FDL Book Salon Welcomes Robert H. Frank, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good. From the introductory remarks:
"When households engage in an arms race for positional goods, behavior that benefits individuals can be damaging to the group as a whole. Thus, the presence of positional goods gives markets a way to fail over and above the traditional sources of market failure discussed in textbooks. I do have a few questions and mild disagreements, we’ll get to those in the discussion, but the main idea in the book – understanding the relationship between individual maximizing behavior and aggregate outcomes – is essential in determining when and how governments ought to be involved in economic affairs. When individual behavior aggregates into what’s best for the community, there is no need for government to intervene. But when that’s not true – and this book adds to the list or reasons to suspect there are important cases when it’s not – there’s a role for government to play."
An earlier discussion of the book in Savage Minds Darwinian Tax Reform.
Possibly related POSITIONAL GOODS AND ECONOMICS.
The Continuing Relevance of Fred Horsch's Insights on Markets and Morality.
The Role of Public Sector in Development... by Vernon Ruttan