The Darwin Economy - Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good

Robert H. Frank

The Darwin Economy - Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good

The Darwin Economy - Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good

  • Title: The Darwin Economy - Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good
  • Author: Robert H. Frank
  • ISBN: 9780691153193
  • Page: 408
  • Format: Hardcover

Who was the greater economist Adam Smith or Charles Darwin The question seems absurd Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best selling author of The Economic Naturalist , predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics The reason, Frank arguWho was the greater economist Adam Smith or Charles Darwin The question seems absurd Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist But Robert Frank, New York Times economics columnist and best selling author of The Economic Naturalist , predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin s understanding of competition describes economic reality far accurately than Smith s And the consequences of this fact are profound Indeed, the failure to recognize that we live in Darwin s world rather than Smith s is putting us all at risk by preventing us from seeing that competition alone will not solve our problems Smith s theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself But what if Smith s idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition That s what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin s insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to arms races, encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone That s a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept.

Recent Comments "The Darwin Economy - Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good"

A key insight from the work of Adam Smith is that specialization in an economy makes us all better off in absolute terms. While this is undoubtedly true in material terms, it ignores the psychological costs that can come from hyper-specialization. And Smith himself was well aware of these psychological costs. In fact, he believed that the division of labor taken to an extreme can turn people into savage creatures “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be”.Read the res [...]

The Darwin Economy is an intellectual page-turner. It is one of the few thoughtful challenges to libertarian ideas I have read. The book is structured as a logical argument about positional goods--those things that are only beneficial relative to what others have. For example, running a fast time in a race is only important in relation to the other runners--were you the fastest? Did you win the race? Similarly, many things related to status and power that humans pursue are only valued relative t [...]

The fallacies of the libertarian economic philosophy can be very attractive -- but they are still fallacies.Author Robert H. Frank clearly points out many of the libertarian errors of reasoningAn excerpt from the book:-> "The difficult question is how to eliminate wasteful government spending without inflicting even more costly collateral damage. Experience suggests that the 'starve-the-beast' [Grover Norquist] strategy is NOT the answer." "Starve-the-beast proponents might be likened to a do [...]

Great book on relative consumption, collective action problems, market failures, and libertarianism. Notes below:> A rational libertarian who reflects carefully about the traditional libertarian position will find it difficult to defend. 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 [...]

This book was a total bait and switch. After reading the back cover, I found myself quite excited to read about Frank's contention that Charles Darwin will be the economic father of economics as we move forward as a research field. Frank has a long list of accolades, so naturally I respect his opinion on economic research. UNFORTUNATELY, this book rarely even mentions Darwin. Instead, it contains complaints on complaints regarding what Frank deems libertarian ideas. I find his straw man argument [...]

A well-written and persuasive argument for more rational thought in how society approaches the question of free markets vs regulation. The author's recommendation falls squarely on the side of more regulation, based on the concept of maximizing total benefit across all members of society. Too bad no one that makes US policy is likely to read it and take it seriously, since there's no incentive in our political system to actually maximize the total benefit to society over the narrow interests of [...]

What I liked best about this book was its central idea- it mixes Darwinian insights with economics in its observation of those situations where the invisible hand doesn't quite get it done. Frank compares these situation to evolutionary arms races, where, for example, male peacocks would be a lot better off, individually and as a species, if all of their tails were half their current size. However, since getting a mate is based on having a bigger tail than your rivals, no one bird would be bette [...]

In view of the recent economic meltdown, I am sure it’s no secret to anyone that unregulated or poorly-regulated economic competition can run wild — to the detriment of society as well as individuals. But this outcome is hardly surprising to those who paid attention to Darwin’s ideas about competition in the natural world — ideas inspired by the extravagance of the peacock’s tail or by the sheer size of a stag’s rack of antlers.This is the main argument made by New York Times [...]

A very intellectual book with some truly original and thought-provoking ideas about how individual interests and collective interests sometimes diverge and how such divergence could lead to wasteful outcomes especially in a competitive environment. It is definitely interesting to see the author pitting Adam Smith against Darwin Charles and arguing that Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Principle could be viewed as a special case of Darwin Charles more general Natural Selection/Sexual Selection hypothe [...]

This COULD have been a really good book, because the basic ideas are very interesting, but the writing was so biassed that I kept getting completely turned off and non-receptive. For example, Frank repeatedly criticizes libertarians, Republicans, and other conservatives for their rhetoric (and I must agree with such valid criticisms) as well as their ideas, but then he says, "The logic they offer in support of their position would be comical if the stakes were not so high." I happen to agree wit [...]

Excellent description of why so many economic assumptions are false. Explains why cost/benefit analyses are the best way to make communal decisions, but in the US both the left and the right are against them. Thus, American cities cannot implement London's excellent solution to traffic congestion.

I disagree with the philosophical base-line this book demands be taken by fiat -- but that's kinda the point, this is Progressivism by way of Libertarian/Randian/Neo-Liberal logic. I think it's base assumptions are kinda crap -- but if we take them by fiat, and Liberals sure the fuck do, then this is the best possible treatment of the rational actor model I've ever encountered. Oh, and it explains Game Theory in a satisfactory way -- by using it as a critique of standard liberal models. . .which [...]

This book is as important as Capitalism in the 21st century if not more. While Capitalism in the 21st century is mostly an imperial finding about the distribution of wealth, this book has the full package. It's main theoretical underpinning is the superiority of evolutionary thinking about competition to the smith-style economic thinking "the invisible hand". It is well known that smith's idea that free self-interested agent interaction maximizes the social welfare (in the game-theoretic underst [...]

If I had to pick a research field, it would be complex economics. The human component in economics is as relevant as it is misunderstood. ("markets, which are human creations thus are not absolute"). Perfect decision making and the concept of the homo oeconomicus are overcome now, though they still remain ingrained in some ways, and much much more research has to be done. Drawing from Darwin and Smith, the theory that emerges is that personal and group interests can conflict and this is where go [...]

I thought the title was misleading. I was expecting the incorporation of evolutionary biology with economics. Instead it was rather plain economics with Darwinian analogy as far as I am concerned.The book might still be worth a read but at this point I stopped reading so I can read other books. What've read so far I did not find interesting.

Using the concept of "performance or quality being measured on the curve rather than absolute" to convince a libertarian how it is in his own best interest, and how it doesn't diminish his autonomy to support progressive taxation and a welfare state.

The author writes this book to refute libertarian ideas. Since I am partial to libertarian ideas, I did not enjoy this author's bias. However, I did find some arguments I could agree with. Frank claims that Charles Darwin's understanding of competition is more applicable to economics than Adam Smith's. Darwin understood that some adaptations that are good for the individual are bad for the species or society. E.g. the arms race resulting in large antlers on bull elk. This helps win a battle for [...]

I found it difficult to determine what point the author, a Cornell University economist, was trying to make. I listened to an audio version from Audible, which may have added to difficulty, but I doubt the format had much to do with the difficulty. Some major themes have stuck in my mind, however. First, the idea that the best outcome for an individual is not necessarily the best for the group or society. This idea is the one that Frank ascribes to Charles Darwin, as it is an idea that has come [...]

Robert H. Frank é professor de economia em Yale com diversos livros publicados. Nesse ensaio ele compara as descobertas de Darwin sobre seleção natural com as teorias de livre mercado. É sabido que Darwin leu Adam Smith e que foi influenciado pelas ideias de livre mercado, e, como o próprio autor comenta, incluir Darwin no modelo econômico é também incluir Adam Smith. O que poderia ser uma apologia ao livre mercado e a desregulamentação, o livro busca outro caminho quase oposto. Darwin [...]

Several reviews have found Frank's tone condescending toward movement Libertarians, but I didn't pick that up as much. Frank came across to me like a typical academic: follow my reasoning and obviously you will find that I am correct, and it will thus be absurd if you don't agree with me. And that tone didn't bother all that much, probably because I found Frank's logic thorough and compelling sound, even where I harbored my disagreements with his conclusions. His thesis is fairly straightforward [...]

A strange title given the content. Should have instead be titled, "Why Libertarians are Wrong."~215 pages about why Libertarian, anti-government, anti-tax economic ideology is suboptimal and often contradictory.Biggest insight is around the idea that by *not* intervening, the government fails to correct externalities. Beyond just the common examples of externalities of noise, pollution, and the such, this book goes to claim that the marketplace, more particularly the demand, for certain goods an [...]

I heartily recommend this book to my politically inclined friends--on all ends of the spectrum. I would love to give it five stars, because of he insightful ideas it espouses, but I found it a bit repetitious, so I had to back off.Essentially, the author uses arguments of economic efficiency to show that a true libertarian society is NOT the one that the rich should prefer. On the contrary, societies that allow for some measure of wealth redistribution are those that everyone would choose, given [...]

ผู้เขียนใช้แนวคิดของ darwin ที่ว่าด้วย "ความสนใจ (หรือประโยชน์) ส่วนบุคคล อาจไม่สอดคล้องกับ ความสนใจ (หรือประโยชน์) ของสังคม" ในการชี้ข้อบกพร้องของระบบเสรีนิยมประชาธิปไตยโดยหยิบแนวค [...]

There are some aspects of this book I really did not like: most notably, the insistence on the "silver bullet" insight that ranking are what matters most to economic agents. While of course I do agree that this is the case in many instances, in many others which are economically relevant the absolute distance in the ranking does matter (which may work either reinforcing or weakening Frank's line of argument, depending on context). More in general, the fervour with which Frank insists on the prim [...]

This is a brilliant book. Robert Frank is an economist who explains that individual interests and group interests are often different; Unlike followers of Adam Smith, Frank argues that competition is often harmful, because it results in a kind of one-upmanship where everyone loses.Example: Hockey players will take off their helmets so that they can see and hear better, and when one player removes a helmet, everyone else must. But if you give players a chance to pass a rule requiring helmets, the [...]

This book is not perfect. The writing is clear, but it could have been much better with less repetition and more focus. On the other hand, the ideas and vision are so bright that it doesn't really affect the bottom line: I highly recommend that you read this book.There are no technical difficulties. You won't find a single formula in twelve chapters, and I'm sure that non-economists could reasonably follow the logic of arguments. Hopefully, it will make people think more seriously about their kn [...]

I enjoyed the main point of the book. Rational people should allow governments to tax or regulate undesirable activities so that taxes can be lowered on desirable activities. Doing so will result in a net benefit for a society. Many of the activities that should be taxed more heavily are not taxed at all. The author spent too much time arguing against libertarians. A big problem in the states but not as much in Canada where we still don't have taxes on a lot of the negative activities. The point [...]

This book refutes key ideas of libertarian thought. What I found quite refreshing is that it doesn't do so through the usual method of citing statistics or studies (which authors carefully weed to make their points), but through a series of intriguing thought experiments. Frank's key insight is that even perfectly competitive markets can lead to very undesirable outcomes because what benefits the individual is often detrimental to the group, just as in biology runaway sexual selection has give p [...]

I think the moment when I started thinking about feeling bad for the libertarians who might read this book is when the author used two citizens, "Rand" and "Paul," in a thought experiment illustrating the efficient provision of public goods.But then I remembered that if it weren't for the majority of the Republicans and libertarians on Capitol Hill being a bunch of assholes the whole American democratic process would run a lot smoother and I wouldn't have heard the words "climate change" and "my [...]

I thought this book was really well written, and since I'm new to learning about the economy, this book helped me learn some terms and use examples related to Darwin's theories which I know a lot about. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about the economy and doesn't know where to start. The author is obviously biased against libertarians especially when talking about tax reform. It's still a great read.

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    Published :2019-02-23T19:30:56+00:00