WE REALIZE THAT YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE. Most of you do not want to spend a lot of time learning new terms, memorizing formulas, or mastering details that are important only to professional economists. What you want are the insights of economics that really matter-those that will help you make better personal choices and enhance your understanding of our complex world. And you want those insights to be presented in a concise, organized, and readable manner, with a minimum of economics jargon. This short book attempts to meet both of these objectives.
We think you can profit from this book regardless of your current knowledge of economics. If you are a beginner, this book will introduce you to a few basic economic principles that to a large degree merely reflect common sense. These concepts, however, are powerful tools. When making decisions, they will help you develop your thoughts logically and view the central issues more clearly. They will also enhance your ability to differentiate between sound arguments and economic nonsense.
If you are a student of economics or business, this book will help you pull together the "big picture." After 30 years of teaching college economics, the authors are painfully aware of two points: (1) students often miss important points because they are busy with extraneous graphs, formulas, and mathematical details and (2) they do not retain much of what is taught in their college economics courses. The information encapsulated in this book will challenge college students to think more seriously about the really important implications of economics-knowledge that will make a difference long after their final exam in economics is a faded memory.
Finally, even if you are a business executive or a policymaker, we believe you will find this book informative. However experienced you may be in your particular area, you may not fully appreciate how all the pieces of the economic puzzle fit together. This is often the case with people in both business and government. They know their job, but they have not thought very seriously about how political rules and policies influence the broader economic health of people and nations.
Studies indicate that we are a nation of economic illiterates. In a democratic setting, the consequences of economic illiteracy can be disastrous. People who do not understand the sources of economic prosperity are susceptible to schemes that conflict with the attainment of that prosperity. A nation of economic illiterates is unlikely to remain prosperous for very long. The basic principles explained in this book will help you better understand what types of economic arrangements work and why some nations prosper while others stagnate or even regress. As a result, you will be able to make wiser choices and become a better citizen.
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Richard L. Stroup
Richard L. Stroup is a free market environmentalist adjunct professor at North Carolina State University, research fellow at the Independent Institute, adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute, and former professor of economics at Montana State University, where he served as head of the Department of Agricultural Economics & Economics. He also served as director of the Office of Policy Analysis in the U.S. Department of the Interior.