Henry Hazlitt

hazlitt 2Journalist Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993) had a great gift for making economic liberty understandable to ordinary people. He also played an important role in the modern libertarian movement.

He helped transmit the ideas of Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek to American readers. He worked for The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, then wrote editorials on economics for The New York Times. His front page New York Times book review write-up on F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944) helped propel it onto the bestseller list. He helped Mises, a newly-arrived immigrant, get published in The New York Times, and he helped find a publisher for Mises’ books Omnipotent Government (1944), Bureaucracy (1944) and Human Action (1949).

Hazlitt’s first major book, Economics in One Lesson (1946), became a bestseller. His book The Free Man’s Library (1956), if you’re ever able to find a copy, provides a useful survey of the literature on liberty. His other major books include The Failure of the “New Economics” (1959), The Critics of Keynesian Economics (1960) and The Foundations of Morality (1964).

He also wrote Thinking as a Science (1916), The Way to Will Power (1922), A Practical Program for America (1932), The Anatomy of Criticism (1933), A New Constitution Now (1942), Will Dollars Save the World? (1947), Time Will Run Back: A Novel About the Rediscovery of Capitalism (1951), What You Should Know About Inflation (1960), Man Vs. the Welfare State (1969), Conquest of Poverty (1973) and From Bretton Woods to World Inflation: A Study of the Causes and Consequences (1984). He and his wife Frances edited The Wisdom of the Stoics: Selections from Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius (1984) and The Wisdom of Henry Hazlitt (1993) collected his contributions to The Freeman. The facts might be dated in these writings, but Hazlitt always brought out the general principles. Governments are still screwing up in the same ways they always have, so there’s still much to be learned from him.

As a Newsweek columnist from 1946 to 1966, Hazlitt became America’s best-known champion of libertarian views. Altogether, he produced 18 books and some 10,000 editorials, articles and columns. In November 1992, Laissez Faire Books published his last article, “How I wrote Economics in One Lesson.”