"Long before the 'pop economists' there was Steven Landsburg,
writing funny, jargon-free, shocking, and true essays on our material
circumstances. But Landsburg knows something that other authors of
bestsellers on the subject don't. He knows everything. Economics is not
the study of money; it's the study of value. Everything is determined
by our values. The science of everything is what economics is. And
here, in More Sex, what the reader will find is -- everything."
-- P.J. O'Rourke
From the Book Jacket:
Steven Landsburg's writings are living proof that economics need not
be "the dismal science." Readers of The Armchair Economist and his
columns in Slate magazine know that he can make economics not only fun
but fascinating, as he searches for the reasons behind the odd facts
we face in our daily lives. In More Sex Is Safer Sex, he brings his
witty and razor-sharp analysis to the many ways that our individually
rational decisions can combine into some truly weird collective
results -- and he proposes hilarious and serious ways to fix just
When you stand up at the ballpark in order to see better, you make a
rational decision. When everyone else does it too, the results, of
course, are lousy. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of
individual sanity and collective madness. Did you know that some
people may actually increase the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases when they avoid casual sex? Do you know why tall people earn
more money than shorter competitors? (Hint: it isn't just unfair,
unconscious prejudice.) Do you know why it makes no sense for you to
give charitable donations to more than one organization?
Landsburg's solutions to the many ways that modern life is unfair or
inefficient are both jaw-dropping and maddeningly defensible. We
should encourage people to cut in line at water fountains on hot days.
We should let firefighters keep any property they rescue from burning
houses. We should encourage more people to act like Scrooge, because
misers are just as generous as philanthropists.
Best of all are Landsburg's commonsense solutions to the political
problems that plague our democracy. We should charge penalties to
jurors if they convict a felon who is later exonerated. We should let
everyone vote in two congressional districts: their own, and any other
one of their choice. While we're at it, we should redraw the districts
according to the alphabetical lists of all voters, rather than by
geography. We should pay FDA commissioners with shares of
pharmaceutical company stocks, and pay our president with a
diversified portfolio of real estate from across the country.
Why do parents of sons stay married more often than parents who have
only daughters? Why does early motherhood not only correlate with
lower income, but actually cause it? Why do we execute murderers but
not the authors of vicious computer viruses? The lesson of this
fascinating, fun, and endlessly provocative book is twofold: many
apparently very odd behaviors have logical explanations, and many
apparently logical behaviors make no sense whatsoever.
Steven E. Landsburg writes the popular "Everyday
Economics" column in Slate magazine. He has also
written a series of columns for Forbes magazine and two
economics textbooks. He is a professor of economics
at the Unversity of Rochester.