I’m a big fan of simplicity. Currently, I’m in the middle of reading The Logic of Scientific Discovery, by Karl Popper, book 34 in the Well-Read Man Project. In Chapter 7 of that book, the author discusses solutions to the “problem of simplicity” by referencing one-parametric logarithmic curves and the intersection of light-rays in space. That is not simple. In fact, the farther you go into the chapter, the less simple simplicity becomes.
That’s why I liked More Liberty Means Less Government, a collection of articles by Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University. If you judge books by their covers, you won’t like this book. It’s completely covered with the face of an economist. But if you reach into the pages, you find a world were complex issues like race relations, crime, health care, and even economics are discussed in simple, pleasant terms. Williams is a master at taking a subject–such as whether it is fair that some people are rich and others are poor–and turning it into a story about how women decide who to date. In short, he takes details only an economist could love, and communicates them in a way that touches the everyday lives of everyday folks.
As you can probably tell from the title, Williams is a Libertarian. He even ends the book with an article on one of the touchstones of the Libertarian movement: the legalization of drugs. And while many (including your humble reviewer) won’t agree with some of his positions, every reader will fall in love with his presentation abilities. After reading an article, something inside of you wants to shout, “Grandpa Williams, tell me that story again.” It’s the simplicity that does it. And it’s a benefit to both his supporters and detractors. By breaking a topic down to its most basic and easy-to-understand components, readers can make clear, thoughtful decisions about whether they agree or disagree. The choices are not clouded with political rhetoric or spin. Instead, the core issues are laid bare, allowing even those without strong backgrounds in how an economy or political system works to come to valid, informed conclusions.
This particular book by Williams is based on newspaper articles he wrote back in the mid-1990s. Some of the specifics included in the book are outdated. But his general points are just as fresh today as they were back in the Clinton era. Whether he’s speaking about corporate welfare or public schools, the simplicity of his content makes each topic timeless.