BOOK REVIEW News Weekly
The economics of self-sufficient households
, October 26, 2013
PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS AND MONEY SUPPLY
by Wolfgang Fischer
(Cologne: Josef Eul Verlag GmbH)
Paperback: 184 pages
Reviewed by Kenneth K. Mwenda
Sounding an alarm to private households against over-dependency on money supply from the national economy, this book, Private Households and Money Supply, contends that such over-dependency often deprives many private households of other sources of income such as their own initiative at providing to the market private goods and services than can earn them a better income for improving their living standards.
The author, Professor Dr Wolfgang Chr. Fischer (until recently, an academic at James Cook University, Queensland) provides an excellent treatment of household incomes in Western societies. He makes a compelling case of how household incomes can be improved and how they can contribute to uplifting the standard of living of many citizens. And the central thesis of the book highlighted above is in tandem with such other inspiring works as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), David Caplovitz’s The Poor Pay More (1967) and Sir Martin Rees’s Our Final Century? Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-First Century? (2003).
Notably, Professor Fischer’s Private Households and Money Supply is on the different side of the chasm from the all too often euphoric sentiments about Western civilisation. In this vein, Private Households and Money Supply brings forward arguments that are in stark contrast to works such as Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011). Contrastingly, Professor Fischer’s study posits that there are many signs that point to the imminent downfall of Western societies today as well as to the end of colonisation by European powers.
In setting out the context of the study, Chapter 1 of Private Households and Money Supply examines micro- and macro-economic fundamentals of private household production.
This chapter addresses salient aspects of the history of economic thought and private household production. It also examines some definitions of the terms “private household” and “private household production”. Thereafter, the chapter proceeds to look at pertinent aspects of implementing private household production. Then, the nexus between private household production and economic division of labour is fleshed out.
Chapter 2 focuses on private household production and the “free market” philosophy. It delves into the intricate relationship between consumer sovereignty and a free market economy. Also, an analysis of private household compositions is carried out, including an analysis of equipment owned by those households that have household appliances. This chapter then proceeds to examine the concept of market power of some service and retail providers. Closely related to that is the role that consumer associations play as well as some prospects for government intervention in private household production.
Chapter 3 turns the debate to examine the position of private households in a cash economy. Complementing that discussion, Chapter 4 examines how economic inflation affects private households. While the history of economic thought about inflation is considered in Chapter 4, together with an analysis of the inflationary process, Chapter 3 precedes that discussion with an analysis of private households in a cash economy, focusing on goods and services tax (GST), on the one hand, and the concepts of tax evasion and tax avoidance, on the other.
Chapter 5 concludes the study by examining the concept of self-sufficient private household production versus money dependency. The main principles of self-sufficient private household production are examined, and the chapter sheds some light on the economic future of many Western societies.
No doubt, this is a timely, well-argued and concisely written book that adds great value to the ever-growing body of literature on private household incomes. Professor Fischer writes with such great clarity that even the non-economist reader will find this book a valuable read. Indeed, this is a book that will be useful to many a scholar and reader from different disciplinary backgrounds as well as to different geographical regions.
Professor Fischer should be commended for bringing out this excellent study. It not only provides a fresh perspective to the debate on household incomes, but it also provides food for thought on the sustainability of certain fundamental assumptions underpinning the ideology of a free-market economy.
This review is from Kenneth K. Mwenda’s foreword to Wolfgang Fischer’s book. Professor Kenneth K. Mwenda, PhD, LLD, is a former Rhodes Scholar and currently program manager for the World Bank’s Voice Secondment Program for training and enhancing the capacities of civil servants from member developing and transition countries. He is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), with management qualifications from Cornell University and Georgetown University, respectively. He also serves as extraordinary professor of law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, as well as adjunct professor of law at American University Washington College of Law in Washington DC.