Tyler Cowen: Economic Growth and the Debt We Owe to Our Distant Future

Laurence Articles

The chief goal of society should be to maximize wealth, according to Tyler Cowen, one of the most interesting men in the world. Like many accomplished people approaching late-middle age, Cowen has turned his attention to moral philosophy. In the slim volume, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, which can be read in a long afternoon, the George Mason University economist and polymath argues that maximizing economic growth is the best thing we can do to enhance human welfare.

Pursuing that goal has delivered everything from abundant food and effective medicine to air conditioning and smartphones — first in developed countries, and now spreading to much of the rest of the world. The challenge is to determine how best to continue on that growth path, further democratizing it so that it does not concentrate in the hands of a few, and preserving what is best of the past, including the natural environment, as we move into the future.

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