How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives
Who gets what and why? Renowned law professor Michael Heller answers this question in his upcoming book Mine! (to be released March 2, 2021) co-authored with James Salzman. Heller reveals that, remarkably, there are just six simple stories everyone uses to claim everything. The exact same stories toddlers use when they struggle over a toy shovel in the playground also shape our fights over digital privacy, wealth inequality, and climate change. In his fascinating talks, Heller opens our eyes to the hidden world of ownership engineering—the process by which top companies influence concepts of ownership to create value—and how you can leverage it too.
“This delicious book will guide you through the confusing maze of ownership disputes that bedevil our daily lives. Who owns your ‘private’ information, your Netflix password, your yard’s airspace, and the chair of your deceased parents that you and your sister now both want? It’s often unclear: read and prepare yourself!”— Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Mine” is one of the first words kids learn. By the time we grow up, these rules seem natural and beyond contest, whether we’re buying a cup of coffee or a home. Mine couldn’t be simpler. But much of what we know about ownership is wrong. Turns out, governments and businesses, parents and toddlers, all use the same few stories to steer us to do what they want. These stories work because they are so ingrained in our everyday lives, but often to our disadvantage. In Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives (Doubleday, March 2021), Heller takes readers on an eye-opening journey to discover how governments, businesses, and ordinary people stake their claims, and how you, too, can claim your share. The book has received early praise from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jared Diamond and Barton Gelman, who writes, “I haven’t had an experience like this as a reader since Freakonomics.... The authors deliver a rollicking good read, filled with amazing stories about the secret rules of ownership and why they work in unexpected ways.” Cass Sunstein, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Nudge, adds Mine! is “Immensely clarifying, beautifully written, and perfectly timed—and it might improve the world to boot.” In his enthralling talks, Heller shares his expertise alongside real-life stories that will surprise, enrage, and inspire audiences.
One of world’s leading authorities on ownership, Heller is the Lawrence A. Wien Professor at Columbia Law School, where he has served as Vice Dean of Intellectual Life. He has written several influential books revealing hidden ownership dilemmas, including The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives. In it, he shows how cooperation breaks down and disappears wealth when too many people own pieces of one thing—whether a physical or intellectual resource.
Before joining Columbia, Heller taught at the University of Michigan Law School where he received the school’s highest prize for excellence in teaching. He has also taught at UCLA, NYU, and Yale law Schools and been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.