Economics in One Lesson is a concise introduction to free market theory, written by a college dropout who learned his economics while working as a newspaperman and forged his writing style according to the cruel standards of readability and clarity. Hazlitt is incapable of writing a muddled line, or defending an absurd economic policy.
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups” – Hazlitt bases his handbook on this principle. He has little use for John Maynard Keynes’ notorious remark: “In the long run, we are all dead”.
He is against government price fixing, government spending, industry tariffs and most policies of today’s welfare states.
The Greek bailout would feel to Hazlitt like living in a nightmare. He would argue that it is more honest to give away your goods to a poorly performing country than give it a loan to buy your goods. No net wealth is created by bad government loans, he would say.
He would expect to be dismissed as ‘orthodox’, ‘classical’ and ‘laissez-faire’ — he warns the reader about this pitfall, and was dismissed in his life with the same clichés.
Hazlitt is consistently against all forms of interventionism. To him, raising interest rates would be as dangerous as lowering them — both are attempts to artificially control a self-regulating system. “Government ‘encouragement’ to business is sometimes as much to be feared as government hostility,” he argues.
This book will not teach you what to think of today’s economy, but how to think about it.