• The last two books I’ve read

    Normally I work something about the books I’m reading into posts. For some reason, the last two I’ve read didn’t get a mention. So, I’ll just note them here because I think some readers might enjoy them.

    Sick, by Jon Cohn: Many readers probably read this years ago, as I wish I had. In case you haven’t, within its pages you’ll find all the standard (and powerful) arguments for increasing access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance.

    The Darwin Economy, by Robert Frank: The book is an argument against strict libertarianism. It includes a defense of the idea that relative status and income matter, which itself leads to a defense of progressive taxation, among other things. I highly recommend it. Here’s a quote from the conclusion:

    I have granted every traditional libertarian assumption—that markets are perfectly competitive, that consumers are essentially rational, and that government may not restrict behavior except to prevent undue harm to others. To this list I have added only one substantive element—namely the completely uncontroversial observation that many important aspects of life are graded on the curve. It’s that observation that causes the traditional libertarian position to collapse.



    • What evidence does Frank present that demonstrates that the libertarian case, or even classical liberalism rests upon perfect markets and perfect rationality?

      The idea that say, James Madison and his ilk built their case for limited government upon the idea that people are perfectly rational, or that Hayek constructed his case for using the price system to allocate resources on the idea that people transacting in the market have access to perfect information is so far off the mark that – to paraphrase Pauli – it’s not even wrong.

    • Loved, just loved the Frank quote!