Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book review, "Economics in One Lesson", Henry Hazlitt

I just got through reading about 200 easy pages of Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson," originally produced in the aftermath of the New Deal and World War Two.  Originating around the premise of Sumner's "Forgotten Man" (and paying homage to him in the last chapter) and the concept of the secondary effects of economic policy decisions, it mirrors a lot of the work of Bastiat (especially Bastiat's concept of "that which is not seen") and others.  All in all, it is an able refutation of the excesses of the New Deal, and well worth the read.  I highly recommend that all who want to understand what's wrong with our current crew of economic planners and their ideas.

One bit of disappointment for me is that it does indeed spend so much time on the excesses of the New Deal, and does not go further into how one ought to apply the concept of "secondary consequences" to economic thinking in general.  In short, it tends to help people understand the mistakes of  1929 to 1948, but not necessarily to avoid the next crop of mistakes that would arise during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. 

Dismally, of course, economic mistakes are recyled, as liberal politicians seem to place as little stock in history as they do in physics and chemistry, so the damage to Hazlitt's goal is not extreme.  Even so, given that often politicians hide old bad ideas under new names, a more rigorous treatment of the principles of "secondary consequences," "the forgotten man," "that which is not seen," and "man acts" (von Mises) would have been greatly helpful here, even had it come at the expanse of a less rigorous approach to specific errors of Roosevelt.

But that said, there is such a thing as a free book, and per the link, you can get it from FEE.  Thank you, FEE.

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