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Hypocrites & Half-Wits: A Daily Dose of Sanity from Cafe Hayek Hardcover – July 1, 2012
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About the Author
Donald J. Boudreaux served as chairman of the department of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from 2001 to 2009. He runs a blog, CafeHayek.com, with Russ Roberts and has lectured in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe. He is the author of Globalization (2008), and his writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, Regulation, Reason, Ideas on Liberty, the Washington Times, the Journal of Commerce, the Cato Journal, and several scholarly journals.
Before chairing the economics department at George Mason, Boudreaux was president of the Foundation for Economic Education; associate professor of legal studies and Economics at Clemson University, and assistant professor of economics at George Mason University.
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Why is it necessary to read about these wrong opinions? Because the misconseptions that are repeated over and over on the radio & television and in the newspapers are not that many (the state can do better job allocating resources and managing than people themselves; that minimum wages help the poor; etc. etc.) and chances are you hear the same thoughts from people around yourself. Donald Boudreaux's book gives you a set of tools which you can use to explain to your friends and family why these popular ideas are wrong or misguided, and never work as intended.
I've been visiting Don Boudreaux's Cafe Hayek website for a couple of years and I purchased this book as a way to say thank you for his time spent maintaining the website. I give it 4 out of 5 stars only because it is just a bit more monotonous to read that I may have liked. But if you listen to politicians and talking heads and wonder why is it that they talk bulshit and nobody around you gives a damn, then you will enjoy reading 'Hypocricies & Half-Wits' and know you're not alone out there :)
So when Randi Weingarten says markets won't solve the schooling crisis, Boudreaux asks her to imagine groceries being supplied the way education is. Folks would pay property taxes, and the Government would spend the taxes on building and supplying grocery stores. Of course you would be "assigned" to your neighborhood "public" grocery store where you would receive your weekly allotment of groceries for "free". Grocery administrators would decide the quality and quantity of groceries you would receive. Wealthier counties would have better stores, and Boudreaux suspects that the quality of the local public supermarket would play a major role in your choice of where to live if you could afford to move.
When a Mr. Warner writing to the "Los Angeles Times", hoping to defeat members of Congress who voted against Obamacare, asked readers to remember these opponents "Every time you have to pay an extravagant co-pay ... or deductible", Boudreaux chides Mr. Warner for wanting Boudreaux to be angry "whenever I have to pay for resources I use - to be peeved that someone else isn't footing my bill - to be upset that Uncle Sam hasn't arranged for me to free-ride on other peoples' nickels - to strike back at politicians who refuse to force Mr. Warner to pay my health-care expenses and me to pay his." Boudreaux rejects, as he puts it, "Mr. Warner's childish advice and his predatory principles."
Even if you are not a libertarian or a supporter of the free market, this is a book to give to your high school or college-age child to ask: "Ok, you know we don't agree with this, but what's the most logical way to refute it?" It's perfect to spark a dinner table conversation (assuming they still exist). And I suspect that everyone will agree with Boudreaux on something because libertarians tend to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. For example, you can tell Boudreaux applauds Obama's recent order reducing the deportation of illegal immigrants because our economy shouldn't deprive itself of valuable resources. As Boudreaux says: "All great societies are open societies. They fear neither competition nor different cultures."
And as Hurricane Debby is approaching Galveston, Texas, this week, it's amusing to read the letter from September 2008 to a radio station about its reporter's interview with the angry resident who went to the gas station "to top off" before Hurricane Ike hit. She was furious that prices had gone up $0.50 a gallon from the day before. "It's ridiculous, Ike hasn't hit yet!" Boudreaux said the reporter should have asked: "Why are you topping off? Ike hasn't hit yet." The operator of the gasoline station acted in anticipation of the imminent landfall of Ike the same way the motorist did, by recognizing that a resource, normally readily available, might be more scarce for a time.
"Hypocrites & Half-Wits" is engaging and provoking, always a good combination. It's a useful antidote to the popular sources of news which often provide information that isn't quite accurate, in fact the opposite. Boudreaux's gentle skepticism is a tonic most will enjoy and can think about after they closed the cover.
I find a lot of value in his writings and I chose to support that by purchasing the book (vote with my dollars). Because the book covers many years there are a lot of topics and examples that I've enjoyed rehashing.
If you aren't familiar with Dr. Boudreaux he approaches each topic from a libertarian political bent and an Austrian economic philosophy. If you want a really good introduction to both as they apply to real world topics, I'd highly recommend this book.