Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt explains economics, as the title says, in one lesson. As its subtitle says, it is not only one of the best ways to learn basic economics, but also “the shortest and surest way to understand basic economics.”
Hazlitt tells us the lesson in the first chapter. This lesson, that of looking at short-term as well as long-term effects of economic policy on everyone, makes sense. He points out that whatever economic policy we adopt, we should consider how it effects everyone and not just a specific group.
In the following chapters, Hazlitt provides examples that are connected to that message. These include: tariffs, minimum wage laws, and rent controls. These illustrations are usually implemented by the government and supported by the groups that the policies are supposed to benefit. He gives whole chapters on these cases and goes into some depth of what each of the topics are and who it hurts and benefits. He also states how each example applies to the lesson and how they are normally used. The chapters and cases have proven the message of the book, but people have often ignored it.
Why has the lesson of this book been so often neglected? Because most people only see the immediate benefit for a specific group of people. They often don’t see the long-term effects on that particular group, or even the short-term or long-term effect on everyone else. In order to get the full effect of what could happen to everyone, as Hazlitt points out frequently in the book, we would need to look at how policies and decisions effect not only on a short-term basis, but also on a long-term basis.
This book presents what shouldn’t be oversight or knee-jerk economics, but what will happen to the entire economy after a policy has taken effect.
To God be the glory,