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Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
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Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  6,491 ratings  ·  510 reviews
A million copy seller, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson is a classic economic primer. But it is also much more, having become a fundamental influence on modern “libertarian” economics of the type espoused by Ron Paul and others.

Considered among the leading economic thinkers of the “Austrian School,” which includes Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich (F.A.) Haye
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ebook, 224 pages
Published August 11th 2010 by Crown Business (first published 1946)
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Stephen
Economics20in20One20Leson-1-1v2

5.0 STARS ALL THE WAY for this TERRIFIC book that I consider ESSENTIAL READING for anyone interested in understanding the "free market" theory that government intervention in the markets, no matter how well meaning the intent, almost always leads to negative consequences down the road.

Hazlitt, a prolific author and champion of "free markets" begins the book with the following lesson of Economics:
The art of economics consists of looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects o
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Whitaker
Since I have been told (see Post #3) that I have insufficiently supported my point in the original review below, I thought I should expand on it. I have therefore added on Post #4 in full to this review.

Original Review

I read the free copy made available here. Well, actually I read the first three chapters and scanned through the rest to see if it was more or less based on the same type of argumentation and reasoning. It was.

Can't people tell that this is just rhetoric and argument? There are a
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Jarrod Jenkins
Abbreviated Review: stop reading my review and go read “Economics in One Lesson” right now.

Full Review: In the first half of 2009, I visited several law schools before making my selection. While at Northwestern, I spoke at length with a professor who had recently worked on a paper supporting a national consumption tax. Encouraged by the fact that our positions on the desirability of a sales tax over an income tax aligned, I pushed him to explain his solution for getting out of the current financ
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Riku Sayuj

This is a true ‘Economics or Dummies’ book. It can be useful in case you want something handy to bang over an economic nit-wit's head on short notice. Only such a dummy would be unable to puncture your simplistic arguments or need them in the first place.

Beyond that, it is hard to envisage much use for this volume, whether for serious discussion or for serious reflection. So if the initial bang was not good enough and if you pack no other arsenal, you might as well get out of there, and fast. T
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Marcus
For a book that was written so long ago, this book is amazingly relevant to today. It clearly explains how things like stimulus packages, government subsidies, nationalization, currency inflation etc., aren't, and can't be, magic solutions that fix the economy. It gives examples of times these types of things have been tried in the past and haven't worked and why they won't work today and will never work. If you are skeptical of the hundreds of billions of dollars being printed and shuffled arou ...more
Andrew
Like all "_____ in One Lesson" kind of books this is way over simplified and reductive. His argument boils down to "if you try to impose policies that will supposedly better people's lives you just end up hurting another group"-(usually the rich or the privileged or the owners of production)-"so it's best to do nothing and let the free market work its mysterious mojo. We've all seen how well that works. It's pretty boilerplate, in terms of the justifications for the system we have, familiar enou ...more
Trevor
The point of this book is to show that there are facts that economists have worked out over the years that are now all but laws that can be used to determine how we should structure our interactions so as to provide the best possible benefit to the greatest possible number. These laws ought to be followed to the letter as ANY mucking about with them can only lead to tears. Unfortunately, it has always been the case that politicians (and even some economists – particularly economists contaminated ...more
Matthew
If you want to read about Austrian economics and hear about how Keynesian economists are out there in the night, conspiring to tax you and build useless bridges for giggles, then read this book. If you know anything about economics and think about what you're reading, you'll see an agenda. Many generalizations and exaggerations are made to portray advocates of Keynesian economics as moronic and simple-minded.
Hazlitt doesn't say the government takes money from the rich and give to the poor; he sa
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Jeremy
Oct 25, 2008 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Economic novices
Recommended to Jeremy by: Kelsey
I can't even count the number of times already that topics discussed in this book have come up in everyday conversation. To me that is the major value of a book like this and an indication of its effectiveness. The "one lesson" is this: to truly understand economics (and make good economic policies) we must consider the short-term and long-term effects of a policy as well as how it affects all people immediately and in the future.

There has been a paradigm shift in my thinking. I have been confro
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David Robins
If you only read one book on economics, read this one: read it and learn it. (But don't read just one book on economics.) It's astounding how so many fail to grasp the basic truths in this volume, or, more likely, ignore the evidence and rush ahead with their failed schemes of redistribution, inflation, etc. to provide short-term benefit to a favored few.

"Practically all government attempts to redistribute wealth and income tend to smother productive incentives and lead toward general impoverish
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Paul
May 18, 2007 Paul rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: idiots
a triumph in the art of oversiplification
Jacob
Reading Hazlitt's economic primer, I was reminded of the recent vice presidential debate, in particular Paul Ryan’s statement: “If you don't have a good record to run on, paint your opponent as someone people should run from.” Unfortunately, this book was plagued by a similar ailment. The author spends page after page decrying the evils and ineffectiveness of his opponents while spending far less time building evidence for his own theories. Even when Hazlitt tries to make an argument in favor of ...more
Seth
The book uses simple examples of economics between individuals to understand the cost vs. benefit relationships surrounding economic decisions and policies. Examples and principles described are very easy to understand and are relevant to arguments made. Author is a Classic Economist and argues that economic growth is never optimal with government intervention. He shows how saving money is perhaps better to the growth of the economy than is consumption spending. He persuasively argues against Ke ...more
Michael
I wanted to dislike this book because of its borderline-snobbish tone, but Hazlitt nailed it, and thankfully pointed out that there is no rule, no doctrine, no shortcut, no party, no faith that can point us to correct economic conclusions. We simply have to do the work to look at the evidence before understanding the consequences of any policy. As a plaque at NASA is rumored to say, "In God we trust. All others bring data."
Dan Walker
This book should be required reading in every econ 101 class in the country. It is written simply so that anyone can understand the concepts presented. And yet it provides a powerful antidote to the economic lies we are subjected to on a daily basis by unions, our political leaders, and the popular press.



In fact, to me that makes the book depressing. It was written in 1946 and yet we are still suffering under the same economic myths that the book addresses. We are all poorer because as a country
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Abe Goolsby
Sep 14, 2009 Abe Goolsby rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Economics is one of those topics on which I've intended to get better educated for some time now. The events since the latter half of '08 have definitely bumped that intention up several notches in my list of priorities. The first problem I really had to tackle was figuring out where to start, which is to say, deciding exactly what and whom I should be reading. I knew just enough to determine that pretty much anything from a Keynesian perspective—which, with differences that are in the final ana ...more
Sky
I'm no good at economics, don't get me wrong. But I have to say, this book is really spot-on with what really goes on in the economy. If not for my brilliant economics teacher, I probably wouldn't have loved this book as much as I do. I recommend that anyone who remotely is interested in the lies the government tells us, and what is going to happen to America in the future, then this book is the one to read. It's sad to think that all of the false beliefs Hazlitt mentions in his book, I used to ...more
Clinton
Economics in One Lesson must be an absolute necessity for any Austrian School of Economics advocates. Hazlitt fiercely dissects and debunks the many economic fallacies created by government policy and special interest groups. Every single lesson is truly a testament to real economic prosperity rather than delusions spouted by politicians and media personnel.
All 25 Lessons have significant importance, but fundamentally, the preeminent lesson is inflation. Single-handedly, inflation can be blamed
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Igor
"Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to "buy" houses that they cannot really afford. They tend eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things. They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (in ...more
D Scroggy
In these times of massive government budget deficits ($1.6 TRILLION deficit on $3.8 TRILLION spending for fiscal 2011 alone), when even a few billion dollars of cuts in spending are called “extreme” or “draconian” by those policy makers in Washington whose power base is firmly entrenched in the special interest groups committed to keep those government spending dollars flowing, this book is more of a must read than ever before. A deep understanding of economics can be had by reading this book an ...more
Michael
The economic theory in this book is extremely applicable and easy to understand. The following quote from page 46-47 describes very well the housing and credit crunch we have just seen:
"The case against government-guaranteed loans and mortgages to private businesses and persons is almost as strong as, though less obvious than, the case against direct government loans and mortgages. The advocates of government-guaranteed mortgages also forget that what is being lent is ultimately real capital, w
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Kristi
Read this book!

Clear, impeccably written economics primer from the 1950s, and even more relevant today, the age of out-of-control govt spending and interference with the economy. If you want to know the alternative that works, read this book!

Hazlitt examines a number of economic policies regarding e.g. minimum wage laws, tariffs, subsidies, unions, etc., showing the resulting unforeseen long-term consequences (usually offsetting or even outweighing the short-term benefits). In brief, interferi
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Destinee Sutton
I didn't get very far in this book before I put it down in frustration because Hazlitt kept saying things like, "I'm not going to debate the benefits of low income housing (or social services, or unemployment, etc.), I'm just going to say that it's a bad idea economically." Well, that's great. Too bad we live in a world that isn't ruled by pure economics, right? We'd all be so much better off! (I don't know, maybe we would be better off, but it seems completely cold and unrealistic to me.)

Pezquenin
Dec 16, 2014 Pezquenin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
The book of fallacies


Mr Hazlitt's favourite word in the world is FALLACY. It appears countless times throughout the book. Only once or twice he uses equivalent terms, such as "delusion".

This is my (ironic) summary of the book:

- Chapter N
Theory A is a fallacy. People who support it only think about the benefits for one group, and only about the short-term consequences. They should think about the long-term consequences and its impact on all groups. Let me give you an example: example 1
- Chapter N
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David
As of this writing, the 1946 first edition of this book, a good introduction to Libertarian thought, is available as a free, 200-page, slow-downloading .pdf file from the URL on the Goodreads page for this book. The link is just below the ISBN and original title (same link here). For a free, but faster-loading, .html version of this book from the same source, readable in any web browser, click here.

However, like an idiot, I paid $9.99 on Amazon. It's the second edition of the book, from 1978, wi
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Mohit
This book is popular and highly acclaimed. It was even able to secure a position in Modern Library list of top hundred non fiction books. However I was disappointed with it. While flouting a caveat against the danger of preferring direct benifits over long term benefits the author in an unscrupulous manner indulges in the practice of preferring common sense direct arguments to belabor his point. Truth is not always what it appears to be, and a common sense explanation is not necessarily the most ...more
Projection
This book can be summarize in one sentence i.e The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
The author is definitely the advocate for free market and Laissez-faire type of economy where their is minimal intervention from the government. Throughout the book, the author held government and its policies responsible for all the fi
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Dana
This book was given to me by a good friend who highly recommended it and thought it would help me to understand economics which I really want to understand myself! However, this book was of very little help to me as it seemed to me to presuppose the reader already has a working knowledge of economics and its principles. I don't at all so coming from someone who has received no economic training at all (not even in high school) I had a hard time getting anything out of this book. I am not sure ex ...more
Dan
If this is really a "nearly 5 star" macro economics book, perhaps it says something fundamental about how much a non-science macro economics really is.

The authors thesis is basically "the trick to economics is recognizing secondary consequences" - and then he spends two hundred pages asserting a set of consequences from actions without providing support for the set he's chosen. There were perhaps a dozen references in the two hundred page book. Asserting as fact without evidence, and hiding beh
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Ryan
Aug 12, 2008 Ryan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ryan by: Work
Too simplistic.
If everything was equal the ideas laid down in this book would work, but nothing in this world is equal.
Hazlitt talks about free trade and how it should be used throughout the world, the only problem with this is how can it be free trade when the US has min. wage laws and China can pay their labor next to nothing.
It becomes an apples/oranges comparison and wage laws become the same trade barriers that protective tariffs were but in reverse.
Now Hazlitt is against min. wage laws,
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Henry Hazlitt was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist for various publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and Newsweek. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman, an important libertarian magazine. In 1946 Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal text on free market e ...more
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“When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: ‘Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.’ It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.” 40 likes
“Practically all government attempts to redistribute wealth and income tend to smother productive incentives and lead toward general impoverishment. It is the proper sphere of government to create and enforce a framework of law that prohibits force and fraud. But it must refrain from specific economic interventions. Government's main economic function is to encourage and preserve a free market. When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: "Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun." It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.” 15 likes
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