Take a look at the computer screen your eyes are presently (hopefully) fixated on, not to mention the computer mouse you used in order to click on this posting. Did you ever consider how both were made? Could you make either yourself, and if so, how and where would you acquire the various raw materials and parts in order to create them? If the above questions vex you, the George Mason economics professor Russell Roberts’s excellent new novel, The Price of Everything, is for you. Importantly, Roberts does not explain how things are made in this tale as much as he teaches us through a very interesting dialogue between a professor and student that the ‘whole system we call a market economy works as well as it does precisely because of how little we have to know.
The Price of Everything
A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity
A Stanford University provost and a star-student and world-class tennis player clash about the virtues of top-down intervention vs. order that emerges from the bottom-up. Along the way, a group of students protest the role of a big box retailer on campus entangling the provost and her tennis-playing pupil. My best novel, I think, this book explores emergent order in the economy and our standard of living.
I loved the way Roberts wove into the story examples of what Hayek called spontaneous order that even those who believe that order happens only from the top down would have to acknowledge–from dancers moving unpredictably on the dance floor without ever colliding to the thousands of people and bits of specialized knowledge it takes to make a pencil, which nobody can make by himself. This little book deserves an audience as wide as eventually developed for ‘Economics in One Lesson.’ It conveys similar information in a more nuanced, personal and humanistic way. Nice work.
The Price of Everything is sensationally good fiction and sensationally good economics.
This book is the third foray into the world of economic fiction for Roberts. In terms of prose and content, it is also his best effort. . . . In this new book, set on and around the Stanford University campus, Roberts bundles several clever insights about everyday economics with the overriding theme of prosperity and economic growth, and pulls it all off with warmth and plenty of heart.
This is a great story about human, social, and economic betterment brought about by the forces of spontaneous coordination. It’s also about justice and there’s a warm ending. Read and enjoy.
Don’t be put off by the title, you just might not be able to put it down. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and it’s now the first economics book I recommend. Yes, Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose and Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom are still the cornerstones, but easy to read? No.
Have you ever wanted to give a friend a book that explains the main virtues of economic freedom in a dramatic way that is accessible to a broad audience? Russell Roberts’s latest novel, The Price of Everything, is the book you want. That’s right: I said ‘latest novel.’
Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts’s The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity you will see the world afresh.
The Price of Everything is a must read for anybody interested in how market capitalism works.