quarta-feira, 22 de novembro de 2006

Escolásticos IV, notas várias


* JUAN DE MARIANA [antes de Milton Friedman]

- Mariana deduced that the king cannot demand tax without the consent of the people, since taxes are simply an appropriation of part of the subjects' wealth. In order for such an appropriation to be legitimate, the subjects must be in agreement. Neither may the king create state monopolies, since they would simply be a disguised means of collecting taxes.

- Father Mariana, when explaining the effects of inflation, listed the basic elements of the quantity theory of money, which had previously been explained in full detail by another notable scholastic, Martin Azpilcueta Navarro (also known as Dr. Navarro), who was born in Navarra (northeast Spain, near France) in 1493. Azpilcueta lived ninety-four years and is famous especially for explaining, in 1556, the quantity theory of money in his book Resolutory Commentary on Exchanges.

- Returning to Father Mariana, it is clear that his most important contribution was to see that inflation was a tax that "taxes those who had money before and, as a consequence thereof, are forced to buy things more dearly."

Furthermore, Mariana argues that the effects of inflation cannot be solved by fixing maximum rates or prices, since experience shows that these have always been ineffective. In addition, given that inflation is a tax, according to his theory of tyranny, the people's consent would, in any event, be required but, even if such consent existed, it would always be a very damaging tax that disorganized economic life: "this new levy or tax of the alloyed metal, which is illicit and bad if it is done without the agreement of the kingdom, and if it is done therewith, I take it as erroneous and harmful in many ways."

* Murray Rothbard stresses how another important contribution of the Spanish scholastics, especially of Azpilcueta, was to revive the vital concept of time preference, originally developed by one of the most brilliant pupils of Thomas Aquinas, Giles Lessines, who, as early as 1285, wrote "that future goods are not valued so highly as the same goods available at an immediate moment of time, nor do they allow their owners to achieve the same utility. For this reason, it must be considered that they have a more reduced value in accordance with justice."19

* 1. Murray N. Rothbard first developed this thesis in 1974, in the paper entitled "New Light on the Prehistory of the Austrian School," which he presented at the conference held in South Royalton, Vermont, and which marked the beginning of the notable re- emergence of the Austrian School.

* [Hayek sobre Rothbard]: I even have a letter from Hayek, dated January 7, 1979, in which he asked me to read Murray Rothbard's article on "The Prehistory of the Austrian School" because he and Grice-Hutchinson "demonstrate that the basic principles of the theory of the competitive market were worked out by the Spanish Scholastics of the sixteenth century and that economic liberalism was not designed by the Calvinists but by the Spanish Jesuits." Hayek concludes his letter saying that "I can assure you from my personal knowledge of the sources that Rothbard's case is extremely strong."

* Sobre Adam Smith: 21. See Leland B. Yeager, "Book Review," Review of Austrian Economics 9, no. 1 (1996): 183, where he says:"Adam Smith dropped earlier contributions about subjective value, entrepreneurship and emphasis on real-world markets and pricing and replaced it all with a labor theory of value and a dominant focus on the long run "natural price" equilibrium, a world where entrepreneurship was assumed out of existence. He mixed up Calvinism with economics, as in supporting usury prohibition and distinguishing between productive and unproductive occupations. He lapsed from the laissez-faire of several eighteenth-century French and Italian economists, introducing many waffles and qualifications. His work was unsystematic and plagued by contradictions."

* 22. ... Balmes also described the personality of Juan de Mariana with the following graphic words:

"The overall impression that Mariana offers is unique: an accomplished theologist, a perfect Latin scholar, a deep knowledge of Greek and the eastern languages, a brilliant man of letters, an estimable economist, a politician with great foresight; that is his head; add an irreproachable life, strict morality, a heart which does not know untruth, incapable of flattery, which beats strongly at the mere name of freedom, like that of the fierce republicans of Greece and Rome; a firm, intrepid voice, that is raised against all types of abuse, with no consideration for the great, without trembling when it addressed kings, and consider that all this has come together in a man who lives in a small cell of the Jesuits of Toledo, and you will certainly find a set of virtues and circumstances that seldom coincide in a single person."

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