At the Freakonomics blog, a Q&A with Peter Leeson about his book The Invisible Hook. Here is the first exchange:
Q.The Invisible Hook is more than just a clever title. How is it different from Adam Smith‘s invisible hand?
A. In Adam Smith, the idea is that each individual pursuing his own self-interest is led, as if by an invisible hand, to promote the interest of society. The idea of the invisible hook is that pirates, though they’re criminals, are still driven by their self-interest. So they were driven to build systems of government and social structures that allowed them to better pursue their criminal ends. They’re connected, but the big difference is that, for Adam Smith, self-interest results in cooperation that generates wealth and makes other people better off. For pirates, self-interest results in cooperation that destroys wealth by allowing pirates to plunder more effectively.
The Q&A provides an excellent short introduction to the book. The book itself is highly recommended (my MBA class will be reading a portion of it).
Also at Freakonomics, “The birth of the ‘Chicken Offset’.” If you’d like a little more philosophical provocation with your fried chicken, consider Will Wilkinson’s “Feathers Flying: Conscientious consumption and culture war” at The Economist.
Elsewhere around the web:
- At The Oil Drum, an analysis of whether mining giant BHP paid too much for shale gas assets it purchased last year. The article gives a short intro into reserves reporting practices along the way to suggesting most shale gas assets are overvalued. I think the missing piece of the puzzle here is gas liquids, which the authors mention but don’t really integrate into their assessment.
- The Florida member of Congress that has been attacking the US Department of Energy over the Solyndra deal has apparently lost to his rival in the Republican primary. Lest any solar-subsidy defenders take solace in the loss, note that his challenger wants to abolish the Department of Energy entirely.
- The MasterResource blog republishes my brief analysis of the fraying coalition in support of the production tax credit for wind power (it first appeared here on KP).