A timely, unabashedly partisan primer on ""the dismal science"" that bridges the gap between the profundity of academic studies and the oversimplification of topical press coverage. Schultz, an influential member of the Nixon cabinet, and Dam, his one-time aide now teaching law at the University of Chicago, hit most of the high spots. Included in their brief but wide-ranging survey are inflation, wage/price controls, unemployment, federal budgeting, the international monetary system, energy, welfare, and tax reform. The authors' clearly stated point of view--hands-off conservatism--is effectively tempered by a keen sense of reality, based on their practical experience in government service. Philosophically opposed to so-called incomes policy, both nonetheless helped administer the Nixon administration's wage/price controls program. Schultz and Dam tell the story straight and offer insights into the political pressures behind the ill-starred experiment. The controls episode also highlights one theme of the book: ""the interplay and often apparent conflict between efficiency and equity"" invariably involved in economic policy decisions. But the authors caution that the tradeoff concept ""can blind us to the most desirable solutions."" For example, they note that the putative tradeoff between braking the inflation rate and reducing joblessness ""obscures the possibility of dealing with the inequities of unemployment by welfare reform"" (i.e., the negative Income Tax). Beyond an instructive text, the book furnishes a bonus in the form of imaginative illustrations including some New Yorker cartoons that put economic issues in an antic perspective. (""Until the dollar firms,"" says a South Sea Islander, ""we let the clamshell float."") A useful guide for the intelligent, inquiring lay reader.