Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Practice what you preach sentence of the day

Posted by Rich Sweeney on May 19, 2008

From Daniel Gross’s NYtimes review of Jeffrey Sachs’ “Common Wealth”,

In an age when we don’t need to have lots of children to work the fields, or to compensate for high infant mortality, Sachs argues that it’s both economically rational — and crucial for a future of sustainable growth — for people to reproduce at a rate close to 2.1 children per family. In his acknowledgments, Sachs thanks his three children.

I’ve been halfheartedly making my way through Sachs’ book, and I think Gross hits the nail on the head when he says, “Sachs too frequently lapses into a sort of reductio ad PowerPoint”. And “frequently lapses” is being generous. For this reason this book makes a much better reference than a read. Usually I find Tyler Cowen’s short book reviews obnoxiously pretentious, but halfway through “Common Wealth” I’d have to say this is a pretty accurate description,

my browsing of this book never gave me the feeling that I had access to the mind of Jeffrey Sachs. It doesn’t even read like a popularization. Imagine a smart and diligent but not insightful or self-reflective person doing a “color by numbers” version of what a Jeffrey Sachs book should read like.

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