Free Minds & Free Markets

Tyler Cowen's Stubborn Attachments To Freedom and Prosperity: Podcast

The prolific George Mason University economist outlines his unabashedly libertarian argument for a government that does less and individuals who do more.

Over the past 20 years, arguably no libertarian thinker has cut a broader or deeper swath than Tyler Cowen, who holds the Holbert L. Harris Chair in economics at George Mason University and acts as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center. Co-founder of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, the 56-year-old New Jersey native is a regular contributor at Bloomberg and for years wrote an "economic scene" column for The New York Times. He is the host of Conversations with Tyler, a podcast series that includes interviews with people as diverse as Martina Navratilova, Paul Krugman, and Dave Barry, and the author of a shelf full of books, including 2000's In Praise of Commercial Culture, 2007's Discover Your Inner Economist and last year's The Complacent Class.

His work is at once intellectually serious, concise, and engaging, and his unique perspective yields fascinating analyses of activities and subjects that most economists ignore—everything from the literal and figurative prices of fame to how globalization empowers Mexican folk artists to whether public funding for the arts has been more successful than most free-marketers would grant. A recurring theme over the past decade is a fear that America and much of the West may have entered a period he calls "the great stagnation," in which technological innovation and economic growth have slowed even as risk-taking and moonshot-type ventures are demonized or ignored altogether.

I sat down with him to talk about his newest book, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals. It's an unapologetically libertarian argument for what he calls long-term sustainable economic growth and, more importantly, intellectual and cultural attitudes that are unabashedly devoted to freedom and prosperity. It's a provocative, powerful argument for an America in which government does less, individuals do more, and the future becomes the object of our dreams rather than a repository of our fears.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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Photo Credit: Mercatus Center

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  • JWatts||

    That book has a horrible cover. What is it trying to portray?

    A giant Koch squeezing the Earth between his fingers as the Universe bleeds red?

  • JWatts||

    To be fair to Tyler C. it's probably a good book. But the cover art is bad.

  • JWatts||

    To be fair to Tyler C. it's probably a good book. But the cover art is bad.

  • Just Say'n||


  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am always skeptical when Gillespie says that someone is a Libertarian.

    As I check up on them, the descriptions tend to say "libertarian bargainer", "social liberal", "Just to summarize, I generally favor much more immigration but not open borders, I am a liberal on most but not all social issues, and I am market-oriented on economic issues", "On most current foreign policy issues I am genuinely agnostic as to what exactly we should do but skeptical that we are doing the right thing at the moment. I don't like voting for either party or for third parties"....

  • Idle Hands||

    Cowen is interesting but I think Technocratic would be an accurate descriptor.

  • loveconstitution1789||


    Progressives and Socialists love TOP MEN controlling things too.

  • JWatts||

    No, Tyler Cowen runs a blog called Marginal Revolution. You can read his posts there.

    He's definitely a Technocrat, but he's skeptical of Governmental solutions to problems. I'd call him a pro-
    business free market Technocrat.

    He is however pro-immigration.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hm. Thanks, I will check it out.

    I saw somewhere that he is pro-immigration but not open borders.

  • SRVolunteer||

    I wouldn't call Milton Friedman a progressive or a socialist, but he did jump at the chance to try out his ideas.

  • SRVolunteer||

    Yes, Gray Tribe.

    Here is where he told his readers (off and on, I have been one) that if we "were not thinking about [slow technical progress and the Samuelson-Stolper factor price equalization theorem] then I would say you are asleep at the wheel"

    I objected that I might be asleep, but could probably not be described as being 'at the wheel'. I would also not describe him as being 'at the wheel' in any significant sense. Maybe if we get a Gray Tribe administration?

  • SRVolunteer|| 2011/04/the-samuelson-stolper-theorem.html

    forgot the link

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    .... sez the "libertarian" who wants Trump to control his and everybody else's business and personal dealings.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Who, you?

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    What, you don't understand "tariff" any better than "minarchist"?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Tyler Cowen also authored the book "Average is Over" in which he postulated that about 15% of the population would have meaningful work and enjoy an "aristocratic existence," while the rubes would live off the dole and have a "bohemian existence."

    If so then thank God for second hand paperbacks and cheap red wine.


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