The Best Book That Teaches Economics

Did you know that, at one time, you could get candy for a penny?

I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to business. When my parents told me and my sister that we would need to do an economics course a few years ago, I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be fun, entertaining, or enjoyable (I love how I just jump to conclusions without any data…). I was just hoping that I’d be able to fly through the course and get it over with. 

The dreaded day came when the class started. We sat at the kitchen table as a small book was pulled out. I was shocked that it was small. I thought it would be so much bigger! The book was titled “Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?” by Richard Maybury – aka Uncle Eric. (And yes, while I actually do have an Uncle Eric, he wasn’t the guy who wrote this book, so I won’t be able to get any of you autographs…). I took a deep breath, preparing myself for an hour or so of extreme boredom. And then Dad started to read the introduction…

I bet that in your lifetime, you’ve heard someone talk about penny candy, right? The good old days when you could get a piece of candy for, well, a penny. Penny candy was literally candy that cost 1 cent! Strange, right?! That took me a while to wrap my head around. I mean, go into Walmart and take a look at the candy prices by the checkout line…they’re not anywhere close to 1 cent. Why isn’t candy 1 cent anymore? Whatever actually happened to penny candy? Inflation. What in the world is inflation (and, honestly, why should I care)? Oh, and what is TANSTAAFL? 

This book, while initially intended for young adults, is perfect for anyone of any age. This book teaches economics in a simple, straightforward, jargon-free, entertaining way (not too kiddish, and not too adultish, either!). This book explains that five is not always more than one, and that economics is something that we come across daily – whether you’re a business major or not. The one thing I remember vividly about the book is an account of something that happened in Germany due to inflation. The government had printed a ton of money and stores were hiking their prices just so that they would be able to make some money off of their goods. It got to the point where one guy in particular actually had to carry around a wheelbarrow full of thousands of marks (German money) and it ended up getting stolen. Oh…no, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. The money didn’t get stolen. It was left in a pile on the sidewalk. The wheelbarrow was stolen because it had more value than the enormous amount of money that it was carrying! That’s inflation at its worst (or, should I say, its best).

Having a solid grasp of economics will help you make better voting decisions, once you’re able to understand what in the world the politicians are talking about. With the election that’s coming up in America, it’s a good thing to have a grasp of what socialism vs. capitalism is about (since that seems to be a major difference between the two main candidates). Let’s start with what happened with Obamacare. 

Whether you are democrat or republican, if you were well versed in economics, you would see that there are some major flaws in President Obama’s version of healthcare – giving free stuff to seniors and illegal aliens. Uncle Eric said this is where TANSTAAFL comes in – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. This saying was coined sometime in the 1930s during the Great Depression, and is still very relevant today. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and that goes for free healthcare, too. Somebody always has to pay for it. And in Obamacare’s instance, that somebody is all the tax-paying, hard-working citizens. Economics also shows you that Social Security is a scam. Look at your paycheck sometime and see all of the deductions and where they’re actually going. You are paying for someone’s “free” medical knee brace…and you’ll likely never see that money again (and that’s not a political party opinion – that’s an economical fact). 

But what about the free stuff at the county fair, the free swag at the college intro weekend, and other free stuff that people can get (like free school lunches)? The free stuff at the county fair is paid for by the people handing it out. The free swag at the college intro weekend is paid for by the current college students’ numerous university fees, and the free school lunches are paid for with taxpayer dollars. It turns out that nothing is truly free. Somebody always has to pay for it. To quote my namesake, President Ronald Reagan:

“We represent the forgotten American – that simple soul who goes to work, bucks for a raise, takes out insurance, pays for his kids’ schooling, contributes to his church and charity and knows there just ‘ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’” 

– Ronald Reagan, a National Review essay in 1964

All of these “free” programs are glimpses of socialism – where someone else needs to pay. Capitalism is where you need to earn your own way. There’s this old saying: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, you feed him (and his family) for a lifetime.” The first part of that saying is socialism. The last defines capitalism. Unfortunately, many people have been trained to believe that they deserve these programs and “free” things. There are those who may be afraid to try to improve their circumstances, and those that frankly are too lazy to work – they would rather get things handed to them. The real tragedy, however, is that there are people who are trapped in the system with no obvious way out. You need to know the difference between socialism and capitalism.

You’re probably thinking right now, “But wait! What about the widows and the orphans?” Turns out providing for their needs was the church’s job from the beginning…not the government’s (Deuteronomy 15:7-11, 1 Timothy 5, and many others). These programs were a sly way to get the church out of people’s lives. The saddest part is that the church let them do it.

If you really want to learn about economics and why it is so important and relevant in your life, “Whatever Happened To Penny Candy?” will help you learn it and really retain the information. You’ll start seeing money, spending, and even government in a whole new light. And yes, I had to take an economics course to obtain my Associate’s degree…and that course was as dull as a rock. I really didn’t learn anything about economics in that class, and TANSTAAFL was never once mentioned (strange coincidence…). If that had been my introduction to economics, I wouldn’t be looking at finances the way that I do now. 

Uncle Eric really knows how to make economics fun and entertaining. There is a companion book to “Whatever Happened To Penny Candy?”. It is a workbook Bluestocking guide. You can learn what you need to know with just Richard Maybury’s book, but if you want to go more in-depth and have questions to think about and answer, then I would also recommend the workbook.

Even if you don’t click on the links I’ve provided in this article, I would definitely recommend borrowing the book from somebody. I have found that it is one of the best (if not the best) ways to learn economics well (side note: it’ll help you ace your economics class and finances for the rest of your life!)

Remember the whole “somebody always has to pay because nothing is truly free” idea? Well, guess what – that holds true in all areas of life, not just economics. You see, we all have a sin nature. The wages (the cost) of our sin is death. God has given us a free gift. But remember, nothing is ever truly free. Somebody had to pay our sin debt for us to receive this gift. God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the debt for us so that we could have the free gift, and I am so thankful that He did! If you are not 100% sure that you will go to Heaven when you die, click here to read how you can be saved!

Disclaimer: The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase any of these, at no extra cost to you, I may receive a commission. You can read my full disclaimer here

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