The Invisible Hand Cooks Dinner

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“I’ve been an economist for some 30 years,” says Tyler Cowen. “In this time, I’ve learned that by applying some basic economics to my food choices, I can make nearly every meal count.” Here are his six simple rules:

  1. At fancy restaurants, order what sounds the least appetizing.
  2. Avoid restaurants that are popular for their social scene.
  3. Look for good restaurants in the suburbs, where the rent is lower. Or, really, anyplace the rent is low.
  4. Ask other people for advice.
  5. Patronize family-run restaurants.
  6. Thai restaurants are becoming too Americanized, so try Vietnamese instead.

Hmmm. This might all be good advice, but as near as I can tell, only two of these items (#1 and #3) really have any economic content to speak of. The others are either common sense (#4), pieces of longstanding conventional wisdom (#2 and #5), or a matter of taste (#6). Has Tyler succumbed to the Freakonomics disease, where pretty much everything related to human action is now considered a subset of economics? Say it ain’t so!

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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