Movin' on up?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis
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Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attach... Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Work,...

moving.jpg What's the key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being? Tyler Cowen thinks he knows the answer, and that we've had it all along. Host Russ Roberts welcomes Cowen back this week for his tenth appearance to discuss his recently released "Stubborn Attachments" on Medium.

As usual, now we'd like to hear what you thought about this week's conversation. So please take a few moments and share your thoughts below...We love to hear from you!

1. Do people today have less willingness to sacrifice for future generations than their predecessors? That is, are we more complacent? If yes, why do you believe that be to the case? If not, what evidence can you cite that suggests this to be untrue?

2. Cowen argues that, "We already have all the answers." Economic growth, he says, is the key to civilizational maintenance and human flourishing, but more attention needs to be directed this way. What does he suggest as the "low-hanging fruit" for spurring increased economic growth? To what extent do you agree with his suggestions? Would you add any others?

3. Do you agree that it has become more difficult to relocate in the United States today? If so, why? If not, what makes Cowen and Roberts wrong? How might declining domestic mobility affect both economic growth and human well-being?

4. Cowen brands himself as two-thirds utilitarian. What does this mean to Cowen? Is Cowen more or less utilitarian than Scott Sumner? How much of a utilitarian are you, and why?

5. Is the value of freedom really losing its appeal, as both Roberts and Cowen suggest at the end of the conversation? Is it dwindling or is it dying? What might bring about the sort of "radical reawakening" that Cowen envisions?

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Rodney Miller writes:

[Comment removed. Please consult our comment policies and check your email for explanation.--Econlib Ed.]

Per Kurowski writes:

The risk weighted capital requirements that disincentive banks from financing the riskier future in order to incentivize the refinancing of the safer past, is an outright treason against the future generations
.
https://subprimeregulations.blogspot.com/2016/08/banks-and-regulators-dont-care-about.html

George Iwaszek writes:

Another great, thought provoking episode of EconTalk. I would have preferred more time spent on Mr. Cowen's main thesis and less time on the university expansion digression, but the upside is I am reading Stubborn Attachments. Near the beginning of the episode, Mr. Roberts mentioned Cowen's aproach to future discounting had some deeply flawed aspects, but I didn't hear that point addressed later. What are those flawed aspects?

I really enjoyed the discussion about clustering. It's a topic I've thought a lot about. The specific example cited in the show was surprisingly personal. I had a small software consulting business based in Tallahassee. I am now located in the Seattle area.

I have personally experienced the positive effects of aggregation. The points around information sharing ring true. The critical mass of folks interested in software and tech provide opportunities for more niche communities that couldn't be sustained in a more disperse environment. The clustering also provides exposure to more diverse opinions. Even though we're all in tech, we find widely different perspectives on things. It's not just the clustering around the technology industry either. There's a lot of cross pollination with the other local "clusters".

I was a little skeptical of this before I moved to Seattle. I was active in online tech communities beginning 2007 (mostly twitter and blogging). These communities were international. Connecting in personal at a conference happened a couple of times a year. My consulting business had customers in New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Israel. All while I was operation from my home office in Tallahassee.

I also held the misperception that all the techies in the Seattle area would be an order of magnitude smarter than the rest of us. I came to realize that the people were all pretty much the same, but that the differences primarily laid in the clustering.

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