Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature Is at Odds with Economics--And Why It Matters
According to Ubel, physician and behavioral scientist at the University of Michigan, marketers exploit basic human irrationality to persuade people to consume dangerously unhealthy foods and spend more money than they have. Contending that capitalism inherently exploits its participants' vulnerabilities, Ubel posits that it's the government responsibility to guide people to act in their own self-interest with educational campaigns and, possibly, taxes or restrictions on advertising to children. The book explores why such measures have been criticized with a swift discussion on free-choice economics and modern-rationalist economists; equal time is devoted to the findings of scientists and psychologists that rebut such perspectives. While Ubel presents a nuanced treatment of issues often reduced to sound bites, his arguments can be difficult to follow; further, his disdain for everything from snack food to beer, television and expensive prescription drugs might strike some readers as sanctimonious.