Struggling to find gifts to get for loved ones? How about a book?
I just made a video about some books that shaped my thinking.
First, Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom recounts how government trying to centrally plan an economy often leads to tyranny.
Government shouldn't intervene, wrote Hayek, because a free market, like a school of fish or a flock of birds, creates a spontaneous order. No central planner will allocate resources as efficiently as individuals do themselves.
For arguing that, Hayek was ridiculed. But years later, even defenders of socialism conceded that he was right.
With "democratic socialism" newly popular and celebrities like Jim Carrey saying, "We have to say yes to socialism—to the word and everything!" today is a great time to give Road to Serfdom to your socialist friends.
If only they'd read it...
Of course, Road to Serfdom is written in old-fashioned language that some people find tough going. A simpler, more America-focused book from which to learn about economics is Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics.
Sowell writes in plain English, without graphs or equations. Not only will Sowell educate your socialist friends, he'll show Donald Trump fans why free trade is good.
Two even easier-to-read introductions to economics and free market philosophy are the cartoon-filled Libertarianism for Beginners by Todd Seavey and Give Me a Break, written by an ignorant anti-business reporter (me) who finally discovered the benefits of markets.
But promoting those would be self-serving (Todd helps me write this column) so I won't even mention those fine books. I'll move on.
How about Animal Farm for the animals in your family? George Orwell describes how farm animals revolt against an abusive human master—only to end up ruled by new tyrants, the pigs.
Animal Farm was meant to be an allegory for the Russian revolution turning into Soviet tyranny, but it could just as easily apply to today's America if populists get their way.
Another fun read is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. It's long—more than a thousand pages—but easy reading because the novel pulls you along, describing how cultural bias against capitalism and love of big government grows.
Rand depicts creeping government oppression so convincingly that it feels like she's describing America today.
Rand argues that government isn't just inefficient; it's evil because it violates property rights and tells people how to live their lives. Government is like a looter or burglar, she wrote.
Today's media, by contrast, call capitalists looters and burglars. Years ago, the media called the most successful of them "robber barons."