Walter E. Williams

Elements six and seven are related. Profits direct resources to their highest value uses. Losses free misused resources for higher value uses. People earn income by serving their fellow man. This link between serving others and income gives us incentive to develop talents and skills and become highly valued.

Elements eight and nine address the other keys to progress: Investment, better ways of doing things, sound economic institutions, and Adam Smith's idea that market prices direct buyers and sellers toward activities that promote the general welfare.

Their tenth element is crucial. We shouldn't ignore the secondary and long-term effects of an action. For example, trade restrictions on foreign sugar that result in higher prices for domestically produced sugar save jobs in our sugar industry. Because of those higher prices, major candy manufacturers such as Wrigley and Brach's moved to Canada and Mexico to take advantage of lower sugar prices. That resulted in more U.S. jobs lost than were saved by the sugar trade restrictions.

"Common Sense," subtitled "What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity," contains a wealth of information about the major sources of economic progress, economic progress and the role of government, and important elements of practical personal finance. The latter contains finance principles on how to invest your money, using the principles of compound interest and how to get more out of your money. There's nothing in the book that goes beyond common sense, something rare these days.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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