A Review of Better Off

By Janessa Dyk

Global Business, Management, and Accounting Majors

Reviewed March 13, 2017


Dr. James W. Jackson in his book, Better Off explains the world of economics to readers in a way that is easy to understand and follow. Jackson starts off his book by explaining the basics of economics. Without understanding what economics are, people will be unable to appreciate a system of ingenuity and freedom that encourages people to make themselves, and the world, better off. In this world, people are faced with choices on how to use the limited resources that they have. By having the knowledge necessary to make the most informed decisions, people can use their resources wisely and in a way that brings about prosperity for all.

Economics and cultural meet to influence the decisions that people make. By appreciating this balance, people can be educated on what has worked well in the past (protecting and guaranteeing freedom of property and decisions) and what has not worked well (leaving everything to the control of the government (like in Soviet Russia).

In this book, Dr. Jackson makes it apparent that economic freedom is of the utmost importance and should be protected. History has proven that when governments step in too far and take over other aspects of the economy, like housing, distribution of products, and supply of goods, the economy suffers. Dr. Jackson illustrates this by describing a U.S. farming market and the mess that has been created by government involvement, that instead of allowing the natural course of supply and demand, determines the price for these goods.

Instead of giving in to the doom and despair portrayed in the news, Dr. Jackson argues that there is hope for the world. Instead of getting stuck in the same way of thinking, Dr. Jackson believes that people should use the creativity and brains that God has granted each individual to find new ways of doing things. Instead of giving up when obstacles arise, people should think outside the box to solve these problems. What are new ways to find energy sources? Are there other uses for products that we already have an excess of,  like corn? These are just a few of the options that Dr. Jackson brings up.

Economics and culture meet when people decide how and where to interact in the marketplace. Values and behavior are determined by culture. Dr. Jackson proposes that people can cultivate virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility to counteract the greed and selfishness found in our culture today. By doing so, people will be able to spread goodness throughout the marketplace, blessing not only others through economics, but also themselves in the long run.

Dr. Jackson summarizes his thoughts well by quoting President Ronald Reagan, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone” (p. 217, 2016). Each person is given a basket of goods and skills to use as they choose in the marketplace. By using our resources in a way that helps others out, the whole world can become a better place through economics. America is better off than many countries in this world because of its foundation in principles of freedom and liberty. It is crucial that we maintain and protect these freedoms so that people can provide for themselves and others by pursuing liberty and goodness.