Callahan and Murphy

The Irish Mafia take over the book review section of The Freeman.


  1. Gene, I'm obviously in the intellectual hinterlands, so I thank you for bringing Clark's book to my attention. I had not realized that the next big book to Guns, Germs and Steel was finally here.

    I see Clark links directly to a bunch of reviews at his home page - - including Jason Kuznicki's review at Cato Journal, which I think articulates a number of important mistakes.

    While I can't critize the book myself without reading it, I would say that it seems to me that what produced the Industrial Revolution was continual scientific progress and intellectual enlightenment, which was driven in part by long-term competition and fuelled by trade (and leaked knowledge) between relatively close European societies. Sure there was gradual cultural evolution, but I certainly don't accept that "breeding" in a genetic sense has anything to do with the IR starting in Europe while still foundering in various backwaters.

    Culture and institutions make all the difference, as we can see in Japan and the difference between North and South Korea, and with the success of Chinese merchant communities around the world.

    Where societies are still struggling is clear not generally the result of any type of "breeding" flaw, but the result of kleptocratic governance by a few at the expense of others - frequently of a different tribe, in societies that have long agrarian cultures. Western imperialism and colonization is in some regions at least, responsible for the collapse of sophisticated societies (including their property rights mechanisms), and the introduction of Western technology and market demands has much contributed to the further breakdown of traditional/community property and to an ongoing tragedy of the commons.

    While we are starting to see progress in many nations, if we want to see less poverty (and destruction of resources), then we need the developed nations to cooperate in ending kleptocracy and clarifying/defending property.

  2. From Bob's piece:

    For example, one reason that lunch prices are lower than dinner prices is that diners linger over their meals longer at night, tying up the valuable table.

    Why are dinner prices higher for chinese take-out?

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