Thursday, October 25, 2012

More reading

Two recent books I would recommend:

Economics Without Illusions by Joseph Heath - looks at fallacies that pervade and distort our understanding of modern economics. From the table of contents:

1. CAPITALISM IS NATURAL - Why the market actually depends on government
2. INCENTIVES MATTER -… except when they don't
3. THE FRICTIONLESS PLANE FALLACY - Why more competition is not always better
4. TAXES ARE TOO HIGH - The myth of the government as consumer
5. UNCOMPETITIVE IN EVERYTHING -Why international competitiveness doesn't matter
6. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY - How the right misunderstands moral hazard

7. THE JUST PRICE FALLACY - The temptation to fiddle with prices, and why it should be resisted
8. THE "PSYCHOPATHIC" PURSUIT OF PROFIT - Why making money is not so bad after all
9. CAPITALISM IS DOOMED - Why "the system" is unlikely to collapse (despite appearances to the contrary)
10. EQUAL PAY - Why some jobs must suck, in every aspect
11. SHARING THE WEALTH - Why capitalism produces so few capitalists
12. LEVELING DOWN - The wrong way to promote equality

I found the second part to be most interesting because as a left-leaning person, I tend to be blind to these fallacies while quite aware of those of the right :) This book opened my eyes and I would highly recommend it. Interestingly, it was written by a Canadian Philosophy professor who has studied the issues as an outsider. Perhaps this is why it reveals more than some of the works by 'insiders'. Heath does not have complete solutions to the issues that confront any society that strives for a just but effective economic system. However, he does a great job explaining these issues and how governments have tried to deal with them.

Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols - chronicles the first solo around the world non-stop sailing race. In the mid-60's a small group of amateur sailors set off from the UK to see who would be the first to sail around the world. There was to be a prize also for the fastest passage. The book does a better job than any previous account I have read to get into the minds of the people taking part. It is a well told story and one of interest not just to sailors but to anyone who is curious about the limits of human endurance. The characters, in particular Robin Knox-Johnston, Bernard Moitessier, and Donald Crowhurst are the stuff of legend. I have read Moitessier's and Johnston's accounts as well as "The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst", but this book pulls it all together.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Tried to reply to your email via Winlink, but message bounced. Enjoying the blog!