On Valentine’s Day, we write poems to our loved ones and quote Wordsworth, Shakespeare, and Browning. We profess our love by sending flowers and chocolates to those who are close to our hearts (or to those we hope will be someday). But really, what’s more romantic than a novel that makes a case for free-market economics?
The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance by Russell Roberts takes a provocative look at business, economics, and regulation through the eyes of Sam Gordon and Laura Silver, teachers at the exclusive Edwards School in Washington, D.C. Sam lives and breathes capitalism. Laura prefers Wordsworth to the Wall Street Journal. Where Sam sees victors, she sees victims. She wants the government to protect consumers and workers from the excesses of Sam's beloved marketplace. As Sam and Laura navigate their love and their lives, The Invisible Heart also provides rich lessons about how business and the marketplace transform our lives.
Here’s a bit about Sam and Laura from the book:
The Edwards School hired Sam because he had a master’s degree in economics and four years of previous teaching experience. He had turned thirty the previous summer. In his first year at the school, he had taught a couple of sections of the advanced placement course in economics along with a class on government and politics. This year he had added his first elective, “The World of Economics,” where he had free rein to teach whatever he wanted.
“Think, think, think!” Sam was telling the class. “There is a finite amount of crude oil in the world. We use immense amounts of it every day. Obviously, we’ll run out of oil some day. Won’t we?”
Down the hall from Sam’s classroom, Laura Silver tried to calm her nerves. While Sam Gordon had butterflies at the beginning of his class, Laura Silver felt something more sizable, perhaps bats, flapping away at her insides. Teaching at the Edwards School was
her first real job. She wrote her name on the board, and the class, English Literature.
“I’m Ms. Silver. This is English Literature. And our first assignment will be to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.”
Laura looked up from her notes. Expressionless as fish, the class waited for Laura to continue. She wore a long patterned skirt and a ribbed top. Her cascade of auburn hair was held back from her face with a black hair-band. She wore no make-up. She went to the board and wrote, “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”
“Does anyone know who said that?”
“Shakespeare?” someone ventured.
More information about The Invisible Heart, including a sample chapter, can be found here. Also, Powells.com recently featured a review of the book which ran in the Atlantic Monthly in 2001, which is definitely worth a read.