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Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy | [Thomas Sowell]

Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy

Basic Economics has been written with the thought that learning economics should be not only a relaxed experience but also an enjoyable one.
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Publisher's Summary

Basic Economics has been written with the thought that learning economics should be not only a relaxed experience but also an enjoyable one.

This is the revised and expanded edition of a new kind of introduction to economics for the general public, without graphs, statistics, or jargon. However, the enlargement of this edition is not just more of the same. In addition to being updated, Basic Economics has also become more international, with the inclusion of economic problems from more countries around the world, because the basic principles of economics are not confined by national borders. Each chapter reflects the experiences of many different peoples and cultures.

©2004 Thomas Sowell; (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Clear and concise....Among economists of the past 30 years, [Sowell] stands very proud indeed." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience, it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and, yes, economists, as well." (Washington Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Paul Mckenna Montara, Ca USA 04-13-10
    Paul Mckenna Montara, Ca USA 04-13-10 Member Since 2009
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    "One man's opinion, not Economics"

    What I was looking for was a basic introduction to Economics, something on the level of a college textbook but presented in a more user friendly manner. What I got instead was a biased view of Free Market Economics with little technical discussion. Sowell spends most of the book preaching "Free Market good..... Government bad" with little consideration to any other view.

    Let me state that I basically agree with the author's views. I just didn't expect to have to endure hour after hour of being beat over the head with these views.

    The book is too long and redundant. Several chapters were so similar that I checked more than once to make sure I wasn't listening to a chapter I had already heard. He uses the same examples over and over again to support his views. In many cases I found his supporting examples and statistics open to alternate explanations. And he almost never allows for the possibility of any alternate interpretation of the facts.

    His heavy handed presentation of his opinions as facts along with repetitious examples to support those opinions left me fatigued and annoyed.

    Don't get this book if you are looking for any kind of unbiased or technical intro to Economics. Do buy this book if you already know something about Economics and just want to hear (again and again and again) about why Free Market Economics is good and government regulation a disaster.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Seaside, CA, USA 10-22-08
    Matthew Seaside, CA, USA 10-22-08
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    "I wish this guy were in charge of our economy"

    This is a must read for anyone who would like to know more about basic economics.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Dayton, OH, USA 08-25-07
    Thomas Dayton, OH, USA 08-25-07
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    "If only..."

    If only everyone could listen to this audiobook and understand what eonomics is and how it works. As Sowell says in his book, (paraphrasing)... Every single penny that charitable instituions and non-profits receive is a direct result, and benefit, of capitalism and our market system economy.

    Sowell makes the case that the U.S. market economy is the most successful economic system that has ever existed and has brought the highest standard of living to U.S. citizens and a great portion of the world's population.

    Where was this information when I was in school?


    17 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Mountville, PA, USA 07-11-08
    Christopher Mountville, PA, USA 07-11-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Great Book! Sub Par Reading?"

    This books is certianly a book that everyone should read or listen too. The only thing I didn't like was narrarator was choppy. It was bearable but tough.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Bennington, NE, United States 07-14-09
    Barry Bennington, NE, United States 07-14-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Economics for People Who Aren't Afraid of Logic"

    The reviews that claim some sort of "bias" by Dr. Sowell are absurd. He shows that interference with the freedom to conduct mutually beneficial transactions does have bad consequences. This isn't bias, it's a rational conclusion that he supports with facts, often those provided by economists who have first-hand experience with interventionist societies like the former Soviet Union or the India of ten or twenty years ago.

    A common theme in Dr. Sowell's writing is that people often confuse intension with actual outcomes. If we want affordable rents or higher wages, for example, let's enact rent control and minimum wage laws. Well, unfortunately, the outcomes of such laws are often the exact opposite of what was intended. It would be nice if people at least asked why, but that would call for thinking rather than "feeling" and so it often isn't done. These are real world lessons that we don't usually get in standard economics textbooks. We do get them here.

    A strong point made near the end of the book is that being pro-free market is not the same thing as being pro-business. Dr. Sowell says that when he was a teacher, he offered to award an "A" to any student who could find a positive comment about businessmen in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations." Business often seeks subsidies, trade protection and any other method they can think of to avoid losses. These actions are opposed to consumer interests, which are the real king in a market economy.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula 12-10-12
    Paula 12-10-12 Member Since 2010

    Avid reader and listener, of both fiction on non-fiction. I especially love history, adventure, and creative, clever and unusual characters!

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    "Many "Lightbulb Moments" await you in this book!"

    Just when you were wondering if anyone would ever be able to explain economcis in a non-boring, non-confusing and non-completely irrelevant way, along comes this book to make sense of it all.
    Why can't all teachers just explain stuff this way? This is no textbook, this book is about how we can learn the "theory" of economics from examining *real*life*situations,* with easy-to-grasp explanations. Want to know how rent control affects housing shortages? It's in here. Don't understand why "price gouging" is not always a bad thing? It's in here. Been wondering why the Soviet government that tried to provide everything for its citizens ended up depriving them instead? It's in here.
    No previous training or knowledge of economics is necessary to greatly benefit form this book. In fact, author Sowell has written this specifically for ordinary citizens with ordinary questions and concerns.
    Why do we even need to know this stuff? Well, it affects us every single day. You will realize that within the first chapter, as Sowell uses everyday, real-life examples to illustrate economic principles (If there is a scarcity of milk this year, should we use it to make cheese, butter or ice cream?). We've all heard of supply and demand, but as you learn the difference between "scarcity" and "shortage," the difference between "price" and "cost," and how they relate to each other, you will never look at shopping, buying and selling (everything from groceries to real estate) the same again.
    The principles explained in this book became so clear to me that I found myself using examples from the book to "re-teach" my husband after my listening sessions. I will likely listen again in the future.
    Please give this a listen, and be grateful for authors like Sowell who can take a "boring" subject and make it both relevant and enjoyable. I can see the first lightbulb appearing above your head now, just for considering it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Jones 09-04-12
    Tim Jones 09-04-12
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    "I screwed up"
    What disappointed you about Basic Economics?

    I didn't spend enough time researching the author. I was looking for a book that would go into depth explaining economic theory in an academic manner. The audio sample sounded like it did that. However, Sowell has no interest is educating regarding the science of economics. This is just a government bashing treatese with a blind-eye towards civilization and national governance in general. In short, Sowell spends 16 hours railing against any government restrictions at all, of any kind, and instead embraces trickle-down economics, exactly what got us into this mess in the first place.I deeply regret that some of my purchase price when to Sowell. Not for his politics, but for the false and misleading representations made by him to entice me to purchase the book.Unless you are a died in the wool liberatrian or Tea Partier, forget this book. There are many other true economists out there to read.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    A more objective book on economics!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    N/A


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Basic Economics?

    The part after he reads, "Chapter 1"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie 08-06-12
    Bonnie 08-06-12
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    "Good description and defense of capitalism"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Basic Economics to be better than the print version?

    Very well thought out, rationale, and flows well. The author describes basic concepts of economics and why capitalism with whatever flaws it has is better inevitably than any type of central planning.

    Basically, the freedom of the individual to act on that individual's values to accrue as much "good" as the individual can allows capitalism to fulfill the most needs most efficiently. When a single person or government tries to plan for millions of people, even if that entity is completely free of corruption, the amount of data that needs to be processed is overwhelming, and resources are wasted because the central planner is unable to respond quickly to changing needs/supplies/events.

    Sometimes the book is repitative in making a point, unnecessarily drawing out an example or making the same example at multiple times throughout the book. It could be edited to be cleaner and more concise without giving up any of it's substance.

    The book is great, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a clear overview of economics.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Otto Yucaipa, CA, United States 05-20-12
    Otto Yucaipa, CA, United States 05-20-12 Member Since 2007
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    "If you think of Economics as tedious, try this!"
    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    For anyone who is unable to complete an introductory lesson on this subject without losing consciousness, this book can help. The author is able to convey the concepts in terms that anyone can understand, and even made it enjoyable for me. I remember taking an Economics class in college, and had I had this book, it would have been much easier to remain interested.


    Any additional comments?

    If only Dr. Sowell had been the narrator...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan BEAVERTON, OR, United States 03-04-12
    Ryan BEAVERTON, OR, United States 03-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The best economics book"

    This is by a wide margin the best economics text I've ever encountered.

    Economics books tend to fall into two main camps: the purely theoretical textbook, and the politically-motivated screed. The former is better, but is often a bit dry -- people outside of academia really care how abstract theories affect them. Sowell does a great job in both presenting the academically rigorous definitions and concepts, but also tying them to modern politics and current events.

    There are a few places where he's a little overly right-wing; economics is about how to efficiently distribute resources, not always how to "fairly" distribute resources, and most economists are careful to note when an efficient policy might not be the socially optimal one. However, overall, Sowell is pretty clear about the effects of various policies.

    The one thing I disliked was that it's a little basic, but for 95% of readers with no experience with academic economics, this is at the perfect level. If I had the text book vs. audio book, it would have been a lot easier to skip around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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