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Not Just Economics
on 31 October 2009
Many reviews treat this book as if it were simply an "Economics" textbook. It is nothing of the sort. True, many important economic terms are explained and many economic concepts are illustrated with illuminating examples, but, at bottom, this is a powerful argument for a free market economy and a small (if not minimal) state.
This book expounds the economic system that supports the political system advocated and defended in Sowell's many other works, including "Preferential Policies" and "The Conflict of Visions" to name but two. It does the job by highlighting the unintended consequences that so often follow when governments try to do more than their inherently limited knowledge will allow.
This book is not a balanced presentation of the arguments (are any of them?), but far more one sided and polemical than any textbook could afford to be.
So; Not a textbook, but rather an antidote to the often well-meant but ill-focused and ultimately useless waste of money that passes for policy in much of the developed world. Sowell does sometimes labour the point, but the title is "Basic Economics" and for all that the book is still very readable. A reader can dip in to it here and there for Sowell's thoughts on particular topics or read it cover-to-cover. Depending on their own pre-conceptions they will emerge with either a reinforced arsenal of arguments or a severely challenged worldview.
Just don't expect a graph of the Phillips Curve.