Sowell, ‘Knowledge and Decisions’ – Read It!

Simply a Masterpiece — and Easy to Read, Too!

December 12, 1999
By Gary North
Sowell, an economist by training, assumes the economist’s standard definition of a scarce resource: “At zero price, there is greater demand than supply.” Nothing special here. Then he applies this axiomatic principle to knowledge and decisions based on knowledge. The fun begins. Page after page, he uses this intellectual insight to shoot sacred cows. I have never read any book that offers a greater number of fascinating insights, page for page, based on a seemingly noncontroversial axiom. Modern social policy and far too much of modern social theory are based on this premise: “Accurate knowledge is, or at least should be, a free good. When it is not, the civil government should coerce people to provide it.” It is a false premise, and it produces costly errors — another implication of his premise that accurate knowledge is not a free resource. Buy this book. Read it. Twice. Maybe more. (As an author, I will say this: Sowell makes brilliant writing look too easy and the rest of us look too lazy.)

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