Even More Recent Reading

Tyler Cowen, Stubborn Attachments. You can find this for $0 on Medium, and it’s a preface to his most recent book The Complacent Class. His argument is inspiring if not airtight: he argues that we should not discount the welfare of future generations, and if this is the case it has pretty radical policy implications: economic growth pretty much overwhelms all other considerations given that growth expands our capacities. It’s not a narrow “GDP growth at all costs” story as Cowen argues for a more expansive definition of output that makes me think of Amartya Sen’s “capabilities” approach. Some rights are more or less trumps, as well, but we then run the risk of arguing extensively over what does and what doesn’t count as a “human right.”

James M. Buchanan and Nicos E. Devletoglou, Academia in Anarchy: An Economic Diagnosis. Ever the economist’s economist, Buchanan goes straight after the incentives of students, faculty, and taxpayers. Students consume higher education but usually aren’t the ones paying, taxpayers pay for the education and don’t really own or control the universities, and faculties run the universities and do the teaching and research but their effort and their compensation are largely separate. I put this in the mailbox of my colleague Jeremy Thornton, an expert on industrial organization applied to the nonprofit sector.

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