Applied Economics : Thinking Beyond Stage One
Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.
This new book is a spirited and controversial examination of how economic choices in public policy often result in unforeseen consequences. Sowell, a professor of public policy at Stanford and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy, examines labor, medical care, housing, and other areas of economic activity. He says that in stage-one thinking, making housing affordable by setting rent controls would seem to be self-evident but that such rent controls both reduce the stock of low-rent housing and cause that stock to deteriorate in condition. He explains that many landlords don't bother to offer properties when rents are low and that those who do find very little incentive to maintain them. On the institution of slavery in the American South, Sowell says slaves were usually better cared for than other laborers because of the slave owners' economic self-interest. He defends the existence of slums as low-cost housing that in the past allowed the residents who chose to live in them to use their funds for other purposes. His predictably laissez faire approach to economics will grate on many readers, but his reasoning is clear and thoughtful. Every library covering economics or public administration will require a copy.-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"If there is a single recent book that can advance economic
literacy in this country, it is Thomas Sowell's latest book, Basic
Economics.... Sowell has managed to make economics humane again,
relevant and interesting to young people and ordinary citizens....
Buy a copy and read it immediately--no: buy two, and give one to a
school teacher, a journalist, or a politician near you!"
"Thomas Sowell is one of the fine scholars of our time."
While politicians squabble over the pros and cons of price controls on prescription drugs, onlooking citizens are often left scratching their heads. Many of today's economic issues are obscured by their inherent complexity and the blarney coming from political talking heads. In his follow-up to Basic Economics, Sowell, a leading conservative spokesman and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, seeks to alleviate this confusion. He highlights the major differences between politicians (who act for the short term, i.e., reelection) and economists (who look at the long-range ramifications of policy), and urges voters to keep these differences in mind. Sowell then focuses on a few issues, including some political hot potatoes: medical care, housing, discrimination, insurance and the development of nations. He urges readers to consider not only the intended, immediate goal of a particular policy, but also its unintended, long-range impact. For instance, he says, supporters of nationalized health care overlook the fact that it often results in health-care shortages, reduced quality of services and black markets. The great achievement of Sowell's book is its simplicity. His writing is easy and lucid, an admirable trait considering the topic at hand. This book will not satisfy hard-core economic junkies, and Sowell does not pretend it will. His target audience is the average citizen who has little or no economics background, but would like the tools to think critically about economic issues. Some readers will be turned off by Sowell's preference for free-market principles, but the author is an esteemed economist and his explanations fit well within the mainstream. As a basic primer for the economically perplexed, this volume serves very well. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.