Mondays with Murray:Who Will Fund the Science?Submitted by Marc Clair on Mon, 10/21/2013 - 09:46
The sheer volume of material written by Murray Rothbard during his lifetime never ceases to amaze me. It would be difficult to count the number of papers and articles he wrote over the years, some of which went unpublished.
Luckily the fine folks at the Mises Institute have not only collected the majority of Rothbard's published work and made it free and accessible to the public, but they have even published some of Rothbard's previously unpublished work. One such paper is entitled "Science, Technology, and Government", first written in 1959, and published by the Mises Institute in 2004. As with much of Rothbard's work, the lessons are timeless and apply just as much today as they did back when they were first written on Murray's trusty typewriter.
One common objection to libertarianism and the advancement toward a minimal or non-existent State that I often hear is the idea that we "need" the government to fund certain activities that would otherwise go unfunded in a free market. Cancer research, space exploration, and stem cell research are among the activities the objectors will often cite as needing government funding, as they serve purposes that are too vital to mankind to be left to that nasty, ruthless market. The general question seems to be another iteration of the "Roads Objection". Essentially they are asking, "Who will fund the science?"
As he's occasionally known to do, Rothbard smashes this myth head on:
The crucial economic question, and one of the most important social questions, is the allocation of resources: where should the various and numerous productive factors: land, labor, or capital, be allocated, and how much of each type to each use? This is the "economic problem," and all social questions must deal with it.