I figured out why I was so dissatisfied with The Undercover Economist.
Harford treats everything in economics as a solved trivial problem. Trying to incorporate the costs of pollution in a transportation policy? Dealing with externalities will make it simple. Want to prove that free trade is best? It’s obvious. Sweatshops on your conscience? Fuggadaboutit.
Now, I agree with just about all of Harford’s conclusions. But he makes economics seem pretty pallid when there are no debates or ideas left to wrestle with. I’m hoping to find more nuance and engagement with the latest book on my shelf, Thomas Schelling’s Choice and Consequence.