Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


What is life in space like? We all know a little bit from exhaustive media coverage of the various space shots. Now a new book, Pioneering Space: Living on the Next Frontier, by James E. Oberg and Alcestis R. Oberg (New York: McGraw-Hill, 298 pp., $16.95), gives us a vivid feel for spacelife—its surprises and terrors, its pleasures and petty annoyances.

Getting back down to earth, there are several recent public-policy works of note. Readers who follow the debate over regulation of public utilities will be interested to know that economist Walter Primeaux challenges long-held assumptions in Direct Electric Utility Competition: The Natural Monopoly Myth (New York: Praeger, 297 pp., $36.95).

Deregulation that has already occurred is the focus of two political scientists, Martha Derthick and Paul J. Quirk, in The Politics of Deregulation (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 265 pp., $28.95/$10.95). The authors show how economic good sense prevailed over the "iron triangle"—the regulated industry, its regulators, and congressional committees.

Meanwhile, the Hoover Institution has collected some of the prolific Thomas Sowell's writings in Education: Assumptions versus History (Stanford, Calif., 203 pp., $8.95 paper).

Turning to broader themes of political economy, Peter Rutland's The Myth of the Plan (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 286 pp., $26.95) critically appraises the Soviet economic system and raises important issues in the debate about the proper roles of government and markets in economic activity.

Capitalism and markets are the subject of two other notable works, both collections of essays by eminent economists, philosophers, and theologians. In Morality and the Market: Religious and Economic Perspectives, edited by Walter Block, Geoffrey Brennan, and Kenneth Elzinga (Vancouver, B.C.: Fraser Institute, 626 pp., $14.95 paper), a number of scholars probe the ethical dimensions of major economic and social issues. In Is Capitalism Christian?, edited by Frank Schaeffer (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 461 pp., $9.95 paper), eminent thinkers including Thomas Sowell, Jean-François Revel, and P.T. Bauer maintain that capitalism is more efficient, more equitable, and more conducive to the maintenance of freedom and justice than alternative socioeconomic systems.

Market systems have long been challenged on a number of ethical grounds, including claims that (1) employers discriminate against minorities and women in the absence of state intervention; (2) workers are exploited by capitalists; and (3) business leaders ignore moral principles in their pursuit of profits. The first criticism is subjected to cogent refutation in the Fraser Institute's Focus: On Employment Equity (Vancouver, B.C., 117 pp., $5.00 paper), by Walter Block and Michael Walker.

Employee Ownership in America: the Equity Solution, by Corey Rosen, Katherine J. Klein, and Karen M. Young (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 270 pp., $19.95), investigates the growing phenomenon of employee-owned companies and shows how employee ownership has provided a mechanism to augment workers' interests within the context of free enterprise.

And in Beyond the Bottom Line: How Business Leaders Are Turning Principles into Profits (New York: Facts on File, 228 pp., $16.95), Tad Tuleja challenges the view that profits and moral principle are incompatible. He describes how many prominent business leaders have. assumed substantial ethical responsibilities and made hefty profits by doing so. Tuleja concludes that ethical conduct actually enhances profitability.

On another front, many have argued that individualism breeds alienation. Not so, says psychologist Alan Waterman in The Psychology of Individualism (New York: Praeger, 359 pp., $37.95). Waterman argues that, to the contrary, individualism brings out humans' best potentialities.

Another author, Robert Greenwood, uses fiction to explore the concepts of self-interest and rational individualism. His Arcadia and Other Stories (Georgetown, Calif.: Talisman Literary Research, 270 pp., $17.50/$9.95) presents a collection of short stories (two of them published in REASON in the '70s) in which individualism fares better than collectivism.

For history buffs, Tom Paine: The Greatest Exile, by David Powell (New York: St. Martin's Press, 303 pp., $22.50), charts the life of one of America's colorful champions of freedom and individualism.