Books worth reading
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. As of this writing this is the source of the majority of text on my Favorite Quotes page. Hayek wrote this in the midst of World War II in part in reaction to a general movement toward socialism that he saw happening around the world. He makes the case that Germany’s current situation was brought about by the very forces that were at work in other countries as well and that we must all be on guard against creeping socialistic policies. With the fall of the Soviet Union and China turning (in some ways) to market forces it is tempting to dismiss concerns about socialism as anachronistic. However, if you think carefully about many of the things Hayek writes about and you think about the policies and regulations put forth by the government in the United States and Europe it no longer seems like ancient history. In fact it seems a little scary. (Amazon Kindle link.)
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics. A very clear and logical explanation of the functioning of the economy. He is particularly good at thinking through the complete ramifications of government policies and regulations – showing how important it is to think through the effects of regulations, tariffs, subsidies, and unions on everyone, not just those that the regulations specifically target. I discuss one bit of Hazlitt’s advice in a post here. PDF source, but a bit rough.
Jeffrey A. Miron, Libertarianism from A to Z. 2010. Miron presents the libertarian view on a wide range of policies, laws, unions, etc. Each topic gets one to two pages. It is a good overview of a libertarian way to think about key issues. I felt frustrated at times that the coverage was so thin on some of the issues – but if he went into more depth this would be a huge book. Now it is 198 pages. Amazon link.
Jay W. Richards, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem. Richards argues persuasively that capitalism is “the best system to respond to the biblical mandates of alleviating poverty and protecting the environment”. Amazon link.
Gary Taubes, Good Calories. Ever wonder how much science is behind government eating guidelines? Or how much politics? This book makes a persuasive case that too much politics and too little science are behind the commonly stated belief that a low fat, calorie restricted diet is the way to loose weight. Could the government’s push to tell people to loose weight this way be one of the driving forces for the obesity epidemic? Read this book and that question won’t seem so far fetched. Amazon link
Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Collins is a physician, biologist, geneticist, former Director of the NIH, and was the manager of the public effort to sequence the human genome. He discusses his position on how the advancement of scientific knowledge does not need to present a conflict with a belief in God. He presents some nice examples of how evolution works and his position that has evolution compatible with the creation story found in the bible. All of that is quite well done. He presents a case for a rational and logical framework for believing in God and in the accumulated knowledge of science. That argument was interesting to read but I found myself thinking that when he got down to the core of the argument that he made the same leap of logic that he is claiming that he has solved. He does not want to believe in a God of the Holes – a God that explains all things that science cannot yet explain – for such a belief would always be at war with the advancement of scientific knowledge, which inevitably will whittle away at the bits of life that are in God’s sole realm. He ascribes some things to a realm that, by definition, science cannot possibly explain and thus are the proper realm of faith. However, his dividing line between the realm of faith and the realm of science is not drawn with the precision that the rest of his argument leads one to think he will create. However, even with this disappointment the book is well worth reading. Collins has created a foundation for advancing his views at BioLogos.com.