My current nonfiction writing project
, which I have been working on for some years, is pretty close to complete—with luck I will be sending it to my agent by the end of the semester. That raises the question of what I should do next. One possibility is a second edition of either Hidden Order
or Law's Order
. Another is fiction–I have partly written sequels to both of my novels, one of them pretty far along.
But there are two other book ideas that I have played with, and this post is mostly to see if any of my readers can offer suggestions for one of them: a collection of works of literature that teach economics.
So far I know of only two such works. One is a science fiction story, "Margin of Profit" by Poul Anderson. Its central point is that in order to make someone stop doing something you do not want him to do it is not necessary to make it impossible, merely unprofitable.
The other is a poem, "The Peace of Dives
" by Rudyard Kipling. Its point is that economic interdependence produces peace, since nobody wants to kill his customers or destroy his own property that happens to be located in someone else's territory. The poem was written in 1903, so arguably turned out to be somewhat optimistic, but it is still an interesting and important idea.
I want more. I want readable works of literature, prose or poetry, that demonstrate economic ideas and get them right. Any suggestions?
My other book idea, for which I could also use suggestions, would be titled "Bad Economics." It would consist of advertisements, quotes from the speeches of politicians, bits from textbooks written by people who don't understand economics, each accompanied by an explanation of why it is wrong. A simple example would be one of the radio advertisements I have heard that offers listeners an opportunity to speculate in heating oil futures, on the grounds that winter is coming. A somewhat less simple example would be almost any statement by almost anyone about the distribution of the burden of taxes, since such statements usually take it for granted that what matters is who actually hands over the money to the government.