Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


Year after year, dutifully though reluctantly, many of us pay our income taxes. Most of us are probably vaguely aware as we multiply our capital gains by .60, subtract that number from the total gains, and put the result on line x of Form D, that this formula has no independent logic of its own. It is the result of politics. That is the theme that Jerold L. Waltman takes up in Political Origins of the US Income Tax (Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 124 pp., $12.50). Waltman provides an enlightening political analysis of various income-tax policies promoted between 1913 and 1921 and then discusses how issues raised at that time relate to current public-policy debates. Taking a look at modern tax reform is Fair Tax, Flat Tax, Simple Tax, edited by Joseph A. Pechman (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld, 170 pp., $21.50/$9.95), which provides a nontechnical look at key tax-reform proposals.

A broad range of public-policy issues is tackled in Beyond the Status Quo: Policy Proposals for America, edited by David Boaz and Edward Crane (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 292 pp., $20/$8.95). Thirteen distinguished scholars and policy analysts offer an array of policy proposals that would reduce the role of government in solving problems. Richard E. Morgan's Disabling America: The "Rights Industry" in Our Time (New York: Basic Books, 245 pp., $16.95) provides an outstanding criticism of the trend of the past 20 years to vastly extend the concept of rights. Morgan argues that this trend requires such extensive government action that it may eventually destroy the private realm altogether.

Several books of note on specific policy issues may interest defenders of free markets: On some effects of airline deregulation is Deregulation and the New Airline Entrepreneurs, by John R. Meyer and Clinton V. Oster, Jr. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 240 pp., $22.50). On medical licensing is Canadian Medicine: A Study in Restricted Entry, by Ronald Hamowy (Toronto: The Fraser Institute, 394 pp., $14.95 paper). And on privatization in Great Britain is Madsen Pirie's Dismantling the State: The Theory and Practice of Privatization (Dallas, Tex.: National Center for Policy Analysis, 115 pp., $6.95 paper). Also on privatization, but with a focus on the United States, is Stuart Butler's Privatizing the Federal Government (New York: Universe, 133 pp., $14.95).

An excellent discussion of public versus private education is set out in Choice in Education, by S.R. Dennison (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, distributed in the United States by Transatlantic Arts, Albuquerque, N.M., 94 pp., $9.25 paper). For those contemplating home schooling, The Complete Home Educator, by computer educator and science teacher Mario Pagnoni (Burdett, N.Y.: Larson Publications, 230 pp., $10.95 paper), may provide an excellent resource, especially for those interested in using a home computer in their education plans.

Speaking of education, Ernie Discovers Excellence: A Capitalist Fable, by Lewis Lazare (Chicago: Turnbull & Willoughby, 60 pp., $9.95), is a delightful children's book designed to portray business and the pursuit of excellence positively.

For students and teachers at the university level, Foundations of the Market-Price System, by Milton M. Shapiro (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 422 pp., $29.50/$16.75), provides a nonmathematical introduction to economics written from an Austrian School, free-market perspective. Even those who find most economic literature to be dry may enjoy Maurice Levi's Thinking Economically (New York: Basic Books, 281 pp., $16.95). In exceptionally witty prose, Levi introduces the general reader to the "dismal science," showing not only how economists approach problems but also how such reasoning can facilitate better everyday decisions.

Making good decisions is the key to good investments. Harry Browne's Investment Rule #1 (Austin, Tex.: Harry Browne Special Reports, Inc., 244 pp., $17.95 paper) offers insights on investment strategies from a leading investment expert. Those wanting a Midas touch in their investment portfolio may find help from New Profits in Gold, Silver, and Strategic Metals, by Peter Cavelti (New York: McGraw-Hill, 221 pp., $15.95).