Decade Old Data, Still Solid Reasoning. This book was written nearly a decade ago now, in 2011. The data is solid from that period, though I did dock a star specifically due to lack of a detailed bibliography – truly the only major flaw I could find with the book. The reasoning is centrist-ish, maybe a touch libertarian, but purely focused on economic, cost/benefit rationale. Indeed, this book seems to have influenced the thinking of the economic policy proposals of 2012 US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who ran as the nominee of the Libertarian Party that year. (At one point late in the text, he specifically notes cutting Federal spending by 43%, back to 2001 levels, and this was one of Johnson’s core proposals that year.) Remarkably, more recent works such as Gilbert Gaul’s Geography of Risk -published in late 2019 – back up at least some of the author’s assertions. (Here specifically, the rising cost of damages from coastal storms and flooding being due at least in part to US Federal economic policies that encourage building in more flood prone areas.)
A final note of disclosure, just to be safe: Despite then-regional proximity (I lived in Georgia all my life until right around the time this book was being written, and even then moved closer to UGA – where Dorfman is a Professor of Economics – itself despite being in another State altogether) and even similar-ish politics (I was very active in the Libertarian Party of Georgia in my last few years of living in the State, including serving as its Legislative Director and as a regional representative on its State Executive Committee), to my knowledge the author of this book and I have never interacted other than the very asynchronous nature of his writing this book and my buying a copy of it and reading it many years later.
This review of Ending the Era of the Free Lunch by Jeffrey Dorfman was originally written on December 29, 2019.