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Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics Paperback – December 14, 1988
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“I strongly recommend that every American acquire some basic knowledge of economics, monetary policy, and the intersection of politics with the economy. No formal classroom is required; a desire to read and learn will suffice. There are countless important books to consider, but the following are an excellent starting point: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat; Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; What has Government Done to our Money? by Murray Rothbard; The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek; and Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan.
If you simply read and comprehend these relatively short texts, you will know far more than most educated people about economics and government. You certainly will develop a far greater understanding of how supposedly benevolent government policies destroy prosperity. If you care about the future of this country, arm yourself with knowledge and fight back against economic ignorance. We disregard economics and history at our own peril.”
—Ron Paul, Representative from Texas
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Hazlitt's "one lesson" is simple, and told in Chapter 1. The rest of the chapters are all stories in which the lesson plays a prominent role. In short, Hazlitt doesn't merely tell us the lesson, he actually shows us the lesson -- over and over and over, until we've got it.
With stories on tariffs, minimum wage, rent controls, taxes. unions, wages, profits, savings, credit, unemployment, and so much more, Hazlitt takes some of the most difficult economic concepts and makes these easily accessible to the lay person who has no economic training, background, or even inclination.
It's one thing for me to recommend this book. It's quite another for my students to recommend it semester after semester. I can imagine no higher praise.
The one lesson is so simple that it takes about five minutes to read the chapter about it. The rest of the book lists various scenarios in which that lesson applies. The general principle of the lesson applies so naturally to various specific cases that it simplifies economics immensely. Hazlitt must have studied logic as well as economics.
The one lesson is simply this: economic planning should take into account the effects of economic policies on all groups, not just some groups, and what those effects will be in the long run, not just the short run. That's it. That's the lesson. Fallacious economic policies almost invariably seek to benefit one group at the expense of all others, or to bring about short-term benefits at the expense of long-term benefits. With this as his thesis, Hazlitt examines the numerous manifestations of such fallacies in different situations.
His chapters are short, his prose is easy to follow, and his logic is compelling. I've never taken an economics class in my life, yet I had no trouble following the reasoning in this book. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand basic economics and the keys to widespread prosperity in the long run.
The book essentially springs from the premise that economic fallacy results from considering the effects of a policy or action only on a specific group or over a short period of time. From this he goes on to explain how such fallacies have invaded every single sphere of public policy. While before I vaguely opposed the idea of public works projects, tariffs, and welfare, I had no reasoning to back up my thoughts so I rarely expressed them. Hazlitt's book, instead of arming me with political doublespeak, provided me with the solid theory to truly understand why things that seem hard to argue against--kickbacks for hardworking but suffering farmers, for example-- are really counter productive. I recommend this book for people who hail from any economic class or political party; it won't offend you, and will do nothing but make you more informed and better equipped to understand the world around you.
In the final chapter of this book, Hazlitt revists his work 30 years later (he was writing in 1978, and the book came out originally in 1946). He surmises that during that period, nothing was learned. If anything, he says, subjects related in the book (wage rates, price controls, government "make work") have become more political. I wonder what Hazlitt would say now.
You need to read this book in order to appreciate the real consequences of actions your government wants to take. The theme emphasized over and over in the book is that actions must be thought through to see what the long term effects will be, not just the highly visible short term ones.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An introduction to economics far too isolated from the true nature of political economy to be of much use.Published 1 day ago by April
Like the title says.... This should be required reading of every child (and politician). Hazlett has a knack for easy to understand explanations of economic principles. Read morePublished 16 days ago by C. Flanagan
Not a bad book but presents one view only. One lesson should be a somewhat broader overview in my opinion.Published 20 days ago by David E Renaud
If you want a simple yet profound economics lesson, read this book.Published 1 month ago by Chip J. Cogan
Very well descripted looking forward to doing business in the future.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer