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Fair Play [Kindle Edition]

Steven E. Landsburg
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.78
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc


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Book Description

With his witty and instructive book The Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg won popularity and acclaim by using economics to illuminate the mysteries of daily life, and using daily life to illuminate the mysteries of economics.

Now Landsburg returns to address fundamental issues like fairness, tolerance, morality and justice—issues that are as important on the playground as they are in the marketplace. With the help of his daughter, Cayley, he contrasts the wisdom of parents with the wisdom of economists—not always to the credit of the latter.

How should we feel about taxes that redistribute income? Ask how parents feel about children who forcibly "redistribute" other children's toys. How should we respond to those who complain that their neighbors are too wealthy? Ask how parents respond when children complain that their siblings got too much cake. By insisting that fairness can't mean one thing for children and another for adults, Landsburg shows that the instincts of the parent have profound consequences for economic justice.

Along the way, Landsburg—with his customary sharp wit and challenging logic—pauses to reflect on an astonishing variety of issues in economic theory, the philosophy of parenting, the true nature of family values, and how to get the most out of life. He uses parent-child interactions to explain the economics of free trade and immigration, progressive taxation, minimum wages, racial discrimination, and the role of money. He makes the best possible philosophical cases for and against progressive taxation, and weighs them against the wisdom of the playground. He explains why children are a good thing, and why economic theory tells us we don't have enough of them. He meditates on the role of authority in our lives, the effects of cultural bias, and why it's important to read poetry to your children. This lively and entertaining book will inform and delight readers who have forgotten the human side of the dismal science.

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Another collection of brash, intelligent essays on economics by the author of The Armchair Economist (1993). Landsburg, a columnist for the online magazine Slate, turns his hand to demystifying everyday economics, using his nine-year- old daughter as a sounding board. While his exchanges with Cayley can turn overly sentimental, Landsburg's sharp wit and sharper insight make this a fun read for anyone with a taste for logic and unbiased opinions. Landsburg begins a discussion on NAFTA by debunking the notion that the number of workers who quit their jobs because of pay cuts represents the true cost of foreign competition. It's the workers who stay and take a pay cut, he argues, who are the real losers, because they bear the full brunt of the loss in wages. He later points out that while some would argue that it's unfair to the $16-an-hour worker to lose a job to a $3-an-hour worker, it's actually the public who, from the point of view of pure economics, has been cheated: They've been overpaying for products made by overpriced workers. At times, Landsburg risks sounding like a curmudgeon: He's irritated that Cayley's teachers dictate on the environment, sex, and drugs. But he rightly points out that even the best-intentioned environmental lesson often consists simply of memorizing the number of acres of rainforest lost, rather than a more complex analysis of land use. His best response is saved for Cayley's Hebrew school class: When asked to write an essay that begins ``To be more like God, I will . . .'' students penned treacly lines such as ``I will be kind to animals.'' Landsburg's stinging response: ``I will slay the first born of my enemies.'' Often funny and at times poetic, these essays are eminently readable and always smart. (Radio satellite tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


... a lively and provocative look at everything from trade policy to environmentalism to affirmative action.... In a clever and accessible way, he exposes a lot of bad economic reasoning that even Barney could see through. -- The Wall Street Journal, Todd G. Buchholz

Milton Friedman An ingenious and highly original presentation of some central principles of economics for the proverbial Everyman. Its breezy tone conceals the subtlety of the analysis. Guaranteed to puncture some illusions and to make you think. -- Review

This University of Chicago-educated mathematician and economist is a serious academic. But his true gifts lie elsewhere: He makes complicated economic and public policy issues accessible to a general audience and, like Hazlitt before him, forces the reader to challenge previously unexamined assumptions that muddle public debate.... The book's breezy tone and light-hearted title belie the thoughtfulness and scholarly sophistication that undergird almost every assertion that Landsburg makes, no matter how outrageous. The book is part primer on economics and public policy, part tutorial on the value of skeptical inquiry. -- Reason, Nicholas Schulz

Product Details

  • File Size: 1834 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 21, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053GI7XS
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,169 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Numerous books have been written on applying economics to everyday life, but Steve Landsburg's latest book employs a paradigm that puts it head and shoulders above the rest. His interactions with his daughter Cayley put a fascinating spin on things as her experiences and actions are filtered through the eyes of an economist. Landsburg points out again and again how we hold adults to a different, and lower, standard than we hold children, how we tell things to other adults that we would never say to a child and that adults accept excuses and reasoning from other adults that we would never accept from children.
Landsburg sometimes departs from the father-daughter paradigm to discuss issues that don't always fit in the with the rest of the book, but are fascinating none-the-less. Landsburg has a talent for making you think about an issue in novel ways. His analysis of minimum wage laws is clever and principled and nothing like you've ever heard before. Landsburg sheds the same critical light on everything from affirmative action to the rights of the unconceived.
But this is more than a book about economics. It's about what principles we want to use to guide our lives. It's about families. It's about a lot of other things too, but it's especially about fun. If you don't laugh out loud several times while reading this book, you need to have your head examined. Only the most determined curmudgeon could read this without cracking a smile at least once.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics at its very best. December 3, 1997
Steven Landsburg is extraordinarily gifted both as an economist and as a writer. He proves what many economists lazily deny: that economics can be made accessible to those untutored in the subject. Not only will non-economists learn oodles from this spirited book, so too will economists. The only nit I have to pick is Landsburg's analysis of minimum-wage legislation. I find his analysis of such legislation unpersuasive (though clever). The rest of the book is a genuine intellectual delight.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for people who like to use their brains. January 5, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a parent and a citizen-of-earth, I enjoyed (almost) every page of this book. Landsburg helps the reader to think through some issues which are much more "black and white" than our society seems to think they are. Seeking for truth? Be careful of what you wish for. Some of the truths that Landsburg finds in his daughter's life and the way he wants to bring her up will shine some light in corners you may not want to look at. In particular, I was very moved by his views on how our society treats the most productive and successful among us. You will never listen to a Bill Gates joke the same way again. I loved this book! After borrowing it from a friend, I am buying my own copy. Worth owning and worth reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair Play by Steven E. Landsburg November 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Awesome book for anyone who wants to understand basic economics and the moral and practical rammifications of public policy. Well written and easy to understand even for the economically inept.
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This book is clearly written by a knowledgeable and competent economist, and a good writer. It is informative and laugh-out-loud entertaining in places, with ingenious strokes of insight. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a part of his lunch group. I was disappointed, however, that the author often seemed to reduce Adam Smith's basic concept of "enlightened self-interest" to the much narrower idea of simply "self-interest", which leads to very different and more unfortunate economic, social, and institutional results.
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5.0 out of 5 stars :) September 20, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read a lot, and am an economics major so read a lot of econ books, but this is a "savor every sentence" kind of book
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No-nonsense Economics January 23, 2000
Most important lesson: always be skeptical and critical of everything you read, hear, or see. Always apply logic and common sense to draw your own conclusions. AC.CHB
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More About the Author

Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester. He is the author of More Sex Is Safer Sex, The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, two textbooks on economics, and over thirty journal articles in mathematics, economics, and philosophy. He writes the popular "Everyday Economics" column in Slate magazine and has written for Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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