Ludwig von Mises scholar Richard Ebeling looks at Mises the policy analyst and advisor, as opposed to Mises the pure economist, over at the Coordination Problem blog:
much of Mises' conception of the general economic order, its workings and requirements, and the institutional and policy "rules" that would help establish and maintain freedom and prosperity did not arise from a pure "a priori" deductive spinning out of implications from the "action axiom."
They are, in many cases, the general theoretical insights and the social institutional and economic policy "wisdoms" derived from living through, acting within, and learned lessons from those momentous and often catastrophic events that shook Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, and particularly as experienced in the everyday reality of Austrian political and economic life during this time….if you had asked him a fiscal, or monetary, or regulatory policy question in the context of his role as analyst at the Chamber of Commerce, he would not have said, and did not simply say, "laissez-faire" – abolish the central bank, deregulate the economy, and eliminate taxes.
He accepts that there are certain institutional "givens" that must be taken for granted, and in the context of which policy options and decisions must be worked out.
He seemed to usually think with three policy "horizons" in his mind. The first, and the more distant, "horizon," concerned the most optimal institutional and policy arrangement in society for the fostering of the (classical) liberal ideal of freedom and prosperity…
The second "horizon," was closer to the actual circumstances of the present, but focused on the intermediary goals that would be leading in the direction of that more distant, "optimal" horizon. For example, ending a paper money inflation and reestablishing a gold-based monetary system, for general economic stability without which the market order and economic calculation cannot properly function….
And the third "horizon" in the context of which Mises analyzes and proposes economic policies, is the current situation and the immediate future. In other words, how do you design the concrete bylaws and rules for a central bank to prevent it from following an inflationary monetary policy, including the transition to and implementation of specie redemption, and the policy "tools" it should then use to maintain the exchange rate and convertibility?
If you are a student or fan of Mises or libertarian intellectual history, do read the whole thing.