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Railroading Economics: The Creation of the Free Market Mythology annotated edition Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1583671351
ISBN-10: 1583671358
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Perelman is professor of economics at California State University at Chico, and the author of numerous books, including Steal This Idea and Railroading Economics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; annotated edition edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583671358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583671351
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Written by Michael Perelman (Professor of Economics, California State University), Railroad Economics is an openly critical denouncement of the weaknesses in modern economic theory. Denying the prevailing belief in "pure capitalism" or "perfect competition", Railroading Economics explores how the so-called free market is always subject to numerous constraints, even in the United States. Chapters discuss the historic increase of fixed capital, the role of finance, the long-term effects of the railroad industry, the rise of "welfare capitalism" in which consolidated enterprises dared to adopt a relatively progressive attitude toward labor, the impact and legacy of the Great Depression, the Golden Age of industrial dependence, and much more. Part history lesson, part cautionary tale, and part scholarly dissection of the nuances of labor, capital, and changing perspectives within the discipline of economics, Railroading Economics is a welcome contribution to economics studies shelves.
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I guess the economists who produced a voluminous literature on railroad rate theory have been dead and forgotten long enough that a modern economist can recycle their discredited theories.

These theories were used to fasten regulation on the American railroad industry and from there the Progressives moved on to the rest of the economy. Even after other (and in retrospect, better regarded) economists had debunked the core components of railroad rate theory, they continued to be cited long afterwards by those with a stake in the regulatory system. As for the debunking, see especially Frank Taussig's seminal 1891 article "A Contribution to the Theory of Railroad Rates" and Alfred Marshall's 1920 book Industry and Trade, 456-458.

Perelman has made a career of trying to show that economics is based on assumptions that are theoretically unsound. In this case he has resorted to ideas that in the first three decades of regulation proved themselves to be fallacious.
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