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Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element (Culture of Enterprise) Hardcover – October 18, 2010
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“The scope of Mueller’s intellectual ambition in this book is truly astonishing, as is the scope of the research involved. . . . People should invest the time needed to read, absorb, and promote this important book.” —Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, in The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy
“Both Washington and Wall Street sorely need Redeeming Economics.” —Larry Kudlow
“Bold, interesting, and thought-provoking—a book that could fundamentally reground the discipline of economics and reorient the study of political economy.” —William Kristol, the Weekly Standard
“Mueller opens discussion on essential topics for people of all faiths, political orientations, and worldviews and does so in ways that probe the limits of rational choice and foster interdisciplinary conversation.” —Choice
“Mueller is that rarest of thinkers and writers: one who can make the ‘dismal science’ thoroughly engaging at a very human level—a man who knows his economics but never loses sight of people amidst a forest of data.” —George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
About the Author
John D. Mueller is director of the Economics and Ethics Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and president of LBMC LLC, a firm specializing in economic and financial-market forecasting and economic policy analysis. Mueller’s articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, the Washington Post, and the Harvard Business Review. He and his wife live in Washington, D.C.
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This book is an attempt at a recovery and extension of a full orbed economic theory. Beginning with a sharp critique of Adam Smith, Mueller launches into a history and defense of the scholastic economics prior to Smith's the Wealth of Nations. It is highly philosophical and, to my mind, theological in it's approach, seeing economics as a branch of ethics that is informed and instructed not only by Aristotle, Aquinas and Augustine but also by the texts of scripture. The history alone could make a good book.
Mueller's thesis is that "the toolbox" of economic theory was emptied of half of its four analytical tool by Adam Smith. All economic actions "fall into four categories; humans produce, exchange, distribute, and consume goods (human and nonhuman). Smith's truncated view boiled everything down to production and exchange, leaving out crucial human and divine factors, and crippling the economist ability to analyze, understand and predict (to the extent that's possible) economic activity, whether personal, domestic, or political.
Sections of the book can be pretty heavy sledding, with a mind boggling array of charts and graphs. It is repetitive, but often that has worked out well, since it's necessary to keep the four core concepts in the forefront while reading.
While the sections on personal and domestic economy were well written and engaging, it's clear that Mueller is a professional macroeconomist. Some of his conclusions and assumptions didn't sit well with my liberto-distributist outlook. He seems to assume that everyone is going to be an employee, There is nothing on the desirability of a wide distribution of productive property. Property is viewed as a human convention, although an indispensable one on practical grounds.
This is a great book if you have a higher level of interest in economics. It seems directed at the more scholarly crowd, but somehow I muscled my way through it anyway.
"This book unearths a forgotten piece of the puzzle that could prove to be the holy grail of modern economics." Edwin Feulner, president of Heritage Foundation.
This is not for the frivolous reader .
See an introduction by the author, John D. Mueller : on .isi.org/books/bookdetail.aspx?id=60260279-5db7-4061-9549-71356eb6c530