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Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics [Kindle Edition]

George Reisman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99

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Book Description

Aimed at both the intelligent layman and the professional economist, this book is the most comprehensive and intellectually powerful explanation of the nature and value of laissez-faire capitalism that has ever been written. It represents a twofold major integration of truths previously discovered by other writers, combined with numerous original contributions made by the author himself. Within economic theory, it integrates leading ideas of the Austrian school with needlessly abandoned doctrines of the British classical school. It further integrates such reconstituted economic theory with essential elements of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

On the foundation of these integrations, Dr. Reisman is able to develop the numerous major original contributions that the book presents on the subjects of profits, wages, saving, capital accumulation, aggregate economic accounting, monopoly, and natural resources, among other vital subjects. Based on the same foundation, the book presents the most powerful critiques of Marx, Keynes, the pure-and-perfect competition doctrine, and environmentalism to be found anywhere.

A leading part of its trenchant economic analysis is a consistent demonstration of the natural harmony of the rational self-interests of all men under capitalism—of businessmen and wage earners, of consumers and producers, of men of all races and nationalities, including immigrants and the native born, and of competitors of all levels of ability—consonances most will find astonishing, given the prevailing misunderstandings of capitalism.

The book's importance and appeal to a general audience are evident in its description of prevailing attitudes toward capitalism and its challenge to learn why they are all completely wrong and the cause of self-destructive political behavior on a massive scale. For those with the intellectual courage to accept a challenge of having many of their firmest and most cherished beliefs reduced by unanswerable logic to the status of Dark-Age superstitions, here are some of the beliefs that Reisman's book demolishes: The profit motive is the cause of starvation wages, exhausting hours, sweatshops, and child labor; of monopolies, inflation, depressions, wars, imperialism, and racism. Saving is hoarding. Competition is the law of the jungle. Economic inequality is unjust and the legitimate basis for class warfare. Economic progress is a ravaging of the planet and, in the form of improvements in efficiency, a cause of unemployment and depressions. War and destruction or additional peacetime government spending are necessary to prevent unemployment under capitalism. Economic activity other than manual labor is parasitical. Businessmen and capitalists are recipients of "unearned income" and are "exploiters." The stock and commodity markets are "gambling casinos"; retailers and wholesalers are "middlemen," having no function but that of adding "markups" to the prices charged by farmers and manufacturers; advertisers are inherently guilty of fraud—the fraud of attempting to induce people to desire the goods that capitalism showers on them, but that they allegedly have no natural or legitimate basis for desiring.

Reisman's book flies in the face of all anticapitalistic ideas and demands. Its thesis is that never have so many people been so ignorant and confused about a subject so important, as most people now are about economics and capitalism. It argues that in its logically consistent form of laissez-faire capitalism—that is, with the powers of government limited to those of national defense and the administration of justice—capitalism is a system of economic progress and prosperity for all, and is a precondition of world peace. Following an exhaustive economic analysis of virtually every aspect of capitalism, the book's concluding chapter is devoted to the presentation of a long-range political-economic program for the achievement of a fully capitalist society.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reisman's ringing manifesto for laissez-faire capitalism free of all government intervention is at once a conservative polemic and a monumental treatise, brimming with original theories. that is remarkable for its depth, scope and rigorous argument. He rejects the Keynesian doctrine that government must adopt a policy of budget deficits to cope with unemployment, contending, to the contrary, that federal intervention in the economic system is a root cause of inflation, credit expansion, depression and mass unemployment. Reisman staunchly defends capitalists as risk-takers who raise the average worker's real wages and living standards, increasing productivity and improving the quantity and quality of goods. Socialism, he says, is the system that exploits labor and causes stifling monopolistic control. Professor of economics at L.A.'s Pepperdine University, Reisman frequently espouses unfashionable, some would say "extreme," views; for instance, he opposes mandatory recycling, defends insider trading of stocks as justifiable and beneficial and condemns laws banning child labor as an "inappropriate" response to a social ill. His call for a pro-capitalist political movement dedicated to the abolition of the welfare state, elimination of Social Security and Medicare, dismantling of public education, private ownership of all land, abolition of personal and corporate income taxes and a 90% cutback in government spending seems to put this tome beyond the pale of mainstream political debate?although it does come with advance raves from two Nobel laureates in economics. Conservative Book Club and Laissez Faire Book Club selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"For an understanding of how greed is beside the point, and how unfettered markets pay workers according to rising productivity, try an unusually rich and imaginative discussion in economist George Reisman's great book, Capitalism recently made available at a bargain price on e-book readers. On other key economic principles as well, this is an indispensable work."
-Barrons, September 8, 2012

  
"Reisman's ringing manifesto for laissez-faire capitalism free of all government intervention is at once a conservative polemic and a monumental treatise, brimming with original theories, that is remarkable for its depth, scope and rigorous argument... come[s] with advance raves from two Nobel laureates in economics. Conservative Book Club and Laissez Faire Book Club selection."
-Publishers Weekly
 
"An expositon and defense of capitalism on a par with those of Mises and Hayek ."
-The Free Radical, June/July 1997

"Capitalism is . . . what a consistent, intelligent advocate of capitalism would say on almost any economic issue."

-FORTUNE, April 28, 1997

"Provides a comprehensive explanation of the nature and value of modern capitalism."

-Journal of Economic Literature, June 1998

"The most important tome about Austrian economics since Ludwig von Mises' Human Action and Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State."

-1997 Foundation for Economic Education Book Catalogue

Product Details

  • File Size: 14579 KB
  • Print Length: 1086 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0915463733
  • Publisher: TJS Books (May 19, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0084RU67S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Das Kapital" of Liberalism January 28, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Capitalism, which appeared in 1998, is the life work of George Reisman, an economist unfortunately hardly known, who teaches at a private American university. This work can rightly lay claim to being one of the most comprehensive and intelligent defenses of capitalism that has ever been written. In over 1,000 closely printed pages, Prof. Reisman not only deals with all conceivable economic subjects, but places special value on demonstrating the errors of anti-capitalistic doctrines - from Marx, to Keynes, to the environmental movement. His foundation is, on the one side, the Austrian school, above all von Mises, with whom he studied, and, on the other side, the Objectivism of Ayn Rand, with whom Reisman was also acquainted and - together with Rothbard - debated. On this foundation he places a crystal clear, convincing structure of thought; in its totality a stirring plea for Laissez-Faire capitalism as the only system that is consistent with the nature of man and a free society. Rothbard and Reisman, incidentally, seem to have become estranged after their studies together. While in the case of Rothbard, to my knowledge, Reisman is never mentioned, Reisman in Capitalism shows Rothbard among others to have accepted the fundamental tenet of the Marxian exploitation theory, namely, that in reality the workers are the producers of goods.
If Reisman deals with Rothbard this way, then one must not be surprised when he deals with the real anti-capitalists in such a devastating way that only tatters remain. All this without ever becoming abusive or polemical, for he is concerned with ideas, not persons. Drawing the conclusion that only irrational dolts could hold the erroneous doctrines just refuted is always left to the reader. And, indeed, I admit it, not a few chapters made me ashamed.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest book on economics of all time November 14, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I agree with all the praise that has been lavished on GeorgeReisman's Capitalism. I actually think this is the greatesttreatise on economics of all time, greater even than The Wealth of Nations or Human Action.
An achievement of this kind is always an integrated whole. But if I were to single out one insight as the greatest one, it would be the "primacy of profits" principle, the insight that wages are a deduction from profits, not vice versa. This lays the ground for the most thorough and fundamental refutation of the Marxist exploitation theory that is possible; it also lays the ground for what actually constitutes economy-wide profit (the "net consumption" theory of profits) and the actual relationships between profits, wages and investment, and for many other things as well. To make a comparison, I think this discovery ranks with Adam Smith's original discovery of the principle of division of labor, or the early Austrians' discovery of marginal utility. I sincerely hope that this principle gets thoroughly understood by economists in the future.
Some other highlights I could mention merely because they have not been mentioned by the other reviewers:
The demonstration that the rise in the average standard of living rests entirely on lower prices for goods and services (a fact which is merely obscured by the presence of inflation).
Understanding the extent of the gulf between a precapitalist, non-division of labor society and a modern division of labor society. (E.g.: understanding why a rise in population would be a threat in the former kind of society, but a source of great benefit in the latter kind.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fortune magazine's review of Reisman's CAPITALISM April 15, 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The review is by David R. Henderson, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and is titled THE LATEST CAPITALIST MANIFESTO. It appears in the issue of April 28, 1997, on p. 62. What follows is the verbatim text of the review, with paragraph breaks indicated by a pair of brackets[].

[]EVERY SO OFTEN A BOOK IS PUBLISHED that commands attention for its scope, ambition, and physical size. Capitalism (Jameson Books, $95.00), by Pepperdine University economist George Reisman,
is such a book: It's an exhaustive survey and an impassioned manifesto, and is the size and weight of the phone book of an extremely large city. As Reisman writes on page 61 (out of 1,046): "The remainder of this book can be summarized as demonstrating a single proposition: In every possible way, with no valid objection, the solution for the economic problem is capitalism." Reisman backs up his claim. He shows, among other things, why capitalism is necessary to end poverty, mass unemployment, and environmental
destruction.

[]Much of what Reisman covers will be familiar to students of economics, but CAPITALISM covers some of the more standard economic topics--the chaos caused by socialism, productivity as the source of large fortunes in a capitalist society, price controls--in a fresh and clever way.

[]Take price controls. Economically literate readers know that price controls, by holding prices below free-market levels, often create shortages. Reisman goes further, presenting at least three insights about the harm done by price controls.

[]First, many observers noted the apparently arbitrary distribution of gasoline due to price controls in the 197Os. In some areas of the country, people lined up for blocks to get gasoline; in others lines were very short.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for serious students of capitalism.
Most comprehensive treatment of capitalism and the economic factors that drive wealth creation that I have read. Makes Piketty look like a schoolboy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Charlie
5.0 out of 5 stars No other is as comprehensive and easy to read.
There are very few, if any, treatises on what capitalism is, how it works better than any other economic system and why economic freedom and political freedom are each necessary... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Eugene C. Holloway
5.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism: A Treates on Economics
In addition to the refutation of Socialism and Keynesianism is the far more important task of articulating with deep and extended reasoning the basis, principles and fundamental... Read more
Published 21 months ago by blackjackreason
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous achievement
Tremendous achievement. Totally comprehensive, step-by-step exposition of economics from a rational, laissez-faire perspective that connects economics with reality and makes it... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Charles Curtis
3.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism:A Treatise on Economics
One grevious error: If he beleives that Capitalist will help raise the average workers wages etc (and that includes health care if its your standard of living)all indications from... Read more
Published on July 7, 2012 by MK
5.0 out of 5 stars Rational economics at your fingertips!
Wow! I hope every student of economics realises what a boon this is.

A life's work and a life's reading--the book the heart of which F.A. Read more
Published on May 27, 2012 by Peter Cresswell
5.0 out of 5 stars No better description of the Capitalism's DNA
There are so many great reviews of this monumental book already, adding a special note is difficult. Read more
Published on November 11, 2011 by Robert Kirk
5.0 out of 5 stars Societal Survival Guide.
The best economics treatise in print. An astonishing integration of the "Austrian" and "British Classical" schools of economics. Read more
Published on December 18, 2010 by Graeme Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics at its Best
Reisman's survey of this vast subject is one of the best. He presents this material forthrightly yet simply enough for the layman. Read more
Published on August 26, 2010 by Mart Grams
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book in all of economics
This book should be considered the economic bible. I don't see how very much of it, if any at all, could be refuted on an detailed, academic level. Read more
Published on July 28, 2010 by Lee E. Kelly III
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