Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


As President Reagan's second term gets under way that perennial bugaboo, the federal deficit, remains at the top of the news. In this light, it's not surprising that the 1983 Grace Commission report to the president on ways to cut federal spending should continue to receive attention. Books stemming from the Grace Commission report include Burning Money, by J. Peter Grace himself (New York: MacMillan, 195 pp., $14.95); A Taxpayer Survey of the Grace Commission Report, by William R. Kennedy, Jr., and Robert W. Lee (Ottawa, Ill.: Green Hill Press, 149 pp., $1.95 paper); and Pork Barrel: The Unexpurgated Grace Commission Story of Congressional Profligacy, by Randall Fitzgerald and Gerald Lipson (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 114 pp., $7.95 paper).

A number of other controversial issues remain on the political agenda in the new year. The United States has decided to follow through on its plan to pull out of UNESCO because of alleged mismanagement and ideological conflict. A recent Heritage Foundation book examines what could happen if the entire United Nations shut down: A World Without a U.N., edited by Burton Yale Pines (Washington, D.C., 176 pp., $8.00 paper).

Gun control is another issue that continues to draw attention. Firearms and Violence, edited by Don B. Kates, Jr. (San Francisco: Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research; Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 571 pp., $38.00/ $15.95) provides a well-documented discussion by a number of authorities on the subject, with topics ranging from a comprehensive analysis of the underlying assumptions behind gun controls to an examination of firearms legislation.

Though the oil crisis of the '70s seems well behind us, concerns over resource depletion persist. The Resourceful Earth, edited by Julian Simon and Herman Kahn (New York: Basil Blackwell, 585 pp., $19.95) challenges claims made by those who forecast widespread environmental disaster by the turn of the century.

Several recent short books tackle other key issues on the current political agenda. The National Legal Center for the Public Interest has published Judicial Wage Determination: A Volatile Spectre, by Frank Morris et al. (Washington, D.C., 63 pp., $3.50 paper), which brings forth a compendium of critical viewpoints on the "comparable worth" doctrine. Another pay-scale issue, minimum-wage laws, is criticized in Low Pay or No Pay? by David Forrest with S.R. Dennison (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, distributed in the United States by Transatlantic Arts, Albuquerque, N.M., 88 pp., $9.25 paper). The American Enterprise Institute sheds light on the problem of escalating health-care costs in Managing Health Care Costs: Private Sector Innovations, by Sean Sullivan (Washington, D.C., 106 pp., $15.95/$7.95).

The role of corporations in alleviating social inequities is addressed in The New Crusaders: The Corporate Social Responsibility Debate, by Douglas J. Den Uyl (Bowling Green, Ohio: Social Philosophy and Policy Center, 96 pp., $6.95 paper). Den Uyl questions the assumption that corporations are the creations of society, arguing instead that they are created by individuals who legitimately seek to maximize profits as their primary goal. However, Den Uyl demonstrates that profit-seeking activities by business are consistent with ethical decisionmaking and respect for the rights of others.

On the subject of business, although the improved economic situation has muted some of the pleas for government involvement in "reindustrialization," the debate is by no means over. The Industrial Policy Debate, edited by Chalmers Johnson (San Francisco: ICS Press, 275 pp., $21.95/$8.95) provides an excellent critical appraisal of the government-business relationship in the United States.

In Constitutional Economics, edited by Richard McKenzie (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 254 pp., $27.00) a number of scholars familiar to REASON readers (for example, F.A. Hayek, Ellen Paul, James Dale Davidson, and Bernard Siegan) address the central issue of how to erect government institutions that will enhance and protect, rather than subvert, individual economic freedom.

Economic freedom is the subject of a welcome textbook, The Capitalist Alternative: An Introduction to Neo-Austrian Economics, by Alexander Shand (New York: New York University Press, 242 pp., $30.00/$11.50). Markets and capitalism are also treated in several interesting recent works focusing on the economies of other nations. The Emergence of Capitalism, by John Iliffe (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 113 pp., $29.50/$10.95) provides a fascinating survey of the growth of African capitalism south of the Sahara from precolonial days to the present. Pricing, Planning, and Politics, by Subroto Roy (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, distributed in the United States by Transatlantic Arts, Albuquerque, N.M., 72 pp., $6.95) criticizes India's socialist economic policies.

Freedom is the topic of a recent philosophical collection, Freedom and Virtue, edited by George W. Carey (Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; and Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 156 pp., $22.75/$9.25). Debating the relationship between conservative and libertarian thought are eleven contributors, including REASON's senior editor Tibor Machan, Robert Nisbet, John Hospers, and Murray Rothbard.

Beyond Liberal and Conservative: Reassessing the Political Spectrum, by William Maddox and Stuart Lilie (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 197 pp., $18.00) also examines political thought from a perspective that challenges the traditional political-science view of America divided ideologically between conservatives and liberals.

Politics and political ideas are the focus of an intriguing new science fiction collection, Election Day 2084, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 301 pp., $19.95 paper). A similar collection, but examining philosophical themes, appears in Philosophy and Science, edited by Michael Philips (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 392 pp., $12.95 paper).

Ayn Rand fans may enjoy The Ayn Rand Companion, by Mimi R. Gladstein (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 144 pp., $25.00). Gladstein has compiled biographical data, critical and analytical essays, and summaries of Rand's works, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of works by and about Rand.