The Books I Wish My Colleagues Would Write
By Bryan Caplan
My New Year’s resolution for Robin Hanson got me thinking about the book projects I wish my other colleagues would pursue. Digest version:
1. Tyler Cowen should write that I call a “book of answers” with the working title Social Intelligence: What I Know About People That You Don’t. The key point of departure: The goal of the book is not to “get readers to ask themselves questions,” but to convey definite answers that Tyler defends without irony. If you think this goes against his nature, I’ve seen him do this many times first-hand – just not in print.
2. John Nye should write a book called Asian Liberalism. It would weave together a thoughtful history of modern Asian economic policy with a blueprint for turning your basketcase country into a Tiger. This would also be Nye’s big chance to defend the social value of Victorian values and Victorian hypocrisy.
3. Garett Jones should write a book called Hive Mind: Why Your Country’s Intelligence Matters So Much More Than Your Own. But the project’s already underway, so I’ll say no more.
4. Alex Tabarrok should write a book reconciling his Randian youth with his current views. The book would begin by convincing social scientists that Ayn Rand’s views are at least plausible. Then he would explain which arguments he’s rejected, which ones he still believes, and why. Working title (there’s got to be a better one): Yes, I Still Like Ayn Rand.
5. Russ Roberts should write a book of interviews to give Arnold and Nick a run for their money. Who should he interview? I’m not sure, but I’m thinking: Thoughtful social scientists outside of economics, starting with political scientists and psychologists. What’s their real beef with economics? How much stems from misunderstanding us – and how much stems from understanding us too well?
6. Don Boudreaux should write a public choice history of antitrust. He made a great start in his chapter in The Causes and Consequences of Antitrust: The Public-Choice Perspective. But the world really needs a whole book that uses 120 years of history to rip apart textbook mythology. In practice, antitrust laws don’t protect “the public interest.” Instead, they’re a wasteful red herring that distracts us from the fact that governments habitually create monopoly on purpose. Don’s job: Make his case so convincing to skeptics that textbook authors feel embarrassed by their orthodox monopoly chapters.
7. Pete Boettke should write a book called Enlightening Anecdotes. I’ve learned a lot from Pete, but mostly from his amazing inventory of truthy first-hand stories. I think he should share this oral tradition with the world. Think of it as Boettke’s answer to Fischer Black’s Exploring General Equilibrium – a hundred wise paragraphs on a hundred topics, written in Pete’s natural voice.
Anyone got any better ideas – or ways to improve mine?
P.S. Turnaround’s fair play. If you think you know how I should be spending my time, I welcome your constructive criticism.