Cooperation Coercion

Cooperation and Coercion by Antony Davies

In their illuminating exploration, Cooperation and Coercion: How Busybodies Became Busybullies and What that Means for Economics and Politics, Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan dissect the intricate workings of society and government. Unveiling the fundamental duality of human interaction—cooperation or coercion—this myth-busting book challenges preconceptions and offers a fresh perspective on how we perceive the world.

A Fundamental Revelation

Davies and Harrigan, known for their insightful podcast, Words & Numbers, and engaging speaking engagements, present a fundamental truth: human collaboration manifests either through voluntary cooperation or imposed coercion. This revelation serves as the lens through which they navigate the complexities of societal issues dominating public discourse.

Navigating the Spectrum

The authors skillfully dissect everyday scenarios, ranging from the minimum wage to taxes, gun control to government regulations, and the Wars on Terror, Drugs, and Poverty. By discerning the presence of cooperation and coercion in these realms, they demystify the intricacies surrounding these topics, offering readers a clearer understanding of the forces at play in our socio-political landscape.

Coercion’s Role in a Democracy

The book acknowledges the necessity of coercion, even in democracies where adherence to rules, some contentious, is essential for societal harmony. Davies and Harrigan assert that while coercion plays a role, unquestioned cooperation emerges as the linchpin for human happiness and progress. Their exploration delves into the delicate balance required in governance to ensure both order and individual freedoms.

Insights into Government Involvement

One of the book’s strengths lies in its revelation of the extensive government involvement in daily life, encompassing aspects from debt and taxes to personal choices like soda consumption and smoking habits. It skillfully highlights instances where well-intentioned actions might inadvertently lead to adverse outcomes, providing readers with a nuanced understanding of the unintended consequences of governmental influence.

Progressive Taxation Insights

A surprising revelation surfaces regarding progressive taxation—a departure from popular media narratives. Contrary to common beliefs, the book asserts that Americans do, in fact, pay progressive taxes, with the wealthiest 1% contributing significantly more than the middle class. This revelation challenges preconceived notions, encouraging readers to question widely propagated beliefs about taxation.

Emphasis on Cooperation

Throughout the narrative, the authors underscore the importance of fostering cooperation among governments, citizens, and corporations. They contend that prioritizing collaboration over coercion is not only reasonable but also essential for societal well-being. This emphasis on voluntary cooperation as a catalyst for progress emerges as a central and resonant theme.

“Cooperation and Coercion” stands as a concise and insightful exploration of U.S. governance. The book’s brevity ensures accessibility, making it a worthwhile read for those seeking an alternative perspective to the narratives prevalent on social media and news outlets.


In conclusion, Davies and Harrigan offer readers a valuable lens through which to view the intricacies of society and government. “Cooperation and Coercion” challenges conventional wisdom, encourages critical thinking, and delivers a concise yet impactful exploration of the dynamics shaping our socio-political landscape. It is a thought-provoking read, inviting readers to reevaluate their understanding of government influence and the role of cooperation in fostering a harmonious and progressive society.



“Just a one percentage point increase in interest rates would cost the federal government more in a year than the annual cost of waging two wars.”



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