Anonymous

    Austrians are always talking about how people don’t understand Economics or the Science of Economics as if there weren’t a myriad of Schools of Economics and they weren’t a fringe one.

    I only know the outline of some of their theories, I’m too busy reading the Church Fathers to bother with the likes of Mises, but the time preference theory of interest seems a good example. As far as I know the neoclassical theory of interest is that it is determined by the marginal productivity of capital(we’ll ignore the Cambrige capital controversy and the circularity of this theory.). This is the mainstream theory.

    Also I believe Joan Robinson gave a pretty damning critique of the time preference theory when she pointed out, the obvious, that the assumption that everyone, or even a large majority, want to spend money now rather than later is inaccurate. Many, probably most in today’s society, in fact want to save for future and rather than not thinking enough about the future probably consider the risk of early-death less than is accurate. This means that if time preference were true there would be no grantee that the rate of interest would be positive and yet it is absurd to think it wouldn’t be.

    Just opening Rothbard’s Man, Economy and State and turning to the first few pages one see quite a few dubious assumptions and perspectives. For instance we are told that the crucial feature in the study of man is the concept of action. Now he doesn’t say the crucial feature in the study of purely descriptive, human economic; no Rothbard says in the whole study of man. Whereas the crucial feature is God, whose image we are made in and who we are reliant on, and our being. We are then treated to several pages of methodological individualism and stunners, from a Christian point of view, like declaring all his ends are in time and he cannot achieve them in the moment. which I’m sure that St.Symeon the New Theologian and Dante, to name a few, would disagree with.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    Whether this is true or not is irrelevant to the point of this post, and while I would love to engage people in lengthy colloquies, the responsibilities of my state in life forbid this. The time preference theory of interest does not state that people want to spend money now rather than later, so I see no reason to bother replying to this. My point is not so much that Austrian economics is correct, though I think someone examining it without an axe to grind is reasonably likely to come to that conclusion, but rather that as a Catholic I am obviously allowed to believe in (for example) the pure time-preference theory of interest or the heterogeneity of capital.

    I would be careful, as a traditional Catholic, to judge something based on the esteem in which the mainstream holds it. Were that true, Catholic traditionalism itself would stand condemned; talk about something barely tolerated by the mainstream!

    Here we have a school of economic thought that has waged a heroic battle against positivism, that argues that human beings can’t be studied the same way we study, say, projectiles, that in its policy implications refuses to recommend a particular approach on the grounds that it is “more efficient” or that cost-benefit analysis demands we do thus-and-so, whose deductive approach to economics has been condemned as “too scholastic,” etc., and yet this is the school a few belligerent traditionalists have chosen to attack. Obviously the Austrian School is the most congenial, from the point of view of Catholicism, of all existing schools — at the very least, one can make a strong argument to this effect — and yet, thanks to Ferrara, a few belligerent traditionalists think it’s their worst enemy. That is seriously deranged.

  • David

    It’s sad to see this level of acrimony between the two of you (Woods and Ferrara). I hope you can be reconciled some day. In the meantime, here’s an argument/claim:
    “In his The Church and the Market, Woods defends the doubling of hotel room rates to capitalize on the demand during 9/11, he argues that “Thanks to ‘unconscionable’ price gouging, the family in question economizes on hotel space, and the extra room the might have used in normal circumstances is now available to another family …” It never occurs to him that hotel space can be allocated the Christian way by the hotel owner simply charging his normal rate and imposing a one room per family limit, since for Woods, price-gouging is a normal market function that must not be penalized by law.”

    My question is: Did this alternative to ‘price gouging’ really never occur to you?

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    1. I don’t think there is “the Christian way” to allocate hotel space.

    This is typical of Ferrara: there is one allowable Catholic position on the tiniest minutiae of life.  There is one Catholic position on how to evaluate the evidence regarding the English enclosures.  I’m sure you agree with me that this is a caricature of Catholicism.

    2. The point is that private property and freedom of enterprise permit each Christian hotelier to allocate his hotel space according to his own conscience before God. Price controls make it a crime for a Christian to choose higher prices as such an allocation method. So the real question is not “did this alternative to ‘price gouging’ never occur to you” but how is it a Christian response to the issue to have the state criminalize a morally licit option for a Christian to take?

    3. The one-room-per-family limit constrains the expression of the preferences of customers by giving more scope to those of the hotelier. This may not, in all cases, be an undesirable outcome, but it must be considered in the analysis of such a limit. Why shouldn’t a Christian hotelier take such considerations into account in formulating a policy for dealing with a crisis situation?

    4. The one-room-per-family limit will result in a shortage of hotel space. Instead of those who are most able to adjust to the increased scarcity of hotel space by camping out at KOA or finding a hotel farther away or staying with friends nearby or the YMCA or some other option and would demonstrate this preference by taking one of them if the price were doubled, the rooms will go first come first served. The overall burden of adjusting to the crisis thereby increases. Why shouldn’t a Christian hotelier take this fact into account in establishing a crisis policy?

    5. I presume Ferrara likes the one-room-per-family policy because it prevents the wealth transfer from the customers to the entrepreneur. But it’s not obvious that this is a bad thing. The doubling of the price capitalizes the hotelier. He can use his windfall to give charity to the victims or subsidize the search for accommodations for those who prefer not to pay the higher price. Even if he merely invests his windfall in his business, he can accommodate more travelers in emergency situations. Why aren’t these viable options for a Christian hotelier?

    6. In a recognized crisis, people are often willing to endure conditions they otherwise wouldn’t. The one-room-per-family limit, therefore, will likely lead to fewer people using the given number of rooms under the limit. With doubled prices, smaller groups are more likely to double up in one room. But if the price does not adjust, there will be more single person rooms. Why isn’t a permissible Christian option to for a hotelier to manage a crisis situation so that a larger number of people get rooms?

  • David

    Thank you kindly for the response.

    1. I think you’re right, there isn’t just one allowable Catholic position, but surely that’s not the position of someone like Ferrara. (It obviously shouldn’t be, anyway). I think the point is supposed to be that there are “Christian ways” and “un-Christian ways” to allocate hotel space, as I’m sure(?) you would agree.

    2. So yes, there is more than one way for a well-formed conscience to make a decision about allocating space (though obviously not all possible ways are morally licit). But I think the concern is that beyond this formal principle, it is hard for most people to conceive of a legitimate reason (other than opportunistic profit-taking – which, to be sure, is not evil in itself) for the hotelier’s actions.

    3. So yes again, in general the hotelier can take any number of considerations into account in his analysis of how best to proceed…

    4. …but if his only consideration is maximizing profit, then we have a problem: from a virtue perspective, obviously a virtuous person must think about more than just profit; and from a universalizability perspective (a Kantian perspective), it would seem that whatever space is available is available (in this kind of short-term scenario there is no room for adjustment on the supply side), and so everyone else is justified in doubling prices too… and this isn’t the end of the world, but the problem of distributing available space isn’t really affected, or taken into account, but only profit.

    5. So again you are right that the transfer of wealth from customers to entrepreneur isn’t obviously a bad thing. If he uses his profits to help others to search for accomodations, then clearly he is not just thinking about profit but understands that he has a moral obligation to succour those who have been victimized by the disaster. But it is hard for me to see how it could make economic sense for him to use his windfall to invest in additional capacity for accommodating emergency situations – it seems that there would simply be no need for long term investments to be made in this kind of thing. It also seems the logic would have to be “I won’t help you this time because I want to help you next time” – which seems not convincing.

    6. Certainly people are willing to endure extraordinary conditions in a crisis, but that is because the crisis, by its very nature, demands that they do so. So there is no question about it being morally permissible for a hotelier to manage a crisis situation so that a larger number of people get rooms – that issue seems to be a red herring. Indeed, the opposite contention is being made: it is *not* morally permissible for a hotelier to manage a crisis situation *except* in such a way that a larger number of people get the accommodation they immediately need. In other words, in the face of a crisis, it is not morally permissible for the hotelier to act solely according to a profit-motive; he must also see Christ in the victims of the disaster and act with their good in mind. So the concern of someone like Ferrara would be that, given the actual facts of the case, it is hard to make a plausible case for the hotelier’s actually being motivated by anything but profit.

  • MP

    Something objective gets revealed through one’s style and approach to basic argumentation and classic philosophical discussion.  And in this regard I can only say this: 

    When Ferrara says a thing — albiet it is usually a big thing, a big declaration or assertion — the thing that he says is not only clear and un-ambivalent, but it also corresponds to a more total picture of life, what we call reality, to the reality of things, to a reality that can be confirmed by history’s story about man and society, and above all to the reality of what man is. 

    When Tom Woods says a thing, I hardly get the sense that the thing said is even a thing, but rather a fog of minutiae and manifold particularity and unrepresentative examples which only manage to leave one where one started off, hungering for the truth of things: what is man? what is he for? where is he going?

    It’s true, I may never read and know all there is to know about the Austro-Libertarian school, but I know the essentials and basic fundamental premises of the school enough to know that I do not want or need to know any more about the particularities of its functioning.

    William James said that wisdom is knowing what to overlook. 

  • David

    I’m afraid that’s just not true, that when Ferrara says a thing it is clear and unambivalent. That is not a style issue, so much as a substance issue, and that is substantially false. I’m not interested in attacking Ferrara, but his take on the issue is not clear and unambivalent, any more than Woods’ is, and I’m afraid this comment about the two of them is also anything but clear and unambivalent.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    This is mere pomposity.  When you study chemistry, do you demand of the author his philosophy of life?  Likewise, how does “what is man?” better help us understand the technical questions of how the price system functions or whether capital ought to be thought of as heterogeneous and occupying a series of stages?

    Ferrara is hopelessly confused and uncharitable, as Tony Flood has shown in his ongoing critique of the Ferrara book (and as I’ve shown in my own writing).  I would be willing to bet $1000 that you do not understand the “essentials” and “basic fundamental premises” of the Austrian School, which is why you find Ferrara persuasive.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    I think your problem is that you are hungering for certain kinds of truths in the wrong places.  Why would you expect a technical discussion of the international division of labor to disclose to you the meaning of life?  Doesn’t the Church alread supply that to you?

    Also, I would be delighted to see an example of my alleged lack of clarity.  That is one thing I have never been accused of, and I have been accused of a lot.

  • Sully

    I am an avid reader of Thomas Woods I can honestly state that he has done much to promote The Catholic Church with the truth. as well as educate many on economics, and other important issues moral political etc. Unfortunately people like Mr. Ferrara just like to disagree and promote negativity & hate. His book about EWTN was another ranting of half truths and downright lies. I suspect, in order to sell his stuff, he uses EWTN ,Mother Angelica, and other person more well known then himself  and rides on their coat tails. Christopher Ferrara is basically in my opinion a liar. I would never call Christopher Ferrara a writer you are too kind. Christopher Ferrara is the dissenter in short no one is HOLY enough for him. The reason I believe Mr. Woods is simply due to the fact that Mr. Ferrara always denies lies and twist facts he seems to have disdain for the human race in general. His cup will always be more then 1/2 empty. In short Mr. Ferrara is a very angry ignorant stupid man who has the audacity to speak about things and people he knows nothing about. He needs to get his own life right.

  • MP

    My claim, Tom, is that when you disassociate (your words in quotes) “the technical questions of how the price system functions or whether capital ought to be thought of as heterogeneous and occupying a series of stages” with the deeper fundamental philosophical assumptions of the Austrian School you distract your readers (whether consciously or not) from the questions of whether or not the Austrian School is actually a “good” school, and worth supporting. 

    In other words, if one already knows that Austrian School grounds itself on 2 exceptions to the “law of equal freedom” (as annunciated by Spenser in the 19thC), namely that one must not steal the property of another and one must not harm another; when it grounds itself in defending the rights of property owners and protecting them; and when it declares that these 2 exceptions to the the law of equal freedom be the ONLY moral absolutes, presupposing a position of indifference to any other morally absolute claims (like gay marriage; pornography; euthanasia, etc.)–when it grounds itself in these 2 moral absolutes and a position of indifference to other moral absolutes and the upholding of all of the other constituents of Spenser’s”law of equal freedom” , I myself see a problem for “man” and the whole of social life. 

    I say it again: your focus on the atomic particularities of the Austrian School are a smoke screen for the pernicious fundamental assumptions which are the very roots of this school.   

    And, yes, I would indeed like to know the philosophy of life of the chemist I’m reading.  Why? Because I believe that while the chemist’s philosophy of life ought not to have any influence over my understanding of the “practice” of chemistry it most certainly MUST have an influence over my concern for the “ends” of chemistry. Does he practice chemistry so he can make money, build a house? And never mind that he builds his wealth by contributing to the manufacture of atomic weapons. Or does he practice chemistry for more intrinsically good reasons. These questions (moral questions having nothing to do with protecting the property owner) matter to me, yes–even as they get sidelined by the Austrian School.

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    This is truly incredible to me, and proves everything I have been saying more effectively than I myself ever could. If the chemist is doing good chemistry, that is what matters. Were Benjamin Franklin’s electricity experiments of no value because he was a sleazy womanizer? I mean, really!

    The Austrian School does not take any position on Spencer and his philosophy. The Austrian School is purely descriptive; it is positive, not normative. So you can find many valuable insights in the School, and still retain your commitment to whatever state activities float your boat.

    You are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the political philosophy of libertarianism and the economic thought of the Austrians. You don’t like the former. I get that. Thanks. But why, other than irrational belligerence, are you so unwilling to learn anything from the economists of the school? Sorry, but that’s pigheaded. I’m not going to dance around it. That is anti-intellectual in the extreme.

    You have given me no reason not to believe in the heterogeneity of capital, the law of returns, or the regression theorem. As soon as you do, I’ll listen.

  • Clark Coleman

    I was struck by the bizarre, evil quotations from Rothbard that were linked from the Ferrara essay, such as parents legally (not necessarily morally) being allowed to starve their children to death. Ferrara raised the point that you work for an institute that peddles these writings and praised them. I see no response to this point. I see that you still work for that institute. Does conscience require any disassociation from the more evil writings of Rothbard?

  • http://tomwoods.com Tom Woods

    I obviously don’t agree with them.

    Incidentally, Chris threw in the towel when he urged people several months ago to vote for Ron Paul, who personifies Austrian economics. Were Austrian economics — a positive, not a normative, set of statements, I add in vain for the millionth time — a wicked thing, how could a Catholic be urged to vote for its political representative?

    So Chris has abandoned this fight. Admirable that you’re carrying on without him, but it’s over.

  • Doctor Awesome

    I’m sorry I missed all this. It looks delightful.



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