“In the history of human thought, science has often come out of superstition. Astronomy came out of astrology. Chemistry came out of alchemy. What will come out of economics?” Bernard Lewis.

By Ha-Joon Chang
Bloomsbury Press, $25.00, 304 pages

Nothing illustrates that better than the situation we’re in today according to Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. Mr. Chang is an economist of Korean extraction who now teaches at Cambridge University. He has chosen 23 aspects of free market economics that he believes have brought us close to ruin. He presents a fresh view that mixes theory, statistics and history in an understandable and easy-to-read way. He believes that even though we don’t understand all of the technical details, we can still understand enough to make us what he calls ‘active economic citizens,’ just as we don’t need to be experts in diseases to know there should be hygiene standards in food factories, butcher shops and restaurants.

Some examples of his 23 Things include: Thing 1: There is no such thing as a free market, only variations in the strength of regulation. Thing 2: Companies should not be run in the interests of their owners because if the owners are stockholders, they have the least interest in the long-term health of the company. Thing 12: Government can pick winners through cooperative ventures, research, and development assistance. Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer. There are 19 other thought provoking Things that will permanently change the way you look at the news and our government. This is a must-read if you believe something’s wrong but don’t know what.

Reviewed by Norman West

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