Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


With hearty promises of a healthier economy and smaller budget deficits, the Reagan administration endorsed supply-side economics. Whether or not the administration has practiced what it preached, supply-side economics remains the focus of intense dispute. Supply-Side Economics: A Critical Appraisal (Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1982, 488 pp., $27.50), edited by Richard Fink, assembles a variety of theoretical perspectives on the subject.

Included in the defense of supply-side economics are pieces by several REASON contributors: Arthur Laffer, Paul Craig Roberts, George Gilder, and Bruce Bartlett. Other REASON contributors take the other side, Thomas Hazlett looking critically at supply-side economics from a staunch free-market position, and David Henderson criticizing that analysis and concluding that the best arguments for tax reduction do not follow from supply-side economics at all.

Another tome of economic theory that might interest our readers is Method, Process, and Austrian Economics: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1982, 262 pp., $27.95), edited by Israel Kirzner. Equally provocative is Freedom and Reform: Essays in Economics and Social Philosophy, by Frank Knight, with a foreword by James Buchanan (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1982, 484 pp., $14/$6.50). First published in 1947, the series of essays reflects Knight's view that there are both ethical and economic aspects to every human action.

The Underground Economy in the United States and Abroad (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1982, 340 pp., $29.95), by Vito Tanzi, documents underground economic activity in a number of countries and investigates the implications of the subterranean economy for employment, GNP, and tax revenues. Another case study, narrow in focus but rich in its significance, is presented in Labor and Property Rights in California Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of the CALRA (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982, 116 pp., $18.50), by Rex Cottle, Hugh Macaulay, and Bruce Yandle.

The authors argue that the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act produced a fundamental shift of property rights from the owners to the workers of the land, allowing an unprecedented concentration of power for the United Farm Workers union. This shift in power, moreover, has led to higher commodity prices, lower agricultural wages, altered production techniques, and lower land values.

Three public policy issues having received considerable media attention are analyzed in The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Planning, Implementation, and Analysis (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982, 262 pp., $29.95), by David Leo Weimer, a contributor to the Reason Foundation's Instead of Regulation; in Concentration, Mergers, and Public Policy (New York: MacMillan, 1982, 425 pp., $29.95), by Yale Brozen; and in Private Options: Tools and Concepts for Land Conservation (Covela, Calif.: Island Press, 1982, 292 pp., $25.00), edited by the Montana Land Reliance and the Land Trust Exchange. Private Options presents expertise from more than 30 authorities in private land conservation who have determined that state and federal statutes will not protect the family farm, open spaces, or other natural resource land and that private options must be pursued.

Apparently, many Americans are economic illiterates. In a recent survey of 15,000 junior high school students, only 25 percent could correctly identify a simple description of capitalism and only 50 percent could differentiate between the obvious characteristics of the US and Soviet economies. Economic Education: Investing in the Future (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1982, 93 pp., $9.95/$4.95), edited by William H. Peterson, attempts to correct this situation by presenting the case for economic education. If this sorry state of economic education is deemed by some to be the fault of public schools, Bonnie Schrieter's The ABCs of Starting a Private School (Palo Alto, Calif.: R&E Research Associates, 1982, 106 pp., $14.95) may prove useful.

A few other books deserve mention. On Gold (DeKalb, Ill.: Waterleaf Press, 1982, 431 pp., $24.00), edited by H. Alan Lipscomb and Donald Libey, examines the process of investing in gold, its pitfalls and potential. In The Case for Gold (Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 1982, 227 pp., $8.95), Rep. Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman argue for establishing a gold standard as a prerequisite to ensuring liberty and prosperity.

Since all that glitters is not gold, Having Love Affairs (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1982, 188 pp., $18.95) by Richard Taylor may provide other answers on how to brighten our lives. In addition to rejecting the notion that love affairs are immoral, the author suggests that such affairs can be valuable, meaningful, and fulfilling for some individuals.