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Applied Economics (2004)
by Thomas Sowell
No current Talk conversations about this book.
I do not consider this a sequel to Sowell's "Basic Economics". Thoughtful and perceptive.
Very short and to the point refutation of populist economic policies. Worth it for me even if just for the advice I will now try to follow: think through the second and third order consequences of your choices. It's embarrassing how rarely I do.
Sowell addresses the economic issues being discussed today, e.g., health care, immigration, discrimination, housing and more. He points out that political discussions of economic issues is very different from an economic discussion of economic issues. Political debate is about rhetoric and short-term results, whereas the long-term consequences of political economic decisions are rarely addressed.
This is a powerful exposition of how to think beyond "stage one", i.e., until the next election. Highly recommended. Also see Sowell's execellent Basic Economics, also written for the general reader.
This book is highly recommended by G. Gordon Liddy, as is printed on the dust cover, something I find misleading, as even though the author also belongs on the far right on the political scale, his work has little in common with the gun parading antics associated with Liddy and his sphere.
The book opens a bit slowly, repeating the organising ability of free market prices, but then launches into the economic realities of slavery, with lots of odd facts and figures from history. Like that the value of the life of a black slave in the American South, as being the property of a rich man, was higher than that of an Irishman, being owned by his poor self; and that the Soviet Gulag slaves were actually less profitable than paid workers doing the same job.
A bit slower, or at least less intriguing, is the next section dealing with the health service. Noting that medicine makers need money for research and that this has to be taken out of pill prices is a bit of a yawn. Next up is high California house prices and the reasons for this, selfish and hypocritical lefties being to blame here as elsewhere!
Then we’re into discrimination. Mr Sowell has a lot of examples showing that capitalists, be they anti Jew, anti Black or anti Pole, still hires those who will make their firms most profitable. And he has the figures to show that equally qualified people to a large degree have been paid the same salary (in a free market), even before anti discrimination laws.
The book ends with a section on the economic development of nations; the author finding the long backwardness of Africa more likely to stem from that continent's lack of navigable waterways than anything explainable with an exploitation theory.
In spite of the perhaps all too expectable conclusions all through the book that laissez-faire is good and state intervention bad, this is really an entertaining “believe it or not” collection of economic facts and figures. I found it a good read.
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This revised edition of Applied Economics is about fifty percent larger than the first edition. It now includes a chapter on the economics of immigration and new sections of other chapters on such topics as the "creative" financing of home-buying that led to the current "subprime" mortgage crisis, the economics of organ transplants, and the political and economic incentives that lead to money earmarked for highways being diverted to mass transit and to a general neglect of infrastructure. On these and other topics, its examples are drawn from around the world. Much material in the first edition has been updated and supplemented. The revised and enlarged edition of Applied Economics retains the easy readability of the first edition, even for people with no prior knowledge of economics.
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That's not necessarily a bad thing, as we almost all need to "think beyond stage one" in our quest to achieve economic and/or political goals. Sowell treats this problem well, generally avoiding saying what is 'right' versus 'wrong' in a moral sense, but instead focuses on explaining the trade-offs and knock-on effects (the "stage two" effects, which most tend to ignore).
Worth reading more as a standalone book than to read if you've already taken in [b:Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy|3023|Basic Economics A Citizen's Guide to the Economy|Thomas Sowell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388328985s/3023.jpg|812361] or some other basic/intro economics book. ( )