Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism [NOOK Book]

Overview

On December 5, 2004, the still-developing blogosphere took one of its biggest steps toward mainstream credibility, as Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker and renowned jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner announced the formation of the Becker-Posner Blog.

In no time, the blog had established a wide readership and reputation as a reliable source of lively, thought-provoking commentary on current events, its pithy and profound weekly essays highlighting the value of ...

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Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism

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Overview

On December 5, 2004, the still-developing blogosphere took one of its biggest steps toward mainstream credibility, as Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker and renowned jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner announced the formation of the Becker-Posner Blog.

In no time, the blog had established a wide readership and reputation as a reliable source of lively, thought-provoking commentary on current events, its pithy and profound weekly essays highlighting the value of economic reasoning when applied to unexpected topics. Uncommon Sense gathers the most important and innovative entries from the blog, arranged by topic, along with updates and even reconsiderations when subsequent events have shed new light on a question. Whether it’s Posner making the economic case for the legalization of gay marriage, Becker arguing in favor of the sale of human organs for transplant, or even the pair of scholars vigorously disagreeing about the utility of collective punishment, the writing is always clear, the interplay energetic, and the resulting discussion deeply informed and intellectually substantial.

To have a single thinker of the stature of a Becker or Posner addressing questions of this nature would make for fascinating reading; to have both, writing and responding to each other, is an exceptionally rare treat. With Uncommon Sense, they invite the adventurous reader to join them on a whirlwind intellectual journey. All they ask is that you leave your preconceptions behind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nobel Prize–winning economist Becker (Human Capital) and U.S. Court of Appeals judge Posner (How Judges Think) apply economic perspectives to a wide range of contemporary issues in these unwieldy essays culled from their jointly written blog. Social problems ranging from terrorism and pre-emptive war to Internet gambling and steroid use are subjected to analysis yielding surprising arguments; for example, they argue that drunk-driving laws penalize behavior that is not criminal (drinking) instead of the harmful outcome (accidents) and ask, “Why punish the 99-plus percent of drunk driving that is harmless?” The book is most compelling when addressing the legal aspects of eminent domain and pharmaceutical patents, much less so when it pans over national and global issues like ethnic profiling, where the arguments feel well-worn. Despite some valuable insights, the writing itself is ponderous and lacks the references and rigor to make it genuinely academic, but comes across as too dense for good blog writing. And even though the authors acknowledge that their audience might be unfamiliar with the economic principles they apply, their only concession is a brief overview of economics in the introduction. (Nov.)
Lawrence Lessig

“In the vast wasteland that most assume the blogosphere to be, Becker and Posner's work is a gem. Authentic, responsive, and enormously fun, it should be read both in real time, and in the reflection of a published work.”
Chicago Tribune - Elizabeth Taylor

"The best way of getting into the economics of what is known as the 'Chicago School' without paying tuition."
New York Times - Steven D. Levitt

“An excellent book . . . . For anyone who wants a quick and easy crash course on Chicago economics-style thinking, this book is as good as it gets. . . . I read nearly the whole book in one sitting.”

Choice
"In December 2004, Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner, two intellectual superstars, created a weekly Internet blog  that examines a wide variety of topics with the tools of economics. This book culls from the blog's first 28 months 49 posts that they consider their best, most interesting, and most lasting. Becker and Posner do not persuade by using authority or clever rhetoric--they write in a dry academic style--but they attempt to make a clear, logical case for their positions using economic reasoning. Occasionally they discuss conventional economic topics, but more often they write about broader and more provocative issues such as sex and population, universities, crime and punishment, the environment and disasters, and a miscellany of world problems. Both write on each issue; they usually agree with each other, but not always. The book's primary appeal is that it shows how two first-rate economic thinkers analyze issues. . . . Highly recommended. All levels and libraries."
Chicago Tribune
The best way of getting into the economics of what is known as the 'Chicago School' without paying tuition.

— Elizabeth Taylor

New York Times
An excellent book . . . . For anyone who wants a quick and easy crash course on Chicago economics-style thinking, this book is as good as it gets. . . . I read nearly the whole book in one sitting.”

— Steven D. Levitt

Choice
"In December 2004, Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner, two intellectual superstars, created a weekly Internet blog  that examines a wide variety of topics with the tools of economics. This book culls from the blog's first 28 months 49 posts that they consider their best, most interesting, and most lasting. Becker and Posner do not persuade by using authority or clever rhetoric--they write in a dry academic style--but they attempt to make a clear, logical case for their positions using economic reasoning. Occasionally they discuss conventional economic topics, but more often they write about broader and more provocative issues such as sex and population, universities, crime and punishment, the environment and disasters, and a miscellany of world problems. Both write on each issue; they usually agree with each other, but not always. The book's primary appeal is that it shows how two first-rate economic thinkers analyze issues. . . . Highly recommended. All levels and libraries."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226041032
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 526,727
  • File size: 505 KB

Meet the Author

Gary S. Becker is University Professor at the University of Chicago and the author of many books, including Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1992 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Richard A. Posner is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, senior lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School, and the author of numerous books, including How Judges Think.

 

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Becker-Posner Blog

 

I. Sex and Population

 

1. The Sexual Revolution

2. Gay Marriage

3. Polygamy

4. Sex Selection

5. Immigration Reform

6. Putin’s Population Plan

Afterthoughts to Part I

 

II. Property Rights

7. Kelo and Eminent Domain

8. Pharmaceutical Patents

9. Grokster, File Sharing, and Contributory Infringement

10. Orphan Drugs, Intellectual Property, and Social Welfare

11. Organ Sales

12. Traffic Congestion

13. Privatizing Highways

Afterthoughts to Part II

 

III. Universities

14. Plagiarism

15. Tenure

16. For-Profit Colleges

17. Ranking Higher Education

Afterthoughts to Part III

 

IV. Incentives

18. Fat Tax

19. Trans Fats Ban

20. Libertarian Paternalism

21. Chicago and Big Boxes

Afterthoughts to Part IV

 

V. Jobs and Employment

22. Judicial Term Limits

23. Economics of the Revolving Door

24. CEO Compensation

25. Income Inequality

26. Corporate Social Responsibility

Afterthoughts to Part V

 

VI. Environment and Disasters

27. Tsunami

28. Major Disasters

29. Federalism, Economics, and Katrina

30. Post-Catastrophe Price Gouging

31. Global Warming and Discount Rates

32. Efficient Water Conservation

Afterthoughts to Part VI

 

VII. Crime and Punishment and Terrorism

33. Capital Punishment

34. Doping Athletes

35. Drunk Driving

36.Internet Gambling

37. Preventive War

38. Ethnic Profiling

39. Privatizing Security

40. Antiterrorism Allocations

41. Collective Punishment

Afterthoughts to Part VII

 

VIII. The World

42. Economic and Political Freedom

43. Size of Countries

44. Hamas, Palestine, and Democracy

45. Google in China

46. Economics of National Culture

47. Microfinance and Development

48. World Inequality

49. Foreign Aid

Afterthoughts to Part VIII

 

Index
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