Generally, mathematicians (and physicist) tend to achieve their creative insights while young because those are rationalist studies. You don't even need paper and pencil, though they help. If you read Simon Singh's story of Fermat's Last Theorem, after his demonstration was shown to be faulty, Andrew Wyles went home, and with a ream of white paper and a cup of sharp pencils, started over. On the other hand, if you read In Suspect Terrain by John McFee, you meet a mature geologist who late in her career now has the depth of knowledge needed to see the unsolved problems in the easy claims she learned as a student. (Plate tectonics does not explain everything...)
So, too, with economics. As rationalists, the Austrians were able to demonstrate logically why socialism must fail. It was not just one argument, but many, all inter-related. By analogy, I recently read an old book that provided 300 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. (See my blog here.) The one given in Euclid is actually quite involved and difficult if you are not conversant with geometry. On my blog, I give a simple one. But there are many... Central planning for a command economy has so many failure points that you could write a thick book about it. The most pervasive error is believing that the market can be commanded out of existence.
That error is not exclusive to left wing socialists. If you read any US history you will find a plethora of errors about money and banking from political patriots and also from advocates for a (mostly) free market. Ayn Rand never advocated for competing currencies. She wanted a strong dollar, backed in gold. In the Gulch, John Galt's gold coin claimed the authority of the United States of America. It did not say, "I am good gold. Value me as you choose."
I used to believe all the same easy claims from Steve's appeal to emotion:
"Haven't you read of the deaths, the huge spikes in crime, the chaos, the inability to make long-term contracts, the fact that people working for government were paid in worthless paper, that people with wheelbarrows full of near worthless currency trying to buy a loaf of bread, the shortages in the markets - maybe it is toilet paper you go without for a few weeks, maybe it is meat. The deprivation as people go without. Businesses close. People focus on survival not flourishing. Plans, hopes and dreams are abandoned."
He was 100% correct when he identified the problem of context-dropping. All of those horrors were caused by other events. The visible consequences of monetary inflation were caused by deeper problems. In some cases, the images are just that: snapshots that symbolize, but do not explain. The old German man with the wheelbarrow of paper is iconic. But it was not the case that the German government, like the Romans way back or like the USA now, slowly, inexorably, constantly and continuously increased their debt and devalued their currency over the course of 120 years.
The actual facts of real history speak to deeper truths. I point out again that Israel has gone through several currencies and Israel prospers. Being on a strict gold standard would be better. Not being Israel at all might be best. But given a nominally free society with strong roots of personal liberty, the economy continues, regardless of what happens to the debts of the government. And the Jews of the world continue to buy those bonds. They have faith. Faith is real. Even Ayn Rand differentiated the metaphysical from the man-made.
The error of the socialists is not recognizing the metaphysical in economics. The conservatives fail to understand the man-made.
As a conservative, Steve identifies the government of the United States of America with the people of America. It is, indeed, our government. We are a democracy, a republic actually, but it is not a centralized republic of a few, but all of us, We the People. That said, though, the government can be declared completely bankrupt, sell off Yosemite and lease out Carpenter's Hall as a Disney theme park, and America will still be here, as long as we have entrepreneurship, individualism, and enterprise.
Is there anyone reading this who does not have carry an ounce of silver for "just in case"?
What does government money have to do with the general economy?
I agree that government distorts the markets. Every action carried out for political power is a dislocation somewhere, often several somewheres. Conservatives are willing to accept some of those, as in the courts, police, and military. Even Objectivists cheered the space program. Granting that it was an improper function of the government, the deadweight loss was worth the emotional satisfaction of proving that it could be done.
If you look at the history of the federal debt -- see here: https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm -- you will see that the debt does not matter.
Steve challenged me: "Marotta, if you think that the there is no amount of debt that won't crush our nation, why not say so and make a case for it." I could make the same point: If you think that some amount of debt will crush our nation, name it. It was not a $71 million in 1790, or $2.6 billion in 1864, or $1 trillion in 1982. And BTW, those were the benchmarks of Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan.
I point out, moreover, that "our nation" is not synonymous with the government.
Finally, to bring this to a scientific understanding of the facts of economic history, debt is not a negative. Debt is the seed of civilization.