AMERICAN ENTERPRISE: Free and Not So Free by Clarence Cramer


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How the Kodak camera got its name, how the mercantilists violate the Judeo-Christian ethic, why Henry Clay was sometimes called the Cock of Kentucky, why the dollar is termed the dollar -- this homey mixture is one part conventional wisdom to two parts quiz-kiddism. The conventional wisdom is either amusing or annoying. David Ricardo is falsely credited with formulating the iron law of wages; we are told that ""since 1929 the problem has been one of abundance rather than scarcity"" (did he have to pick that year?); and that the Depression was a mistake by the Federal Reserve Board! The topics are inexhaustible, from bowdlerizations of the theories of Veblen, Henry George, Keynes, and Gerard Piel to the adventures of Marco Polo and Prince Henry, the Tea Act, railroad speculation, 19th-century paper currency, solutions to the present monetary crisis, the Haymarket Riots, Alexander Hamilton and the National Bank, massacres of Indians, Coxey's Army, the Dust Bowl, and the question of slavery's profitability, in just about that garbled order. One mildly interesting interlude is a discussion of the American merchant marine with an excursion into the issue of subsidies, both historic and current; farm, oil, gas and other subsidies are also surveyed in some detail but little depth. Standard economic histories are preferable to this idiot-savant compilation -- unless, of course, you must know why the Kodak is called the Kodak.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1972
Publisher: Little, Brown