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Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics
by George Reisman
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From Publishers Weekly
Reisman's ringing manifesto for laissez-faire capitalism free of all government intervention is at once a conservative polemic and a monumental treatise, brimming with original theories. that is remarkable for its depth, scope and rigorous argument. He rejects the Keynesian doctrine that government must adopt a policy of budget deficits to cope with unemployment, contending, to the contrary, that federal intervention in the economic system is a root cause of inflation, credit expansion, depression and mass unemployment. Reisman staunchly defends capitalists as risk-takers who raise the average worker's real wages and living standards, increasing productivity and improving the quantity and quality of goods. Socialism, he says, is the system that exploits labor and causes stifling monopolistic control. Professor of economics at L.A.'s Pepperdine University, Reisman frequently espouses unfashionable, some would say "extreme," views; for instance, he opposes mandatory recycling, defends insider trading of stocks as justifiable and beneficial and condemns laws banning child labor as an "inappropriate" response to a social ill. His call for a pro-capitalist political movement dedicated to the abolition of the welfare state, elimination of Social Security and Medicare, dismantling of public education, private ownership of all land, abolition of personal and corporate income taxes and a 90% cutback in government spending seems to put this tome beyond the pale of mainstream political debate?although it does come with advance raves from two Nobel laureates in economics. Conservative Book Club and Laissez Faire Book Club selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
FORTUNE, April 28, 1997
"Capitalism is . . . what a consistent, intelligent advocate of capitalism would say on almost any economic issue."
Journal of Economic Literature, June 1998
"Provides a comprehensive explanation of the nature and value of modern capitalism."
1997 Foundation for Economic Education Book Catalogue
"The most important tome about Austrian economics since Ludwig von Mises' Human Action and Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State."
The Free Radical, June/July 1997
"An expositon and defense of capitalism on a par with those of Mises and Hayek ."
Literally encyclopedic -- almost the length of a volume of the Britannica in terms both of number of pages and content per page--Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics is the philosophically and intellectually strongest and most comprehensive book in the defense of laissez-faire capitalism that can be found anywhere in the world at the present time. It is state of the art in economic theory and political philosophy.
The intelligent, open-minded reader who seeks to understand the economics and politics of the modern world (along with much of its closely related history and social and cultural phenomena), and what is required to improve mankind's lot in these two vital areas, need look no further than to this book.
For the intelligent, open-minded reader who seeks to understand the economics and politics of the modern world, Jameson Books is pleased to announce the availability of George Reisman's recently published monumental work CAPITALISM: A Treatise on Economics (Jameson Books/LPC Group).
Aimed at both the intelligent layman and the professional economist, and written in language that each can understand, this book is arguably the clearest and most comprehensive explanation of the nature and value of modern capitalism to date.
This book offers an extensive body of positive economic theory, based on the writings of Ludwig von Mises and on the earlier economists of the Austrian and British classical schools. To this the author adds his own considerable contributions.
The book's scope and organization are indicated by its division into three main parts: (1) Foundations of Economics, (2) The Division of Labor and Capitalism, and (3) The Process of Economic Progress.
These sections, in turn, include chapters like: Wealth and Its Role in Human Life; Natural Resources and the Environment; The Dependence of the Division of Labor on Capitalism; The Price System and Economic Coordination; Price Controls and Economic Chaos; Socialism, Economic Chaos, and Totalitarian Dictatorship; The Influence of the Division of Labor on the Institutions of Capitalism; Monopoly Versus Freedom of Competition; The Concept of Productive Activity; Productionism, Say's Law, and Unemployment; The Productivity Theory of Wages; The Net-Consumption/Net-Investment Theory of Profit and Interest; Keynesianism: A Critique; and Gold Versus Inflation. Some of these chapters contain the most powerful critiques of Marx, Keynes, the pure-and-perfect-competition doctrine, and environmentalism to be found anywhere.
The book can serve as a complete and effective alternative and antidote to many of today's micro- and macroeconomics textbooks, and will educate professors as well as students. Its importance and appeal to a general audience are evident in its description of prevailing attitudes toward capitalism, and its challenge to learn why they are wrong, as well as the cause of self-destructive political behavior on a massive scale.
Quite unusual for a serious work of political economy, Reisman employs compelling eloquence to topple, in a tour de force, such widely held popular beliefs as:
The profit motive is the cause of starvation wages, exhausting hours, sweat-shops, and child labor; of monopolies, inflation, depressions, wars, imperialism, and racism.
Competition is the law of the jungle.
Economic inequality is unjust and the legitimate basis for class warfare.
Economic progress is a ravaging of the planet and, in the form of improvements in efficiency, a cause of unemployment and depressions.
War and destruction, or massive peacetime government spending, are necessary to prevent unemployment under capitalism.
Economic activity other than manual labor is parasitical.
Businessmen and capitalists are recipients of unearned income and are exploiters.
Retailers and wholesalers are middlemen having no function but that of adding markups to the prices charged by farmers and manufacturers; advertisers are inherently guilty of fraud-- the fraud of attempting to induce people to desire the goods that capitalism showers on them, but that they allegedly have no natural or legitimate basis for desiring.
On the basis of such widely-held, mistaken, beliefs, Reisman shows, people turn to the government: for "social justice"; for protection and aid, in the form of labor and social legislation; for reason and order, in the form of government planning. They demand and for the most part have long ago obtained: progressive income and inheritance taxation; minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws; laws giving special privileges and immunities to labor unions; antitrust legislation; social security legislation; public education; public housing; socialized medicine; nationalized or municipalized post offices, utilities, railroads, subways, and bus lines; subsidies for farmers, shippers, manufacturers, borrowers, lenders, the unemployed, students, tenants, and the needy and allegedly needy of every description.
Reisman convincingly demonstrates the fallacy and counterproductive nature of these ideas and demands. His thesis is that never have so many people been so confused--and made poorer as a result--about a subject so important, as most people now are about economics and capitalism. He argues that in its logically consistent form--that is, with the powers of government limited to those of national defense and the administration of justice (protecting citizens against force and fraud)--capitalism is a system of economic progress and prosperity for all, and is a precondition of world peace.
Following an exhaustive economic analysis of virtually every aspect of capitalism, the book's concluding chapter is devoted to a long-range political-economic program for the achievement of a fully capitalist society.
Reisman's treatise is certain to constitute as much of a challenge to the theoretical preconceptions of today's economists as it does to the political preconceptions of today's laymen. As an analytical tool for understanding both micro- and macroeconomics, it is unsurpassed. As a coherent philosophy of liberty, it will prove appealing to readers worldwide--readers who have seen the diminishing of both their national prosperity and individual freedom as a result of government economic intervention.
A principal theme of the book, consistently demonstrated, is the natural harmony of self-interests--of businessmen, wage earners, and consumers--under capitalism, a consonance most will find astonishing given the prevailing misunderstanding of capitalism in the late twentieth century.
Basing this work on the integration of the theories of the Austrian school and needlessly-abandoned doctrines of the British classical economists, the author also offers his own original contributions on the subjects of profits, wages, saving, capital accumulation, natural resources, monopoly, aggregate economic accounting, and other vital economic phenomena.
Major economic fallacies--beliefs held by a majority of today's intellectuals--are convincingly explained and refuted, including, among many others, the theories of Marx and Keynes, the pure-and-perfect-competition doctrine, environmentalism, the idea that the greed of unregulated business will drive down wages and force up prices, or that automation and international free trade cause unemployment.
George Reisman's Capitalism is a book of moral philosophy as well as economics, as for example was Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. It is a landmark defense of capitalism--capitalism not only as a prerequisite for the continued material progress of civilization and a rising standard of living for all, but also as the only system that is consistent with human nature and a free society.
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