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The following description of the book by Flowers, an economics professor, comes from the book's Amazon page:
The book was originally inspired by Harry Truman who said, “Give me a one handed economist! All my economists say on the one hand… on the other.” It is my contention that ideology can only operate to limit choice. By mitigating choices, growth stimulating accords are sometimes overlooked or simply ignored. As an empiricist, I advocate that no ideology is right or wrong, but that conditions and data are all that should drive our policy-making decisions. Every policy has a place where it will or will not work, a set of circumstances that make it function or malfunction, and conditions that promote or deny the benefits associated with that policy. My view on economic policy making and world poverty is unique to the literature, since it is precisely opposite to Harry Truman’s desire. The world is complex; Harry Truman needed a Three Handed Economist, one hand was never enough.
The world has many sectarian problems; luckily the United States has largely avoided such problems. However, the growing wealth gap, political divide, increasingly emboldened extremist groups, and the decline of compromise is certainly harming the nation’s future outlook. Since much disagreement comes down to misinformation and misunderstanding, this book seeks to educate and inform to dissuade misunderstanding and misinformation within the United States. In the rest of the world, poor people are driven to make decisions they may not make if their lives were improved. Extreme poverty is a blight on humanity and the discussion is far too limited.
Three Handed Economist addresses many issues relating to the popular grievances people have, discuss, and ultimately hold as a banner and reason to entrench their ideology. Chapters 1-3 are about informing and providing historical reasoning for the predicament the United States finds itself, hopefully with the effect of reaching some of the entrenched ideologues. Through the presentation of historical data this book describes the emergence of the Federal Reserve and its importance, a discussion on why returning to the gold standard is impractical – including reasons why we left the standard to begin with – the importance of government regulations, and a novel approach to shrink the growing wealth gap with an alternative to minimum wage.
Chapters 4-5 discuss the emergence of central planning, its pitfalls, its benefits, and the proper order of development both from free markets and from a centrally planned regime. It presents a contentious view, especially among economists, on how central planning may be okay temporarily in some instances and offers three case studies to make that point. The chapter ends with a somber realization that neither free markets nor central planning can solve extreme world poverty on their own.
Chapter 6 is a survey of existing books on world poverty and the problems that have been discovered. The chapter begins by consolidating many of the problems identified by several development economists from around the globe and segues into chapter 7. Chapter 7 reintroduces the problems associated with abject poverty around the world and simplifies them down to the first level of economics – the factors of production. From there the factors of production are explained and expanded to the scope of world poverty for easy assimilation by the reader. Finally a novel approach to attack world poverty is introduced and explained. Chapter 8 concludes the book and looks to the future of the world.