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Basic Economics, Fourth Edition: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy | [Thomas Sowell]

Basic Economics, Fourth Edition: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy

The fourth edition of Basic Economics is both expanded and updated. A new chapter on the history of economics itself has been added, and the implications of that history examined. Among other additions throughout the book, a new section on the special role of corporations in the economy has been added to the chapter on government and big business.
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Publisher's Summary

The fourth edition of Basic Economics is both expanded and updated. A new chapter on the history of economics itself has been added, and the implications of that history examined. Among other additions throughout the book, a new section on the special role of corporations in the economy has been added to the chapter on government and big business.

Basic Economics, which has now been translated into six foreign languages, has grown so much that a large amount of material previously found in the back of the book has now been put online instead so that neither the book itself nor its price will have to expand. The central idea of Basic Economics, however, remains the same: The fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.

©2011 Thomas Sowell (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Clear and concise…Among economists of the past 30 years, [Sowell] stands very proud indeed.” (Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (611 )
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  •  
    Tim CARMEL, IN, United States 11-09-11
    Tim CARMEL, IN, United States 11-09-11 Member Since 2010

    tlcross1

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic Economics Primer"

    This book should be read (or listened to) by every high school senior in the United States, and anyone older who has not yet been exposed to the clear sanity of Thomas Sowell. The country would immediately shift to a more conservative stance, and our reliance on government would be reduced.
    Very well written, and read by the narrator, a must buy for any serious follower of politics.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Potsdam, NY, United States 07-10-12
    Robert Potsdam, NY, United States 07-10-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Should be titled, "Greed is Good""

    I was looking for a basic text on economic theory that help me understand the "science." After listening to the first half of this book, I stopped when the author said there might be a role for the government regulating work place safety because if a tired engineer on a train fell asleep and caused it to crash, non-workers might be hurt.

    Far from being a text on economic theory, it's an unapologetic rant on free market capitalism. Collective bargaining hurts the economy, but it's OK for large companies to use their buying power to threaten suppliers.

    If you feel that free market capitalism will cure cancer, then this book is for you. If you think economics is more than just optimizing production, look for something with more nuanced thinking.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth 01-07-14
    Ruth 01-07-14
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    "Not "basics", more "defense of Capitalism""
    What disappointed you about Basic Economics, Fourth Edition?

    This book is billed as a basic introduction to economics, but is, in the end, a vehement defense of deregulated, privatized, capitalism. The book attempts to make the case, not that economics is a subject worth learning about, but that capitalism is the right way to think about it. The author posits that regulation is a drag on growth without mentioning that, for example, regulation is the only reason the air is breathable in New York City. He tries to convince readers that privatization is more efficient than public works without explaining that public funding has led to the vast majority of technological advances of the 20th and 21st centuries and that most private firms lay off workers, cut pay, raise prices (just look at the record of private companies operating water works for cities in Europe, 18% rise in price every two years on average).

    No, this is not a book about economics. It is a defense of capitalism with no grounding in reality.


    What could Thomas Sowell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Sowell ought to have addressed all kinds of economic proposals from social democracy to democratic planning (see Robin Hanhel and Michael Albert and Co.) to Capitalism, to Soviet central planning.

    As if with blinders to the real world of the 21st century, Sowell plays an outdated game of degrading the realities of central planning as a crutch to prop up the system that leaves millions homeless, without food, and in the U.S., without access to healthcare.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are looking for a defense of capitalist deregulation and privatization this is it. I would suggest reading something else if you are looking for "the basics of economics".

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ladyface 09-27-14
    Ladyface 09-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "neoliberal malarky"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Dick Cheney.


    What could Thomas Sowell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Take his head out of his bum.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm disappointed that I wasted my time and money on this crap.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Pennington, NJ, United States 10-31-13
    Shannon Pennington, NJ, United States 10-31-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Wow, what a disappointment."
    Any additional comments?

    I had high hopes for this book, but was badly disappointed. I was expecting an unbiased and interesting presentation of economic concepts; I got a partisan diatribe that drones on and one. Read some of the other less flattering reviews here; they're spot on.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R Queen California, United States 11-19-14
    R Queen California, United States 11-19-14
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    "Speed reading contest material for the econ dummy"
    If you could sum up Basic Economics, Fourth Edition in three words, what would they be?

    Sowell good. Weiner bad.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I am admittedly ignorant when it comes to economics and finance, which is why I picked up this book. I found it to be clear, concise, rational and full of information and examples. I will need to read a wider range of economic books to have an informed opinion on this book, but overall I enjoyed all the insights. I would rate this book 5 stars.

    However, this review is for the audiobook version. I felt that the narrator read too quickly. This is not a fiction; there is a load of information and arguments packed. A slower narration would provide one a little more room to absorb and reflect on the material. Instead, I had to pause and rewind. A lot. It seemed like the narrator was trying to rush through his job and I am becoming dissuaded from purchasing educational books in audiobook format due to this being a common experience on Audible.


    What does Tom Weiner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He made me rewind many times because he read too fast, so I got to listen to certain paragraphs multiple times.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many a-ha moments that challenged my default beliefs about society that had been fed to me since I was young. For instance, the terms "distribution of income." Sowell argues that this is often a misnomer when people speak of distribution of income in a society, as income is not "distributed" by some central agency like Social Security or pre-determined like the distribution of height. So I have to be more aware of when language is used in a misleading way as it can influence on how one thinks or feels about an issue.


    Any additional comments?

    Dear Audible: Please have your narrators slow down! This is not a speed reading contest; we customers buy this book to absorb and enjoy. I know I can have the book read at .75x, but the sound byte becomes echoic and painful to listen to.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel E Garber 11-23-12
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    "Great Listen for Young Readers"

    Really ties in politics and modern market economies backed up by real examples. Great read.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen HOLLAND, MI, United States 10-02-12
    Stephen HOLLAND, MI, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Simplistic perspective"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Perhaps but it failed to offer differing perspectives.


    What could Thomas Sowell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    In the last portion of the book when Thomas Sowell explained the different branches of Economics and it's history, I found that more worthwhile than everything prior.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Octavius Right here 02-14-13
    Octavius Right here 02-14-13

    POK

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    "Conservative ideology"

    Don't be deceived. This isn't a text-book, it's a political tract. This is "Common Sense", not "The Wealth of Nations."

    Written by a conservative economist *and* political theorist, this book is a thinly-veiled defense of predatory corporate capitalism and filled with anti-populist rhetoric. The examples Sowell uses to buttress his ideology are laughably weak and do not stand up to even the mildest scrutiny. Sowell has turned a social science into social dogma.

    Summary of the book: corporations are good, the government is evil, free-market capitalism is the cure for the world's evil's, regulation is bad, CEO's should be paid more, golden parachutes are totally worthwhile, shareholders should have no say in the businesses they own, the poor are animals, society can be reduced to an economic transaction, Gilded Era general stores are completely comparable to monopolies, and everything from roads to schools to prisons should be privatized. Oh, and everyone is a lazy prat except for business owners. I'm not sure where neo-Conservative intellectual college professors (Sowell) fit in, but I'm sure there's an exception for them somewhere in his 'philosophy'.

    The reader was pretty good, I just wish he had better material to work with.

    You'll learn more about economics by watching "Back to School", and in a lot less time.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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