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Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
by Henry Hazlitt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.46
260 used & new from $0.90

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Explanations Than My Economics Classes, January 31, 2007
Before I give my own review, I'd like to respond to just two posts --

"incredibly misleading" -- This reviewer said Hazlitt contradicts himself by arguing that an inefficient and unneeded industry should go out of business to free resources for more productive and needed ones, but at the same time lamenting the collapse of an industry due to minimum wage laws. However, an industry that goes out of business because the market no longer demands it is not "unemployment." The reviewer's quote from the book about "releasing resources" explains itself -- employment will simply be shifted to more efficient and needed industries. On the other hand, minimum wage laws increase the cost of labor for employers, reducing the number of other workers they can hire, creating true unemployment.

"libertarian polemic" -- Aside from the fallacy of argument by political labeling, this reviewer makes a point worthy of consideration -- markets aren't always rational. This is true, and we see plenty of irrational behavior, particularly in the short run. However, it has been shown time and again that the market behaves largely rationally over the long run, which is the time period that counts. Producers which truly provide demanded value are rewarded. The tech sector is a good example -- all these computers, software and communications infrastructure streamlines operations in all industries, and the nerds are handsomely rewarded for it. If markets were primarily irrational, we would not have the propserity we have today. Irrationality is the exception, not the rule.

So my review. I'm an undergrad at an institution with a highly regarded economics program, and though my major isn't economics, I took some classes in that department to help fulfill my humanistic "artsy" requirement -- though at my school, economics instruction is heavily calculus-based. While many of the arguments in Hazlitt's book jibe with the results of the math I learned (most significantly that a price floor, like a minimum wage, creates a shortage), I only learned what everything meant conceptually, in plain English, by reading the book. Hazlitt also does a great job explaining the connection between the effect of artificial price and quantity controls on individual consumers/producers and the behavior of the economy as a whole -- something altogether lacking in the untenable but popular separation of macro from microeconomics. In fact, Hazlitt pointed out that consumers are really producers, that demand and supply are two sides of the same coin, something that my teachers never bothered to illuminate in class. You produce what you need in exchange for what you consume. You export what you produce so that you may import what you consume. In the end, as Hazlitt himself notes, it's all common sense.

Overall, this book is a really great supplement to an economics education, and I recommend it highly to fellow students.


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