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Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt
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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.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“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.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“This is perhaps as good a place as any to point out that what distinguishes many reformers from those who cannot accept their proposals is not their greater philanthropy, but their greater impatience. The question is not whether we wish to see everybody as well off as possible. Among men of good will such an aim can be taken for granted. The real question concerns the proper means of achieving it. And in trying to answer this we must never lose sight of a few elementary truisms. We cannot distribute more wealth than is created. We cannot in the long run pay labor as a whole more than it produces.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: "In the long run we are all dead." And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“..either immediately or ultimately every dollar of government spending must be raised through a dollar of taxation. Once we look at the matter. In this way, the supposed miracles of government spending will appear in another light.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for. The world is full of so- called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing. They tell us that the government can spend and spend without taxing at all; that it can continue to pile up debt without ever paying it off, because "we owe it to ourselves.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“ECONOMICS IS HAUNTED by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine—the special pleading of selfish interests.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“the larger the percentage of the national income taken by taxes the greater the deterrent to private production and employment. When the total tax burden grows beyond a bearable size, the problem of devising taxes that will not discourage and disrupt production becomes insoluble.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“all loans, in the eyes of honest borrowers, must eventually he repaid. All credit is debt. Proposals for an increased volume of credit, therefore, are merely another name for proposals for an increased burden of debt. They would seem considerably less inviting if they were habitually referred to by the second name instead of by the first.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“There is a strange idea abroad, held by all monetary cranks, that credit is something a banker gives to a man. Credit, on the contrary, is something a man already has. He has it, perhaps, because he already has marketable assets of a greater cash value than the loan for which he is asking. Or he has it because his character and past record have earned it. He brings it into the bank with him. That is why the banker makes him the loan. The banker is not giving something for nothing.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The notion that we can dismiss the views of all previous thinkers surely leaves no basis for the hope that our own work will prove of any value to others.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“In an exchange economy everybody’s money income is somebody else’s cost. Every increase in hourly wages, unless or until compensated by an equal increase in hourly productivity, is an increase in costs of production. An increase in costs of production, where the government controls prices and forbids any price increase, takes the profit from marginal producers, forces them out of business, means a shrinkage in production and a growth in unemployment. Even where a price increase is possible, the higher price discourages buyers, shrinks the market, and also leads to unemployment. If a 30 percent increase in hourly wages all around the circle forces a 30 percent increase in prices, labor can buy no more of the product than it could at the beginning; and the merry-go-round must start all over again.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“What is put into the hands of B cannot be put into the hands of A.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“private loans will utilize existing resources and capital far better than government loans. Government loans will waste far more capital and resources than private loans. Government loans, in short, as compared with private loans, will reduce production, not increase it.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage you substitute unemployment. You do harm all around, with no comparable compensation.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“A little philosophy inclineth men’s minds to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Necessary policemen, firemen, street cleaners, health officers, judges, legislators and executives perform productive services as important as those of anyone in private industry. They make it possible for private industry to function in an atmosphere of law, order, freedom and peace. But their justification consists in the utility of their services. It does not consist in the "purchasing power" they possess by virtue of being on the public payroll.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“It is significant that while there is a word "profiteer" to stigmatize those who make allegedly excessive profits, there is no such word as "wageer" - or "losseer.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“For every dollar that is spent on the (boondoggle) bridge a dollar will be taken away from taxpayers. If the bridge costs $1,000,000 the taxpayers will lose $1,000, 000. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine - the special pleading of selfish interests. While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The function of profits, finally, is to put constant and unremitting pressure on the head of every competitive business to introduce further economies and efficiencies, no matter to what stage these may already have been brought.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Contrary to a popular impression, profits are achieved not by raising prices, but by introducing economies and efficiencies that cut costs of production.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Real wealth, of course, consists in what is produced and consumed: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“Today is already the tomorrow which the bad economist yesterday urged us to ignore.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“the belief that public works necessarily create new jobs is false. If the money was raised by taxation, we saw, then for every dollar that the government spent on public works one less dollar was spent by the taxpayers to meet their own wants, and for every public job created one private job was destroyed.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“when personal incomes are taxed 50, 60 or 70 percent. People begin to ask themselves why they should work six, eight or nine months of the entire year for the government, and only six, four or three months for themselves and their families. If they lose the whole dollar when they lose, but can keep only a fraction of it when they win, they decide that it is foolish to take risks with their capital.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
“The first thing that happens, for example, when a law is passed that no one shall be paid less than $106 for a forty-hour week is that no one who is not worth $106 a week to an employer will be employed at all. You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal for anyone to offer him anything less. You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering. In brief, for a low wage you substitute unemployment. You do harm all around, with no comparable compensation.”
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

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