Tony's Economic Reading List

Tony Woodlief is wondering whether it just takes some Hayek (Friedrich not Salma) in order to get people behind the idea of free market capitalism:

“The maddening thing about reading Hayek is that I come away thinking, ‘If only leftists had a proper understanding of economics and society, they would stop their infernal meddling and let people be about the business of living productive lives.’

Then I think that perhaps I’m being just as muddle-headed as I think leftists are. Admittedly, I was a leftist before I read any economics, but maybe I read the wrong kind. Maybe there’s some whole other set of thinking and philosophy out there that will bring a right-thinking person to a leftist point of view.”

I appreciate Woodlief’s challenge and I’d nominate Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang as a book that defends the idea of a mixed economy with government involvement, protectionism, and weak intellectual property laws by asserting that this is the mix of currently disavowed policies that actually gave Britain, the US, Japan, South Korea and other top global economies so much success.

Anyway, I had a proposal, I know that a lot of readers and authors of this blog are fairly pro-free market while I am not so much. I intend to leverage that diversity of opinion for a little experiment: I propose that I’ll read anything that fits Tony’s criteria – i.e.: something that’s for a thoughtful, educated audience but that isn’t intolerably long and life-interfering or that requires an advanced degree in economics to understand – in exchange for someone of the Hayek camp reading something critical free markets.

There can be posts with more or less open comment threads to discuss what everyone thinks of what they’re reading. We’ll see if just reading Hayek or anyone else can dissolve economic preconceptions.

Whadya say?