The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism by Dr. Robert P. Murphy
ISBN: 0786158999 | AudioBook | 192Kbps mp3 | RAR 495MB | RS
Participating in the economy is a part of everyday life; yet much of what is commonly accepted as economic fact is wrong. Keynesian schoolteachers and the liberal media have filled the world with politically correct errors that myth-busting professor Robert Murphy sets straight. Murphy explains hot topics like outsourcing (why it's good for Americans) and zoning restrictions (why they're not). Just like the other books in the P.I.G. series, The Politically Incorrect Guide„ to Capitalism pulls no punches. Murphy defends the free market on such sensitive issues as safety regulations, racial discrimination, and child-labor laws, all in a breezy manner that is anything but textbook. From rent control to golden parachutes to where money came from in the first place, The Politically Incorrect Guide„ to Capitalism sets the record straight on everything you thought you knew about economics.
Summary: A mixed bag
The book has many pros and cons. It's a quick easy read full of interesting insights into how money is used by private and government institutions and the roles played by individuals (consumers, workers, shareholders) in the economy (domestic and international - via free trade), as well as the potential positive effects of a free market on social issues like poverty, slavery, gender and race discrimination.
On the other hand it suffers by being a purist economic doctrine: it assumes humans are rational (overly optimistic), it assumes government is always bad, it assumes the economic "laws" it proclaims are true when there are opposing economic theories to explain the same outcome, it doesn't take into account overall complexity of economies, it ignores human social evolution (centralized governments inevitably arise as human populations and population densities increase). Finally, it pigeon-holes those with dissenting views as "Marxists", "Socialists", and "Leftists", who "hate capitalism" to prove its point while using strawman arguments. The fact is, economic theory of the kind argued for in the book is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It can work well in most instances, but it's always going to have drawbacks and there will always be room for legitimate intervention since individuals are ultimately tied to central governments (which is why books that explain systems in a way that would be "best" without any government involvement are shouting in the wind).
In other words, it provides a useful framework (like the Constitution) but the inner-workings are much more complicated and don't fit neatly into it (thus, in addition to the Constitution we have enormous legal books filled with laws of the land).
I found it interesting that there isn't a chapter exclusive to the topic of income taxes, even though it's clear the author believes said taxes must certainly be bad since it's a government intrusion. I presume he thinks it's best if we have volunteer fire departments and police force. We should also fix the roads and bridges ourselves or privatize everything like it was done and failed miserably in places like Argentina.
I found myself disagreeing with most of the analysis in the first half of the book. It was superficial and also demonstrated the authors lack of experience with his subject. For example, the when he argues that rent control causes housing shortages because landlords decide not to rent out apartments is bogus. Rent control is indeed negative for landlords but it doesn't cause housing shortages. When there is rent control, landlords rent out everything they can to make as much (or little) as possible since it's always better to have more money coming in. Having owned buildings myself, it's clear that the author is using Libertarian "education" rather than real world experience to build his cases.
Likewise when he talks about CEOs getting huge paychecks even if they drive a company into the ground, he says it's ok because nobody would take on that job if it didn't provide big money. Fact is, plenty of people could and would do the job for far less than those salaries. He says shareholders agree to it so it's ok, but later in the book he admits that shareholders rarely wield power - instead, it's management that does. He goes on to say that workers get a paycheck even if a company isn't profitable so why complain about CEOs getting paid even if the company isn't profitable. This is absolutely absurd - workers get a pink slip, not a million dollar farewell package when the company is in the red. The book is rife with borderline retarded assessements such as these.
The second half of the book is much better but this is partially because it deals with topics that are much harder to evaluate. But even here he often faulters into nonsense. He argues that outsourcing is good because cheap labor cuts costs and this savings is transmitted to consumers. That's not the case. When a manufacturer goes overseas, you don't start paying less for items. They remain the same price, but the company's profits increase because their expenses have decreased. Many times you often also get an inferior or dangerous product as a result, and inefficient customer service. But it's the consumer that feels this, not the manufacturers.
There is something to be said for allowing monopolies because they do tend to bring prices down. Still, there is a balance - fierce competition also brings down prices as well as spurns innovation for better products. Additionally, monopolies have a knack for crushing competition even if that competition has a superior product so that potential buyers don't even get the opportunity to utilize it.
Summary: A wonderful beginner's guide
This was one of the first books I read when I became interested in money and economics. The book is well thought out and explains the benefits of the free market and capitalism. Far too many people feel the people who earn lots of money do not deserve it, but that is why America was so prosperous in the past. If you want socialism and 'feel' that you are entitled to government support, then most likely you will not like this book.
Summary: Excellent starting point
Dr. Murphy does an excellent job at outlining the basic tenents of a capitalist society, and throughouly debunks nearly every myth and fabrication anyone has ever heard in regards to the concept. On top of this, he does an excellent job making economics entertaining as well as easy to understand for those who may not have a full understanding of the subject. Definitely a good starting point for anyone who has ever questioned or would like to begin to respond to questions about economics and its practice in a capitalist society.
Summary: Good overview of arguments for capitalism.
I have avoided the P.I.G. series, not knowing if they were going to be any good. But I have been trying to learn something about economics, and have read a variety of book on the subject over the past three years. This book is a very good summary of the arguements for capitalism. Whether or not you disagree with a laissez-faire approach this book lays out the ideas in a straightforward manner, and without too much demagoguery (there is a little, but not so much that it becomes the focus of the book). Overall, a book that does it's job well.
Summary: 5 stars for beginners; 4 stars for libertarian philosophes
This book is stridently, unabashedly, and wholeheartedly 100% pro-capitalist in the purest, most positive sense of the word. Unlike other Politically Incorrect Guides, the orientation of this book is not conservative, but rather libertarian. There is some pandering to the Conservative Book Club audience, with lots of digs at "liberals," and deafening silence on the issues of immigration and war (though a few pro-immigration, anti-war hints are dropped if you're careful to pay attention). All in all, this book would be great for liberals and conservatives alike who are trending libertarian and/or who know very little about economics or capitalist philosophy. For longtime libertarians, however, this gets only 4 stars as a wonderful affirmation of our already held beliefs. One thing this book did do for me, however, is finally turn me against my last bastion of big-government activism, anti-discrimination laws -- which even conservatives have come to embrace. Libertarianism is the only anti-racist creed, and yet it recognizes that all the government can morally do is to not practice racism -- it cannot enforce laws against its practice on a private level.
Mirrors are welcomed!
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