Sunday, December 1, 2013

Simply Put: An Excellent Resource for Learning About Economics from a Conservative Point of View (Review and Giveaway)

About two months ago, I was offered an opportunity to be a part of the Bow of Bronze Launch Team for Simply Put: A Study in Economics.  Before I could even get my hands on the curriculum, though, my husband found it, and this is what happened:

Mike teachers our son more about economics than I know myself. 

Luckily, now that Mike's finished reading the book (sometimes to Luke!), I can get my hands on it again.  If you'd like to dive into a copy of the curriculum, be sure to check out the bottom of this post, where you will find both a digital copy giveaway and a Mega Giveaway!

Mike and Simply Put: A Study in Economics

As I wearily arrived home from a brutal day of work that resulted in 30 percent of the remuneration for my labor going to the federal government, I noticed a white box laying against our front door. Instinctively, I picked it up and brought it inside. Although my wife was the intended recipient, I opened the package. Inside was a book titled Simply Put: A Study In Economics. 

Normally, I don’t find books addressed to my wife appealing, but this particular book piqued my interest.  I am one of those strange individuals that finds economics intoxicating.  While others glaze over during talks of monetary policy, my hypothalamus hits hyperdrive causing my heart to race with excitement. 

How I Came to Know and Love Simply Put: A Study of Economics 

My excitement turned to complete euphoria when I read that Catherine Jaime, the author of Simply Put: A Study In Economics, is a follower of the Austrian School of Economics. 

Be still my heart! In my hands I held a book written by a classic liberal, a believer in the free market and the power of private enterprise.  A kindred spirit.   I hastily started paging through the book, nibbling away at selected chapters. 

Suddenly, the door to my house opened and my wife and kids walked in. I couldn’t contain my joy. (Sure, I was happy to see them, but my joy this time came from the book.) 

“Oh, I see you’ve found the new book I received in exchange for an honest review,” my wife said, a bit surprised to see the book in my hands. 

“Yep,” I replied. “Looks like the author thinks like me.” 

“Would you like to write the review?” she asked, more as a rhetorical question than anything.

“Sure,” I replied. “Unless you want to.”

Undoubtedly, at this point, my wife understood the grief and disappointment that she would bestow upon me if she told me that she, indeed, wanted to review the book and, therefore, I would have to wait to continue delving into it. In fact, I later learned that being a part of the Bow of Bronze Launch Team for the book had piqued her interest more for me – her conservative, economics-loving husbands – and our son – who at seven already seems to be following in my footsteps – than for herself and our other children. 

 “I can read it later,” my wife said. “You go ahead and read it first as long as you write the review, too.” 

Read it and write the review?  Sure thing!  I thought. I was thrilled and got to work right away.  After all, economics is too important of a topic to be taken lightly, even if our current elected officials treat it irreverently. 

My Take

Simply Put: A Study In Economics is a profoundly relevant book. It espouses a philosophy counter to the one being peddled by the Obama Administration and many in Congress.  Indeed, while many of our elected officials embrace the philosophy of John Maynard Keynes (i.e., Keynesian economics), which concluded that government intervention is necessary to regulate the economy, Ms Jaime harbors no such disposition. She believes that the free market, not the state, is the best regulator of the economy. And she arrives to this fight on the shoulders of such brilliant economic minds as Frederic Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises, two classic liberals and free market proponents.

Unfortunately, most Americans would rather read about Kim Kardashian’s navel lint than educate themselves about basic economic theory.  As they say, ignorance is bliss, but it’s also extremely dangerous.  An ignorant populace is a controlled populace, and right now, we are going down the road to serfdom that was warned by Frederich Hayek, another classic liberal economist. 

Luckily, ignorance’s enemy is enlightenment, and the best path toward enlightenment is education. 

Simply Put: A Study In Economics offers a solid place to start such education. (Or, if you're like me, to continue such education.)  The prose of the book is easily digestible. Jaiime doesn’t get too technical nor bore the reader with insomnia-curing charts and graphs. In other words, she keeps the book basic enough for its intended purpose and audience—introductory material for high school-level students, while also making it relevant for others.

As I have already attested, I quite enjoyed the book and I know my wife is beginning to learn from it as well. 

In Simply Put: A Study In Economics, Jaime doesn’t shy away from controversial topics such as greed and self interest, and their value in a society.  Succinctly explaining in Lesson Ten what took Ayn Rand nearly 1,000 pages to bloviate in her self-righteous tome Atlas Shrugged, Jaime describes  how greed and self interest aren’t necessarily bad things and can be beneficial to society. 

Jaime also describes the value of topics that I have never given much thought to before. For example, she spells out in Lesson Eighteen how the “middle man” allows producers to focus on producing goods and makes the purchasing of those goods more convenient for consumers.  And in Lesson Nineteen, she details the benefit of speculators. Speculation is something that I hitherto had little clue about and would not have been able to argue the advantages of.  After reading Simply Put, that has changes.

Jaime explains how speculation actually benefits the economy by taking some of the burden of risk away from producers like farmers.

Jaime also takes on the anti-technology crowd, who had an advocate in former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who once wrote the following: 

We have reached the point today where labor-saving devices are good only when they do not throw the worker out of his job. 

Many today agree with the statement. But Jaime goes on to expose the absurdity of such nonsense: 

A thinking person should stop and ask, how far back would Ms Roosevelt have us go—back to before refrigerators so the ice man still has a job, or before cars so that the horse and carriages could be rehired, or before electric lights so that the lamplighters could again have jobs? 

And to take Jaime a step further, I would add that for every labor-intensive job lost by technology, one skilled job (or more) is created. After all, someone needs to design those instruments, build them and repair them. 

Simply Put: A Study In Economics isn’t just about theory; it also has real-life examples, which are mainly found in the Appendices.   For example, Appendix 2 shows how the Pilgrims tried communism and how it failed.

Jaime has also included review exercises and exams to challenge the student’s retention of the material. 

Of course, I would be remiss as an honest reviewer if I did touch areas where I feel Simply Put could use improvement.

For example, I did not feel that Lesson Six: The Constitution and the Economics sufficiently addressed how the Constitution nurtures and promotes free markets.  In this chapter, Jaime uses conjecture where concrete examples may be more effective.

For instance, Jaime states: “While [the 10th Amendment] isn’t overtly economic, it would be safe to say that there are economic overtones to it.”  Why is it safe to say that? What is such a statement based on?

Moreover, Jaime would be better served to present the other side of the argument.  With someone like me, she’s preaching to the choir.  However, to purveyors of the Keynesian philosophy, or even an objective observer, the book could be construed as a bit of indoctrination.

My Bottom Line

Despite the minor blemishes mentioned above, Simply Put: A Study In Economics is an excellent starting point for learning about economics from a conservative point of view.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and have learned a few things through doing so.   I look forward to my wife delving into the book more, and, later, for our children to do so.  

Most certainly, Simply Put is a worthwhile home education resource. The curriculum it offers will be a potent tool to help our children (now only seven, six and three) wade through the barrage of negativity directed at capitalism and the free market from the media and a large segment of our elected officials. 

Learn More and Get Your Copy

Both the Student Book and the Teacher Key can be previewed at Amazon.  You can also learn more about the curriculum and how folks are using it by clicking through the links for all the Launch Team reviews at Bow of Bronze.

To purchase your own copy of the Simply Put: A Study in Economics Student Book, choose: 

  • a paperback at Amazon for $17.55 (a 10% savings off the list price of $19.50) 
  • a Kindle version at Amazon for $6.99 (a 64% savings off the paperback list price). 
  • or a pdf at Currclick for $6.99 (nearly 44% off the regular sale price of $16.00)
The teacher’s key found: 
  • in paperback at Amazon for $5.36 (a 10% savings off the list price of $5.95)

  • in Kindle at Amazon for $0.99 (an 83% savings off the paperback list price)

  • or included with the student book at Currclick (no additional cost)
Or, you can win a free copy!

Enter to Win A Digital Copy or a Mega Giveaway! 

With thanks to author Catherine Jaime's generosity, you could win your own digital copy of Simply Put:  A Study in Economics student book and teacher's key.  Simply enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also enter the AWESOME Launch Mega Giveaway described at Bow of Bronze, which valued at $325+!  By doing so, you could win the complete collection of digital titles by Catherine Jaime (including Simply Put!), plus a 3 month subscription to A+Tutorsoft in the grade level of your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(All prices are current at the time of posting.  Some are "specials" and may increase, so get the book while the prices are most economical!)

Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to click through them to make purchases, we thank you.  It will not cost you any extra to do so.  However, it may bless our family with a normal percentage of your purchase price. 


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