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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The criticisms of this book are flawed
Rather than explaining why this is a good book (other revierw's do that), I'll explain why some of the idiotic criticisms levied against this book are wrong.
The most silly criticism of Hazlitt (and other Austrian free-market economists) is that they aren't "scientific" and in short "don't use enough math". This is an absurd criticism. Firstly,...
Published on Dec 24 2003 by David J. Heinrich

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Too simplistic
Although though we're (presumably) members of the same political choir, the author treats economics much too simplistically.
Calling this book a polemic on Keynesian economics would be accurate, calling it an economics treatise would be just plain wrong.
Time would be better spent reading Bastiat.
Published on March 30 2000


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The criticisms of this book are flawed, Dec 24 2003
By 
David J. Heinrich (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
Rather than explaining why this is a good book (other revierw's do that), I'll explain why some of the idiotic criticisms levied against this book are wrong.
The most silly criticism of Hazlitt (and other Austrian free-market economists) is that they aren't "scientific" and in short "don't use enough math". This is an absurd criticism. Firstly, human beings are not deterministic particles who's behaviour can be predicted by simple equations. Any attempt to reduce human behaviour to some mathematical equation is pure non-sense. We must consider human beings as individual entities who can choose, not fixed constants in mathematical formuli.
Secondly, there is a mathematics that is relevant to Austrians. It is chaos theory and network theory. Chaos theory is currently used to predict the weather. The calculus used by Keynes and other idiots like him is completely useless for describing the behaviour of chaotic systems where individual choice is involved. Hazlitt may not mention Chaos Theory. For that, see Murray N. Rothbard, "Choas Theory: Destroying Mathematics from Within?"; and Gene Callahan, "Why Austrians Should Care About Network Science". Anyone with any sympathy for Keynes and his idiotic followers should note that Keynes put forth a "treatise" before General Theory, which was demolished by Hayek. Hayek then made a strategical mistake in not demolishing General Theory, feeling that the book's idiocy stood for itself. Also note that while Hayek recieved a Nobel Prize for work which was basically an extension of Mises business cycle theory (Mises died the year before Hayek's Nobel), Keynes received no Nobel, showing that even the dimwits awarding that title realized Keynes work was inherently worthless.
The next criticism is related to the first: that Hazlitt doesn't discuss game theory. The reason for this is that game theory is particularly unworthy of discussion. Nash, founder of Game Theory, showed that in any finite game, there's an equilibrium in which no player can improve his or her outcome given the other player's strategies (the Nash Equilibrium). This is problematic in several ways. Firstly, there is absolutely no relation between the playing of games (which are less than net-zero, with one winner and one or more losers) and economics. Secondly, only Game Therorists behave in real situations in the ways in which Game Theory predicts. Thirdly, strategies are not data, but choices. Fourth, it is possible to break out of the specified game to achieve a superior result.
One particularly ignorant reviewer says that in a completely unhampered free market, monopolies form, destroying competition. This is non-sense. Empirically, Ancient Ireland was a completely Stateless society for a thousand years, with a completely unhampered free market, and no-such thing occured. And of course it is a bunch of non-sense that can't happen in reality anyeways. A monopoly is only harmful if you have monopoly prices. But in a completely free market, even if someone obtains 100% of all (say) rail-roads, there is still competition between that form of transportation and other forms, thus monopoly prices cannot be charged. The only time real monopolies with monopoly pricing have emerged is because of State interference.
This may not be the best book on economics that you can read (look to Mises' "Human Action" for what is most likely the strongest treatise on "economics" [actually praxeology, a much larger field]) ever written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars economics for non-economists., Sept. 12 2003
By 
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
In fact, I think most economists need to read Hazlitt's classic too. And if they've already read it...they should read it again, because I think quite a few of them need to be reminded of some simple truths.
I am a graduate economics student and I have trudged through extremely technical economic literature in my time. Most leading economists these days become hyperspecialized and esoteric in some paltry technical issue to the point where their work is practically useless to the average person. This is a very terrible thing. Because knowledge of economics is so crucially important to our understanding of human behavior and the world, I think it *should* be accessible to more people. For this reason, I am always on the lookout for books that help people understand economics easily. That way, we can have a much better world.
I have found few books better for the beginner than _Economics in One Lesson_. Henry Hazlitt's book here is very highly regarded and for good reason: it's an excellent, simple look at economic issues that teaches an important lesson. That lesson? That good economics entails looking at the long-term effects of economic policies on *everyone*, rather than the short-term effects on one group. With this, we can see that when the government intervenes in the economy, there are always consequences that not immediately evident.
Although the book was originally published in 1946, the topics covered by Hazlitt are pertinent and explore issues that still confront us more than 50 years later. Topics include inflation, tariffs, taxation, price fixing, labor unions, savings, the importance of profits, rent control, and more. Hazlitt writes well and doesn't obfuscate the truths of matters with cumbersome graphs and math.
Please ignore James McDuffie's fatuous review. Most of the "implicit assumptions" Hazlitt makes are unassailable facts of reality established a priori. (Except for the assumption that government can be the *only* provider of some services, like roads, "health officers," police, etc.) Also, mathematics is all but useless in economics. The Keynesian paradigm no longer deserves any serious attention since it has been so thoroughly refuted a hundred thousand times over. Inflation as being beneficial to the economy is a fallacy that is easily destroyed by someone with a basic knowledge of money & credit theory. Alan Greenspan a free market proponent? That's ridiculous -- he definitely was 40 years ago but he has since become anathema to the economic prosperity. In fact he's probably the most destructive Federal Reserve Chairman in history.
Pick up this book and Gene Callahan's _Economics for Real People_ and you'll probably have a better economic education than you will find with any undergraduate degree in neoclassical economics. I'm serious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best intro to economics ever written., Jan. 13 2004
By 
Jorge Besada (miami, FL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
I have read at least 5 of the newer intro to economics books around and this classic is still the best. It is just barely 200+ pages with big easy to read letters, in one weekend this book can transform you from average ignorant american to inspired concerned citizen. The chapter on inflation was worth the price of the book by itself . I have noticed how the reviews for this book have increased dramatically over the last 6 months. It is happening, something wonderfull is about to happen...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Government Has No Idea How Bad A Mess It's Making, Feb. 16 2011
By 
D Glover (northern bc, canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
Henry Hazlitt has done the layman a huge favour in writing this book. Unfortunately, it is not only the layman who desperately needs this book. It is the world's politicians, the presidents of central banks, and those who control monetary policy who have severed their moorings with common sense and are now afloat on a raging sea of market fall-out and who don't understand how they got there who need to read this book, like, yesterday.

A proponent of Austrian Economics (the free market, self-governed through the law of supply and demand, with minimal gov't intervention), Hazlitt puts forth an irrefutable case against the foggy-headed reigning economic model of the day - Keynesianism. He does this by effectively exposing and refuting the many fallacies which Keynesians embrace as orthodoxy. Where Keynes is complex and convoluted, Hazlitt is simple and straightforward. And unlike Keynes, whose work wreaks of ivory-tower arrogance and elitist snobbery, Hazlitt writes with everyday wisdom and appeals to the common sense of the average person who knows instinctively that you can't improve your financial standing by plunging into debt in order to spend your way to affluence. If only our governments understood this.

At the heart of Hazlitt's book is the principle that true economics must consider the general effect over the long term of any policy it enacts. It is from the solid foundation of this principle that Hazlitt attacks all modern economic fallacies which, he argues, all have at their heart the problem of looking only at the effects of a policy on one special group in the short term. And Hazlitt reminds us that what would be foolish for household finances is all the more foolish for a nation since it the same foolishness magnified a million times over. Along with his use of common sense and plain logic, Hazlitt effectively uses statistics to prove his points (mercifully he limits his use of statistics, unlike many modern writers who use almost nothing but).

If Keynes is the alchemist wizard who has masterfully entranced his economist minions through a combination of academic sophistry and elitist intimidation, Hazlitt is the plain speaking sage who breaks the spell by speaking words that ring true with every person's experience of the real world and the economic forces at work within. This is not only a great place to begin one's study of economics but it is something that politicians and voters alike should have to re-read every election year before they cast their ballots. If we had been doing that up until now, we would not be in the economic disaster we currently are.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet., Feb. 9 2004
By 
Mark Twian (Brandon, SD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
For as important as Economics is to the Past, Present and Future of Humanity, its met with a collective yawn and almost completely missunderstood! For just 20 bucks and 8 hours of your time you can have a mental grasp on the engine that drives...everything. Unless you are completely vacant this book can change your mind. Very important ideas. Give this one to everyone you know. If one person reads it, you have helped humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very clear, well argued, and timeless economics lesson, Sept. 26 2003
By 
Patrick Gaughan (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
Hazlitt has a gift for clarity. His arguments simply cannot be misunderstood. With nearly unassailable logic he explains the subtle economic implications of many government policies in terms the simplest novice can follow. This is an awesome book for any reader.
This book was not at all what I expected when I ordered it. I expected a textbook like approach to all the classic concepts of economics (supply/demand curves, law of diminishing returns, effects of shortages/gluts on prices, etc.) Instead, Hazlitt simply states that true economics involves tracing both the seen and unseen consequences of each action or policy. This is primarily a book about government policy in economics, but it scope reaches to every choice we make with regard to the economic well-being of our nation.
I had many 'Ah ha!' moments while reading this book. I felt I had a fairly good grasp on many economic prinicples after reading Skousen's 'The Making of Modern Economics', but Hazlitt has a way of crystalizing thoughts that are still fuzzy. One thing that comes through consistently is how money confuses and distracts people from a true understanding of wealth. Money is not wealth. True physical wealth lies in the products (goods and services) you have or can afford to buy. The wealth of a nation lies in the aggregate products it produces. If you want economic prosperity, increase production. Not senseless production, but production of things people actually want. When all is said and done, money is just the "medium of exchange". Ultimately, all products are paid for by other products.
Despite my high regard for this book, at times it dragged. Many topics are similar, and it seemed at times repetitive to go over the same ground again.
I wish every American (especially politicians and aspiring politicians) would read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential look at introductory economics, Nov. 7 2003
By 
Timothy Walker (Orlando, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
"The whole of economics... can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
So begins the brilliant and controversial work of Henry Hazlitt. As it is not the purpose of this forum to debate economic theory, let me simply suggest that you obtain this book and draw your own conclusions from it. The richer understanding of trade policy, taxes and tariffs, and government regulation you will obtain from spending a lazy afternoon with this book will provide more long-term value than its price... in short, buying Economics in One Lesson is sound fiscal policy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt, May 27 2004
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
This work is a solid value for the price charged. It integrates some common sense Economics principles with classics by Adam Smith and others. The author starts by explaining how public works projects benefit the local economy in the short term while paying for themselves over the long term in terms of toll revenues and additional taxes . He believes that high taxes tend to discourage badly needed investment. Machinery does displace workers in the short term; however, the incremental productivity
has a permanent benefit. What would we do today without cars?
or planes?
Tariffs tend to benefit producers at the expense of consumers.
Prices are determined by the dynamics of demand and supply.
Rent control has benefits but the downside tends to discourage new building. Unions tend to provide for local employment while at the same time providing pay equity and benefits for the
membership.
This book is a solid value for economists, households, students of economics , journalists and a whole host of constituencies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, but Where is the MISSING CHAPTER?, May 17 2003
By 
P. Macleod "pnmacleod" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
This is an excellent book that is easy to follow and understand. The one lesson is very simple: explore all the consequences of policies and actions, including not only short-term and long-term consequences, but also what actions cannot be done as a consequence of a initial policy or action (e.g. If you spend money on A, you cannot spend the same money on B -- or another way of saying you cannot eat your cake and have it too). Basically, the lesson is to be thorough in analysis of actions and policies. Mr. Hazlitt applies this lesson to a series of economic issues.
It should be noted that many of the ideas in the book come from an 1850 essay by Frederick Bastiat, "What is Seen and What is Unseen".
Using his lesson of thorough analysis, Mr. Hazlitt illustrates of how rent-control can lead to housing shortages, minimum-wage laws can lead to fewer jobs, and tariffs can lead to higher consumer prices. What is SEEN is the benefit to a special group (those in rent-controlled apartments, those with the jobs, or those receiving the protection of the tariff), but what is UNSEEN is the harm done to other groups (those that don't get the benefit of new housing, those who don't get jobs, and those who have to pay higher prices).
My criticism of the book is that there is an ENORMOUS OMISSION. After examining so many topics, Mr. Hazlitt fails to even bring up the government intervention that has had the greatest impact on our economic and political lives (for good and evil), the CORPORATION. Corporations are the biggest influences in our political campaigns, the recipients of the many of the benefits of tariffs and subsidies, and are the focus of many of the regulations of our government.
Mr. Hazlitt's book at least gives us the tools to look at the issue of the corporation.
Corporations have three qualities that are different from other business types: limited liability, personhood, and the perpetual life. I will get you started with the analysis of limited liability.
Limited liability means that an owner or stockholder cannot lose than he or she has paid for the shares of ownership regardless of the firm's debts.
Limited liability cannot be created by a free-market. What is SEEN is that limited liability shields investors from risk, but what is UNSEEN is that the risk is transferred to the other parties, or stakeholders. To some of the stakeholders the acceptance of the risk is an implied contract; employees, creditors, suppliers and customers should aware that by doing business with a corporation they are taking on the risk of the results of actions done in the names of the owners (most corporation special-interest advocates label this government intervention as "efficiency"). However, there is no implied contract with third parties (tort victims). If a corporation goes out of business owing money to third parties no one is held responsible, not owners, not managers. Limited Liability is government granted limited responsibility, or legalized irresponsibility. Government has transferred risks, and the associated costs without the associated benefits, to third parties.
I urge all readers to use Mr. Hazlitt's method to answer, at least, the questions below.
What are the short-term and long-term impacts of Limited Liability on each stakeholder -- investors, managers, employees, suppliers, creditors, and THIRD PARTIES (tort victims), competitors, citizens etc...? What is the impact on competition? How does limited liability change financial markets? How does limited liability relate to the size of organizations? What are the implications of limited liability to the different types of market failures such as Moral Hazard, Rent Seeking, and Market Control? What are the implications for the Principle-Agent problem? What do the large resources gained by means of limited liability mean in a court case where a corporation in matched against a tort victim or any individual? How does all this relate to problems like Superfund sites and asbestos claims? In general, who are the special interest groups that benefit and how do they emphasize the benefits of limited liability without mentioning the costs? In general, who are the groups that are hurt?
Now, what are the implications of corporate personhood?
There are a few other shortcomings in the book, but still it is a great exercise in thinking through ideas.
Cheers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Economics in one Lesson, Dec 8 2002
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
I have always been interested in the way business and money effect nearly all aspects of life. It can befall every persons wants, needs, dreams, hopes, and in some cases even religion. Ever since high school I have pushed myself in following a business career and even now I'm striving for a degree in Economics. I have always pushed myself to create new techniques in finding that simple solution to money, but have always come up short.
Henry Hazlitt's Economics in one Lesson could not have a better book for me to stumble upon. In the beginning of his insightful book he stated his theory, or lesson as he would put it. This simple lesson completely blew away the average persons thinking on the whole economical thought. He basically described how one needs to think out of the box. What I mean by this is that one should not see economics at the immediate but at the long term effects of any act or policy, also not to just follow the consequences of one group but for all groups.
As I read through the chapters of Mr. Hazlitt's book, I read about hundreds of fallacies in the everyday business world. He had seemed to bend all beams of light to a completely new perspective. The one thing that I enjoyed most about this book was the author's way to seem to totally contradict the average mans thought on the topic. He had credible thoughts and sources to back his lessons up. He described how our world works in favor of itself. He used an excellent example of this with his "broken window" theory. A baker's window is broken in by a stone that a kid threw at it. The baker has to spend money on the window which benefits the glass maker. This same money was supposed to go towards a new suit. All that is seen here is that the baker spent the money on a window and not a suit. If you were to think out of the box you would also see the unseen. The baker now cannot buy his suit which makes the tailor that much poorer.
Hazlitt described in one simple equation how taxes discourage production while also showing how our government is not entirely effective. Let's say our national income is two hundred billion dollars and government taxes produced only fifty billion dollars of that. This means that only 25% of the national income was being transferred from private to public purposes. The government spenders forget that they are taking money from A in order to pay it to B. Perhaps they see A but because B is soon to be able to live a much more lavish life by all the money transferred to him; they forget the effects on A. B is seen; A is forgotten.
A second instance of the author's brilliance is his discussion on inflation. As he points out, inflation has led to nothing but economic disaster. It encourages squandering, gambling and reckless waste of all kinds. It's the creator of fascism and communism and leads men to demand totalitarian controls. People tend to confuse money with wealth, and feel that if they had twice as much money that they would be twice as rich. Hazlitt proves this to be a naïve thought. The total quantity of money multiplied by its velocity of circulation must always be equal to the value of the total quantity of goods bought. Double the quantity of money and you exactly double the price level and so on and so forth.
As you can see, Henry Hazlitt used a completely different form of thinking on Economics. He had just not focused on the current situation but instead the long term effects. He used the most basic form of scientific reasoning when creating his ideas on the subject, and that is why I believe he has made an excellent argument in proving that the current economic standpoint of our world is extremely short from being flawless. Hazlitt covered every topic in the economic world by totally revising it to a more reasonable perspective, one that was otherwise unrealized. He created his ideas by incorporating historical instances with current issues and then unraveling it to show its trend and effect on everyone's life. Henry Hazlitt wrote this book more than 50 years ago yet it still covers the very topics in today's newsstands and news channels. He has created a simple guide that explains how we can improve our very way of living by channeling new methods into our economical standpoint. In conclusion, I feel that Henry Hazlitt has effectively stated his argument in a strong, clear, and fair manner in his book.
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