Sunday, December 14, 2008

Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell

This audiobook was obtained for free from Overdrive Audio, the media vendor used by the Alachua County Public Library. This audiobook is 18 hours and 31 minutes long, is in WMA format, and is read by Brian Emerson.

Although this was informative, interesting, and entertaining, it was also very long. I think Mr. Sowell's publishers should have turned this out a four books of a more digestible size. Each oe would have been a good advertisement for the rest of them. Therefore, they would have sold a lot more of them. But, as Mr. Sowell postulates, Economics is not about how to run a business or make money. To quote Lionel Robbins in his 1932 essay, it is, "the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses." Sowell uses a variation of this statement throughout the book.

In each section of the book, whether he is talking about labor, international banking, farming, or war management, Sowell has historical examples of the misallocation of scarce resources which have alternative uses. One of the early examples in his book is how the Japanese military ran out of qualified pilots during World War 2 because they did not recycle their experienced pilots as instructors. What was learned from fighting in Manchuria in the late 30s and in the Pacific in the early 40s was lost as they were eventually shot down. Meanwhile, American fighters were rotated back to instruct new pilots, and air war changed dramatically.

This was very enlightening, and a must for our politicians in Washington, as well as all of us who elect them. I give it 4 stars.

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