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Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics Hardcover – April 13, 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Want to understand the vital purpose of stable money in a free-market economy? Read John Tamny's chapters on the importance of reliable standards—whether you are measuring ingredients for a chicken wings recipe, constructing a house, or timing athletes running the forty-yard dash—and you will fully comprehend that money is meant to provide a dependable measure of value. Tamny's writing throughout this brilliant book rings with clarity and consistency; you will be left wondering why these same qualities don't apply to our money."
—Judy Shelton, author of Money Meltdown.

"Popular Economics is an essential 21st century complement to Henry Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson. In a book that is happily free of charts and incomprehensible equations, John Tamny uses exciting stories from the world around us to show the reader that nothing is easier than economic growth. Popular Economics is the answer for those confused by the 'dismal science.'"
—Arthur Laffer, economist, creator of the "Laffer Curve"

“John’s book is many things. It’s a great way to learn economics, it’s a very strong case for economic liberty, and it is an epic myth-buster. I will be giving it out to friends, of all viewpoints, for a long long time.”
—Cliff Asness, Managing Principal, AQR Capital

“Ignore John Tamny’s easy to read, Popular Economics, at your own moral peril. It’s as close to spiritual as you get in this realm—a better tutorial than any econ text. I’d make it mandatory for the 95% of econ majors—right up through PhDs—who never really got the basics. While making you edgy toward the endless societal consensus nonsense it cuts through like a guillotine—it also frees you to see the true creative beauty of reality all around us.”
—Ken Fisher, Founder & CEO, Fisher Investments

"In a revelatory analysis of the so-called 'financial crisis,' John Tamny makes the unexpected case that the actual crisis was the huge banking blunder of betting the investment capital of the U.S. economy on housing, a retrospective consumption good already grossly in over supply. Confirming the blunder, government under both Bush and Obama bailed out the banks and debauched the dollar, devaluing the entire entrepreneurial economy of the future. Rare is a book so contrary, so pithy, and so true."
—George Gilder, author of Knowledge & Power

"John Tamny offers a wide ranging analysis of some of the most pressing issues facing the American economy today, from income inequality and job creation to budget deficits and tax reform. Through engaging examples and stories, he provides a thought-provoking argument in favor of a free market approach to economic growth. Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that his perspective needs to be part of the discussion on American economy policy in the new millennium."
—Enrico Moretti, Professor of Economics, Cal-Berkeley, author of The New Geography of Jobs

From the Inside Flap

Economics is really pretty basic. In fact, it’s everywhere you look.

But a lot of people want you to think economics is terribly complicated. Politicians, bureaucrats, special-interest groups, and economists themselves have managed to turn common sense and simple cause-and-effect into a mystery religion. And they want you, the ordinary taxpayer, to keep a respectful distance.

John Tamny is here to break the spell with Popular Economics. You don’t need a Ph.D. and a graphing calculator to understand the economic lessons that are all around us—just the self-confidence to see what’s in front of your nose. Stimulating economic growth is pretty simple, too. It all comes down to Taxes, Regulation, Trade, and Money. Get these four things right, and economic growth would explode.

Taxes. Think of taxes as a penalty for working. If Great Britain raises Mick Jagger’s income tax rate high enough, the Rolling Stones are going to find somewhere else to live, and the amount of taxes Great Britain collects from Mick will be zero.

Regulation. The smartest people in any industry aren’t the regulators, they’re the people making a living at it. Regulation is based on the fantasy that the mediocre can effectively direct the best and brightest. That’s like expecting the Appalachian State football team to beat Michigan every time they play.

Trade. LeBron James could be a pretty good tight end in the NFL, but in basketball he’s the best in the world. So it makes no sense for him to play football. That’s called comparative advantage, and it’s the foundation of free trade.

Money. Imagine playing football if the length of a yard changed on every play. Yet that’s how we run our economy. The value of the dollar—the economy’s unit of measure—changes in value every minute.

Government tries to convince us that free markets are dangerous. To believe that, we have to ignore reality, and plenty of professional economists are trying to help us do that.

But Popular Economics shows that you’re an economist too—and a better one than you think.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (April 13, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621573370
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621573371
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bassocantor TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 13, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
POPULAR ECONOMICS is a well-written, passionate book extolling the benefits of free-market forces to achieve an optimal allocation of resources, and allow the US economy to really roar. The author writes in an easy-to-understand style, and the book is well-organized. Each chapter covers a specific idea in the realm of regulation, economics, or taxation.

John Tamny makes a good case for low taxes: "Taxes are not only a price on work. They are also a price on the productive use of wealth." John points out the futility of raising taxes on the rich: "The rich are highly mobile, and they will put their capital to work in the most favorable environment." I thought the author's points were right on target.

The chapters on regulation were similarly passionate, but I don't think the author always supported his points very soundly. For those who think there should be safety regulations on airplanes, the author argues that those regulations are not necessary, since a company that crashes its airplanes will soon go out of business: "In a wholly unregulated market, an airline with a poor reputation for safety would be out of business quickly."

I would have loved to see a discussion from both sides on the safety/regulation issue. Although the author didn't discuss building safety/fire regulations, I assume that he would likewise argue for elimination of all these regulations as well. The author's position is that if an airplane crashes, or a building collapses, this would help drive the company out of business, so really, no regulations are needed.

I couldn't help but think that the author's arguments for zero regulation are based on near-perfect information to the public.
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John Tamny is an Austrian Economist, although he probably would not call himself that. He understands that economics is about people - individuals and how they work, save and transact in order to improve their circumstances. He believes in the unhampered economy of individuals acting freely, which brings growth, and creates wealth through innovation. He identifies the capital-destroying activities of government: taxation, spending, regulation, trade restrictions and mistakes with fiat money. He shows how these restrict growth and cause economic crises. If government were denied all these activities, everyone would be better off. He illustrates all these points with simple, real-world examples - hence the pop culture references in the sub-title. This is a good read - and very well based in reputable economic theory.
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Popular Economics What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics
By John Tamny

A short book report by Ron Housley

At last, a book to show us in a meaningful and memorable way how it really does matter that we allow our political rulers to use force against us!
It turns out that our very happiness and prosperity are directly controlled by the extent to which the State manipulates taxes, regulations, trade and money.

I am especially struck by the titles of the first 2 parts: (a)Taxes, and (b)Regulation. These are the same 2 concepts which drew the focus of Brook/Watkins in their “Free Market Revolution” — where they showed us that taxes are merely the implementation of altruism; and that regulations are merely the implementation of the notion that success is created by dishonesty.

Far too often, people go through life with only the most superficial (and wrong) understanding of how our economy works. Today we hear that “income inequality” is bad for our economy; and then we also hear that “income inequality” is essential for growth and prosperity. So which is it?!

Once you’ve read through Tamny’s book, you’ll have a new found respect for the value of “income inequality;” and you will come to clearly see how and why. You’ll see how “income inequality” is even good for “the little guy.”

The way you’ll come to see all this is by means of a few great stories. The story of ESPN is a crystal clear accounting of how funds from a super-wealthy investor allowed a new venture to survive and grow — an outcome that would never have come about had the State taxed way and squandered the spare $10-million that one rich investor could afford to gamble on the ESPN investment.
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The subtitle of the book follows through in signaling that this is indeed a story of economics for the everyman. The Gladwellian organization and tone may be taken by some as an example of oversimplification or presenting the serious discipline of economics in inappropriate anecdotal fashion. However, the truth is closer to both these excellent writers (Tamny and Malcolm Gladwell) sharing a talent for presenting complexity in a readily understandable way that in turn opens minds through their insight into the topics.

There’s no question that the author comes from and defends a free market libertarian ideology. He defends it rather well and yet does so through an entertaining style that never becomes overbearing. Those who disagree with his principled belief system do so at the cost of not seeing how through his cool illustrations in support of that economic idea he sheds light on its truth.
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