Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy

By Thomas Sowell | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This is an introduction to economics for the general public. The growing sophistication of professional economists has not been accompanied by any greater spread of knowledge about basic economic principles among the population at large. There are, in fact, very few incentives for economists to spend their time explaining the basics of economics to the public. Indeed, even the economic education of college students is not likely to get much attention from economists, if those students are not majoring in economics.

The net result is that complex and high-powered economic analysis within the profession co-exists with utter ignorance and gross, fallacies dominating the public, the media and various branches of government. Even scholars with Ph.D.s in other fields are often ill-informed or misinformed about economics, though that seldom deters them from having and voicing opinions on economic issues.

Most of us are necessarily ignorant of many complex fields, from botany to brain surgery. As a result, we simply do not attempt to operate in those fields. However, every voter and every politician that they vote for has something to say about economics. In that case, we need to know the basics. Explaining these basics is the purpose of this book.

It so happens that the first book of mine that was published, back in 1971, was an introductory economics textbook, full of the kinds of graphs and equations that such books are supposed to have. Today, however, Basic Economics does not contain a single graph or equation to express the kinds of ideas that economists deal with. Nor does it contain such common jargon among economists as "oligopoly," "marginal revenue product" or "Pareto optimality." This book is about economics, not about the vocabulary or visual aids of economists. Having taught introductory economics more times than I can remember, at colleges and universities across the country, I know how handy those visual aids can

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