Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy

By Thomas Sowell | Go to book overview

Chapter 25
An Overview

In addition to whatever you may have learned in the course of this book about particular things such as prices, speculation, or international trade, you should also have learned a more general skepticism about many of the glittering words and fuzzy phrases; that are mass produced by the media, by politicians, and by others.

By this time, you may no longer be as ready to believe those. who talk about things selling "below their real value" or about how terrible it is for the United States to be "a debtor nation." In the course of reading this book, you may have acquired a certain skepticism about government programs to make this or that "affordable." Statements and statistics about "the rich" and "the poor" may not be unthinkingly accepted any more. Nor should you find it mysterious that so many places with rent control laws also have housing shortages.

However, no listing of economic fallacies can be complete, because the fertility of the human imagination is virtually unlimited. New fallacies are being conceived, or misconceived, while the old ones are being exposed. The most that can be hoped for is to expose some of the more common fallacies and promote both skepticism and an analytical approach that goes beyond the emotional appeals which sustain so many damaging and even dangerous fallacies in politics and in the media.

The importance of economic principles extends beyond things that most people think of as economics. For example, those who worry about the exhaustion of petroleum, iron ore, or other natural resources often assume that they are discussing the amount of physical stuff in the earth, but that assumption changes radically when you realize that statistics on "known reserves" of these resources may tell us more about the interest rate

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Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Chapter I - What Is Economics? 1
  • Part I - Prices 5
  • Chapter 2 - The Role of Prices 7
  • Chapter 3 - Price Controls 21
  • Chapter 4 - An Overview 39
  • Part II - Industry and Commerce 57
  • Chapter 5 - The Rise and Fall of Businesses 59
  • Chapter 6 - The Role of Profits -- and Losses 73
  • Chapter 7 - Big Business and Government 89
  • Chapter 8 - An Overview 105
  • Part III - Work and Pay 125
  • Chapter 9 - Productivity and Pay 127
  • Chapter 10 - Controlled Labor Markets 149
  • Chapter 11 - An Overview 167
  • Part IV - Time and Risk 173
  • Chapter 12 - Investment and Speculation 175
  • Chapter 13 - Risks and Insurance 193
  • Chapter 14 - An Overview 207
  • Part V - The National Economy 213
  • Chapter 15 - National Output 215
  • Chapter 16 - Money and the Banking System 223
  • Chapter 17 - The Role of Government 237
  • Part VI - The International Economy 267
  • Chapter 19 - International Trade 269
  • Chapter 20 - International Transfers of Wealth 283
  • Chapter 21 - An Overview 297
  • Part VII - Popular Economic Fallacies 303
  • Chapter 22 - Non-Economic Values 305
  • Chapter 23 - Prices and Purchasing Power 315
  • Chapter 24 - Business and Labor 329
  • Chapter 25 - An Overview 343
  • Sources 347
  • Index 359
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