Thursday, July 24, 2014

Peter T. Leeson is at it again

A few months ago the economics world observed the passing of Gary Becker, the academic economics pioneer who brought the profession into new areas of human interaction, such as crime, families and drug addiction. While he is gone, his influence lives on and it's clearly made a big impact on economist Peter T. Leeson who just wrote a book on anarchy and self governance.

In 2009 I read Leeson's previous book on pirates, The Invisible Hook, and since then have followed his academic papers when he writes about the economics of football hooligans, medieval ordeals, and gypsies. The new book is titled Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better Than You Think.

Tyler Cowen has shared a paragraph from the book:

Twenty-two of thirty-seven street gangs Jankowski (1991: 78-82) studied have written constitutions. Sicilian Mafiosi follow a largely unwritten code of rules, and recently police found a written set of “ten commandments” outlining the Mafia’s core laws…Kaminski (2004) identifies extensive (yet unwritten) rules dictating nearly every aspect of Polish prisoners’ lives, from what words are acceptable to use in greeting a stranger to how and when to use the bathroom. And the National Gang Crime Research Center considers constitutions so central to criminal societies that the use of a constitution is one of the defining characteristics it uses when classifying gangs…

I'm not an anarchist and I don't want a society without a government, but I support most efforts to limit the scope and reach of government. Leeson's writing is always clear and intriguing and I recommend anyone in economics check him out.

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