The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immagration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Lives

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9780070059436: The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immagration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Lives

Gary S. Becker is one of the few modern economists to apply economic theory to human behavior. He has won global recognition and a Nobel Prize for his theory of "economic reasoning," a provocative world-view that says our daily actions and choices are influenced more than we know by market forces and economic incentives. In "The Economics of Life", Gary Becker and historian Guity Nashat Becker have collected the best of the economist's popular work from "Business Week" (where he is a monthly columnist). These thought-provoking essays show us where we have been and where, for better of worse, we are headed. Many of them aroused heated debate upon their original publication, and they will no doubt do so again. Extending well beyond the traditional range of economics, these 138 essays crisply address the changing role of women in modern economies, crime, immigration, drugs, marriage contracts, the effects of the stock market collapse in 1987, whether the Japanese stock market has been rigged, the organization of major league baseball and other sports, communism, competition between religions, the "Swedish way," discrimination against minorities, Supreme Court decisions, government spending, addictions, and many other topics. Although the Beckers empahsize analysis, they do not shy away from advocating controversial changes in public policy and personal behavior. Among their provative recommendations: legalizing drugs, selling the rights to immigrate, privatizing social security, enforcing marriage contracts more fully, curtailing welfare sharply, limiting the terms of Supreme Court justices and other heavy drinking, and reforming health care to preserve free choice and competition. Such changes, declare the authors, can vastly improve life in the next millennium - if we as a society, and as individuals, are wise and bold enough to take action now. Beholden to no idology, ("We do not identify with any political party in the United States since none takes a consistent position on whether individuals respond to incentives and know their own interests better than politicians and bureaucrats do"), Gary S. Becker and Guity Nashat Becker will set you thinking and perhaps change your mind about the connections between economics and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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Review:

"The great majority of people are more rational and make fewer mistakes in promoting their own interests than even well-intentioned government officials," writes this impressive couple (Gary won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Economics). The short, column-length essays that make up this volume first appeared in Business Week magazine and show for a popular audience how market incentives influence human behavior in countless ways. The Beckers criticize centralized planning, racial quotas and trade tariffs, and endorse drug legalization, privatized social security and school vouchers. They also veer into unexpected terrain, addressing religion, sports and marriage with keen insight.

About the Author:

Gary S. Becker won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992 for his theory of "economic reasoning." Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago, Becker writes a monthly column for Business Week, is a frequent editorialist for The Wall Street Journal, and is a regular guest on such television programs as The McNeil-Lehrer Report and Adam SmithÕs Money World. Guity Nashat Becker is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Fellow of the Hoover Institution, and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism. She has written several books and appeared on many TV and radio programs. The Beckers live in Chicago.

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