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5.0 out of 5 stars Your Government Has No Idea How Bad A Mess It's Making
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...
Published on Feb. 16 2011 by D Glover

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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Place to Begin!, Oct. 12 2002
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
Economics can be a rather intimidating area of study, but this is partly because many of us have not been educated to look too far beyond immediate effects of our actions. Hazlitt repeatedly illustrates, in clear and understandable language, why economic agendas which focus on beneficiaries only soon cause more harm than good. Here Hazlitt discusses an array of topics from tariffs, minimum wage, "full employment," the effects of machinery on employment, government price fixing, rent control, and others.
"Economics in One Lesson" has been revised over many years and was originally written over 50 years ago, but amazingly, the very topics he discusses can be found regularly on the nightly news, in newspapers, or discussed among politicians. Hazlitt believes that although economists are largly in agreement with what the government and unions should and should not do, he feels that we've learned very little. Fortunately, Hazlitt has left us a concise book that explains how we can really benefit society in a sound economic way. Recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Simplified but Very Pertinent!!, May 24 2002
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This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
It's been about six months since I last read Hazlitt's forcelfully argued little monster. The ideas in it, though, are never far from my mind. More accurately, every time I think about the current state of the political economy, I get the strong urge to buy it and ship it to a senator. Maybe they'll learn something!
Although it's title is misleading (not an economics intro, but a manifesto), Hazlitt's book explains in simple language the flaw in todays macro-economic thinking. Money can not be created when taking from source A only to give to source B. Source B only gains by source A's corresponding loss. Sounds simple, right. Then why are we convinced that tariffs, minimum wage, and the federal reserve (GASP!) are doing anything positive by operating on that theory. When we force the minimum wage up, all we are doing is shifting the burden to the consumer by upping what the employers products cost to make. As soon as the wages go up, so do prices. Once the prices are raised, that whole industrys prices go up (because they can) and everyone pays more INCLUDING the employees you thought you were helping. Hazlitt doesn't stop there, he gracefully applies the theory to a plethora of situations.
Although somewaht oversimplified (200+ pages) and certainly biased (free market) This book offers us a good theory, good argument and- suprisingly rare in econ texts- an overall enjoyable read. The only two real problems I see are: 1) As Hazlitts arguments all stem from this anti-distribution theory, the book gets repititious and you'll probably get the drift by page 120, and 2)At certain points, Hazlitt fails to distinguish between 'pecuniary wealth' and 'value wealth.' Wealth in dollars and wealth in utility are two different things. If we shift some money from source A (a dormant bank account) to source B (a compnay building a bridge to allow new commerce) Hazlitt argues that all we've really done is shift a static dollar amount. Of course the bridge when built will bring an escalation in commerce that will likely maximize it's use. While in the end, I think that Hazlitts argument, that money should not be forced into source B's hands by artificial distribution, Hazlitt doesn't pay enough attention to pecuniary v. real value. Still, this book is a great polemic, showing us why distribution tends to have the reverse effect. BUY I...if only so you can puke next time you watch the senate activities on C-SPAN.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interested in economics? Start right here!, Feb. 25 2002
By 
Darren X (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
I've been interested in economics for years... I even bought a brand new economics textbook once to try to figure it out, but that was hard sledding. I discovered an ancient (printed in 1962 and it was already a classic then) - copy of this book at a by-donation book sale, so I plonked down my 50 cents and took it home. What a great book! I'm pleasantly surprised to see it is still in print - it deserves to be. If you are interested in economics, by all means, start right here!! Incredibly succinct and well written presentations of concepts that are much maligned and misunderstood by wanna-be socialist "economics experts" every day, especially up here in Canada.
I would concur that there might be some counter arguments to some of this material, but EVERYONE should at least understand the basic arguments for neo-classical economics and against socialist intervention in the economy before they embrace left-wing views, and nowhere is "right-wing" economic theory more passionately (and humanely) presented and defended than here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I've missed my life's calling., July 12 2001
By 
Aaron Jordan (Blacksburg, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
I should have studied economics. Hazlitt's book is remarkably readable, coherent, and logical. It just confirms that truth is usually understandable, whereas complicated obfuscation is usually the major alarm bell that tips you off when people are trying to shaft you. This guy really knows his stuff.
The one lesson is so simple that it takes about five minutes to read the chapter about it. The rest of the book lists various scenarios in which that lesson applies. The general principle of the lesson applies so naturally to various specific cases that it simplifies economics immensely. Hazlitt must have studied logic as well as economics.
The one lesson is simply this: economic planning should take into account the effects of economic policies on all groups, not just some groups, and what those effects will be in the long run, not just the short run. That's it. That's the lesson. Fallacious economic policies almost invariably seek to benefit one group at the expense of all others, or to bring about short-term benefits at the expense of long-term benefits. With this as his thesis, Hazlitt examines the numerous manifestations of such fallacies in different situations.
His chapters are short, his prose is easy to follow, and his logic is compelling. I've never taken an economics class in my life, yet I had no trouble following the reasoning in this book. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand basic economics and the keys to widespread prosperity in the long run.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading (Twice), July 2 2001
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
If you're just starting to study economics and want an introduction to the subject that will not bore or scare you away, you can do no better than to begin with Hazlitt's ECONOMICS IN ONE LESSON.
The book keeps to one general theme which is explained clearly at the outset (in chapter one) and thereafter touches briefly on topics ranging from minimum wage requirements to rent control laws. Each subject, however horrifying they may sound to a first-time reader, is dealt with in such a way that it becomes wholly intelligable.
Take, for example, Hazlitt's introduction to the field of minimum wage laws: "We have already seen some of the harmful results of arbitrary governmental efforts to raise the price of favored commodities. The same sort of harmful results follow efforts to raise wages through minimum wage laws. This ought not to be surprising, for a wage is, in fact, a price."
Here Hazlitt begins a topic by reference to one that has already been mastered. He shows not only the indirect relationship to what was earlier learned (both involve an arbitrary use of government power) but also the direct relationship (a wage is a different way of saying a price -- it is the price paid for labor). Later on, he will show that both of these relate back to the lesson learned in chapter one.
Because of this manner of treating economics, the book reads like a marvelous integration of economic thought (in fact, that's exactly what it is) and it's accessible to the average reader.
More than that, it's exciting. After reading it, I was left eagerly wanting to know more about economics -- not in the manner of a student who learns a subject for the mere fact of learning it, but because I saw the relevance that it had in the politics of today, in the food I ate this morning, the clothes I will wear tomorrow and in the quality of music or literature I can enjoy at some future date.
Now, assuming you value your life (along with all that makes it enjoyable) as I do, it is safe to say that you'll love this book.
You won't know everything about economics after reading it, but you'll have a solid foundation for learning more in the future. (And you'll want to know more because you'll see its relevance.) If such is the case -- as I am tempted to say will surely be -- I suggest progressing to any of the works of VON MISES or a work by Frederic Bastiat called ECONOMIC SOPHISMS. For grounding your economic thoughts in a sound philosophical base, I also recommend reading Rand's CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Students Love Hazlitt!, May 17 2001
By 
Scott A. Kjar (Duluth MN 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)
I teach Principles of Microeconomics, and I always use this book for extra credit. Students who hate reading long, boring, stuffy text books always like Hazlitt, and give him high reviews every single semester. The very readable chapters are short (about 3-6 pages in most cases), and told in story form to make Hazlitt's point. This makes it possible for even freshmen with notoriously short attention spans to read the day's chapter.
Hazlitt's "one lesson" is simple, and told in Chapter 1. The rest of the chapters are all stories in which the lesson plays a prominent role. In short, Hazlitt doesn't merely tell us the lesson, he actually shows us the lesson -- over and over and over, until we've got it.
With stories on tariffs, minimum wage, rent controls, taxes. unions, wages, profits, savings, credit, unemployment, and so much more, Hazlitt takes some of the most difficult economic concepts and makes these easily accessible to the lay person who has no economic training, background, or even inclination.
It's one thing for me to recommend this book. It's quite another for my students to recommend it semester after semester. I can imagine no higher praise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Lesson Learned, May 1 2001
By 
Thomas Stamper (Orlando, FL) - 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 a book that looks at the shadow side of government altruism in economics. Henry Hazzlit's main thesis is that when we focus our economic policy on a particular group, we somehow ignore other groups that are adversely effected. A high tariff on cars may help manufacturers of cars, but it hurts those who buy cars. Artificially boosting milk prices may make the farmer feel rich, but it's out of the pockets of the milk buyer. Since there are far more consumers than producers, the special attention harms more people than it helps.
In essence, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The government focuses on paying Paul, but not stealing from Peter. Hazzlit argues that both deserve their due. Usually Paul is big and easy to see, but even if Peter is a conglomeration of people and hard to find, he still exists and he is still being hurt. He also argues that Job Works programs like the New Deal are more harmful than helpful, because they absorb resources that could be more productively used in the free market. People are a component of productivity, argues Hazzlit, and when their use is diverted to inefficient means, the loss of productivity costs every taxpayer and citizen a better life.
Hazzlit gets a lot done in this short volume. He uses the kind of common sense that seems to be absent from most economic theories and his writing style is very easy to follow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hazlitt shines light on the dismal science of economics, Aug. 4 2000
By 
R. Setliff - 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 perhaps the best book to introduce the layman to the field of economics... This book was a Godsend for me... I stumbled on it in my early college days when I was taking two semesters of Economics and neck-deep in a Keynesian textbook of Fabian socialist fallacies and liberal lies. Hazlitt's book opened my eyes to an insightful intellectual library that supports free-markets and individual liberty. Economics in One Lesson enlightened me, while it helped develop my economic reasoning. It helped me confirm what common sense told me all along - that a laissez-faire free market is the way to go!
While I already had a libertarian bent, this book basically introduced me to the Austrian School of Thought on Economics. The "Austrians" vindicate the market economy's spontaneous order as the surest way to have optimal prosperity, opportunity, and individual liberty for the masses. The verbal logic and reasoning of the Austrian school is generally easy to understand and makes sense to the reader. Needless, to say my interest in the laissez-faire perspective grew - and I read and amassed a library of hundreds of interrelated books on various disciplines from economics to history to political theory. I also recommend any books by other "Austrian" luminaries such as Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Murray Rothbard. Hidden Order by David Friedman and Capitalism by Ayn Rand are also worth mentioning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Put This Book In Your Children's Hands, July 17 2000
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
And make them read it. Less a primer in economics than a concise debunking of crank positions on economic issues, this book can clear the air (and the mind) quickly after some interested sophist plumps for a discredited idea. Hazlitt's parable of the broken window, meant to show how what dosen't happen as a result of human action is at least as important as what does, is the best introduction to economic theory for the average reader since Adam Smith. The visible results that people see as a result of government intervention in the market must be weighed against what did not come to pass because of the reallocation of resources (i.e., your hard-earned money) that such action necesitates. This book is timeless, in that it is not tied to concrete examples drawn from the headlines of 1946, and is also remarkably free of venom , passion, or spite, which too often mar polemical works on economics - and serve to camouflage bad reasoning. This book can be a basic education in itself, or the beginning of deeper study, in the works of Von Mises, Von Hayek, Schumpeter, or of Hazlett himself. Unlike his opposition (Keynes, et al), Hazlitt is actually readable. -Lloyd A. Conway
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5.0 out of 5 stars This may be the best short introduction to economic thought, March 23 2000
This review is from: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Paperback)
ECONOMICS IN ONE LESSON may be the best short introduction to economic thought. Henry Hazlitt begins with an example discussed by Frederic Bastiat - the 'broken window fallacy' - from Bastiat's essay 'On What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen'. Bastiat's point, and Hazlitt's, is that much common thinking focuses on visible, short-term results and ignores invisible, longer-term consequences - because the latter often consist of things that did *not* happen.
Hazlitt explains this insight and applies it brilliantly to many specific economic issues (inflation, unemployment, price controls, international trade, and others). By the time the reader has completed this book, he or she will be 'thinking like an economist'.
Despite the remarks of a previous reviewer, I do not think Hazlitt is 'sarcastic' in this book or has very much in common with novelist Ayn Rand. Miss Rand owed quite a lot to Hazlitt's work, and especially to this volume (which she highly recommended despite some disagreements on particular 'philosophical' points). However, there was no debt whatsoever in the opposite direction.
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