Markets are everywhere. But how many of us understand how they work, and why? What does a ‘free market’ really mean? Do free markets actually exist? Should we have more or less of them? Most of all – do we really need to know all this? Answer: Yes we do.
MAKING ECONOMICS SIMPLE SO THAT EVEN POLITICIANS CAN UNDERSTAND IT
If any mention of free markets sends your mind screaming back to your musty old school economics textbook, think again. The Best Book on the Market will keep you gripped, intrigued and well informed. Abandoning complicated mumbo-jumbo, Eamonn Butler, Director of the UK’s leading free market think-tank, demystifies the world of markets, competition, monopolies and cartels, prices and overspills. Using examples from our everyday lives Dr Butler explains how the markets we have, and the many more we need, can work to create a richer, freer and more peaceful world.
STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE FREE ECONOMY
He delves into the morality of markets and interrogates important issues such as why feckless rock-stars are paid much more than worthy nurses; whether we should worry about people trading in arms, water, healthcare etc; whether black markets are immoral; and questions of equality; sweatshops, and fair trade.
“This book is about the free market and how unfree it can be when there is a lack of belief in freedom itself. Eamonn Butler presents solid arguments against government attempts to ‘perfect’ the markets by regulation, controls, subsidies, or by adopting measures which obstruct competition and private ownership.”
Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic
“Vividly and simply explains competition, entrepreneurship and prices”.
John Blundell, Director, Institute of Economic Affairs
“A great little book that gets to the heart of how and why markets work, in a very engaging and easily understood way”.
Dan Lewis, Research Director, Economic Research Council
“I welcome this witty, lucid explanation of how entrepreneurs and business people make a positive contribution to our lives, and why economists often don't”.
Andrew Neil , leading journalist and BBC presenter
“Anything which educates the public - and politicians - on how the free economy actually works is always welcome. Dr Butler does this in style”.
Lord Lawson, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer
“Everyone in business would do well to understand the basic principles of markets which Dr Butler clarifies so well in this short book”.
Allister Heath, Editor of The Business and Associate Editor of The Spectator
"This book does great justice to the vibrancy of markets and what makes them tick"
Ruth Richardson, former Finance Minister of New Zealand
"It's refreshing to see an economist who understands the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in pushing progress forward, and who can explain it in straightforward language."
Trevor Baylis OBE (inventor of the wind-up radio)
"I'm glad to see that Dr Butler stresses the role of innovators – and the importance of market structures that encourage innovation."
Sir Clive Sinclair (inventor)
"Dr Butler's book is a welcome and very readable contribution on the mechanisms and morality of the free economy."
Sir John Major KG CH (former UK Prime Minister)
“'Market' is one of the first six-letter words that every English-speaking child learns: as in 'This - little - piggy - went - to - market'”.
Geoffrey Howe, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer
More recently, the events of 9/11 and the US reaction have set in motion policies that have sacrificed freedom in an attempt to increase security. Similarly, the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and which was also germinated on US soil, has been followed by increasing controls, regulations and protections. Instead of relying on the creative destruction principle of free markets, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have used huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to bail out failing businesses.
Threats to freedom abound. A quarter of a century ago, the world embraced ‘glasnost’ in the Soviet Union and then celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. But new challenges have now emerged in the form of neo-nationalism in Europe and radicalism in the Middle East. Both trends will reduce freedom if they go unchecked. In Europe, this reversion to nationalism, and even racism, is taking place despite a relatively high degree of political freedom – a functioning democracy exists. In the Middle East, the rise of religious radicalism is less surprising – neither market nor democracy is in good shape.
Despite these problems, individuals in the 21st century are in many respects freer than their predecessors in the previous century. The information and communication technology revolution has brought down all kinds of barriers. In China, for example, Li Chengpeng is a prominent writer and social critic: his Sina Weibo blog has nearly six million followers. And, during the Arab Spring, social media helped bring about widespread political and social progress. If information is power, then information technology has empowered the individual. Geographical boundaries remain, but they are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
In this context, the publication of Eamonn Butler’s monograph could not be more timely. Foundations of a Free Society is a welcome addition to the family of modern primers on liberty. Butler’s unique skill lies in his ability to express complex and highly influential ideas in plain English. He also successfully undermines the arguments of critics and opponents with real-world examples that illustrate his ideas and support the theoretical arguments.
This Occasional Paper is therefore an excellent introductory text for those who would like to understand the basic principles of a free society. It will be particularly helpful for those promoting freedom in countries where these principles remain largely unknown, as well as for those protecting freedom in places where traditional liberties are under assault.