Economics. Scott Nearing , Frank D. Watson

Alvin S. Johnson
1908 Journal of Political Economy  
New York: Macmillan. Pp. xii+499. This book should be welcomed by those teachers of economics who are in revolt against the "refinements" of modern theory. Of its 500 pages only 40 are devoted to the theory of distribution. There is no analysis of value and price; no mention of diminishing returns (except in one passage enumerating exploded dogmas); no treatment of money and credit, international trade, or foreign exchange. In place of these topics-which are indeed somewhat hackneyed, like
more » ... ackneyed, like matter and mind in metaphysics-the student is offered a rich and varied mass of economic material, derived from publications of the administrative bureaus at Washington, from President Roosevelt's messages, from current periodical literature, and from works on "practical economics." The only economic theorist whose works receive serious consideration is Professor Patten. The evident purpose of the authors is to acquaint the student with as many facts as possible, without troubling him too much with underlying principles. It must be admitted that there is a need for textbooks of this character. Every teacher of economics recognizes that many students have such meager knowledge of the facts of business life that economic principles, presented in the usual manner, merely bewilder them. The book under review would provide them with much useful information, at least. It would interest them, also, in spite of an unfortunate literary style, characterized at times by a frisky frivolity, at times by an utterly hopeless pedantry. The theory of distribution is by far the least satisfactory part of the book-a natural consequence of the omission of an analysis of value. The theory of rent is primitively Ricardian, with an unassimilated injection of ideas as to marginal rents. On p. 346 economic rent is described as the sum of the differential and the marginal rent; on p. 347 it is said that the characteristic feature of rent is that it depends on the superiority of a piece of land over the poorest of its kind-an obvious inconsistency. The theory of interest may be described as a combination of the future-discount and the 706
doi:10.1086/251483 fatcat:alokcdzepzb6pji2c54x22nsba