Economics in One Lesson

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Economics in One Lesson

2007 edition cover
Author Henry Hazlitt
Country United States
Language English
Subject Economics
Publisher Harper & Brothers
Publication date
1946
Pages 218
ISBN 0517548232
OCLC 167574

Economics in One Lesson is an introduction to free market economics written by Henry Hazlitt and first published in 1946. It is based on Frédéric Bastiat's essay Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas (English: "What is Seen and What is Not Seen").[1]

The "One Lesson" is stated in Part One of the book:

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

Part Two consists of twenty-four chapters, each demonstrating the lesson by tracing the effects of one common economic belief, and exposing common economic belief as a series of fallacies.

Among its policy recommendations are the advocacy of free trade, an opposition to price controls, an opposition to monetary inflation, and an opposition to stimulative governmental expenditures:

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.

The contents of the fiftieth anniversary edition[edit]

  • A Foreword by Steve Forbes
  • Part One: The Lesson
  • Part Two: The Lesson Applied
    • The Broken Window
    • The Blessings of Destruction
    • Public Works Mean Taxes
    • Taxes Discourage Production
    • Credit Diverts Production
    • The Curse of Machinery
    • Spread-the-Work Schemes
    • Disbanding Troops and Bureaucrats
    • The Fetish of Full Employment
    • Who's "Protected" by Tariffs?
    • The Drive for Exports
    • "Parity" Prices
    • Saving the X Industry
    • How the Price System Works
    • "Stabilizing" Commodities
    • Government Price-Fixing
    • What Rent Control Does
    • Minimum Wage Laws
    • Do Unions Really Raise Wages?
    • "Enough to Buy Back the Product"
    • The Function of Profits
    • The Mirage of Inflation
    • The Assault on Savings
    • The Lesson Restated
  • Part Three: The Lesson After Thirty Years

Reception[edit]

Praise[edit]

“Those who wish to ponder the policy implications of the Austrian view at greater length can't do better than picking up a copy of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Hazlitt is one of the finest writers ever to tackle economic issues. In this book, inspired by Bastiat's conception of the seen and unseen aspects of policy, he examines a wide variety of economic interventions.” — Gene Callahan

“Henry Hazlitt’s explanation of how a price system works is a true classic: timeless, correct, painlessly instructive.” — Milton Friedman

“I strongly recommend that every American acquire some basic knowledge of economics, monetary policy, and the intersection of politics with the economy. No formal classroom is required; a desire to read and learn will suffice. There are countless important books to consider, but the following are an excellent starting point: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat; Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; What has Government Done to our Money? by Murray Rothbard; The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek; and Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan. ... If you simply read and comprehend these relatively short texts, you will know far more than most educated people about economics and government. You certainly will develop a far greater understanding of how supposedly benevolent government policies destroy prosperity. If you care about the future of this country, arm yourself with knowledge and fight back against economic ignorance. We disregard economics and history at our own peril.” — Ron Paul

Criticism[edit]

Economist J. Bradford DeLong said Hazlitt's book well states the Classical view of economics, but does not properly address arguments made by Keynesians.[2] However, in 1959 Hazlitt published The Failure of the New Economics, a detailed, chapter-by-chapter critique of John Maynard Keynes' arguments.

Publication history[edit]

In a paperback edition in 1961, a new chapter was added on rent control, which had not been specifically considered in the first edition apart from government price-fixing in general. A few statistics and illustrative references were brought up to date.

In 1978, a new edition was released. In addition to bringing all illustrations and statistics up to date, an entirely new chapter on rent control replaced the previous one of 1961, and a final new chapter, "The Lesson After Thirty Years," was added.

The Madrid-based Spanish publishing house Unión Editorial, which traditionally publishes books in Spanish language in defense of market economy and liberalism, released La Economía en una lección in 1981, 1996 and 2005.

A German edition, titled Economics. Über Wirtschaft und Misswirtschaft, was first released in 1983 by Poller in Stuttgart. In May 2009, it was reprinted by Olzog.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Called Hazlitt's "most enduring contribution," the book has sold nearly one million copies and is available in at least ten languages. See: "Economics in One Lesson, The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics". Random House.com. Retrieved 2011-02-16. ; "Economics in One Lesson, 50th Anniversary Edition". Voice For Liberty in Wichita. 1933-10-16. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  2. ^ DeLong, Brad (April 10, 2005). "Economics in One Lesson". Brad DeLong – Grasping Reality with Both Invisible Hands: Fair, Balanced, and Reality-Based: A Semi-Daily Journal. Brad DeLong. 

External links[edit]