Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
Basic Economics is a citizens guide to economics-for those who want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations. Sowell reveals the general principles behind any kind of economy-capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.
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Economics is at the same time a fascinating and rather complex subject. It is fascinating since it touches on so many aspects of our lives, and it is complex due to the highly technical analysis that is oftentimes required to be mastered in order for Economics to be fully appreciated. This technical complexity oftentimes obscures rather simple principles that underlie most economic phenomena. The well known relationship between a supply and demand is one of those, and a good example of a simple concept that is oftentimes misunderstood, ignored, or downright overlooked in everyday circumstances, especially when political considerations are at play.
Thomas Sowell begins the book with one of the most insightful definition of what is economics. In this view, economics is nothing but a study of limited resources for which there are alternative uses. In heaven, there would be unlimited resources; in hell no alternative uses. In the real world we need to take into account the limitations that are imposed on us by the facts. Each use of a product or a resource prevents other viable uses. Economics is ultimately the science of tradeoffs, and it helps us with making the most rational decisions about those tradeoffs.
This book is primarily aimed at general public and its aim is to make this public literate in terms of thinking and understanding economic processes. It is a very readable account, and it contains neither technical jargon nor sophisticated mathematics. All of the examples are taken from everyday experience or the major stories that have been making the news in the recent decades. Hopefully, the book will raise the level of basic literacy and inculcate us from the demagoguery that often accompanies political talk on economic issues.
THE ROLE OF PROFITSAND LOSSES 207
BIG BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT 244
RISKS AND INSURANCE