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porsageronFeb 5, 2019

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is amazing too - https://mises.org/system/tdf/Henry%20Hazlitt%20Economics%20i...

thomasfromcdnjsonJune 24, 2020

"Economics in One Lesson" would be a good choice for a lot of HN readers.

dmfdmfonDec 30, 2017

Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is a good place to start.


JeffLonSep 9, 2013

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is an amazing book, and there's a free PDF available: http://mises.org/books/economics_in_one_lesson_hazlitt.pdf

pcvarmintonMar 17, 2020

Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods

The Great Deformation by David Stockman

The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank by Robert Wenzel

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

frankyoonSep 24, 2016

Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt changed my life. If you want to read one book only, read this one. It's sort, easy to understand and ruthlessly logical.

tomcamonSep 10, 2016

"Economics in One Lesson" is not by Sowell.

"Undercover" is an entertaining read. Highly recommended. Has none of the rigor of Sowell's work. Much more highly recommended.

davidmathersonSep 20, 2007

[Right Wing] Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is primarily a 1940's take on the 1840's essay What is Seen and What is Not Seen by Frederic Bastiat. You can read the original here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html

pjkundertonSep 2, 2015

You might be interested in "Christian Economics in One Lesson", a modernization of Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" by (in my opinion) the greatest living economist of our age, Dr. Gary North.


kqr2onOct 14, 2016

Quick link to the book he recommends reading: Economics In One Lesson


danthemanonJan 2, 2010

* Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt

* Man, Economy, and State by Rothbard

* Road to Serfdom by Hayek

* Capitalism and Freedom by Freedman

* Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Nozick
(politics/philosophy, but a great book)

* What has the government done to our money by Rothbard (http://mises.org/money.asp)

epnkonAug 6, 2011

"Economics in One Lesson" by Hazlitt is digestible, a quick read, and gets to the heart of a lot of issues, IMO.

tmalyonJan 6, 2016

the author must not have heard of the broken window fallacy.

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt explains it. Available free online

briandearonAug 24, 2018

Hazlitt is one of the most under-appreciated writers in Economics. His “Economics in One Lesson” is brilliantly simple.

stopachkaonApr 14, 2020

Three things:

1. Economics in one Lessons. One of the most powerful books I've read on the economy. Will help you rethink and see deeper
2. Dao of Capital. Book by Mark Spitznagel -- goes into tail risk hedging, and his counter-intuitive investment thesis. He made 4000% over Covid
3. Dalio's essays -- from "The changing world order" to "Debt Crises"

tmalyonApr 14, 2020

I have really enjoyed simple economics texts.

I highly recommend Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. It is a very approachable book that can be read in one sitting.

It illustrates the seen and unseen effects of action from Frédéric Bastiat.

geff82onSep 23, 2016

"Economics in one lesson" is a classic worth reading and thinking about. While you don't necessary have to follow the libertarian way of thinking it guides you to, it still shapes your critical thinking about economic policies a lot.

stephenonMay 21, 2013

> If you can make one little piece of the economy 50% more efficient, you're freeing up capital for the next highest use

Nice! Spoken like an economist (I recently read Economics in One Lesson).

m52goonNov 7, 2016

I highly recommend Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.

Comprehensive economics 101 in simple language, probably middle-school level.

dpatruonJune 24, 2011

Hazlitt is an exceptionally good writer. His "Economics in One Lesson" is a classic.

atemerevonMay 9, 2017

Have you read "Economics in one lesson" by Henry Hazlitt?
It explains quite clearly where this $50 will come from, and what damage will be done in the process.

sumtechguyonAug 3, 2020

I like the book 'Economics in one lesson' by Henry Hazlitt which does something similar.

nandemoonMay 5, 2011

Economics in One Lesson by the same Hazlitt is also a good one. Of course it all depends on his interests.

vegancaponSep 23, 2016

Henry Hazlitt - 'Economics in one lesson'
Mises - 'Theory of Credit and Money'
Adam Smith - 'Wealth of Nations'
Milton Friedman - 'Capitalism and Freedom'
Murray Rothbard - 'A New Liberty'

Have been my personal, but somewhat one-sided favourites.

danthemanonApr 8, 2015

There's a lot to economics, one book that I think is really insightful and quite easy to read is Economics in One Lesson. It's main function is to highlight second order effects, or unintended consequences, of legislation on activity.


RodericDayonAug 22, 2016

I recommend against "Economics in One Lesson". It's basically a libertarian promotional pamphlet. If one wants an economic education, something like "The Undercover Economist" is much better.

JeffLonOct 26, 2013

See the chapter in Economics in One Lesson about how rent control makes everything worse.


MCRedonJuly 3, 2014

Sorry, while I said "I believe", I should have stated it as a fact, as I consider it essentially proven by economics.

I suggest you read Man, Economy and State by Murray Rothbard. But if you want something shorter and quicker, try Economics in One lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Both are available free online.

frognibbleonJune 27, 2010

My favorite book is "Economics in One Lesson". It's available free online and in print from major book sellers (see the top search results on the Google). This book does not represent mainstream economic thought, but that's a good thing given the track record of mainstream economists in the current crisis.

dmichulkeonAug 8, 2016

"Economics in one Lesson" by H. Hazlitt (conveys the same as "Atlas shrugged" in much much less pages)

"The Selfish Gene" (R. Dawkins)

"Dune" (F. Herbert)

"Walden II" (B. F. Skinner)

ac360onMay 25, 2015

Economics In One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt

Short, simple read that forever enables you to unspin the nonsense surrounding you.

jwhiteonMar 21, 2011

Everyone, especially those on the left of the political spectrum, should read 'Economics in One Lesson'.

filleokusonMay 27, 2018

Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt.

It's old but many of the lessons he teaches are still relevant today. It opened my eyes to the danger of only thinking about the things that are easily observable, and ignoring the "unseen" things.

> The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

pvnickonMay 19, 2017

Henry Hazlitt, one of the economists quoted in the article, wrote a book called Economics in One Lesson [1]. It is a brilliant, and very approachable, piece of writing that should be read by everyone interested in the basics of economic theory.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Underst...

tmalyonMay 18, 2017

Economics is a big thing if you do not have a background in it, I recommend the book Economics in One Lesson. It was enlightening.

atemerevonJune 26, 2017

There is an excellent free (and very short) book, "Economics in one lesson" by Henry Hazlitt, which explains very logically why minimum wage, rent controls and other "band-aid" economical measures always end badly:


It is like 2-hour reading, but very enlightening.

unknown_apostleonNov 22, 2016

This is one of the great texts on economics. Together with "Economics in One Lesson" by Hazlit, should be required high school reading all over the planet. These texts immunise the mind against logical fallacies about material progress. They will make mankind come together without politicians or enemies.

"There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found." This is one of the beautiful miracles of our kind, a fact that remains unknown to most of us. Including many who figure themselves at the commanding heights.

Every attempt to make this fictional mastermind more powerful makes our fate worse.

lzwonSep 5, 2010

Everyone would benefit from an increased understanding of economics, namely so called "Austrian economics". They successfully explain the increase in bubbles in via monetary policy, and this explains why there are more bubbles even though markets are vastly more efficient now and information is much more widely distributed.

A good primer is "economics in one lesson" by henry hazlitt, which you can find online for free in various places.

zanezoneonMar 14, 2020

Get some conflicting ideas. Two great, short books are The Mystery of Banking by Rothbard (available for free here: https://mises.org/library/mystery-banking) and Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt (free here: https://fee.org/resources/economics-in-one-lesson/). They both conflict quite substantially with the mainstream and might open up a whole new line of inquiry for you.

ewhizrdonDec 16, 2019

Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt
Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Bitcoin Standard - Saifedean Ammous
Freedom from the known - Jiddu Krishnamurti

ShmulkeyonJune 27, 2010

Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt: http://jim.com/econ/, http://www.fee.org/pdf/books/Economics_in_one_lesson.pdf

Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman (video series, too)

Use of Knowledge in Society by Hayek (short, non-technical paper which is full of brilliant insights): http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html

Not a book, but the Econtalk podcast is fantastic: http://www.econtalk.org/

mrslaveonOct 11, 2018

1. Rules are good. They force creativity!
2. Did you know that the rules have allowed Skip Jack fishers to call it something else and you have been missing out on this healthy alternative all this time?

Great conversation.

You need to consider also that there is a lot of creativity destroyed because of the rules, and this is difficult to see or imagine. The seen vs the unseen is a Bastiat classic idea, but it is well summarized in Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (only about 200 pages).

daniloassisonSep 11, 2017

One "Old" Book to Learn Economics: Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics [1]

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Underst...

nirvanaonMar 12, 2012

You make some good points about labor unions. On one hand, a voluntary association is intrinsically moral, and it could be a force for positive good.

I don't know if you've read it or not, but Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in one lesson" is a great book. [1]

One of the chapters covers unions and he shows how economically they cannot in the end benefit workers. However, even if they are inefficient or foolish, workers have a right to form associations. Its just that employers have a right to refuse to negotiate with them.

It is interesting how libertarian the software community is, and silicon vally, in some regards-- unions being a good example. And yet in other regards they seem often to be hardcore socialist. I find it perplexing.

[1] You can get it here: http://www.fee.org/library/books/economics-in-one-lesson/

danthemanonAug 8, 2016

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

It's focus is to get people thinking about 2nd and 3rd order effects. It's very simple and well written.

abfan1127onMar 17, 2020

The most important aspect of the claim about spending money is the broken window fallacy. Henry Hazlitt wrote a great book on the subject called Economics in One lesson.

The simple example is that we can't go around breaking windows to stimulate the economy. Sure, the window manufacturer and the window replacement companies might benefit, however that money which went towards the window could have gone elsewhere.

Engineering taught me one very important lesson. We can never get something for nothing. There is always a trade off. If the government is handing out money, it has to come from somewhere. Its either taxes, which means that tax money collected can't be spent elsewhere. Or it has to be printed, which is inflation.

Some people say, people aren't spending it, they are saving it! Thats important too. Unless they are keeping it in their mattress, that money is deposited in banks, which loan out the money for capital improvements, etc.

Lastly, my anecdotal experience is that "free money" tends to be squandered more than earned money. Which means poorly allocated funds towards resources less valuable to a strong economy.

JeffLonOct 3, 2010

"Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt is one of those perfect little books that can greatly expand your world view in one night. I highly recommend it. (http://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Understa...)

Also, I second Walden by Thoreau and suggest you read the Fountainhead. The Fountainhead isn't quite as blunt as Atlas Shrugged, but I find it a lot more life affirming and positive.

theschwaonMar 24, 2009

Absolutely the best by far. I know you said no older books, but this one gets it down to basics, and always seems to be an example of "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," is

Henry Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson

nerdponxonJuly 29, 2021

I got a kick out of that one too.

This is an instance of the "broken window fallacy". To understand the nature of this fallacy, I highly recommend Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt [0]. It's short and easy to read.

However, Hazlitt's lesson is not the complete story. The question that Hazlitt does not answer is, what is "the long run", and how exactly do the gains from productivity get distributed to "everyone"? This is likely where a lot of leftists would object to Hazlitt, arguing that it's better to protect current jobs than to let capitalists (or whoever) suck up all the gains for themselves and never redistribute them. You can argue about the semantics of whether it's possible to "hoard" wealth, but ultimately there is some merit to that argument. But the fallacy remains the fallacy, even if wealth redistribution is an unsolved problem.

[0]: http://leeconomics.com/Literature/Henry%20Hazlitt%20Economic...

timtasonFeb 8, 2019

Interesting fact: Economics in One Lesson is an extended meditation on Frédéric Bastiat's classic essay "That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen." Part of Hazlitt's goal was to make Bastiat's ideas more modern and accessible. However, enough time has passed that some of his examples are a bit dated. I actually prefer the original. Bastiat is a splendid writer.


nirvanaonOct 15, 2011

I'm sorry, that's not "basic economics". That's neo-keynesian economics. (They call themselves keynesians, but they aren't following what keynes said.)

The word "capitalism" comes from the word Capital. You accumulate capitals so that you can invest it in productive assets.

You could blow your money on a consumptive lifestyle, as you advocate.

Or you could save that money, and use it to start a business. Notice, your business has value, and if you do well, you will have turned the money you saved into a lot more money. You will employ people, and you will make products that make your customer's lives better... generally by lowering the costs for doing things, for them, making them richer.

This increases productivity.

Your argument is only looking at one side of the coin and kind ignoring most of economics.... but it is the perspective put forth by politicians who want to spend spend spend. They want to spend because spending gets them power. But it damages the economy (government spending.)

Henry Hazlitt wrote a good book "Economics in one Lesson". It's really a really good primer on economics.

pchiversonMay 4, 2008

The book that got me started was Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (http://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Understa...). Published in 1946, and still considered a classic.

mcappletononJuly 24, 2017

Economists these days are basically trying to find a way to avoid hard work and thrift. Unfortunately the only way we get better computers is by very smart people working very hard to develop better machines. The only way we get houses is by people building them. And the only way to obtain a net worth is to save more than one spends. However, economists seem to think that with enough money printing, borrowing, and other shenanigans they can somehow get more houses built in the places they are most needed. Of course, it is a joke and wrecks out everybody's wealth in the process.

As Hazlitt taught:

'The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.'

Anyone interested in clearing through the crud should read Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson.

CWuestefeldonNov 2, 2010

Please, do vote if you understand the issues, and where the candidates stand.

But otherwise, please DO NOT VOTE. Just because an idea makes you feel warm and fuzzy doesn't make it right. There are plenty of things in this world that are counter-intuitive, and if you're relying only on your beliefs, there's a good chance you'll get it wrong.

If you've never taken a class or read a book on economics, please don't vote. (I recommend Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlett [1])

If you've never taken a class or read a book on political philosophy, please don't vote. If you don't know the difference between natural law and utilitarianism, please don't vote. (I recommend reading J S Mill [2], or Locke [3], or Mises [4], or Hayek [5])

And if you don't believe me, then you should also read The Myth of the Rational Voter, by Bryan Caplan [6]. He discusses not only why voters do vote irrationally, but also why it's rational for them to do so.

[1] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Economics_in_...

[2] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/John_Stuart_M...

[3] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/John_locke

[4] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Ludwig_von_Mi...

[5] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Friedrich_Hay...

[6] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Myth_of_t...

dpatruonMay 27, 2013

The assumption you're making is that if government hadn't funded network research, then all of the engineers who worked on the Internet would have been hoeing turnips in the fields. As if only the government can create technology, and that without a government bureaucrat to direct research, we all would still be communicating via smoke signals.

The fact is, that if government hadn't been employing these engineers to create war technologies, our technology would probably be much more advanced and the world would have less war and be a much better place.

Whenever government employs people to do something, it necessarily keeps them from doing something else. This is well explained in chapter 4 of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap04p1.html) in taking the example of government spending for a bridge:

"The bridge exists. It is, let us suppose, a beautiful and not an ugly bridge. It has come into being through the magic of government spending. Where would it have been if the obstructionists and the reactionaries had had their way? There would have been no bridge. The country would have been just that much poorer. Here again the government spenders have the better of the argument with all those who cannot see beyond the immediate range of their physical eyes. They can see the bridge. But if they have taught themselves to look for indirect as well as direct consequences they can once more see in the eye of imagination the possibilities that have never been allowed to come into existence. They can see the unbuilt homes, the unmade cars and washing machines, the unmade dresses and coats, perhaps the ungrown and unsold foodstuffs. To see these uncreated things requires a kind of imagination that not many people have. We can think of these nonexistent objects once, perhaps, but we cannot keep them before our minds as we can the bridge that we pass every working day. What has happened is merely that one thing has been created instead of others.

tmalyonSep 22, 2016

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises

briandearonFeb 13, 2016

Really 'good of the people' is a very dangerous concept. And what exactly is a special interest? People interested in copyright reform is a special interest just as people interested in copyright preservation is a special interest.

Lenin was obstesibly starting a revolution for the 'good of the people.' Cuba did as well.. The good of the people there has resulted in an average monthly income of $20.

Don't knock the special interests.. EFF and Wiki are both examples of special interests just as much as the special interests of the publishing industry.

The book Economics in One Lesson is certainly worth reading..

dredmorbiusonMar 1, 2018

Apologies for the late response, though I've been thinking this over.

I'll stand by my earlier comment: read the classic economists themselves, directly, if at all possible. Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Mill (both John Stuart and David), Carlisle, Toynbee, Marshall.

You don't need to read all of them or the works in full, but each of these addresses at least in some depth and detail the question of goods and their pricing behaviours, in ways that are not generally addressed today.

There are overviews and histories of economic thought and its development which should be useful. I've read Heilbroner (The Worldly Philosophers) and Backhouse (The Ordinary Business of Life), both of which provide a broad overview. Ha-Joon Chang has Economics: The User's Guide, which is a pretty good overview of various schools of thought.

I'm particularly impressed currently by Steve Keen, whose most recent book is Debunking Economics. He's been developing his ideas at a rapid pace and to an extent has overrun what's in the book. He's good to watch though.

John Kenneth Galbraith tends generally to discuss economics more-or-less in the terms I've been mentioning here, with The Affluent Society and Age of Uncertainty probably being good starting points.

I'm not much impressed by and generally strongly discount most Libertarian thinking, though if you'd like a sense of what I consider to be bad/poor economic theory, Howard Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and Murray Rothbard's Libertarian Manifesto might be considerations.

Hope that helps.

grandalfonOct 24, 2011

Friedman's approach is more scientific. He asks a lot of "Why?" questions to begin his discussion of various issues. His approach always has the strong feel of being scientific and falsifiable, and most importantly data driven.

Economics in One Lesson is also a good read, but to me it comes across as a bit more dogmatic... the examples are a bit less falsifiable, etc. In general, it's not the sort of book that is likely to be quite as convincing to a skeptic as Friedman's.

C&F (unlike some of Friedman's other books) is very welcoming to those with different ideas, and focuses on the goal of the discipline of economics and does not get caught up in political issues. I found the opposite tone in "Free to Choose", for example.

dlssonAug 26, 2015

> Who would prove the harm if there is no EPA? Who has the money to go against big corporations and their paid experts? It took forever to get a shared understanding that smoking is really harmful.

The EPA is a horrible example to use against libertarianism. As you note it took much longer for the EPA to figure this out that virtually any other expert in the area. This is because governmental organizations have poorly aligned incentives which almost necessarily result in regulatory capture.

To answer your questions:

Who would prove the harm if there is no EPA? The same experts who the EPA uses, or hopefully better ones. I would happily subscribe to a consumer reports for heath information, for example. This would create a market where accurate and timely information was actually incentivized.

Would there be regulations on cigarettes, selling alcohol to 10 year olds or lead paint? Sure. These regulations would happen on a city-by-city basis or better yet on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

As for references, check out the work of Rothbard (a full anarcho-capitalist), and/or Hayek (a minarchist). Economics in One Lesson is also a great introductory book to get your footing thinking through these things.

Rhino55onJune 11, 2012

Economics in One Lesson.

Edit: this is a book, and the book explains the fallacy of the above comment

nirvanaonOct 12, 2012

I didn't mean to imply you wasted any time- you exhibit the one trait that I find exceedingly valuable: the ability to think for yourself. This is way too rare. And so I wanted to help you with some things that you might find useful. (I'd also recommend Atlas Shrugged, there's a reason it's a popular book, and if it's wrong, there's no harm in reading it, right?)

Economics in One Lesson is so cogent that it will, I think, let you absorb a great deal. And then the Creature from Jekyll Island, which is really a history book that reads like a thriller, will let you see how the departure from economics has had an effect on the country-- an effect the most recent version of which you correctly identified. (Which was impressive, frankly, can't tell you how many times people argued with me about house prices between 1998-2007. Sadly, going back to them in 2008-2010 and saying "See, I was telling you this!" didn't earn any kudos for my having called it correctly... I think their worldview is plastic and easily gets remapped by TV news.)

Anyway, the departure from economics is for very sound reasons-- it profits the people who are peddling the bad stuff. But that also means we can profit from it too.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you the books I thought would be most effective for you. I read a lot of investment books when I needed to learn how to invest (Vick's books on Warren Buffett I found particularly interesting-- now I calculate what my return will be before I make the investment. People assume that buying stocks is really risky, but the reality is risk is quantifiable. I can buy a stock and know that I will be able to sell it for a specific price at a specific time-- you can calculate this!)

Anyway, good luck! I admire your datamining-- there's a lot of opportunity for you out there if you keep that up.

yorwbaonOct 23, 2017

Evidence that "companies have gotten better at hitting people's reward centers to drive more consumption and thus profits" is a plausible explanation:

1. Companies are motivated to increase profits. [1]

2. Increasing consumption is one way to increase profits. [2]

3. Generally applicable techniques for increasing easily measurable business statistics have been developed and improved. [3]

4. Consumption is one such statistic. [4]

5. People are more likely to eat food they enjoy, even if they know it's unhealthy. [5]

Thus it is plausible that companies have found ways to increase consumption by "hitting people's reward centers".

6. People get fat when they eat more. [6]

Therefore this plausible statement provides an explanation for increased obesity.

I hope this is enough evidence for you. Note that I don't think citations are the be all and end all of evidence. They are a useful tool in academic discussion, but in more informal settings, appealing to common knowledge is usually enough, unless it's that common knowledge itself that is under doubt.

When you eventually provide evidence for your claim that people exercise their willpower less, I won't require citations for everything. I'd like to see a well-reasoned argument, however.

[1] Henry Hazlitt, "Economics in One Lesson", pp. 141: The Function of Profits

[2] Elementary mathematics: if you make a certain profit on each item sold and consumed, increased consumption increases profit.

[3] e.g. https://www.mv-research.com/research/pricing

[4] If you keep books on your sales, you have already measured it.

[5] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278431915...

[6] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2009/10/14/ajcn.2009...

motxiloonJuly 11, 2016

Blindsight (Watts)

Between the World and Me (Coates)

Economics in One Lesson (Hazlitt)

Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Shapiro)

Los últimos españoles de Mauthausen (Hernández de Miguel)

Distributed Systems for Fun and Profit (Takada)

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm (Dartnell)

Historia mínima de España (Fusi)

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders (Marquet)

What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars (Moynihan)

Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems (Google)

Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum (Francis)

Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces (Arpaci-Dusseau)

unknown_apostleonNov 23, 2016

Piketty's book contains a correlation-implies-causation statistics-driven narrative to pitch yet another tax increase.

Economics In One Lesson is an exercise in logic, showing that many popular economic policies are flawed or will necessarily have non-obvious side effects.

EIOL is also deliberately written to be an easy read.

It's hard to compare the two.

(In the unlikely case anyone cares, my personal take on Piketty: wealth inequality doesn't matter unless you think jealousy is a matter of public policy. Wealth inequality is an inevitable consequence of progress. What matters is whether the wealthy can loose their wealth due to their own mistakes, and whether wealth inequality implies legal inequality. Private profits and public risks, bailouts, legislation a la tete du client, bribes, lobbying, monopolies, special tax agreements, propping up markets, complicated laws, ... that's how the 99% get screwed. Taxes allow the government to function. They cannot "counterbalance" the legal privileges of the 1%.)

phyllotaxisonAug 6, 2011

Lewrockwell.com is a correlary to Mises.org.
The focus there is on non-technical commentary, where LvMI is more scholarly.

There are thousands of media files, audio, video, and e-book, on every imaginable topic.
My first recommendation would be to read the best intro to "intuitive economics" ever: Henry Hazlitt's "ECONOMICS IN ONE LESSON"
Here's an introduction to it

dagwonAug 7, 2011

Economics in One Lesson is a horrible book for people with no background in economics. Within economics there are several schools of thought, and this book is little more than an outright attack by a proponent of one (fairly niche) school on another (far more prominent) school. Despite its title it isn't an textbook, but a manifesto, and as such Hazlitt's goal isn't to educate you, but to convert you. Hazlitt sets out to do this with great skill, employing every rhetoric tool at his disposal.

And I'll admit he's really good at it as well. He presents theories as gospel truth, making no mention of any caveats or qualifiers that you'd find in a more serious work. There is a complete lack of any sort of critical analysis of the ideas present, or any notion that they may be anything other than universal truths. He greatly misrepresents the ideas of his opponents and loves to use quotes out of context. He makes great use of leading rhetorical questions to lead the reader to make incorrect conclusions, without having to stick out his own neck and make the incorrect statement himself.

So in my opinion the real problem with this book is that it is so convincingly written that a naive and uncritical reading of it will lead the reader to come away with the belief that economics is really simple and that all economic problems have trivial solutions, as spelled out in this book.

That being said, the ideas present in this book aren't completely without merit, it's just that the few actually useful and interesting nuggets are buried in far too much polemic brow beating

nlonSep 10, 2016

I think the parent poster is misremembering. Economics in One Lesson isn't by Thomas Sowell. Not sure it should be characterized as a libertarian textbook either - most would class it as coming from the school of classical economics.

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/04/economics_in_on.html is worth reading.

linschnonNov 23, 2016

"Economics in One Lesson" has been touted as a perfect introduction to Economics, yet I was pretty underwhelmed after I read it.

It just assumes that trickle down economics works, and repeats this "lesson" ad nauseam chapter after chapter.

However, it is very clear historically that trickle down economics does not work, and that completely unregulated markets lead to human rights abuse.

Picketty is much more enlightening.

lpolovetsonFeb 5, 2019

Most of the books that changed how I think were effective because of the subject matter and not the specific book or writing style. I suspect other books on the same subject would've been equally perspective-changing. Here are some examples:

1) "A Guide of the Good Life." This is an approachable intro to stoicism and helped me become more conscious of which things are within my control and which things are outside of my control. I now spend a lot more time focusing on the former and a lot less time being anxious about the latter.

2) Books like "Traction" (by Gabriel Weinberg) and "Cracking Creativity" that take a fuzzy subject like marketing or being creative and show that you can get very far by following recipes/algorithms/heuristics. Skill like creativity are not purely innate; they can be learned.

3) "Economics in One Lesson." (Spoiler: the one lesson is: "economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.") After this book, I now think much more carefully about proposed policies/rules/business strategies/etc. "Subsidized child care" or "charge businesses per seat" can sound great on the surface, but specific proposals often have so many unintended or negative consequences that are not discussed, and it's important to weigh those consequences against the benefits.

4) A statistics textbook. I don't remember the specific book that was my first stats textbook, but learning about statistics made me a lot more skeptical and inquisitive about data. Now when I see a graph or number reported in the news, I think "are there ways that this might be misleading?" instead of "omg cool this is a graph in a popular magazine so it must be true."

markdog12onFeb 6, 2019

Wish everyone would read this book and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.

briandearonFeb 12, 2017

Agreed -- Europe has all sorts of government-sanctioned price fixing. If the price of milk drops in France, the farmers starts to burn stuff and throw rocks.

However, in the US, agriculture subsidies are less transparent. But then again, in France, you get to pay high taxes AND pay higher prices.

The problem in France, from my perspective is that there is an obsession with 'saving farmers,' when many of them really ought to leave the market due to inefficiencies.

You see similar dynamics in Korea with rice import quotas -- high consumer prices for rice because rice farming has been a protected industry.

Henry Hazlit's "Economics in One Lesson" explains this idea pretty succinctly. Essentially "protecting" the special interest harms the general interest, but that harm isn't easily identified since your average consumer isn't protesting higher milk prices but farmers often violently or vocally protest lower milk prices.

hasanoveonOct 23, 2011

This reminds of wonderful book - "Economics in One Lesson". Written half a century ago it describes most economy fallacies, that are dominating even among intelligent people. If you didn't know, you would think it was written today.

There is a chapter on "The curse of machinery" (read online - http://www.fee.org/library/books/economics-in-one-lesson/#0....), that explains why this whole post is thousand years long delusion, that keeps coming back every decade or so.

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to understand true fundamentals of the sound economies.

stephenonMay 21, 2013

Knee jerk "oh no, what will the workers do?!" reactions are understandable, but in the long term society is best served by leveraging technology to get the most services for as cheaply as possible.

If this was not true, we should ditch tractors/harvesters and have everyone go back to toiling in the field all day. That'll provide tons of jobs.

Yes, in the short-term one sector "loses" jobs, but it means a service is provided more cheaply, so consumers have more money to spend elsewhere, and the jobs just move around. Society gets a net win on total output.

See Economics in One Lesson for a better/more detailed explanation.

gizmoonMay 27, 2018

This is one of those books where if you know only a little about economics after reading it you'll know even less.

Economics in one lesson is heavy on rhetoric and light on substance. The lesson is "look for hidden externalities". Which is by itself totally fair: we should indeed be mindful of externalities.

However when dealing with complex sociological questions there are always negative externalities and the case can always be made that there are additional hidden externalities we don't fully understand yet. And therefore the correct solution to all these sociological problems according to Hazlitt is to do nothing. Because only the externalities of action are considered, not the externalities of inaction. That's the slight of hand applied throughout the book. So the solutions are the same libertarian nonsense we're all familiar with: no government, no taxes, no minimum wages, no unions, no tariffs, etc.

"Economics in one lesson" is by no means a good book, but it's pleasantly written, freely available online, and it can be read in an afternoon. Additionally it makes the reader feel smart because it provides a very simple solution to a multitude of very complex problems. So that explains the appeal. If people want to learn basic economics they should study a reputable college textbook instead.

dagwonOct 24, 2011

Here's my review from last time this book was mentioned on HN:

Economics in One Lesson is a horrible book for people with no background in economics. Within economics there are several schools of thought, and this book is little more than an outright attack by a proponent of one (fairly niche) school on another (far more prominent) school. Despite its title it isn't an textbook, but a manifesto, and as such Hazlitt's goal isn't to educate you, but to convert you. Hazlitt sets out to do this with great skill, employing every rhetoric tool at his disposal.

And I'll admit he's really good at it as well. He presents theories as gospel truth, making no mention of any caveats or qualifiers that you'd find in a more serious work. There is a complete lack of any sort of critical analysis of the ideas present, or any notion that they may be anything other than universal truths. He greatly misrepresents the ideas of his opponents and loves to use quotes out of context. He makes great use of leading rhetorical questions to lead the reader to make incorrect conclusions, without having to stick out his own neck and make the incorrect statement himself.

So in my opinion the real problem with this book is that it is so convincingly written that a naive and uncritical reading of it will lead the reader to come away with the belief that economics is really simple and that all economic problems have trivial solutions, as spelled out in this book.

That being said, the ideas present in this book aren't completely without merit, it's just that the few actually useful and interesting nuggets are buried in far too much polemic brow beating.

EleutheriaonDec 8, 2014

So capitalism has problems, he failed to determine the cause (the state) and failed to propose efficient solutions (more taxes, austerity for the people, more interventionism) and you praise it as true science? That book is a marxist pamphlet in a thousand pages.

For the love of god, never read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt or you would consider him the bastard son of Einstein when he was fifteen.

porsageronApr 4, 2018

Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

yaa_minuonApr 14, 2020

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Basic Economics[1] by Thomas Sowell.

It's a fairly detailed book but it's worth the time. If you're too busy to read a whole book, you might want to take a look at "Economics in One Lesson" [2] by Herny Hazlitt.

The foundation for economic education[3] has some great articles too about economics and public choice.

[2] https://fee.org/media/14946/economicsinonelesson.pdf
[3] https://fee.org

dmichulkeonJuly 16, 2017

I studied economics through the backdoor, starting with game theory, then (around 2008, because "no one saw it coming") generalizing to economics, political economics and politics.

If you go that way, you will inevitably end up subscribing Austrian economics (and also libertarian justice/politics) which is basically a non-existent area in mainstream economics but is the only consistent theory and kind of automagically leads to many of Taleb's criticisms (e.g., second order effects).

For the interested I recommend as an introduction:

- Atlas shrugged (A. Rand, for those who have time)
- Economics in one lesson (H. Hazlitt, for those who don't have time)

jwallaceparkeronSep 10, 2016

> Sowell's "Economics in One Lesson"

"Economics in One Lesson" was written by Henry Hazlitt.

mhartlonDec 30, 2008

My grandparents lived in rent controlled apartments in NYC that they could not have afforded to stay in

This is selection bias. Suppose the government raised the federal minimum wage to $50/hr. This would cause massive unemployment (and, no doubt, a thriving black market for labor), but some lucky low-income workers would keep their jobs. You could then point to one of those workers and say, "Hey, I know someone who has a high-paying job that wouldn't exist but for the new minimum wage." But this ignores the damage done to everyone else through unemployment and higher prices. And so it goes with your lucky grandparents.

You can avoid these sorts of errors by consistent application of the following rule:

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

-- Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson

tmalyonAug 23, 2016

read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

This will explain why SF has these issues.

ddustinonNov 7, 2010

Henry Hazlitt has a great book sitting here at Hacker Dojo called Economics in one Lesson written 60 years ago that adresses the phallacies this foolish author has not yet come to see.

I highly recommend he come read it. If he is unable to migrate here the works of this now deceased author are available online for the low price of a simple google query.

ThizonDec 28, 2013

- Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard

- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

then couldn't stop reading all there is to read at Mises.org

PaulDavisThe1stonMar 14, 2020

If you're going to read Hazlitt, do us the favor of reading John Quiggin's recent followup "Economics in Two Lessons":


"Since 1946, Henry Hazlitt’s bestselling Economics in One Lesson has popularized the belief that economics can be boiled down to one simple lesson: market prices represent the true cost of everything. But one-lesson economics tells only half the story. It can explain why markets often work so well, but it can’t explain why they often fail so badly—or what we should do when they stumble. As Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Samuelson quipped, “When someone preaches ‘Economics in one lesson,’ I advise: Go back for the second lesson.” In Economics in Two Lessons, John Quiggin teaches both lessons, offering a masterful introduction to the key ideas behind the successes—and failures—of free markets."

aaronhoffmanonDec 28, 2014

I'd recommend reading Economics in One Lesson http://mises.org/library/economics-one-lesson

kevin_morrillonApr 21, 2013

I imagine very few people will question the political decisions here because it requires imagination to account for the unseen. Hazlitt famously wrote about this in Economics in One Lesson. What ground breaking research at MIT didn't get done Friday? What important meetings were delayed? And then what does that add up to when you multiply it by millions?

RodericDayonSep 10, 2016

I read Sowell's "Economics in One Lesson" and recommend against it. It's basically a libertarian promotional pamphlet. If one wants an economic education, something like "The Undercover Economist" is much better.

edit: oops, I definitely mixed Sowell and Hazlitt up. Leaving this up anyway, so that the replies make sense. Sorry!

lzwonSep 26, 2010

Actually, economics is not that complicated, and not that hard to figure out, or to influence. The reason there's so much effort to pretend like it is complicated is because it is profitable for those in government to do so, to cover up the effects of their actions.

The idea that the crises in 2008 was unexpected, or that the bailouts were necessary is absurd, and had been refuted decades before. But it is part of the act government goes thru to keep people controlled. I knew there would be a housing bubble in late 2000, before it really got started. I knew this because I was told this by economists and hit made perfect sense. And all these bubbles, being creations of government, result in the same kind of government response. The effect of that response, having seen it so many times before, is quite predictable. We've not seen the effect of the bailouts of 2008, and the bailout that just happened for credit unions... but I expect we'll see it by 2012. And when it happens, they will all be on TV saying "this could never have been predicted!" Just like they were in 2008.

I suggest you read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt, or if you're unwilling even though it is a short book, simply familiarize yourself with Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window

jwallaceparkeronSep 9, 2013

But that's a gross mischaracterization of Austrian economics. It's nothing like the 'string theory' of economics and is indeed rather simple.

All the seminal works (especially "Economics in One Lesson") are very elementary. You need no prior exposure to economics.

They say you can identify an Austrian work by flipping through it, as it will undoubtedly contain no graphs or formulas.

lzwonSep 24, 2010

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. On the surface this may seem like a regular (though non-dry and very engaging while not being too long) economics book...but the lessons and perspective it gave me have made me more money than any other book I've ever read.

It changed the way I view the world, and this perspective has let me see so many things that are invisible to nearly everyone else.

timtasonFeb 8, 2019

The Law - Frédéric Bastiat, 1850 [1]

Bastiat was a great French Economist and liberal political philosopher. He been considered as more of a popularizer than an original thinker, but that's unwarranted. The Law is the greatest work of classical liberal political though that I have encountered. In school we all read Locke's Second Treatise of Government, but we should have first read The Law. It's very short--more of a long essay than a full length book--but it packs an earth shattering wallop.

Bastiat is also an intellectual ancestor of the Austrian School of economics. The famous Hazlitt book, Economics in One Lesson, is an extended meditation on Bastiat's classic essay, That Which is Seen and That Which is Unseen [2], which is the origin of the Broken Window Fallacy.

[1] http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html

[2] http://bastiat.org/en/twisatwins.html

jwallaceparkeronSep 20, 2011

It's difficult to find any example of a free market in America. The food industry an a whole is more free than the other social services listed above.

And a government can't just make something cheaper by edict. All a subsidy does is shift the burden of cost from the consumers to the taxpayers, or more likely anyone holding a dollar because most of these government programs are funded through deficits.

To be fair, I used to advocate public works projects and argued for smarter spending of public money. I changed my mind drastically after studying a bit of basic economics.

If you're really interested in exploring these principals and have an open mind, I recommend "Economics in One Lesson."

brconJan 3, 2012

I would ignore the inflammatory language and just educate yourself.

The wikipedia page is informative, if a little heavy going for the non-economist:

As I posted above, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is a simple, easy to read book that encapsulates most of the arguments put forth by the Austrian school.

BarkMoreonAug 7, 2016

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.

dmixonJan 12, 2013

I'm with the original commentor. The first question we should ask if not "does this provide value to the individuals in a specific group?" but what are the unintended consequences for everyone in the economy?

This is explored very well in the book "Economics in One Lesson": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_in_One_Lesson

kriroonDec 29, 2012

My candidates (not in order):

Getting Things Done (Superpower: Time Management)

Bargaining for Advantage (Superpower: Negotiation)

The Art of Learning (Superpower: Learning)

Telling Lies (Superpower: Facial expressions etc...somewhat of a cheat since you'll probably need to read more on the topic)

Economics in One Lesson (Superpower: Understanding the fundamentals of economics...and wandering down the dark,Austrian path eventually)

Edit: An even better superpower is learning a new language and understanding the corresponding culture. I usually suggest that over anything else for anyone that knows <3 languages well

spiantinoonAug 5, 2011

"Economics in One Lesson", chapter 7. Everyone should read that book


akrymskionAug 22, 2016

eToro wouldn't be used by any remotely professional day trader. Most of those accounts are most likely idle and judging by eToro's target audience - highly amateur. Whilst majority of course loose money, so do majority of businesses in any industry, from startups to restaurants to hedge funds. The nature of human economics is such that there's more money chasing opportunities than the value of those opportunities.

Suggested reading: "Economics in One Lesson"

warrenwilkinsononMar 21, 2011

'Economics in One Lesson' refutes this logic in its chapter "The Curse of Machinery" (http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap07p1.html). Some highlights:


If we assert automation removes the need for labour. Then it follows that to maximize labour, we must make our jobs as inefficient as possible.


Not only should we regard all future improvements as calamitys, but we must also regard all past technology with equal horror.


Why should freight be carried from Chicago to New York by railroad when we could employ enormously more men, for example, to carry it all on their backs?

lupin_sanseionOct 20, 2009

Everyone here who fancies themselves as an economic pundit seriously needs to read Economics in One Lesson:

"“Saving,” in short, in the modem world, is only another form of spending. The usual difference is that the money is turned over to someone else to spend on means to increase production. So far as giving employment is concerned, Benjamin’s “saving” and spending combined give as much as Alvin’s spending alone, and put as much money in circulation. The chief difference is that the employment provided by Alvin’s spending can be seen by anyone with one eye; but it is necessary to look a little more carefully, and to think a moment, to recognize that every dollar of Benjamin’s saving gives as much employment as every dollar that Alvin throws around."


axiomonSep 19, 2007

It's pretty tragic how little most people understand about basic economics. Not just with respect to how societies function, but basic concepts like incentives and the law of supply and demand. Oh, and of course No Free Lunch.

So in that spirit, here are a couple of economics books that I quite seriously believe everyone should be forced to read.

Economics in One Lesson, by Hazlitt

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, by Milton and Rose Friedman

Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner (this book is just so damn fun to read)

and for the hackers:
The God of the Machine, by Paterson
(Think engineering principles as applied to economics, history and politics. Probably one of the most interesting books I've read in my entire life, even if I don't entirely agree with the thesis.)

mhartlonMay 1, 2007

I love "Economics in One Lesson"---I've even bought extra copies just to give to friends and relatives---but I'm not sure it helps you all that much as an entrepreneur; understanding the Broken Window fallacy doesn't help you make things people want. Judging from their public statements, many successful entrepreneurs are simply rotten economists. (But then, so are many economists!)

throwaway1967onSep 11, 2015

> what is a unionized taxi driver to do in this kind of political and economic climate?

Do the moral thing and step-down from their monopolies, and embrace competition.

Why do you care about immoral people? Those who benefit from monopolies are not above robbers who benefit from a temporary monopoly on violence to bilk their victims.

EDIT: response to ishw (since my posts are being delayed):

The drivers that took credit in order to benefit from an immoral monopoly subsidized by tax-payers had it coming. Public libraries are available and anyone can learn where this road leads by picking up Economics in One Lesson which is eminently readable and widely available.

This is like saying "this gang of robbers paid the government X dollars backed by credit for the right to rob, and we can't put those robbers in a position of defaulting on their now-worthless license to rob". Uhm, yes we can, because the "medallion" they bought is precisely the instrument that makes it illegal for everyone else to compete with them. In other words, a criminal is not exempt from their crime just because they purchased the instrument, that enabled them to commit the crime, with credit.

When you say "Taking the moral highroad is not an option here", therefore, that's just a misinformed reaction to a situation that, as you correctly noted, allows for no way out that isn't harmful to one or both parties. Which is why this sort of engagement (monopolistic or monopsonistic) is to be discouraged and why only voluntary contracts should be enforced by Law.

EDIT: response to mbreese:

Wow... your response is a complete non-sequitur to what I said.

acjonJan 2, 2010

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson.

jwallaceparkeronOct 15, 2011

> Next time you want to argue regarding economics, please argue with actual theoretical knowledge rather than some flimsy theoretical base that you have created in your own mind.

I can't imagine a better base for economics knowledge than Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson."

> I know every economics model there is in and out.

Then you should be familiar with Austrian economics.

Though that is probably not covered in an "advanced degree in economics!"

jwallaceparkeronSep 9, 2013

"Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt

This book is an outstanding place to start. It addresses a myriad of economic concepts in simple language. It's available for free through the Mises Institute.

"How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes" by Peter Schiff

This book gives a simple overview of macro issues and is an interesting and well-presented tale about how economies grow from the basic "man on an island" scenario to a complex market. It also covers Austrian business cycle theory which explains the boom-bust cycle in economies.

Both of these books are from the "Austrian School" of economics, which is named for its Austrian founder, Carl Menger. I find these arguments compelling as they are firmly grounded in logic and are based on the principle that the human individual and her actions form the basis of all economic activity.

The giants of the Austrian school are Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard (highly readable) if you want to seek out more advanced theory.

rvernonJan 20, 2017

Yes, it will: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy.

"There is no limit to the amount of work to be done as long as any human need or wish that work could fill remains unsatisfied. In a modern exchange economy, the most work will be done when prices, costs, and wages are in the best relations to each other." (Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson)

longlivedeathonNov 29, 2011

> Hayek's Economics In One Lesson


shmulkey18onOct 8, 2019

I agree, this is a great book. Just about anything by Sowell is worth reading, but _Basic Economics_ and _Economic Facts and Fallacies_ are good starting points.

Also consider _Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics _ by Henry Hazlitt. It's coming from a strong Austrian school perspective, which some object to, but at a minimum by reading it you will be presented with ideas that are worth considering and debating.

dmichulkeonDec 21, 2017

> Mild inflation is useful on the macro scale

I know this is mainstream economics but if you're an engineer you should ask "What is mild inflation? Where is the limit? What are the forces that equilibrate mild inflation" I know the theory behind it but it just doesn't make sense. Have you ever thought about why tech hardware thrives, yet we have heavy deflation? Should we put price controls there? Do you realize that whenever a big problem is solved (via the wheel, factories, cars, ...) the stuff deflates heavily? There are other theories out there that make much more sense than what is mainstream.

> Further more, on a currency level, devaluing your currency makes your exports cheaper.

Same here, following your advice everyone should devalue his currency, trying to outcompete other devaluing currencies. So how can we explain that Germany with its strong mark was such an economic power given the absence of mild inflation and currency devaluation?

Finally and again, you think that printing a piece of paper (money) solves a problem? So we get "something for nothing"?

If you want to know an alternative (and IMO much more consistent) view, read "Economics in One Lesson" by H. Hazlitt. Yes, the one that is 60 years old.

lionheartedonFeb 15, 2010

I can't recommend the book "Economics in One Lesson" highly enough. It answers this question.

Full text here: http://jim.com/econ/

I think it should be required reading for everyone during high school. This chapter is relevant:

"The Curse of Machinery" - http://jim.com/econ/chap07p1.html

Long story very short? We'll be okay. It's been a worry for a long time, and it's always been false. But the chapter of the book says it much better than me, and it's a short read. Actually, I'm going to submit this now as a separate submission. Really, highly recommended, very insightful stuff.

Edit: Submitted here if you'd like to discuss: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1127345

npongratzonSep 23, 2016

Legal ebooks and audiobooks of various formats provided gratis from some fine nonprofits:

Henry Hazlitt - 'Economics in One Lesson': https://fee.org/resources/economics-in-one-lesson-2/

Mises - 'Theory of Credit and Money': https://mises.org/library/theory-money-and-credit

Adam Smith - 'Wealth of Nations': http://www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_WealthNations_p.pdf

Murray Rothbard - 'For a New Liberty': https://mises.org/library/new-liberty-libertarian-manifesto

And for those who want to really go deep (some might say, far into the weeds!), I'll add Ludwig von Mises - Human Action: https://fee.org/resources/human-action-by-ludwig-von-mises/

Disclosure: I worked a very short stint at FEE almost a decade ago.

acdonMay 26, 2013

Regulating minimum income will put more people in the European union out of work. With globalisation we are competing against all other nations, that means if the minimum wage is higher in EU the jobs will move to some developing country with no regulation on minimum pay. So people cannot long term have minimum wage regulation in the EU and then go and buy cheap products imported from countries with no such rules and then expect to keep their income/purchase parity in the long term.

Otherwise we will just under produce, the state will have more support burden, we will come under debt, we will then be owned by the bank owners who usually are always there as state lenders. Then we will be taxed for this by inflation as the state create new money to pay of the creditors, stealing from the savers.

People should read the book
"Economics in one lesson" - highly recommended
Chapter: Minimum Wage Laws

What we really need todo is to abolish fractional reserve banking and central banks. The really rich likes socialism as that makes the state come under more debt which is good for them as they are the lenders. We cannot have capitalism based on ever increasing debt, saving the bad banks and the bad debt. In nature most exponential growth systems indicate a disease such as cancer, thus we cannot have a financial system based on exponential growth in a world with linear resources.

nandanonFeb 26, 2008

Assumptions the article makes:
1. People are stupid, they cant and dont adapt.
2. The market system is rigid and exploitative.

Can we expect the three people who were hired instead of John Ulviden to make the same "mistake" he made? Probably not. If they were people looking out for their own self-interests, they would factor in the "mistake" John made and make sure they dont step over the "acceptable" amount of sales. What sort of an effect does this have for Adidias? They reach a high-point in sales due to the energy and creativity of John, but then because of what they did to him, their sales are no longer going up. They have just lost the opportunity to have John take their sales to the next level.

And what sort of an opportunity does this present to a competitor like Nike for example? They would probably want John for more than one reason: For his abilities and also for the relationships he has with the customers he won over for Adidas.

Heck, why ramble when there is such eloquent exposition at hand:

"In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences." - Henry Hazlitt in "Economics in One Lesson"


cocktailpeanutsonMay 11, 2018

"Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics" by Henry Stuart Hazlitt.

The title doesn't do it justice because it sounds so cliche, but once you read it, you'll actually agree that this DOES cover everything you need to know about economics (although heavily biased towards austrian economics than keynesian)

Also an important side effect: You'll realize how economics is not just some boring, esoteric, and impractical stuff that you'll never need to deal with in your life, but actually essential in designing complex systems.

shubhamjainonFeb 8, 2016

I read a book called "Economics in One Lesson" [1] which is quite in few ways similar to your arguments. The gist of the book is Government should avoid doing anything in capitalistic market, goes on to argue against Minimum wage Laws, Labour unions, Price control etc. and how a free market will solve every economic problem.

The problem with your arguments / analogies and of that book, is that they tell a simplistic chain of reasoning without considering hundreds of factors involved in the equation. You say that a 'no-blocked sites package' and 'whitelisted site package' could co-exist but fail to see that, the former one could be priced so high (once the latter gains a very large market share) that it becomes necessary for an ordinary person to limit his choices. The barrier to entry for a telecom network or a broadband service is really high and I can't see a better alternative just coming in quickly.

[1]: http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf

jacoblylesonJan 3, 2011

You're committing one of the oldest and most common Economic fallacies, the "Broken Window Fallacy". Bastiat's "That which is seen and that which is not seen"[1] or Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" would help clear up your confusion, or just a good treatment of the Broken Window Fallacy[2].



tiatiaonDec 9, 2014

For the sake of Jesus, read this posts and use your brain:

"There is No Steady State Economy (except at a very basic level)"

Limits to Growth–At our doorstep, but not recognized

Wealth And Energy Consumption Are Inseparable

Galactic-Scale Energy

I have not read "Economics in One Lesson" but if I remember right, it is Austrian and takes ideas from good ol' Ludwing van. Today I must say, Mises views were often very short sighted, he had little understanding of money and in the end also a limited understanding what capitalism is (and why it will end).

dredmorbiusonNov 28, 2017

The term monopoly originates from the concept not of pricing behaviour, but of control:

"exclusive control of a commodity or trade," 1530s, from Latin monopolium, from Greek monopolion "right of exclusive sale," from monos "single, alone" (from PIE root men- (4) "small, isolated") + polein "to sell," from PIE root * pel- (4) "to sell."*


There's a related term, little used today, that references actively seeking to control a market with an interest in manipulating price:

To purchase either the whole or large quantities of, for the purpose of enhancing the price and making a profit; hence, to take or assume in undue quantity, proportion, or degree; as, to engross commodities in market; to engross power.

(Definition #5.)


Much of modern economics underplays this at best. The Libertarian favourite, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, fails to mention the matter of monopolies at all.


Sometimes it's the censorship and deletions that tell you most of what an organisation or ideology is concerned with.

danthemanonJan 16, 2012

This has been the standard practice for quite awhile. Special interests always have the incentive to get legislation that favors them, this was pointed out in Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson (1946):

Special interests, as the history of tariffs reminds us, can think of the most ingenious reasons why they should be the objects of special solicitude. Their spokesmen present a plan in their favor; and it seems at first so absurd that disinterested writers do not trouble to expose it. But the special interests keep on insisting on the scheme. Its enactment would make so much difference to their own immediate welfare that they can afford to hire trained economists and "public relations experts" to propagate it in their behalf. The public hears the argument so often repeated, and accompanied by such a wealth of imposing statistics, charts, curves and pie-slices, that it is soon taken in. When at last disinterested writers recognize that the danger of the scheme's enactment is real, they are usually too late. They cannot in a few weeks acquaint themselves with the subject as thoroughly as the hired brains who have been devoting their full time to it for years; they are accused of being uniformed ,and they have the air of men who presume to dispute axioms.


The whole book is available at the URL, it's quite a good read.

timtasonAug 17, 2015

I recently read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt [1], and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a foundational understanding of economics. "One Lesson" is meant as a claim that the book is pure "signal." And it is.

Even more terse and incisive is the 150 year old essay that inspired Hazlitt to write his book, Frédéric Bastiat's "What is Seen and What is Not Seen." [2] It's uncanny how well this essay holds up today.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_in_One_Lesson

[2] http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html

dmichulkeonJan 28, 2016

There will be a big questions to answer:

Will the basic income be paid in addition to standard gov't subsidies?

If yes, how do you make up for the shortfall of money? "Taxing the rich" is nice in theory but IMHO it doesn't work right now, what are you going to do to change that?

If no, it might be worth it, if you also fire the bureaucrats currently working on gov't subsidies (freeing up the money thereby) But I don't see how your study will account for this, nor do I think this is feasible because gov't tends to increase in size and has no incentive to decrease. Other beneificial aspects would be decreasing the size of the code of law and forcing "social security lawyers" to specialize in something else, reducing costs of all other lawyers. Again, it will be hard to put it in practice and difficult to account for in your study.

I suppose you also have already read some literature on the topic. From my personal viewpoint I'd recommend "Economics in one Lesson" by Hazlitt [0], it's decidedly non-mainstream and I wonder if it's taught at all in universities today but the only economic theory based on game theory (although not explicitly) and fully consistent IMHO.

I also believe that funding a multi-agent simulation is probably cheaper for a few economic models (I'd volunteer here)

Finally, I see some business value here, namely studying whether it would make sense to fund persons instead of start-ups, as e.g. Entrepreneur First does [1] (I have no affiliation)

[0] http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf
[1] http://www.joinef.com/

dpatruonJuly 15, 2012

> People aren't poor now because their vast wealth has been decimated by inflation. It's because we are doing more with less and commoditizing the types of work they were doing.

Efficiency in production makes society as a whole richer, not poorer. For example, programming computers to drive cars will ultimately enable a lot of taxicab drivers to do other things to help society that they couldn't do before because they were busy driving. When self-driving cars become widespread, society will benefit because it will have the same benefits of transportation that the taxicab drivers used to provide as well as the new goods and services the former drivers are now providing. The fallacy that machinery reduces wealth and employment is debunked in longer form by Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson. See http://www.fee.org/library/books/economics-in-one-lesson/#0.....

matterhornonMar 11, 2013

Good ole socialist wealth envy class warfare blah blah blah.

Wealth is produced. If there were a fixed amount of it, we'd all still be nomadic hunter-gatherers. Therefore, the gain of wealth is NOT a zero sum game. When some CEO (good, bad, or hopelessly incompetent) makes 14 bazillion dollars, that does nothing whatsoever to take anything from you. You don't need to worry about what that CEO makes. You need to worry about what YOU make.

Consider the White House Chief Calligrapher makes $96,725 per year. What a complete and utter waste of tax money. If it were not for the fact that its our tax money, it wouldn't matter a hill of beans. If Microsoft or Apple wanted to hire a Chief Calligrapher at $96,725 or $967,250 it wouldn't matter a hill of beans except to the shareholders of each company who might not think such an expenditure is going to pay off all that well.

I recommend reading Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson: http://www.fee.org/library/detail/economics-in-one-lesson-pd...

sparklingonMay 12, 2017

From Henry Hazlitts 1946 classic "Economics in One Lesson":

You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage you substitute unemployment. You do harm all around, with no comparable compensation.

grzmonSep 12, 2017

Are you referring to Economics in One Lesson? It looks like that's Henry Hazlitt, not Sowell. (Am I missing something?) It looks like DeLong has some criticism of that.


Just to be clear, I'm not an expert on any of this. I just popped in to provide a pointer I've found useful in learning about a topic when I'm not sure where to start. Similarly here, I just applied a bit of search-fu.

ProvenonJuly 14, 2020

That’s a puzzling assertion - Marxism is one of few isms that reject the fundamental principle of voluntary exchange which says in order to get what you want you need to provide the other party with something of equal or better value (in other party’s opinion) in return.

In Marxism everyone should get what they “need”. Which means no one does which eventually results in shortages and corruption.

> because if you ain't got the money you can't do anything else in the game.

And how does one “get money”? By looting? What would Marx do?

You ought to read Economics in One Lesson.

psykoticonNov 21, 2011

> If a technical guy can read Steve Blank,Clayton Christensen,Hayek and Friedman....a non-techie can definitely read The Art of Computer Programming

What utter nonsense. The theoretical difficulty of pop-economics books like Hayek's Economics In One Lesson or The Road to Serfdom is less than Teach Yourself Programming In 24 Hours. That's not meant as a slight on any of those books or their authors, but your comparison is so inapt it beggars belief. The mathematical prerequisites alone for reading TAOCP are so significant that Knuth had to write an advanced undergraduate and graduate-level textbook (Concrete Mathematics) to equip students with even a small subset of the tools required.

woodpanelonNov 3, 2014

"turn of phrase that is more indicative of the author's point of view" - this point of view is what 'Der Spiegel" is known for.

In their defense: German school curriculums lack a fundamental economic education. IMHO this non-education is one reason that everyone who has read "Economics in One Lesson" knows more about economics than 99% of German journalists.

brconJan 3, 2012

East/West Germany is the clearest example around.

West Germanys post-war 'economic miracle' was largely guided by Austrian school economic thinking, while East Germany went the other way. This is the clearest A/B test ever devised of implementing two different economic strategies on a homogenous population. North/South Korea is also similar, but less so.

Most people don't even understand what the Austrian school actually says. That's not surprising, most people who comment on Marx have never opened his book, either.

For the record, it's based on the freedom to trade backed with strong rule of law using sound money. It also prescribes a lack of intervention by the government in the economy, mainly due to misallocation of productive resources and the likelihood of government intentionally or inadvertently creating monopolies that harm the consumer.

Probably the best introductory book on the subject is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_in_One_Lesson - Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Even if you oppose the idea, it's good to read and understand the theories and supporting arguments properly.

For the record, West Germany abandoned this model during the 1960s and moved towards a more social democratic model, and the USA hasn't tried it since before the 1930s. The current economies of the west are nothing like an economy under Austrian principles, in the same way the Chinese economy is nothing like an economy under Marxist/Maoist principles.

roobarononJune 27, 2010

To grok the subject, it will take a while.
Search for a good undergraduate economics course and follow that.
I second Hazlitt "Economics in One Lesson".
But if you truly want to understand this, you will need to start with one book and then note all the books and theories which come before, going back a long way 200 years or more. Read or read summaries of those as well.
In that way, you will get a firm foundation and understand how some "new" stuff is just old stuff with a new name.

dpatruonOct 24, 2011

Economics in One Lesson taught me "see" economics the way an painter sees a landscape or a programmer sees a program. The painter and programmer see their subjects with more understanding than the layman.

Intuitively, it seems obvious that interference with people's free economic choices hurts the economy. Hazlitt helped me see why. The secret is to imagine what the economy would be like without interference. What the interference displaces.

After laying out the basic approach in the first chapter, Hazlitt spends the rest of the book applying the principle to the various ways politicians tend to interfere with economic freedom. He explains clearly, in basic English anyone can understand, what each kind of interference changes what would otherwise have happened.

So for example, Hazlitt starts with the broken window fallacy: that the ruffian who breaks a shopkeeper's front window is really a public benefactor because he gives employment to the glazier. Hazlitt explains that while the glazier is benefited by the broken window, the overall economy is not, because, had the window not been broken, then shopkeeper would have, not just his window, but a new suit that he would have purchased but for having to pay for the window. In short: When the window is broken, the shopkeeper ends up with a new window and glazier ends up with some money. Had the window not been broken, the shopkeeper still has his window but also has a new suit, and the tailor has some money.

The broken window fallacy is still in use today by economists and politicians who can sometimes be heard explaining that war, natural disasters, and other calamities are good for the economy.

Hazlitt goes on from there to address the minimum wage, price controls, rent control, government subsidies to various industries, etc. For each, Hazlitt helped me see beyond the visible "winner", that such policies are designed to help, to the unseen "losers": the workers who aren't employed and the projects and industries that fail to develop as a result.

As a result of reading the book, I find it much easier to explain why certain government programs are harmful.

kriroonNov 13, 2015

It's one of the standard arguments against a minimum wage. What follows is that by implementing it, you inadvertently hit the early-entry work force the hardest (in the US that would typically be teenagers getting their first jobs).
Apart from the general arguments against price floors and ceilings I think the other major argument against the minimum wage is that in the current systems (which a cynic could call lobby capitalism), minimum wage laws actually benefit "well connected incumbants" in low wage sectors who can use them to make market entry a lot harder for the competition.
German minimum wage in the postage sector could probably serve as a decent example if memory serves me well.

There's a chapter on minimum wage in "Economics in One Lesson" that picks up the argument of the parent post.

adamcroweonJune 27, 2010

General and fallacy debunking:

'Economics In One Lesson' by Henry Hazlitt


Land and rent analysis (missing in almost all textbooks):

'The New Road to Serfdom: An Illustrated Guide to the Coming Real Estate Collapse' by Dr. Michael Hudson


'The Chaos Makers: The Dreamers & The Deceived' by Fred Harrison


tmalyonJuly 18, 2016

I think this idea that Trump is anti-establishment is a play right out of the Game of Cards show.

Look at Obama, he had the Hope and Change rhetoric going, they even gave him a Nobel Peace Prize.

What did he actually accomplish? Medical costs are 5x what they were in some cases. The middle east is still in disarray. Police and protesters are clashing.

They talk a big game before getting elected, but the reality is that they have very little power once they are elected.

They would be better off reading Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt then working off improving minor things.

jgmmoonAug 5, 2011

This is a classic economic fallacy. Invention of the plow improved efficiency and killed jobs, invention of the sewing machine improved efficiency and killed jobs, invention of the computer improved efficiency and killed jobs.

They killed jobs in the short run but they made everyone in society better off on the whole. Sure, some workers had to be retrained -- and some workers could never find a job again. However such is progress. We are better off now because the next generation doesn't have to all be farmers, some can do this or that. It is a good thing when we require less humans to do the same amount of work than before. It means we free up human capital for more valuable uses.

Because of the advancements in technology their children will have jobs that never could have existed if we still needed 90% of our population to farm just so that we would not starve. Now like 1% of our population is farmers. It's progress.

Read: 'The Choice' by Russell Roberts

Read: 'Economic Facts and Fallacies' by Thomas Sowell

Read: 'Economics in One Lesson' by Henry Hazlitt

yafujifideonNov 16, 2012

I felt the same way when I discovered bitcoin last year. Here are some books that I read that helped:

* "End the Fed" by Ron Paul

* "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt

* "The Mystery of Banking" by Murray Rothbard

* "What has government done with our money?" by Murray Rothbard

* "Debt: The First 5000 Years" by David Graeber

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