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on May 8, 2009
This is a simple, but amazingly profound, mind blowing introduction to some basic economic principles. The principles outlined here are quite simple, and yet it seems so many people today can not grasp these basic truths.

Granted this book is a bit dated, but most of it is still useful and much of it seems as if it were written today.

I sincerely wish more politicians and voters today would read this book, it would go a long way toward restoring some knowledge of basic economics and some common sense to the decisions that get made on the political sphere.

There are many economics books that are so dense that I would take no delight in reading nor would I feel comfortable recommending to someone who is not already an economics wonk. However, with this title, I have no such reservations. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone. I guarantee it will be enlightening in at least one or two areas!
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on July 17, 2004
Henry Hazlitt's book starts with a single lesson-that economics means looking beyond the immediate effects of any act or policy to the consequences of it for everyone. The rest of the book is a series of short chapters giving examples of the application of this lesson.
Hazlitt's lesson in itself is great. I wish it were better known. His examples vary in quality. Some are a bit dated; natural for a book which mostly dates to 1946. The chapter on rent control is as relevant today as ever. The discussion of the cost of war and other types of destructive activities punctures a misconception that is still common. In his discussion of unemployment, however, he fails to mention immigration and population growth as part of the cause.
The section on tariffs is good as far as it goes. The problem with his analysis is that transportation today is in effect heavily subsidized. Oil companies and the like don't have to pay for the air pollution and climate change caused by their products, or for roads, or for the armies protecting the oil flow. Subsidized transportation costs make nonsense of the idea that local and imported goods are really on the same footing. Free trade with countries having non-existent environmental laws simply sets up a race to the bottom, with responsible companies heading for bankruptcy and irresponsible companies destroying the economic foundations of their own countries.
Hazlitt swallows whole the idea that growth in GNP is always good and can continue indefinitely. Given that GNP doesn't include the costs of pollution, resource depletion, the effects of population growth, or quality of life, this is very questionable. Hazlitt needs to apply his own "one lesson" here.
Hazlitt states in his first sentence that economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. I tend to agree. Hazlitt points out some of them and does it in a very readable way. Hazlitt fails with some of the other fallacies. Read the book, but read it with a grain of salt.
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on July 14, 2004
Having poor public schooling on economics, I decided to pick this book up. This is the perfect starter book for anyone wanting to learn about economics. Relatively short book, just goes through major topics each chapter. Short and to the point.
After this book, I would recommend "Naked Economics" by Charles Wheelan. I started off reading Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell, and in comparison, this is a much easier read. I think I might have started backwards. =).
A must read for beginners.
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on June 30, 2004
This book seems to be a political pamphlet, all the way. I like the narrative approach though. Too much anger at the government I guess. Analysis please. Reader will draw their own conclusions.
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on June 26, 2004
Don't buy the audio version from .
Their programming skills are terrible. I could not download some of the books I bought, could not burn into cd the ones I could download, and forget about making it work with an mp3 player, unless you're lucky.
I know about 5 people who bought stuff from there and only one had the luck of downloading a working file and burning it successfully to a cd.
The quality of the narrations is awful, at least in the books I managed to hear (only on windows media player, nothing else worked). If you're used to books on cd or tape, you're up for a big disappointment buying from audible.
On top of all that, they have the worst customer service I have ever witnessed. The site was not working right when I tried to purchase there for the first time. I sent them a message with no answer.
In a second attempt, I bought the stuff and some files never downloaded (which means they just stole my money and I don't know what I can do since I don't live in USA). I sent another message with no answer again.
Then their weird program, which turns Windows Media Player automatically on instead of working alone, showed no compatibility to Itunes and no possibility of burning cds or dreaming about hearing books on Ipod. I sent them a third message and nothing. A fourth and guess what? Nothing again.
So I am at least trying to warn other people here to avoid being caught by such scheme. I hope Amazon gets rid of audible as soon as possible. I always got great service from Amazon and the affiliated bookstores, or even other stores selling electronics, health products and others, but audible is just the worst company I ever wasted my money with. Too bad we cannot give notes to them like with the affiliated booksellers.
Sorry by the poor text, I am just mad with them.
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on June 24, 2004
It appears that you are the sloppy one, David. Let's assume your factory owner makes $1000 and exerts a negative externality of $1200 on society, creating a net societal loss of $200. Under libertarian philosophy, the owner is fully responsible for the damages and should be forced to pay society $1200 in consideration. Therefore, the owner has made a profit of -$200 and society breaks even; a net balance of -$200. Clearly, the business owner would be compelled, in your situation, to destroy his factory under his own accord and build the modern facility, thus increasing his profit, and the net value of society as a whole, by $1000, to $800. Same outcome, better method.
Since no one here, including Hazlitt (or you I assume), would deny that responsible parties should be held accountable for their quantifiable negative externalities, I don't understand your point. It just seems to be another invalid attempt to justify government intervention where it does not belong. Nice try.
Let's also review your factory bombing logic - just for your own future reference. You assume here that the bomb was dropped by Country B at the precise moment that the company was planning to demolish it anyway, which is not really the point that Hazlitt is making. If this was the scenario, I could accept your argument. I still would not fully agree though, as you next assume that the bomb would leave a clean, pristine base from which to build a new facility. In fact, much of the costs that would go in to demolishing the factory will still go into clearing the debris from the bomb.
If you left your home one morning and found your car had been severely and repeatedly bashed with a large, heavy object would you say "Hurray! Now I must buy a car that's more fuel efficient and cheaper to maintain. I sure am better off now." Sorry, but as expertly as you defend the societal benefits of random property destruction, I just can't get on board.
The fact is, this book, while not incredibly detailed, is a pretty good intro for someone with a burgeoning interest in economics and politics. It has an admitted libertarian bias but it is logically sound. I would also have preferred some real-world examples, but all-in-all I thought it was pretty good.
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on June 4, 2004
Mr. Byers "refutation" of my earlier critique is as flawed as Hazlitt's original argument. Hazlitt was discussing "society" in this case as a single nation-state. To use a hypothetical example, let's say Country A has a privately owned factory. Country B attacks Country A with an act of war, and the factory is destroyed.
The owner of the factory rebuilds a newer one, which turns out to be more profitable than the old one. (Further assume that had he borne the costs of tearing down the original factory himself, those costs would have eroded the increase in profits, and he would not have built the new plant.)
Since the costs of destroying the plant were borne in this case by Country B, then both the factory owner AND country A are more productive as a result of the destruction. Yet the factory owner would have not have undertaken the destruction on his own. Hazlitt's claim is that this could not be true.
Hopefully this is just "sloppy thinking, not legerdemain" on Mr. Byers part. I will give the benefit of the doubt that Mr. Byers may believe that Hazlitt was referring to the entire world economy in using the term "society," but this is untenable. The rest of Hazlitt's book analyzes economic decisions in terms of the effects on one country - and argues that economic decisions should be left to private parties, not the government. It is unrealistic to believe that in this one case he instead turns his attention to the entire global economy in making his argument.
And yet it doesn't matter - let's assume that in this one case Hazlitt WAS talking about the entirety of the global economy. We can still refute him by introducing a negative externality - let's say pollution. Assume the same basic scenario as before. Profits for owner = 1000, but now let's assume costs associated with pollution of 1200, all borne by property owners in and around the factory, not by the owner himself. Society loses 200 on net.
A new, cleaner factory could be built that would deliver profits of 800, and with no pollution. Destroying the plant would be profitable for society as a whole (net gain of 1000), but not for the owner (net loss of 200).
And lest anyone think this is ivory tower economics, the above scenario describes very well the actual operating conditions of many energy plants in the United States today. Sorry Mr. Byers, the critique holds.
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on May 27, 2004
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
This book is a solid value for economists, households, students of economics , journalists and a whole host of constituencies.
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on May 13, 2004
"Economics in One Lesson", Henry Hazlet's, book makes a powerful and persuasive argument in favor of a free market economy. Written in a very lucid style "Economics in One Lesson" makes the usually dry subject of economics easily understandable and a pleasure to read. Hazlitt doesn't obfuscate the truths of matters with cumbersome graphs and math. For non-economists like my self it makes a great introductory book to the subject. Even though the book was published in 1946, the topics covered by Hazlitt are still pertinent and examine issues that still confound us more than 50 years later. Chapters include inflation, tariffs, taxation, price fixing, labor unions, savings, and the importance of profits, rent control, and more.
As a retired Army officer and student of political philosophy, I found "Economics in One Lesson" a great book for anyone who wants to understand basic economic theory.
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on April 17, 2004
For the person who thinks economics is a dismal science, this is one of the best short introductions available.
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