Why are homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks of New York in the winter, when the abandoned apartment buildings in the city have four times as many dwelling units as there are homeless people in the city? Why did Russians have to import food to feed people in Moscow, when Russia itself had vast amounts of some of the richest farmland in Europe within easy driving distance? Why did unemployment reach 25 percent and American corporations as a whole operate in the red for two years in a row during the Great Depression of the 1930s?
All these very different—but equally puzzling and needless—tragedies grew out of a failure to understand and apply basic economic principles. Explaining these principles for the general public in plain English, with neither graphs nor equations nor jargon, is the goal and the achievement of Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell. Professor Sowell has taught economics at leading colleges and universities across the country and now uses his years of experience to bring economics to light in a way that is both easy to absorb and hard to forget.
His lively examples are drawn from around the world and from centuries of history, because the basic principles of economics are not limited to modern capitalist societies and apply even to situations where no money changes hands, such as caring for wounded soldiers on a battlefield. The focus of Basic Economics is not on how individuals make money but on how whole societies create prosperity or poverty for their peoples by the way they organize their economies. Prosperous countries with few natural resources, such as Japan and Switzerland, are as common as poor countries with rich resources, such as Russia or Mexico.
The Third Edition includes expanded and updated material. New topics include child labor laws, the national debt, Third World working conditions, the rise and fall of the gold standard, and "exploitation" theories.
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