Economics in One Lesson (Book Review)

July 23, 2018


Encompassing every part of our cultural and political narrative are myths and misconceptions related to economics. In every political debate, every dinner table conversation, and every decision we make on a daily basis, misunderstandings on the functions of economics have the potential to cause real harm in serious ways for millions of people. Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world put themselves in serious financial harm through bad decision-making and poor purchase choices. In his book Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt set out to change things. His goal was to educate the public on the basic workings of the global economy and how individuals could benefit from making informed financial choices. Economics in One Lesson serves as an all-round good course in beginning to understand the basic functions of the economy. Interwoven with real world examples, the book is easy to understand and rife with wisdom, insights and more.


The political world is filled with erroneous arguments and false statements designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Politicians the world over take advantage of a lack of economic knowledge by promising things that sound good, but could be harmful in reality. Because the general population is more often than not economically illiterate, these types of political strategies are usually quite successful. One of the core tenets of a good and healthy democracy is an educated and discerning body politic. Without one, politicians are little more than elected kings; doing as they please without being properly checked by a wise and informed citizenry. Economics in One Lesson is Hazlitt's attempt to enhance the democratic motions of the United States. To educate, inform, and guide his readers to make wise choices not only for their own households, but for the nation when they arrive at the polls.


When you first pick up a copy of Economics in One Lesson, you may be surprised at how small it is. How could such a small volume contain enough information to cover the breadth of economic basics? Simply put, it does so by being brief and to the point. By no means is this supposed to be an in depth examination of the entire field of scholarly economics. Indeed, the book merely skims the surface, examining only what needs to be examined for a basic understanding of our global economic system. This 200-page format is far from intimidating, even for the occasional reader. Using entertaining examples from real world situations, the book skilfully avoids being too boring or dry (something that could easily happen with such an admittedly arid subject for the majority of readers).


Hazlitt artfully explains economic concepts such as pricing, taxation, trade, and how these and other variables can impact individual lives around the world. Hazlitt looks beyond numbers and statistics, instead opting for a humanistic approach to economics that puts real world impacts first. Instead of looking at graphs and spreadsheets, Hazlitt examines people and their personal choices, goals, and ambitions in the world of economics.


While this primer on economics was published in 1946 (in the wake of the Great Depression), after so many decades it retains its relevance. The examples, theories, and ideas throughout the book are as essential today as they were in 1946, and they will continue to serve as a valuable resource for many more decades to come. Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is an essential for anyone who owns more than 5 books. For every reader, and every thinking individual, this is simply a necessary bookshelf component.


For little more than a few dollars, Economics in One Lesson gives every reader a chance to understand the basics of economics, and how to apply economic concepts in daily life. With the concepts and ideas laid out in this book, Hazlitt gives people a chance to lead more fulfilling and rewarding financial lives, thereby giving them the resources to lead more enriching personal lives.


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