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March 29, 2006

Tyler Cowen's New Book

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm happy to see that Tyler Cowen's new book, "Good and Plenty : The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding," is about to go on sale. I'm a big Tyler fan. He's an intelligent and quirky arts enthusiast as well as a first-class economist, and how lucky it is for us that each side of Tyler enhances the other. He appreciates the head-turning qualities of the arts, yet he's able to be down to earth about how the works arise. He's clear-eyed about the benefits of markets, yet his brain is anything but the whirring computational device that the brains of so many market-oriented economists are. Tyler's always aware that what's being discussed is people, not utility-maximizing robots.

If I were emperor, one of the first things I'd do would be to hand out copies of Tyler's book "In Praise of Commercial Culture" to all beginning arts students. That way, a few of them might be spared years of pointless wrestling with uninformed, unworldly, and often leftist arts thinking. Tyler's book about the cultural impacts of globalization is similarly informative, nuanced, and open-minded.

So I'm very eager to see what he's been thinking about and researching recently. Judging from the excerpts Tyler has posted on Marginal Revolution (here and here), the book is lookin' informative, fun, and provocative. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy Tyler's combo of decency, smarts, and mischief? In any case, I've placed my pre-order already.



posted by Michael at March 29, 2006


One of the more interesting aspects of Art History is how much influence wealthy "investors" have had on it. I imagine many people are aware of the role benefactors had on artists during the Renaissance. But we can easily find some fairly recent examples as well.

Think of John Hammond (Columbia Records) with Dylan and Springsteen (The album Born To Run cost over $100,000 and took 6 months. This was after two commercial flops: Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Now that is a savvy investor) or Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis, David Geffen and Jackson Browne and Brian Epstein with The Beatles.

Now it seems like we have gotten a lot more democracy with our "artists". You vote on American Idol and we sign them to a contract.

Granted, from what I have seen and heard of "underground" music, I am not sure how many of them deserve large investments.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on March 30, 2006 8:18 AM

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