Joe's Reviews > The Undercover Economist

The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
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's review
Jun 18, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: abandoned-for-good

Like a bad cup of coffee, I'm already struggling to force this down. As a former World Bank employee and Financial Times editor it will come as no surprise that Hardford thinks trade unions and free healthcare are bad, sweatshops are good and the free market will fix everything. There's something to be said for knowing your enemy, but The Undercover Economist's smug, patronising tone and Harford's self-avowed preference for armchair reasoning will have you grinding your teeth in frustration.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 1, 2008 – Finished Reading
June 18, 2008 – Shelved
January 14, 2009 – Shelved as: abandoned-for-good

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Greg Sheppard where does he say free healthcare is bad in the book? He talks at length about the American healthcare mess and what is wrong and could be done there, in America where non-privatised healthcare will never happen. As far as I recall he mentions nothing about trade unions, he talks exactly why sweatshops are not good but better than the alternative (as many economists including Krugman have tried to explain to people for a long time) which is subsistence poverty at best. You also seem to ignore the sections where he addresses the problems of completely free markets and suggests remedies including sometimes establishing a market and others externalities taxes

Secondly free healthcare is never free it is paid by tax payers. I'm a supporter of nationalised healthcare but you have to remember it is not free. You mean free at point of use like the NHS (which Harford makes no comments about).

Jonty H. Yep, there's a cost to everything.


message 3: by Sho (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sho he mentions quite a lot about trades union in the part about trade protectionism - in that saving local jobs are bad and so trades unions are bad. Frankly I don't buy the "sweatshops are better than nothing" argument, although I am at a bit of a loss as to how to fix it all.
He seems to prefer the Singaporean version of healthcare which is basically the free market backed by government funding but not in a European way. I was ok reading this until I got to the sweatshops then I really had to grit my teeth to get through it.

Jonty H. Well having a job is better than being homeless on the street, which is the fate of many folk in the orient who have ultra low skills.

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