Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


Recently the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, headed by businessman J. Peter Grace, issued 47 reports containing over 2,000 cost-cutting recommendations for the federal government. Summarized in a single volume, the results of the reports are now available in paperback form to the public in War on Waste (New York: Macmillan, 608 pp., $9.95 paper).

For a look at the revenue side of government, Taxation: An International Perspective, edited by Walter Block and Michael Walker (Vancouver, Canada: The Fraser Institute, 447 pp., $14.95 paper) compiles essays by economists from nine countries who examine the tax systems in their own countries. They offer concrete evidence of how high taxes burden individuals and thus the economy and result in the emergence of a substantial "underground economy."

On a lighter note, the political satire of the famed journalist H.L. Mencken is now available in a new edition of A Carnival of Buncombe: Writings on Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 370 pp., $10.95 paper). A dash of Mencken's wit also appears in his introduction to The American Democrat, by James Fenimore Cooper (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 252 pp., $10.00/$5.00). The new edition reintroduces the shrewd political insight of Cooper, better known to the American public for his Leatherstocking tales.

The works of another often-forgotten 19th-century free-market individualist, William Leggett, have been compiled by Lawrence H. White in Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 410 pp., $12.00/$6.00).

In On Freedom, edited by John A. Howard (Rockford, Ill.: Rockford Institute, Greenwich, Conn.: Devin-Adair, 161 pp., $12.95), several leading international scholars discuss what freedom is and why it's important for a proper functioning of modern economies. In the preface, distinguished sociologist Robert Nisbet comments that the collection provides "a thoughtful and eloquent testament to the role of freedom in modern civilization."

Two monographs published by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., shed light on some philosophical and cultural dimensions of capitalism. Professor of Islamic studies Muhammad Abdul-Rauf examines the compatibility of the Islamic religion and capitalism in A Muslim's Reflections on Democratic Capitalism (74 pp., $4.95 paper). And philosopher Bernard Murchland looks at the anticommercial bias in the writings of mainstream 19th- and 20th-century humanists and criticizes the notion that humanism and capitalism are antagonists in Humanism and Capitalism: A Survey of Thought on Morality and the Economic Order (63 pp., $3.95 paper).

London's Institute of Economic Affairs has published several pathbreaking works on free markets and privatization that are available in the United States through Transatlantic Arts (Albuquerque, New Mexico). In Liberating the Letter (52 pp., $5.95 paper), Ian Senior builds a case for privatizing the British post office, with an analysis that applies equally well to the US postal system. In Choice in Pensions (79 pp., $9.95 paper), E. Victor Morgan criticizes existing government pension schemes. He argues for a system that would leave individual citizens free to decide how they use their savings, how much and when they save for old age, and where they would invest their savings.

Investigating the prospects for private property rights in seabed resources, D.R. Denman claims that such arrangements are both feasible and desirable in Markets Under the Sea? (79 pp., $9.25 paper). In another Institute of Economic Affairs monograph, Myth and Reality in Anti-Trust (32 pp., $4.25 paper), British economist Arthur Shenfield challenges some long-held myths regarding antitrust legislation.

Challenging another set of long-held assumptions—those pertaining to labor unions—economist Charles W. Baird criticizes compulsory unionism, closed-shop laws, and the like in Opportunity or Privilege: Labor Legislation in America. (Bowling Green, Ohio: Social Philosophy and Policy Center, 97 pp., $6.95 paper). Baird argues that these government-supported policies have resulted in windfalls for some workers at the expense of the majority of nonunionized labor.

Widening our knowledge of privatization abroad, John Tepper Marlin describes the role of contracting out many government activities to private companies in Japan in Privatisation of Local Government Activities: Lessons from Japan (New York: Aims of Industry/Council on Municipal Performance, 17 pp., 1.20 British pounds, paper). Also with a focus on local issues, Creating Neighborhood Enterprise: A Primer for Nonprofits (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, 48 pp., $2.00 paper), prepared by Mark A. Thennes, describes how nonprofit social-service agencies can develop a business-oriented approach to improve their ability to meet local needs.