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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