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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 56

Dr. Tyler Cowen — How an Economist Views the World

Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals (book cover) Big Business (book cover)

Big Business, the new book by Tyler Cowen, will be available on April 9, 2019

In this wide ranging dialogue Dr. Shermer speaks with the famed economist Dr. Tyler Cowen, whose new book, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, is “a vision for a society of free, prosperous, and responsible individuals.” Dr. Cowen makes the case that…

“Growth is good. Through history, economic growth, in particular, has alleviated human misery, improved human happiness and opportunity, and lengthened human lives. Wealthier societies are more stable, offer better living standards, produce better medicines, and ensure greater autonomy, greater fulfillment, and more sources of fun. If we want to continue on our trends of growth, and the overwhelmingly positive outcomes for societies that come with it, every individual must become more concerned with the welfare of those around us and in the world at large and most of all our descendants in the future. So, how do we proceed?”

Tyler Cowen is an economics professor at George Mason University where he holds the Holbert C. Harris chair in the economics department. He hosts the economics blog marginal Revolution, together with co-author Alex Tabarrok. He writes the “Economic Scene” column for the New York Times, and now contributes a regular opinion column at Bloomberg View. He has written for the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek and the Wilson Quarterly.

Dr. Shermer and Dr. Cowen also discuss…

  • what it means to be “on the margin,” “marginal utility,” and his blog “Marginal Revolution”
  • trade wars and tariffs and what they really mean for consumers, companies, and countries (China, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), etc.)
  • unemployment is now under 4%, the lowest in decades. Is Trump a savvy economist?
  • why capitalism is a moral system as well as an economic system
  • income inequality
  • universal basic income
  • regulating financial markets
  • immigration: how does an economist think about borders and walls?
  • why incentives matter
  • libertarian paternalism and nudging people to do the right thing
  • social media companies and governmental regulation
  • Jordan Peterson and the power of narrative
  • governing mars: what political and economic systems should we take with us to the Red Planet, and which should we leave behind.

Listen to the podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

This Science Salon was recorded on January 15, 2019.

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This episode was released on March 5, 2019.

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