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Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One Hardcover – December 9, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If there is a single recent book that can advance economic literacy in this country, it is Thomas Sowell's latest book, Basic Economics.... Sowell has managed to make economics humane again, relevant and interesting to young people and ordinary citizens.... Buy a copy and read it immediately--no: buy two, and give one to a school teacher, a journalist, or a politician near you!"

"Thomas Sowell is one of the fine scholars of our time."

About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd edition (December 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465003451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465003457
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Hammond on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once again, Sowell clearly explains everyday economic concepts with a series of interesting real-life examples from around the world and throughout history. The focus of the book is not only to explain sound economic concepts but also to explain why it is often in the personal interest of the political class to act contrary to these principles. The negative effects of their actions are often not felt until they are long out of office and few are likely to trace these effects back to their original cause. In the short term, doing the wrong thing gets them elected or re-elected.

Every voter should read this to inoculate themselves from the lies of our politicians. The book is non-partisan, exposing the political thinking of both US parties, as well as many others in other countries.

If you don't think you are interested in economics, you should be, because it affects the life of every man, woman and child on the planet. This book makes what can be a dry subject interesting. It's hard to put down!
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Format: Hardcover
This book explains the world of economics better than any other I have ever read. Dr. Sowell demonstrates why he has been so successful in the academic world by reducing a boring, complex subject to that which is easy to read and understand.

I highly recommend this book to the reader who wants fact, not fiction. It will be a hard read for many liberals but a necessary one if they ever hope to understand the world as it really is!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good book, well written and informative. Provides an in depth view of current economic problems and why they exist. This author also explains why politicians make decisions that are a "quick fix" for current economic problems to get them re-elected but the decisions they make are often harmful to the economy in the long run.
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I've lost track of the number of Dr. Sowell's books I have read. He always provides straightforward explanations of each topic in language that is simple for the layman but respects basic economic principles.

This book is no exception, in Thomas Sowell's hands the "dismal science" brightens up a bit and shows its importance in explaining human affairs. I suppose it is too much to hope that a significant number of political types will read this book and start "Thinking Beyond Stage One." The few politicians that do, must be supported by unusually intelligent constituents that look beyond claimed legislative goals to the real incentives presented and their effects.

Dr. Sowell clearly explains the contrasting incentives that drive most politicians and their constituents. Living in the Bay Area he has numerous examples of the extreme form of this pathology. My friends in his area who do evaluate incentives, and do the numbers, are appalled by the stage one thinking that so dominates public affairs.

The author's chapter on free labor and slavery and all the variations between is clear and informed. He has spent a lifetime studying this issue and he presents the economics in a very robust form with excellent examples from his wide studies of many human societies.

His chapters on medical care and housing should be read by everyone interested in current affairs.

His treatment of risk and insurance and the perverse effects caused by government agencies is wide ranging and clear. He also describes private individuals who make a living by promoting costly conclusions based on "Stage One" thinking.

With the inclusion of chapters on immigration, discrimination, and the economic development of nations, Dr.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sowell's main thesis is that political decision-makers, which include both politicians, administrative agencies, and large government bureaucracies, often are rewarded for what he calls "stage one" thinking. In other words, because a politician's main objective is to get re-elected, policies which are popular and appear to, or do, have short-term benefits are often pursued without regard to the policy's long-term consequences. Ultimately, the politician will not be rewarded for the benefits that accrue in 10 or 20 years from the superior policy, but may be voted out of office for his unpopular stance.

The basic claim of Applied Economics is that political policies must be analyzed, not based on their avowed goals, but rather on their foreseeable short AND long-term consequences. By considering the incentive policies such as rent control create, it is easy to see how policies that sound good, and are therefore popular, may have disastrous results, often for precisely those persons whom the policy is designed to protect. To establish this point, Sowell amasses significant historical and empirical evidence to back up his claims in a variety of topics. His analysis of the economics of housing, immigration, and insurance are particularly excellent.

Free and Unfree Labor:
The first topical discussion begins with a history lesson, providing an eye-opening account of the many forms of unfree labor. Americans tend to think of labor as either being free (wage labor) or unfree (slavery), but in fact, there were many forms of labor that fell somewhere in between these poles.
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