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How to Think Like a Good Economist

August 19, 2011

Tags EducationFree Markets

Many people would like to learn economics but are discouraged when they look at difficult textbooks filled with mathematics. Fortunately, the basic principles of Austrian economics are easy to learn. Austrian economics uses a common-sense method of reasoning, and once you see it in action, you will be able to understand why popular policy measures that interfere with the free market won't work.

The course will start with a short account of deductive reasoning. We'll then examine competition and monopoly: does a free market require government action to make sure monopolies don't take over?

Next, we'll look at wages. Do workers employed by large companies lack bargaining power? What are the effects of minimum-wage laws?

Other lectures will discuss tariffs and trade restrictions and government spending. Would it be a good idea for the government to spend large amounts of money to build infrastructure? Contrary to the opinion of our president, I'll try to show that it isn't.

The course will end with an account, following the pioneering work of Murray Rothbard, of the unexamined ethical assumptions behind the policy proposals of many economists. Can controversial ethical assumptions be avoided? We'll look at Mises's response to this question.

The textbooks will be Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and my own An Introduction to Economic Reasoning.

Here is a tentative schedule for the course:

Week 1: The Austrian Economic Method and How It Applies to Competition and Monopoly

Week 2: Competition and Monopoly, Part II

Week 3: Wages

Week 4: Tariffs and Trade Restrictions

Week 5: Government Spending and Taxation

Week 6: Economics and Ethics


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