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Sweet Home Alabama (week 4)

The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the busiest in the world, and when we landed amidst the throng of passengers we were swept out by the crowd fairly quickly. Unarmed and unprepared for a strange new world, our instructions were simple: expect that everyone you meet is carrying a concealed pistol and do your best not to offend anyone.

As we crossed the border from Georgia into Alabama, we turned our watches back 100 years as advised by many Americans to get ourselves in the mood for the deep south. It was light-hearted, but as we headed into Auburn, AL, for our week at Mises University, we couldn’t shake a sense of foreboding.

As it turns out, our concerns were a little unfounded. Southern hospitality was some of the nicest we ever experienced, and as we made our way through a shooting range and some of the local bars, we met an incredible variety of people.

Josephine and fellow Mises University student in the foyer

The highlight of the week was, of course, the lectures at Mises University, where we learnt from some of America’s finest Austrian economists, participated in a US Constitutional Law course delivered by the Fox News’ contributor, Judge Andrew Napolitano and blissfully experienced some sweet Southern comfort food. Checking into Mises University, our first meal consisted of homely Fried Chicken, Southern green beans and the most decadent Mac & Cheese you could imagine.

“This is the best Mac & Cheese I have ever had in my life!” exclaimed James Locke, as he gorged himself on the succulent Southern feast.

Lunch time

As the lectures got rolling, the unique Austrian perspective began to shed light upon some of the mysteries of the global economy, including the banking industry and government’s presence in our daily lives. A lot of us were taken aback by the concept of fractional banking and decided to pick up some books from the Mises Bookstore on the subject.

We learnt about the imputation of value stemming from the consumer and also the nature of capital from the Austrian perspective. We also learnt about excess liquidity and malinvestment caused by central banking, which is the lead cause of business cycles. For many of the economics students, it was a fresh new perspective on the subject, and the well-explained arguments left more than just a little doubt in our minds about what we are taught at university.

Simrin and Patrick in class

Judge Andrew Napolitano’s course on The Constitution and the Free Market was an entire semester of US Constitutional Law interpretation condensed into an eight-hour course. Having a judge of Napolitano’s calibre run through the US Constitution line by line was both extremely enlightening and terrifying. As he ran through some of the gross misinterpretations of the US Constitution of the previous 250 years, the unchecked march of the central government was made blatantly clear. Citing the unrelenting expansion of Presidential and Congressional powers by the Supreme Court, Napolitano ended by stating that by the end of our lifetimes, we may well see the internal combustion of the US central government and the return to a system of separately-governed states.

Josephine, Simrin and fellow Mises University students with Leonard E. Read

It was an extremely educational week, and while the lectures were different from everything else on the trip so far, no one will deny that it was worth it. Armed with more knowledge than before, we march towards our next adventure in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

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