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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 October 2011
what a fantastic introduction to the world of economics! the book is written in a style that is easy to follow and easy to remember that the reader will learn a hell of a lot from this masterpiece.

the book itself takes held "assumptions" and dissects them into the world of capitalism - eg governements putting a levy/fixed price on a commodity - the book makes the reader look at the bigger picture so that you can gain an understanding of how the short term benefits will effect the wider community/end users/businesses etc. at the end of this book, hopefully you will learn a hell of a lot about economics and why the subject is so fascinating.

sadly, you will probably come away from reading this book and feel that governments and unions have no idea about economics and the problems they create with the decisions they implement into society. a must read for anyone looking at getting into finance, business, starting a business etc.
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on 14 August 2014
Really enjoyed this book, easy to read as you don't need to have studied economics to fully understand his 'lesson'. You may not agree with everything he says in the book but his arguments are interesting and persuasive. I think this should be compulsory reading for every politician with a test at the end to see if they understand it. Perhaps then they will understand, that being in debt is bad, being in credit is good. Or, as the old saying goes, Income £1, spending 99p (happiness), spending £1.01 (misery). Even if you are a follower of Keynesian economics this book will give you something to think about. What surprised me was although written a long time ago it is still relevant to the economics of today.
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on 3 November 2013
First published in 1946, Hazlitt's slim volume is an all-out attack on Keynesian macroeconomic theory in general and President Franklin D Roosevelt's 'New Deal' interventionist policies in particular. In essence his 'one lesson' has two strands:

* Politicians and economists should consider the long term effects of an act or proposal rather than just the immediate effects.

* Politicians and economists should consider the effects of an act or proposal on all sectors of society rather than just on the particular group(s) that the act or proposal is designed to assist.

Hazlitt's thesis is that state intervention in any particular sector of the economy - to protect its viability, to protect it from foreign competition, to reduce unemployment etc. - is almost always wrong-headed and damaging to the economy as a whole. He accepts that a certain amount of government spending (and therefore taxation) is necessary to perform essential government functions (the legislature and the judiciary; defence, police, fire, coast guard and other emergency services; and a certain amount of public works, including some communication infrastructure); but he is adamantly opposed to a bloated, free-spending public sector.

It is self-evident that the private sector is the one that creates wealth (which Hazlitt measures in terms of goods and services created and not in terms of money) and that the public sector merely consumes wealth; ergo, the larger the public sector and public spending, the poorer the country as a whole.

Hazlitt discusses a range of `economic fallacies' to attack a variety of economic policies that are applied from time to time, or persistently, almost universally. So, he argues, the wealth created by government spending will never compensate for the wealth destroyed by the taxes imposed to pay for that spending; government credit (grants, subsidies or low-cost loans) to aid specific industries diverts production and distorts markets; new technologies (often decried as causing mass unemployment) should be welcomed as creating extra profits - extra wealth - that will ultimately create new employment; spread-the-work schemes, tariffs and quotas, 'price stabilisation' and `price fixing' policies, rent controls, minimum wage laws, restrictive practices by trade unions, artificially low interest rates, over-generous welfare programmes; public housing schemes - all are systematically deconstructed to show the evils they cause in terms of wealth destruction and price inflation.

Hazlitt's book is clearly written in laymen's terms. It is objective and impartial, though complex economic problems are sometimes over-simplified. It is a highly readable, interesting book with, perhaps, a fatal flaw: it lacks any sort of compassion for the human miseries that are caused by economic recession or depression which, of course, FDR's New Deal programmes sought to alleviate. Many - most? - people nowadays demand a level of interventionist social spending by government. Hazlitt's work simply spells out the irrefutable consequences of such policies, simple truths that are simply ignored by politicians who just want to get re-elected.
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on 11 February 2016
For such an 'old' piece of economic literature this is great reading for people like me for whom economics is not a subject that is picked up easily. I'm not talking about what we all refer to as 'the economy', but the finer details of policies that are especially used by governments around the world. Of course, businesses apply micro economic policies to their firms. But before I get bogged down in economic terminology and get everyone, including myself, confused, just let me say this book explains economics much better than anything I have read previously. Enough said.
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on 30 July 2012
This is a very readable book, written without jargon. Mr Hazlitt argues against some popular beliefs about the benefit of government interventions (e.g. public spending, price-fixing, credit guarantees, export-subsidies, import-tariffs) as means of job-creation or job-protection. He considers the unseen people who pay for the interventions. The unseen people pay directly e.g. via taxes or higher prices, and indirectly by not getting what the money would otherwise have been spent on, and by having fewer choices. The interventions appear to work because their targeted, immediate beneficiaries do benefit in the short term. But the community as a whole is worse off in the long term. The long term cannot be flippantly dismissed because we are all now living in what was once someone else's long term.

Mr Hazlitt accepts that economics is "hounded by fallacies" because of the "special pleading of selfish interests". Despite the abuse flung around by their spokespeople, these selfish interests cannot be isolated as pariah groups, because "each one of us has a multiple economic personality". We are both producer and consumer and tax payer. But even if your personalities have already settled on a view, then this book will help you. If you like big government it will give you a clear target to aim at. If you like small government, it will help you state your case.

The book was first published in 1946 at the start of an exponential rise in population and consumption. It does not address current issues like pollution, which, ironically, is something else that affects those who aren't immediate beneficiaries of a transaction. The 1946 edition is online at [...]

If you like this book, you may also like "Attacking faulty reasoning" and "The Richest Man in Babylon".
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on 23 November 2013
If you only read one book on economics make it this one. It should be compulsory at school level, as much for the teachers as the pupils!

The central thesis is the rule of unforeseen or ignored secondary consequences of economic decisions. For example, the tax rate rise which brings in a specified amount for the state, which it will spend on xxx. What you don't see or hear about are the businesses that don't start up because of that tax hike, the jobs that aren't created, and so on.

As you may expect the book is not for those few left who think Keynes had the right idea. This book was first published shortly after the Second World War and updated in the 1970s. Sadly it's as relevant now as it was then. Amazingly prescient.
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on 15 January 2012
If people want to understand the abyss governments have dragged us into, then this economics primer is a start.

The media is overloaded with doom and gloom concerning the economy; and they are right. However there is little explanation as to why this financial mess has occurred other than "'twas the banker that did it". The questions that should be asked are: Why is the Eurozone collapsing? Why are anti-capitalists invading the city? Why are students protesting and unions striking and also what would be the outcome if their demands are met? Why is unemployment so high? Why is housing so expensive? And the most important question: What can be done about it? Surprisingly I found the answer in this book.

Here is an excerpt on inflation.

"Like every other tax, inflation acts to determine the individual and business policies we are all forced to follow. It discourages all prudence and thrift. It encourages squandering, gambling, reckless waste of all kind. If often makes it more profitable to speculate than to produce. It tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men towards desperate remedies. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. It leads men to demand totalitarian controls. It ends invariably in bitter disillusion and collapse."
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on 3 June 2014
Although this book was first published many decades ago, its message is just as applicable today, as we don't seem to be learning the lessons of the past. It is a fascinating account of how capitalism works and the unintended but highly predictable consequences of central planning and market intervention. I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 12 October 2013
I bought this some time ago and it ended up in the 'to read' pile. As I was going on hols I thought I should read it as it was recommended. Glad I did. The book does not go into minute detail but takes the line of a thorough overview, the policies enacted and the 'wisdom' of the present age on economies, shining some most needed light. It reveals the smoke and mirrors of politics, the effects along with unseen and generally ignored side effects of policy. Simply put economics is a zero sum gain. If someone wins there is a loser. If the government taxes to give to someone else, someone loses. If there is a work program to help a section of the community it comes at the expense of another part of the community. As the vision of politicians and the media is so narrow you rarely see the wider implications. This book will give you those wider implications and despite the assurance of our leaders it is getting better and that they have the answers. The reality is they do not have the answers, they are doing what has been proven to fail in the past and things are getting worse. There again looking today at the economy, jobs, prices and inflation we know that anyway. This book will give you a perspective to understand why this is the case. It also will show why productive wealth creating jobs that seem so despised are essential while their replacements may not be. Just look at the rise of bureaucracy and regulation, there are becoming more people to prevent you from doing any useful productive work than actually carrying it out. Altas Shrugged before one's own eyes.
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on 24 December 2009
I studied economics for two years at A level, but my economics education really started when I discovered this book.

Economics in One Lesson is based on That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen, and in particular, a specific famous insight in Bastiat's essay, known as "The Broken Window Fallacy". This is the idea that a breaker of a window (or any other economic resource) should be praised because his destruction has actually spurred increased economic activity (for the glazier, his baker, butcher etc.). This is false because it ignores the other side of the "transaction". If the citizen whose window was broken wasn't broken, they would have spent the money elsewhere, and the exact same amount of economic activity would have occurred, albeit in slightly different spheres -- to boot, of course, society would be one window richer. Thus the destruction actually destroys economic wealth.

Hazlitt applies this to various socialist/interventionist policies (or proposed policies) of his day, and shows how these all actually reduce society's total wealth. Although this book wasn't written contemporaneously, all Hazlitt's analysis is extremely relevant today.

In short, I think everyone should read this book.

Other similar recommended books:

Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism (Politically Incorrect Guides)
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