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The Way the World Works (Gateway Contemporary) Paperback – July 1, 1998
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Early on, the author discusses Arthur Laffer's "wedge model" and the "Laffer Curve." Then comes a discussion of Adam Smith's ideas and "demand-side" versus "supply-side" models.
Next follows a commentary on Marxist ideas, Keynesian ideas, and monetarist ideas. The author criticizes all of these.
The author comments on many national leaders: Caesar, Napoleon, Wilson, Coolidge (with Mellon), Hoover, Roosevelt, Mussolini, Hitler, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon. From all of these, it is clear that the author's favorites were Coolidge and Mellon.
The central controversial idea of the book, aside from support for supply-side economics, is the accusation that the stock market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression were the result of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Of course this goes against the "conventional wisdom" in the United States that free markets caused the Crash. The author reviews the bizarre issues surrounding the Act: it was passed while Hoover was president, FDR was elected in 1932 after campaigning against the Act, and then FDR rather than ending this bad policy decided to restrict commerce further.
The author continues with many more topics: the United Kingdom, Bretton Woods, gold, India, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, energy, and recommendations for the 21st Century.
This "20th Anniversary Edition" not only includes an introduction, but also contains reprints of the introductions from earlier editions.
My central criticism of Wanniski's work is that his faith in the judgement of the electorate is wrong given that voters often (if not usually) vote against their own self-interest. The author contradicts himself by praising democracy and simultaneously criticizing most of the elected presidents especially including FDR (he was elected four times).
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
Not only is this an political/economic ideology, but the Intro to the 2nd Edition is a super-short precis of the economic history of the Reagan Administration, the supply-siders against the Republican Establishment, Volcker's damaging role (until he repented), the Congress, all of it.
Super-accessible, thought-provoking, meaty and non-partisan. Mr Wanniski satisfies on all fronts.
Though the entire book has been updated and revised over its long lifespan, Chapter 13; "Energy in Abundance" is extremely vital today. In it he describes the folly of the "doom & gloom," energy scarcity adherants - "The planet itself is a ball of energy, that rides in a sea of energy." Just how untapped are the earth's energy resources? Even today, over 80% of the oil wells ever drilled, have been drilled on the continental United States! Wanniski notes that, "Indeed, it can be argued that at present, there are more organic hydrocarbons being formed than are being consumed by the entire world population."
Wanniski does the best job of explaining why the Great Depression occured since Murray Rothbard addressed it in his work, "The Great Depression." In both his and Rothbard's view, protectionism (the Smoot-Hawley tariff among other protectionist measures) moved the world into a spiraling depression as international trade virtually dried up.
Wanniski coined the term "Supply Side Economics." A term that has been attacked but not reputed by proponents of Command Economies. Most of the world today operates under some sort of Supply Side structure. Even Russia has adopted a 13% flat tax with no Capital Gains nor "business taxes," which are actually "people taxes, as they're always passed on to the consumer.
"The Way the World Works" is a classic that puts the vagueries of economic theory into every day language and explains why individuals as entrepreneurs do a far better job of supplying the things we need than government bureaucracies do. A must read for anyone intersted in how and why both wealth and poverty are created.
Most recent customer reviews
For a very long time I believed this book was gospel and while I no longer have that idea I say it is a worthwhile read, Jude does a day-by-day...Read more