Chapters for a book on Masonomics
By Arnold Kling
Should I write it? I do have other projects, but Tyler believes in multitasking. Possible chapters (not necessarily in this order):
1. The love-hate relationship with Austrian economics. Pete Boettke (note that he has co-bloggers) is relatively gung-ho Austrian, but he is not as dogmatic as some non-Mason Austrians. Meanwhile, Tyler Cowen and Bryan Caplan have written explicit essays about where they disagree with the Austrians. My sense is that where Masonomics follows Austrian economics is in taking seriously the fact that individuals lack knowledge, and that much learning takes place in a decentralized way through trial and error.
2. Down with democracy. Classics in the Masonomic canon include Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter and Daniel Klein’s “The People’s Romance.” Both works take a dim view of representative democracy. My sense is that Tyler Cowen might offer a more nuanced perspective, based on a belief in the fragility of the norms and institutions that support free markets. I can imagine Tyler (or perhaps Tyrone) arguing that property rights can persist only if people’s sense of fairness is satisfied, which in turn may require democratic institutions. That is, democratic institutions help convince people of the fairness of the system under which they live, which in turn encourages them to support property rights.
3. IQ and other politically-incorrect thoughts. Garrett Jones on IQ. Peter Leeson on pirates may fit here, although it may also fit under (2).
4. Signaling and deception. This would be one of the longest chapters. Caplan on education, Hanson on health care, Cowen on self-deception, Cowen and Hanson on sociobiology–unless that falls under (3).
5. Disagreement. Hanson on disagreement and overcoming bias. Caplan vs. his colleagues. Tyrone vs. his colleagues.
6. Trade and immigration. Don Boudreaux gags on the notion of “our” trade deficit. Many Masonomists are open-borders types, and they ardently defend free trade.
7. Economic education. Bryan Caplan is a passionate advocate and Russ Roberts is an innovative practitioner.
[update: 8. Public choice. This is a core Masonomic view, that people in government are merely people, as opposed to assuming benevolence and omniscience. One commenter rightly excoriated me for leaving this out in the original post. I had it on my mental list, but forgot it when I wrote it down.]