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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Public Goods and IP

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Against Monopoly

David gave me permission to flog my new book, Railroading Economics: The Creation of the Free Market Mythology (Monthly Review Press). Although the subject is not intellectual property, its relevance for this blog is the story it tells about the development of economics during the late 19th century.

The same people who created laissez-faire economics, such as John Bates Clark, insist that markets could not work for industries with high fixed costs. In particular, railroading at the time was a major industry in US. So these economists wrote textbooks arguing in favor of laissez-faire, especially with regard to labor markets, while at the same time promoting a Schumpeterian line about leniency toward oligopolistic industry.

In fact, Schumpeter seems to have cribbed much of his analysis from these economists, although all of them may have just been following the dominant German tradition -- dominant in the sense that the major figures among the young economist at the time all studied in Germany.

Centering around this railroading story is a thumbnail sketch of the economic history of the United States.

If any of you get the chance to look at the book, I would appreciate a dialogue.

Addendum: Michael is still learning how to use the posting system, so in response to Tim's request in the comments, here is the Amazon link for the book in clickable form [Posted by David.] .


Comments

Um, how would we go about getting a copy?
Here is the Amazon page for the book.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1583671358/ref=sr_11_1/103-2524225-7943051?ie=UTF8

Before going on and purchasing a copy: The short introduction at Amazon seems to lean very heavily on the authority of Great Men of the past. Does the book actually argue the case, or does it rely on the authority of mystified historical capitalists? If the former, why on earth does the introductory text (= the text at the back of the book?) for it imply the latter?
I did not write and am not responsible for that description. I do not think that the publisher was responsible either. I suspect that the distributer wrote that misleading description. The book does show how the great corporations opposed competition, making very Schumpeterian arguments. A greater portion of the book deals with the way that the nineteenth century economists wrote very much like Schumpeter.
Thanks for the information. Maybe I will have to have a look at the book at some point.


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