Book Review: Free Market Energy: The Way to Benefit Consumers edited by S. Fred Singer and The Resourceful Earth edited by Julian L. Simon and Herman Kahn


Free Market Energy: The Way to Benefit Consumers

edited by S. Fred Singer

(Universe Books, 381 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10016), 1984 • 430 pages • $19.95 cloth, $8.95 paperback

The Resourceful Earth

edited by Julian L. Simon and Herman Kahn

(Basil Blackwell, 432 Park Avenue South, Suite 1505, New York, N.Y. 10016), 1984 • 585 pages • $19.95 cloth

These two anthologies, sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, are an effective rebuttal to the widely held belief that the world is running out of scarce resources. Drawing on history, economics, and the natural sciences, the more than two dozen academic authors present compelling arguments that market processes, if unhampered by government intervention, will alleviate any resource shortfall and eventually lead to higher living standards.

Free Market Energy concentrates on our nation’s energy needs, and how best to deal with unreliable foreign sources. The authors examine U.S. policy toward coal, natural gas, domestic and imported oil, nuclear power, and alternate energy technologies. If government involvement in energy production were reduced, the authors contend, energy costs could be cut, U.S. dependence on oil imports reduced, national security enhanced, and taxes lowered. By any standard, theAmerican consumer would benefit from a free and open market.

The Resourceful Earth is more wide-ranging, covering such topics as population trends, agricultural prospects, soil erosion, water supplies, species extinction, deforestation, fish harvests, climatic trends, mineral reserves, as well as energy and environmental issues. By ex trapolating current trends, and taking into account how consumers and entrepreneurs adapt to changing market prices, the authors show how the incentives inherent in an unhampered market lead to less pollution, less crowding, greater ecological stability, and reduced vulnerability to resource-supply disruptions. As long as markets are relatively free, the authors conclude, our prospects for future prosperity are virtually unlimited.


December 1984

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November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
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