Top positive review
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Simple, elegant, persuasive
on 7 June 2006
This writing in this book is straightforward yet beautifully elegant. The author examines over twenty commonly held economic assumptions. In doing so, he exposes what he considers to be faulty thinking and widely assumed fallacies.
This book is written from a classical liberal standpoint. Each `fallacy' is considered in a discrete chapter. Each chapter is in itself a separate little essay. Each little essay builds upon the previous one in explaining a little more of the theories that underpin economic thoughts.
More than anything else, this book attempts to demonstrate that the art of economics is considering not just what is seen in any transaction, but also what is unseen. Often, it explains that a policy designed to achieve a desirable X will have the unintended consequence of creating an undesirable Y which is worse than the original problem that was to be solved.
For instance, if a shop window is broken it must be replaced. It will create employment for the glazier. Many will think this makes the economy richer. However, the shopkeeper may have been planning a different purchase, such as a car or a computer. The shopkeeper will have to purchase a new window. He may no longer be able to afford the computer. So at the end, the shopkeeper is poorer than before - he has only one window whereas he would have had one window and one computer.
This analysis is then applied to the state as a whole. Hazlitt points out what are the immediately visible results of any action. He then attempts to demonstrate what are the invisible consequences. His conclusion is that too often, we do not see the invisible consequences of our or our government's actions.
This is a very accessible work. It is inviting in its style and flattering in its treatment of the reader. The book does not seek to instruct in complicated economic theories. Instead, it lays out the simple underpinnings of the liberal market analysis and attempts to highlight the immediate shortcomings of rival positions. It is a book that is a pleasure to read.