Hit & Run

Will the Future Have No Work or Just Less Work?: Podcast

Economist Michael C. Munger argues the sharing economy is the next great economic revolution—and it's already underway.

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Cambridge University Press, Amazon

Imagine it's sometime in the future, but not so far in the future that you're not still putting together flat-packed furniture.

You realize you need to drive some screws into the bookcase or whatever it is you're assembling. Instead of rummaging through your garage or basement for your goddamned electric screwdriver, you tap out "rent a drill" on your a smart phone app. A few minutes later, a package arrives at your door. It contains a drill, you drive the screws, you send the drill back. Total time: 10 minutes. Total cost $2.50.

That's a scenario from Tomorrow 3.0, a new book by Duke University economist and political scientist Michael C. Munger. Subtitled Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy, it takes a long look at what he says is, after the Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions, the third great economic revolution in world history—a revolution that is already well under way.

I talked with Munger about the future of work in a gig economy, the possible need for a guaranteed basic income, and why laws and policies designed to preserve the labor status quo inevitably increase the pace and magnitude of disruption. Co-editor of The Independent Review, Munger also explains how he came to his libertarian beliefs and how he designed the arresting cover of his latest book.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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