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Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One (Hardcover)

by Thomas Sowell (Author)

From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

"Thomas Sowell is one of the fine scholars of our time." -- Ideas On Liberty --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Economics: Well Explained and Applied, December 29, 2003
By Dr Victor S Alpher (Austin, Texas, U.S.A.)

Thomas Sowell's new book (2004 imprimatur) came to my attention as he was interviewed on radio...I pulled into the nearest (independent) bookstore in the metropolis of Austin, Texas, finding and buying the lone copy back in the dreary Economics section.

I will certainly be reading more of Sowell's writings. Although a sequel to his book Basic Economics, this book stands well alone. In it, he tackles the current problems in this country involving the interaction of the political climate with basic economic principles. These include health care, housing, discrimination, risk, and the problems afflicting so-called third-world nations in economic development.

He takes an interesting historical perspective. For example, his analysis of slavery through the ages, and during the period of the American Colonies and southern United States is particularly cogent, and still of contemporary interest. How could slavery have survived so long? Was there such a variety of slave "status" and freedoms to act as has recently been portrayed, even in such films as "Gods & Generals". During this film, a complicated relationship between General Thomas J. Jackson and his personal cook is portrayed. They have discussions during which it is clear that the slave's status as a well-known cook, and his desire to defend HIS home from invasion as much as Jackson's is remarkable. Within Sowell's analysis of the antebellum South, it is not difficult to understand. In fact, he describes a situation in which slaves were put in less "risky" labor positions than Irish immigrants, a situation derived from their economic value in a cotton baling and transport operation.

I probably have not seen an economic "page turner" since reading George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty" which was so important to understanding the Reagan era (it was, evidently, the "Bible" of many men responsible for early decisions during the Reagan administration and essential to understanding so-called supply-side economics).

I recommend this book highly. Sowell's insights are well-explained in "plain English." A short read, thoroughly enjoyable, that will stimilate the reader to think more deeply about the current issues that should lead to a more informed discussion outside the academic elite about the problems plaguing our economy.