Businessweek economics editor could learn from The Simpsons

Peter Coy of Bloomberg Businessweek often writes articles that exhibit a lack of knowledge of basic economics. Perhaps that’s why he’s less than impressed by a new book, Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics, that actually relies on economics in making economic arguments.

The book has an oddly strong libertarian tinge. Many of the 22 writers Hall recruited are admirers of the late Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises. Samford University professor Art Carden, for example, dislikes the fire code that prevents Homer from sitting in the aisle of a movie theater because he’s too fat for a seat. After all, some people might be willing to take their chances in a jampacked theater if crowding lowered ticket prices. “The assumption that there is One Right Way for theater patrons to be organized—and that One Right Way means no one sitting in the aisles—reduces gains from trade and limits innovation,” Carden writes.

This observer has not read the book, but a “strong libertarian tinge” should not appear odd to anyone who understands that economics tends to suggest solutions that rely on freely made decisions from people who are encumbered as little as possible by government. It’s the type of lesson a person could learn from … “The Simpsons.”

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