Santa Claus Economics: An Austrian Analysis of the Welfare State

Econ_2013_D_Santa — with Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Dates: December 1, 2013 - December 22, 2013
Status: Closed

America’s mind-boggling, multi-trillion dollar government debt destroys capital investment, suffocates economic growth, and saddles the current and the next generation of Americans with potentially gargantuan tax liability. This sorry state of affairs is the result mainly of three things:  a federal government that no longer has any limits – constitutional or otherwise – on its growth, coupled with the nation’s gigantic welfare and warfare states.

A paradox of the welfare state is that the people who are arguably the most harmed by it –  today’s college-age youth – are often its most vociferous supporters.   This is because they have been well indoctrinated in the ideology of egalitarianism by the government-run or –dominated educational system and, perhaps more importantly, they are unaware of the awful, degrading, and life-destroying effects of welfare on welfare recipients.  Not to mention the destructive effects on the civil society, private charities, and the family.

Welfare is the ultimate something-for-nothing scheme that fuels the growth of government, destroys prosperity, and subsidizes slothfulness (and worse).  The purpose of this course is to present an analysis of the idea of welfare, and its effects, from the perspective of Austrian political economy.  Students (of all ages) who take the course will be well equipped to debate their less-informed peers who so blindly accept the state’s myriad rationales for a policy of taxing the productive in society in order to subsidize the unproductive while driving out of existence many genuinely charitable, private (and successful) institutions. Among the authors whose writings will be made available online for the course are Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Robert Higgs, George Reisman, Charles Murray, Ludwig Erhard, and Per Bylund, among others.

Weekly Topics

WEEK 1: The Origins of the Welfare State in America

WEEK 2: Economic Analysis of the Effects of the Welfare State & How the Welfare State Destroys Private Charity

WEEK 3: Myths of the “Successful” European Welfare States

WEEK 4: The Biggest Ponzi Scheme in the World: Social Security


Live lectures will be held online Sundays at 5:30 pm Eastern Time. Lectures will be recorded and archived for later viewing for enrolled students.  They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.


All readings will be free and online. A fully hyper-linked syllabus with readings for each weekly topic will be available for all students.

Grades and Certificates

The final grade will depend on quizzes. Taking the course for a grade is optional. This course is worth 3 credits in the Mises Academy. Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits (by danielle). You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (seven calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee. If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund. No refunds will be granted following the second week.

Thomas DiLorenzo

Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Author of The Real LincolnLincoln Unmasked, and Hamilton’s Curse. Dr. DiLorenzo is today’s foremost critic of “Lincoln hagiography”.

DiLorenzo is a professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland and a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, he has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, Barron’s, and many other publications.  He is widely published in the academic journals, including the American Economic Review, Economic Inquiry, International Review of Law and Economics, Public Choice, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and many others. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech.

Click here to read an interview with Professor DiLorenzo.

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