Classic Books that explore and explain conservative thought and history. (We’re talking post-graduate degree if you get through these!)
Economics for Real People | Gene Callahan
- The Science of Human Action
- The Market Process
- Interference with the Market
- Social Justice, Rightly Understood
Note: Check out the Acton Institute's list of books about free-market economic freedom.
Quotes: "Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources, which have alternative uses."
"Economics is a study of consequences of various ways of allocating scarce resources
which have alternative uses. It is not a study of our hopes and values"
"What does “scarce” mean? It means that what everybody wants adds up to more than there is."
"If each resource had only one use, economics would be much simpler."
"Prices play a crucial role in determining how much of each resource gets used where. Yet this role is seldom understood by the public and it is often disregarded entirely by politicians.…high prices are often blamed on 'greed' and people often speak of something being sold for more that its 'real' value, or of workers being paid less than they are 'really' worth...To treat prices as resulting from greed implies that sellers can set prices where they wish, that prices are not determined by supply and demand."
Review: "If you want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations, this book is for you. Sowell reveals the general principles behind any kind of economy--capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim." A must-read for every American, starting in high school. Click here for a pretty comprehensive summary of the book. Also of interest, an interview with Sowell about affirmative action.
Austrian Economics 101
Link to FEE's library of available PDF's to read.
Vision - Leonard Read discusses how the free market can solve the problems we face.
Great Myths of the Great Depression - "...it is factually appropriate to view the Great Depression as not one, but four consecutive downturns rolled into one..."
The Philosophy of Freedom - A rather wonky analysis on the "true nature of thinking" (e.g., "...A thing cut off from the world-whole does not exist. All isolating has only subjective validity...").
Private Means, Public Ends: Voluntarism vs. Coercion - Shows how voluntary actions among individuals, some of them on “the market,” others part of civil society or the non-profit sector, can accomplish all kinds of tasks normally assigned to government.
Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises - Mises elaborates on how the free market, individual liberty, and limited government all lead to a prosperous society (e.g., "The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production... All the other demands of liberalism result from his fundamental demand.").
Interventionism: An Economic Analysis - Mises explores the harmful effects of government intervention and explains how interventionism will ultimately lead to socialism.
Freedom and Interventionism - Mises’ thoughts on the economic requirements of liberty, to the inequality of wealth, welfare statism and interventionism, the gold standard and inflation, unemployment, business forecasting, Marxism, Keynesianism, economic education and much more (e.g., " "Freedom enables a man not only to do the good things but also to do the wrong things. But no moral value can be ascribed to an action, however good, that has been performed under the pressure of an omnipotent government.").
Anything That's Peaceful - One of the most recognizable shorthand expressions for the fundamental ideas of classical liberalism and free markets.
The Moral Basis for Economic Liberty - An outline of the moral foundation of the free market economy, built upon respect for private property and voluntary activity.
Click here to go to great list of classic books and their summaries. Get up to speed on the philosophy and politics of "classical liberalism" and, indeed, the best of Western Civilization. The rest of the site is well worth it, too.
Phyllis Schlafly and the EagleForum make the following interesting recommendations. (Scroll down for titles and descriptions.)
The Alpha Strategy | John Pugsley
1984 | George Orwell
Freedom to be who you are and do what you want is on a continuum with government control on the other end. "In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be." Click here to read or print the entire text in PDF.
Animal Farm is a classic short novel whose time is here again! "A political fable set in a farmyard but based on Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution." Remember the final Commandment? "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Watch this farm go from relative comfort to freedom to terror to apathy. Read chapter by chapter here or in movie format or an animated version
Common Sense | Thomas Paine
Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth | Ludwig Von Mises
What is the next logical step in doing good for others? Coercing behavior and conformity for their own good. Out-of-the-box thinking definitely not allowed, so burning books at Fahrenheit 451 is a necessary inconvenience. You can read Bradbury's entire text online (audio also available).
One at a time...get familiar with these founding papers. The chair of the political science department at Duke University and long-time economist, Mike Munger says "the Federalist papers explain the American system. If you understand the Federalist papers, you understand the Constitution."
Free To Choose® is about freedom -- the interrelationship of personal, political and economic freedom. Free To Choose® began as an award winning PBS television series and you can see it free here. Don't overdo it, pace yourself with one volume at a time.
See his crystal clear, pro-free market discussion of the benefits of capitalism with Phil Donahue. A must-see (short) video!!
The Myth of the Robber Barons describes the role of key entrepreneurs in the economic growth of the United States from 1850 to 1910. The entrepreneurs studied are Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, Andrew Mellon, Charles Schwab, and the Scranton family. Most historians argue that these men, and others like them, were Robber Barons. An interesting look at and comparison of "market" entrepreneurs versus "political" entrepreneurs (i.e., crony capitalists) and the ability of each to produce competitive goods at competitive prices.
Read about the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek by Bruce Caldwell. For the PhD in you. The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program--The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, it became one of the most important and influential books of the century. For those of us who only have time for a summary, check out these short-cuts: the illustrated Road to Serfdom or this abridged summary or this Reader's Digest condensed version. [Also, this video compares Road to Serfdom (which is shown first) with Obama's Berlin speech at Victory column 7/08. The speech is a little difficult to hear, but read the words summarizing it at the bottom of the TV screen and you catch on to the similarities.]
About the Author
F. A. Hayek (1899–1992), describes CONSERVATIVE ideas and was recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and cowinner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century.
Socialism | Ludwig von Mises
Rules for Radicals | Saul Alinsky
The Phyllis Schlafly Report provides an informative article: "How a Community Organizer Became President." It essentially summarizes this terrorist's rules for changing a nation. Instead of buying the book, try to get a used or library version. Perhaps this summary will be enough. Be sure to check out the Social Justice link at the bottom of the article for much more on the state of US education. Click here for a more comprehensive summary of what is in the book. Click here for a shorter summary of the rules. Click here for another great source of information about Saul Alinsky.