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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2003
I learned more concerning our government's tax policy and the manipulation of money (versus the pieces of paper we carry around in our wallets) from this book in three hours than four years of study in college. Schiff boils it down to the essence, from three men beginning a culture to a controlling government, taxing and watering down the money supply. Your view of Keynes' ideas and why Adam Smith's concepts were abandoned will become cystal clear. Should be required reading for anyone involved in economics - which is exactly why the government would prefer that this book be left on the shelf.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2005
The best word to describe this book is prophetic. Read about the dollar's decline, how inflation erodes our buying power, the crumbling of the U.S. industrial base, currency vs. money, then marvel that these words were written over 30 YEARS AGO.

This book is a great primer not only on the dangers of big government, but also on economics, the federal reserve system and a host of other tax-related topics. After reading this, many of the ills that afflict and aggravate us today in the 21st century will make far more sense. This book will answer such questions as: "Why do I keep paying more in taxes and getting less in services from government?" and, "If the government can print all the money it needs, why is the national debt so big?" and finally, "What happened to all the great, last-a-lifetime 'Made In America' products I had as a child in this once-great country?"

The Biggest Con has many helpful illustrations and charts which -- although 30 years out of date -- demystify the subject of taxes, money and market forces. Think of it as Economics 101 without wasting your hard-earned cash on an overpriced 3-inch-thick textbook that confuses you even more, or sitting through a boring semester at college.

In the appendix you also will find a transcript of Schiff's 1968 testimony before Congress warning of the consequences of going off the gold standard, consequences we are living with and suffering through today. Read it and say "He told us so!"
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 1996
Although this book is almost 20 years old its detailed and
fully referenced facts on how our national debt is
masterfully misrepresented by our government is an irrefutable
fulfilment of prophecy of our present debt crisis.
Learn how Shiff, who testified before congress in opposition
to the removal of gold and silver backed currency has been
vindicated on all accounts. See through the con of how our
present politicians are solving the budget crisis.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2011
After listening to Peter Schiff (Irwin Schiff's son) give seemingly prophetic insight on the rise of gold in 2001 - present, the housing bubble YEARS before it happened, and the consequences the fed and governments actions will have on the economy today (QE1, QE2, "operation twist", etc), it's easy to understand where he got his knowledge from. Irwin Schiff explains real supply and demand economics so clearly in this book that anyone with a grade 8 education can understand it better than someone with a degree in (Keynesian) economics does. Quickly you will realize that the capitalist nation that we though we were living in, is quite the contrary. You will understand why we had the industrial revolution in the 1800's and why economic growth has slowed in the 20th century, is crawling in the 21st, and where it all went wrong. Even though this book was written in 1975-76 (printed by Arlington House), and added upon with an addendum in the 1977 printing (printed by Freedom Book), it's amazing the similarities between the 1973-75 recession and todays one, and the "solutions" offered to resolve the 70's recession vs todays "solutions".

This book, along with Peter Schiff's "How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes", which expands on the island economy outlined near the end of "The Biggest Con", should become textbooks in high school, or at the very least on a must read list. As it turns out the Schiff's aren't prophets at all, they just understand real economics, go figure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2008
Irwin is one bright guy, and he has a gift for explaining complex topics in interesting and understandable ways. Even though this book is more than 30 years old, it still does a great job of revealing the basic ways that the US government cons its own citizens. Ours is not the only government doing this, though; the problem is world-wide and runs far back in history. Irwin's book was an eye-opener when I read it back in the '70s and I'm still recommending it to friends.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2009
This is probably one of the best books I have ever read about government waste and abuse of the American people. Published in the 70s, the information provided will give a startling look at the similarities between todays financial and economic crisis and the past. Learn what needs to be done to stop it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2007
Having read this book in the 90's it is still good for today to explain why oil prices are so much higher......it is really the dollar becoming devalued. who is doing this as I watched gold go to almost $880 an ounce again. the US is broke from a war just like in the 70's and we are there again......the US is broke we have borrowed billions from IMF to pay bills. funny it was not like during clintons term. now ron paul wants to do away with the dollar and start a Am-euro. I don't know who will be elected I'm still evaluating what country I want to move to.
what you will see like all retirees having the retirement money devalued my guess to about 1/10 of what it is worth today. this is how current administration will pay for social security, it is with a cheaper dollar. (dang I tried to keep the word cheaper out of my description.) we are headed for rampart inflation again. as taxes are cut today, well inflation will cause every bodies pay to increase.......unknowingly the poor start thinking they are getting paid their worth. the government thinks the weak just don't realize the higher pay puts them into a higher tax bracket so we get more with out raising taxes.
in 1968 crude was $3.00+/barrel, gold at $32.50, gas at $.30
in 2007 reg. crude is $80/barrel, gold $800, gas at $3.00
crudes in 2007 sweet light (low sulfur and thin) is $90 and sour (heavy high sulfur) is $50 I averaged to regular crude at $80. i wanted to show the semblance of crude and gold an ounce of gold still buys about the same 10 barrels of oil.
you will understand when the US gov. complains that china is a money manipulator and won't move their currency.......how it is really the US that is at fault. the US is trying to devalue the dollars (over 2.2 trillion as of last years quote and probably much higher now) which would lower the Chinese real dollar worth. like I gave you a 10 and a week later when you went to spend it......it is now only worth 5.
read the book and you will understand!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2010
This is one of my favorite books on economics. Witty, humorous, and very educational, this book is just as true and valid today as it was when it was written back in the 1970's.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2011
After reading this, economics become simple. The economy of a single person is no different from that of a nation. If you spend and consume instead of saving and producing, you are creating a dramatic reduction in your future consumption, and in the case of a nation, you are creating mass poverty.

When the government undermines the free market and creates mal-investments with regulations, mandates, and subsidies, it blames the free-market, adopts socialist big government policies, and expands it's power and control.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union socialism has received the negative connotation it deserves. Socialism, and it's financial partner Keynesianism, are fundamentally pro-government - distributing control of a nations resources and wealth into the hands of a bureaucracy; the outcome of this centralization is waste and the destruction of capital as government mis-allocates resources trying to appease citizen demands while simultaneously assuming a racketeering and extortive role by granting exemptions and subsidies to the highest bidders.

A subsidation or regulation generated by the government for the purpose of assisting a private interest represents a form of kleptocratic socialism: Where a private interest donates financial resources to breuracracy and in return is protected from it's competition by federal forces through the form of a law, regulation, or subsidation. The outcome is an adoption, by this business, of unethical practices, high prices and inefficiency due to an absence of risk, lack of free-market competition, and the garuntee of federal support.

In a free market, the governments only job is to maintain a national military. Businesses would all grow equally, and no business would over-leverage, assume unethical practices, or speculate greedily for the presence of risk in the form of bankruptcy applies to everyone. The only way for the business to succeed is by using capital investments and revenue to innovate new methods and machines that will outperform their competitors. This innovation creates efficiency, lowering the costs of production - while increasing the quality and availability of goods and services.

As prices fall, more people can afford more for less. The business receives increased customer volume as a reward for it's efficiency, and it uses that revenue to innovate further, expanding it's productivity and operations to new areas.

The final outcome of capitalism is prosperity as maximum employment and low priced, high quality goods increase the standards of living!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2013
I am reading this book nearly forty years after it was first published, while the now-80-something author is serving what may effectively be a lifetime sentence in federal prison. In that context, this book is heart-wrenching.

There are people who insist upon the truth. These people deal honestly and require honesty in return. Irwin Schiff comes across as such a man, and this book is his treatise on how the US government is circulating worthless paper currency while insisting that it be treated as money.

Central to Mr. Schiff's arguments is the fact that the US Constitution only authorizes the Federal Government to "coin money." "Money" and "currency" are two different things; money has intrinsic value, such as a gold or silver coin, while currency is paper traded for goods and services. Mr. Schiff explains how the Federal Reserve Note was once redeemable for it's face value in gold or silver, and why that is no longer the case. He illuminates such facts as: inflation is NOT rising prices; it is the Federal Reserve System "inflating" the currency supply (printing paper dollars in addition to those already in circulation). Powerful throughout, the book achieves a full, bolt-popping head of steam in the transcript of Mr. Schiff's testimony before Congress, in 1968, advising the US Government not to remove gold backing from Federal Reserve Notes.

The book is a blistering expose of the doings behind the curtain at the FRS. As a result of his labors, Mr. Schiff now ages away in jail, having lost several challenges to the Federal Government in court. Not for the faint of heart, nor for those whose patriotism is summed up by such pithy platitudes as "God Bless America."
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