Thursday, January 31, 2008

Naked Economics

I enjoy reading books that explain scientific things to lay people, especially if not dumbed down too much. I found this book very illuminating. It was written by a writer for the magazine The Economist, which I like when I run across it. It was more technical that the economics book I read a few months ago, and used more real world examples and how they work, and how public policy is affected by and in turn effects economics.
It explained how sweat shops aren't necessarily bad things, why Mexico City's air is still remarkably polluted and why Black rhino populations are declining so drastically. One thing I especially liked is that he wasn't saying free markets are perfect, and that governments have a very necessary role in the world, even if you think you are a complete free market sort of person.
It makes you wish that more politicians could understand basic economics, at least hire a couple of staffers that do. The trouble is, after the fact, it is easy to explain how basic principles caused any given fiasco, but it is much harder to do that beforehand, something the author doesn't emphasize enough. Though he does admit that some problems have no real solutions, but that economics helps reshape some of the ways of looking at things.
Anyway, I felt like I learned something and that is always nice, I don't get a lot of mental stimulation some days.

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. Charles Wheelan. W.W.Norton & Co. 2002

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