Deep And Fascinating Exposition Of The History Of An Idea. Soll is a Professor of History and Accounting, and I’m just a college grad who had ECON 101 as an 18 yo HS Senior / college freshman who then went on to discuss the Austrian/ Chicago schools of economics (Friedman, Hayak, von Mises (who actually does *not* get mentioned in this book, unlike the first two), etc) with various libertarian (of both “l” and “L” levels) fellow activists and Party officials, back in the former life where I did those things.
So I’m not going to debate the specifics of Soll’s commentaries here, though I do think that there is room for those more dedicated to true pure free markets to do so – I’m just blatantly nowhere near qualified to do it. 🙂
What I *can* say about this book is that it truly is a deep and fascinating exposition of the history of economic thought regarding what a market is and how it does/ should operate. With von Mises being the only notable exception (discounting also economists who are still alive), Soll takes us on a journey from pre-history through Cicero and the beginning of the Roman Empire (and fall of the Roman Republic) to St Augustine to Machiavelli and the Italians into the rise of the Dutch and then England and France (where we eventually get… who else… Adam Smith… 😉 ) and the other Enlightenment philosophers and from there to America and eventually through the post WWII era and into Keynes, Friedman, and Hayak. Entire libraries have been filled over the centuries talking about the lives and theories of many of these men, and Soll does a good job of showing their thoughts and how at times they were shaped by the world around these men while never delving so deep as to become a treatise specifically on any one person or their contributions to the field. He also manages to avoid most academic and professional economist terms and instead writes in a manner that is more easily accessible to most any reader with so much as a middle school/ high school level of historical knowledge.
Ultimately this is a book that seems destined to become required reading for many ECON 102/ 103 ish classes, and really should be read by anyone seeking to have a general understanding of one of the most discussed foundational issues in modern economics. Very much recommended.
This review of Free Market by Jacob Soll was originally written on July 9, 2022.
This week we are looking at an alarming and disturbing book showing insights that have the potential to control humanity ever more subtly. This week we’re looking at Spite by Simon McCarthy-Jones.
You’ve Heard Of The Imitation Game. Meet The Ultimatum Game. McCarthy-Jones does a phenomenal job in this text of analyzing what exactly spite – which he defines as a behavior that harms both oneself and the other – is, why it is seemingly necessary for human advancement, how it seems to have come to be, and even some of the biological bases of the behavior. In the process, he gives some startling and many times counter-intuitive insights on how exactly spite manifests, often using a tool developed in the 1970s called The Ultimatum Game as the basis of the science. Both a fascinating and disturbing book, this could potentially provide saavy operators yet more ways to control the masses in ways that most wouldn’t even realize they are being controlled – and yet by exposing these methods to the masses in question, gives us ever more effective tools to question the propaganda we are so incessantly bombarded with through so many modern communication channels. Very much recommended.
Complete And Well Documented Examination of Disaster. This is a book that looks not just at one disaster or one type of disaster, but at all of them. It doesn’t look to one threat or another threat or a third threat, but moves between types of threats and shows how they, really, are all interrelated by a common element: the human, and in particular the governmental, response to them. From ancient plagues and volcanoes to hot-off-the-press (at the time of writing a few months prior to even my own seeming first public review level early read) details of the current global catastrophes. While docking a star for Ferguson’s high praise of John Maynard Keynes (suffice it to say I tend to hold economists such as Hayak, Bastiat, and Von Mises to levels Ferguson holds Keynes), that isn’t really my style since those are more a couple of aside level comments randomly in this near 500 page volume. But also, don’t let the near 500 page count deter you – in my copy, 48% of that text (or nearly 200 pages) was bibliography, making this one of the more well documented books I’ve read in the last few years. Truly a book that needs to be considered by at minimum policy makers but really the public at large, at times it doesn’t really go far enough to point out that voluntary community based disaster preparedness can often do more good than government top down approaches (even as he continually points out that the failures most often happen at middle management levels). Very much recommended.
This review of Doom by Niall Ferguson was originally written on January 17, 2021.
Solid Continuation of Decades Long Research. I first encountered Shaunti’s writing back *before* she began researching the things that would eventually lead her to much fame and this book, back when she was a *fiction* writer. Then she wrote a book called For Women Only nearly two decades ago… and has continued in that vein ever since, with this being the latest entry. Here, Feldhahn and her husband Jeff look specifically at how money shapes relationships and how each partner can understand both themselves and their partner in order to make the relationship stronger. Relying on research specifically for this book in addition to research and insight from previous books, this does a solid job of showing the root causes of much strife when it comes to money and will be yet another book quite a few therapists – Christian or not – recommend their patients read. I know the original books For Women Only and For Men Only helped me and some friends, and this one looks to have the same impact. Very much recommended.
This review of Thriving In Love And Money by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn was originally written on February 21, 2020.
Decade Old Data, Still Solid Reasoning. This book was written nearly a decade ago now, in 2011. The data is solid from that period, though I did dock a star specifically due to lack of a detailed bibliography – truly the only major flaw I could find with the book. The reasoning is centrist-ish, maybe a touch libertarian, but purely focused on economic, cost/benefit rationale. Indeed, this book seems to have influenced the thinking of the economic policy proposals of 2012 US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who ran as the nominee of the Libertarian Party that year. (At one point late in the text, he specifically notes cutting Federal spending by 43%, back to 2001 levels, and this was one of Johnson’s core proposals that year.) Remarkably, more recent works such as Gilbert Gaul’s Geography of Risk -published in late 2019 – back up at least some of the author’s assertions. (Here specifically, the rising cost of damages from coastal storms and flooding being due at least in part to US Federal economic policies that encourage building in more flood prone areas.)
A final note of disclosure, just to be safe: Despite then-regional proximity (I lived in Georgia all my life until right around the time this book was being written, and even then moved closer to UGA – where Dorfman is a Professor of Economics – itself despite being in another State altogether) and even similar-ish politics (I was very active in the Libertarian Party of Georgia in my last few years of living in the State, including serving as its Legislative Director and as a regional representative on its State Executive Committee), to my knowledge the author of this book and I have never interacted other than the very asynchronous nature of his writing this book and my buying a copy of it and reading it many years later.
This review of Ending the Era of the Free Lunch by Jeffrey Dorfman was originally written on December 29, 2019.