Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Darwin Economy (by Pedja dell’Arno)

Robert Frank has published an interesting book on The Darwin Economy. Not all competition is good, says the author. The same happens in the animal world. Some efforts to compete against members of the same species are detrimental for the species as a collective, especially in those cases where the competition is for positional goods.  This is the main idea of this interesting essay. The book also touches on the Coase theorem and  the role that income effects and transaction costs play in the theorem, and how libertarians and conservatives have hijacked a basically non-ideological but pragmatist character as Coase for their interests. The author also persuasively argues in favour of progressive consumption taxation. In general, Frank makes the case in favour of taxation, especially pigovian taxation, because this can increase revenues and encourage positive behaviour or refrain socially negative behavior. One potential criticism is that perhaps Frank does not deal with the serious attacks that Coase directed to Pigou in his essays. The book is full of messages against American libertarians (also against simplistic progressives, but more against libertarians).

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