Now that you know some of the basics of economics, it may be much easier to see through some popular notions that sound good but will not stand up under scrutiny. The next few chapters contain just a sampling of such notions.
One of the last refuges of someone whose pet project or theory has been exposed as economic nonsense is to say: "Economics is all very well, but there are also non-economicvalues to consider." Presumably, these are supposed to be higher and nobler concerns that soar above the level of crass materialism.
Of course there are non-economic values. In fact, there are only non-economic values. Economics is not a value in and of itself. "It is only a way of weighing one value against another. Economics does not say that you should make the most money possible. Many professors of economics could themselves make more money in private industry. Anyone with a knowledge of firearms could probably make more money working as a hit man for organized crime. But economics does not urge you toward such choices.
Adam Smith, the father of laissez-faire economics, gave away substantial sums of his own money to less fortunate people, though he did so with such discretion that this fact was discovered only after his death, when his personal records were examined. Henry Thornton, one of the great monetary economists of the nineteenth century, regularly gave away more than half his annual income before he married and had a family to support, though he continued. to give large donations to humanitarian causes afterwards.
What lofty talk about "non-economic values" usually boils down to is that some people do not want their own particular