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Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One 2nd Edition

43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465081431
ISBN-10: 0465081436
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While politicians squabble over the pros and cons of price controls on prescription drugs, onlooking citizens are often left scratching their heads. Many of today's economic issues are obscured by their inherent complexity and the blarney coming from political talking heads. In his follow-up to Basic Economics, Sowell, a leading conservative spokesman and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, seeks to alleviate this confusion. He highlights the major differences between politicians (who act for the short term, i.e., reelection) and economists (who look at the long-range ramifications of policy), and urges voters to keep these differences in mind. Sowell then focuses on a few issues, including some political hot potatoes: medical care, housing, discrimination, insurance and the development of nations. He urges readers to consider not only the intended, immediate goal of a particular policy, but also its unintended, long-range impact. For instance, he says, supporters of nationalized health care overlook the fact that it often results in health-care shortages, reduced quality of services and black markets. The great achievement of Sowell's book is its simplicity. His writing is easy and lucid, an admirable trait considering the topic at hand. This book will not satisfy hard-core economic junkies, and Sowell does not pretend it will. His target audience is the average citizen who has little or no economics background, but would like the tools to think critically about economic issues. Some readers will be turned off by Sowell's preference for free-market principles, but the author is an esteemed economist and his explanations fit well within the mainstream. As a basic primer for the economically perplexed, this volume serves very well.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Thomas Sowell is one of the fine scholars of our time." -- Ideas On Liberty

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd edition (November 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465081436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465081431
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Victor S. Alpher on December 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Sowell's new book (2004 imprimatur) came to my attention as he was interviewed on radio...I pulled into the nearest (independent) bookstore in the metropolis of Austin, Texas, finding and buying the lone copy back in the dreary Economics section.
I will certainly be reading more of Sowell's writings. Although a sequel to his book Basic Economics, this book stands well alone. In it, he tackles the current problems in this country involving the interaction of the political climate with basic economic principles. These include health care, housing, discrimination, risk, and the problems afflicting so-called third-world nations in economic development.
He takes an interesting historical perspective. For example, his analysis of slavery through the ages, and during the period of the American Colonies and southern United States is particularly cogent, and still of contemporary interest. How could slavery have survived so long? Was there such a variety of slave "status" and freedoms to act as has recently been portrayed, even in such films as "Gods & Generals". During this film, a complicated relationship between General Thomas J. Jackson and his personal cook is portrayed. They have discussions during which it is clear that the slave's status as a well-known cook, and his desire to defend HIS home from invasion as much as Jackson's is remarkable. Within Sowell's analysis of the antebellum South, it is not difficult to understand. In fact, he describes a situation in which slaves were put in less "risky" labor positions than Irish immigrants, a situation derived from their economic value in a cotton baling and transport operation.
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59 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Robert Herring on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sowell takes the key political issues and challenges the reader to analyze not only their short term (Stage One) political impact but to also think ahead to their long term (Stage Two, Three, etc) economic impact. He reminds the reader that politicians do not think beyond Stage One because they will be praised (and elected) for the short term benefits but will not be held accountable much later when the long term consequences appear. He lays out the Stage One benefits of each political issue and then predicts the long term consequences that politicians don't address. Price controls on drugs and health care may have an immediate benefit, but the consumer will pay years later as health care quality decreases and new drug research declines. Reducing the price does not reduce the cost. Does raising the minimum wage really help entry level workers? What happens in the long term when communities raise taxes on businesses? Is free health care really free, or better?
We need to look beyond Stage One and separate politics from economics on the hot election year issues.
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117 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scalise on December 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book. The United States as a whole would be far better off if everyone read this book. It would be a lot tougher for demagogues to sway public opinion regarding economic matters.
One reader's criticism was that there were no facts. Those people who do not believe in the free market will not want to accept certain statements from Sowell. If one wants to argue the merits of a free market versus government-controlled markets, this isn't the book. (Yes, unbelievably there are people who still think that socialism; communism and central planning are superior to free markets)
"This book will not satisfy hard-core economic junkies, and Sowell does not pretend it will. His target audience is the average citizen who has little or no economics background, but would like the tools to think critically about economic issues. "
I would also recommend the classic "Economics in one lesson" by Henry Hazlitt and Sowell's "Basic Economics". "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman is another great book.
If one wants to read one of the best (and longest) economic books ever written, then I recommend "Human Action" by Ludwig von Mises (downloadable at [...]
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If the United States were to implement a "required reading" prerequisite to voting, this is the book I would choose for such a requirement. Sowell's thinking is crystal clear, his analysis is linear, and his conclusions, once you read them, are hard to argue with. In my opinion, Sowell is dead-on on just about every subject he tackles. This is a brilliant man.
Prof. Sowell's main thesis is simple enough: we must look at the actual consequences of policies rather than merely the intentions. Unfortunately, on issue after issue, Sowell shows us that many of our so-called "elites" focus only on good intentions, because intentions are what the voters see first (the wreckage of bad policy comes later).
Nationalized health care, which is a reality in many liberal democratic states, and something that the United States may be moving towards, epitomizes Sowell's basic thesis. What could involve better intentions than the notion that everyone should be able to receive all the health care resources that they need? Alas for complacency! Sowell makes a pretty strong case that when such policies are put into practice, shortages, a degradation in services, and an end to innovation are the consequences.
Sowell is right-of-center; unabashedly so, and of course this may turn off some readers. But really, anyone will enjoy reading this book because Sowell's clarity of writing equals his clarity of thought--the book is a joy to read simply for its straightforwedness. This is a book capable of challenging one's belief system. Not many books can do that, but this is one of them.
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