Written in 2007 by Jim Cox
The Concise Guide to Economics came about for the same reason that Frédéric Bastiat wrote so passionately and dedicated his entire life to spreading the truths of economics. Some people, economist Jim Cox among them, are rightly seized with the desire to get the message out to the largest possible number of people. This way they will be intellectually prepared to combat bad ideas when they are pushed in public life to the ruin of society.
Will most people ever get the message? Probably not, but this kind of book is essential to raising just enough skepticism to stop bad legislation. Must we forever put up with widespread political errors, such as minimum wages and protectionism, that contradict basic economic laws? Probably so, but that means that there will always and forever be a hugely important role for economists.
The beauty of Cox’s book comes from both its clear exposition and its brevity. He offers only a few paragraphs on each topic but that is enough for people to see both error and truth. Sometimes just mapping out the logic beyond the gut reaction is enough to highlight an economic truth. He does this for nearly all the topics that confront us daily.
Think of the issue of third world poverty. Many people are convinced that not buying from large chain discount stores is a valid form of protest against the exploitation of the world’s poor. But how does it help anyone not to buy their products or services? If every Wal-Mart dried up, would workers in China and Indonesia be pleased? Quite the opposite, and it only takes a moment to realize why.
Many people only have a moment. That’s why the guide is essential. It is probably the shortest and soundest guide to economic logic in print. May it be burned into the consciousness of every citizen now and in the future.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. April 2007