Loading...
BYH to people who bash teachers. You literally would not last one class period at my school. I get cussed at, chairs...

Book breaks down real economics for anyone

Walter Williams

Walter Williams

Loading…

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A widely anticipated textbook, "Universal Economics," has just been published by Liberty Fund. Its authors are two noted UCLA economists, the late Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen. Editor Jerry L. Jordan was their student and later became a member of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, as well as the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Professor Alchian was probably the greatest microeconomic theorist of the 20th century, while Professor Allen's genius was in the area of international trade and the history of economic thought. Both were tenacious mentors of mine during my student days at UCLA in the mid-1960s and early '70s.

"Universal Economics'" 680 pages, not including its glossary and index, reflect a friendly chat I had with Professor Alchian during one of the UCLA economics department's weekly faculty/graduate student coffee hours, in which he said, "Williams, the true test of whether someone understands his subject is whether he can explain it to someone who doesn't know a darn thing about it." That's precisely what "Universal Economics" does — explain economics in a way that anyone can understand. There's no economic jargon, just a tiny bit of simple mathematics and a few graphs.

Chapter 1 introduces the fundamental issue that faces all of mankind — scarcity. How does one know whether things are scarce? That's easy. When human wants exceed the means to satisfy those wants, we say that there's scarcity. The bounds to human wants do not frequently reveal themselves; however, the means to satisfy those wants are indeed limited. Thus, scarcity creates conflict issues — namely, what things will be produced, how will they be produced, when will they be produced and who will get them? Analyzing those issues represents the heart of microeconomics.

Alchian and Allen want your study of economics to be "interesting and enjoyable." They caution: "You'll be brainwashed — in the 'desirable' sense of removing erroneous beliefs. You will begin to suspect that a vast majority of what people popularly believe about economic events is at least misleading and often wrong." The authors give a long list of erroneous beliefs that people hold. Here's a tiny sample:

Employers pay for employer-provided insurance; larger incomes for some people require smaller incomes for others; minimum wage legislation helps the unskilled and minorities; foreign imports reduce the number of domestic jobs; "equal pay for equal work" laws aid women, minorities and the young; labor unions protect the natural brotherhood and collective well-being of workers against their natural enemies, employers; and we cannot compete in a world in which most foreign wages are lower than wages paid to domestic workers.

One of Professor Alchian's major contributions to economic science is in the area of property rights and its effect on the outcomes observed. The essence of private property rights contains three components: the owner's right to make decisions about the uses of what's deemed his property; his right to acquire, keep and dispose of his property; and his right to enjoy the income, as well as bear losses, resulting from his decisions. If one or more of those three elements is missing, private property rights are not present.

Private property rights also restrain one from interfering with other people's rights. Private property rights have long been seen as vital to personal liberty. James Madison, in an 1829 speech at the Virginia Constitutional Convention, said: "It is sufficiently obvious that persons and property are the two great subjects on which governments are to act and that the rights of persons and the rights of property are the objects for the protection of which government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated."

At the end of many of "Universal Economics'" 42 chapters, there's a section named "Questions and Meditations." Here's my guarantee: If you know and can understand those questions and answers, you will be better trained than the average economist teaching or working in Washington, D.C.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Letters

May 24, 2019

A recent column cites opposition to an anti-choice bill to claim that North Carolina Democrats are “rejecting moderates” yet ignores the party’s priorities, recent accomplishments, and the attacks on reproductive rights happening across the South.

Last year, on our Rural NC…

May 23, 2019

I would like to say thank you to the staff at Lake Forest Elementary School of Pitt County. Thank you so much for your dedication to the students there and “Creating Lifelong Learners.”

Can you even imagine a world without teachers like Ms. Williams, the kindergarten teacher and the…

May 23, 2019

Should we make it against the law for men to have vasectomies? Oh, that's right. It's men making the decisions (about women's bodies). Maybe the government needs to outlaw Viagra. That should eliminate some pregnancies. Perhaps our government should start litigating men's health care issues…

May 21, 2019

I have followed with interest your series on the opioid epidemic with which we are currently struggling. A major concern has to do with access to treatment. The standard of care for persons addicted to opioids is medication assisted treatment, a combination of medication, such as Buprenorphine or…

May 20, 2019

Behold: the father of lies is come. (John 8:44)

The Washington Post just announced that Trump has passed the 10,000 mark of provable lies. I have never seen as dishonest a bunch as every member of this administration.

Just look at Attorney General William Barr. He auditioned for his job by writing…

May 19, 2019

In response to Dr. Cook’s Public Forum submission, I agree with the need for greater price and coverage transparency from medical insurance companies. I do hope that someday soon we achieve that goal.

However, as a gastroenterologist (GI specialist), I was taken aback at your inadvertent…

May 19, 2019

As a physician, I am interested in learning about cost-effective practices. Last year, I attended a conference where the speaker, a physician and chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, spoke about screening tests for colon cancer. He spoke about a non-invasive testing method…

May 18, 2019

I read with great concern, shock and some anger your May 6 article entitled "New ECU leadership faces significant challenges." As an alum and North Carolina taxpayer, I believe ECU deserves better leadership.

Your article indicated ECU has seen a $60-70 million swing in cash flow since 2016 with a…

May 17, 2019

Like most people, I read Bless Your Heart to get a mild chuckle and an occasional feel good story. However, I found the comment in the third to the last entry in Saturday's column to be offensive: "Women who have abortions (with the exception of rape and incest) are women with no morals." In my…

May 17, 2019

In his May 10 letter to the editor about the Muller report, Vic Corey opines that "(W)e are about to expose all the crooked players in our government — the majority being lying, godless Democrats."

While we acknowledge the First Amendment right to express opinions, it seems to me that Mr.…

150 stories in Letters. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 15
        Next Page»   Last Page»