Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

September 2004

A Monthly Archive (40 entries)

Socialism as Primitivism

Economic Philosophy
Arnold Kling
Madsen Pirie writes, Hayek told his rapt audience that the old values of the hunting band still had their allure, including the urge to share everything when value could not be stored... Members of the audience actually gasped when Hayek... MORE

health care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I attended this Cato forum on health care reform options. Speakers were Sally Pipes, John Goodman, Jeff Lemieux, and Robert Kuttner. A few notes: Best one-liner belonged to Kuttner: "The hardest job for a liberal is to defend the D.C.... MORE

In Praise of Temperance

Economic Philosophy
Arnold Kling
Deirdre McCloskey writes that economists no longer view underconsumption as a threat to full employment. Nothing would befall the market economy in the long run, says the modern economist, if we tempered our desires to a thrifty style of life--one... MORE

In Praise of Failure

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Glenn Harlan Reynolds discusses the X-prize for private space travel using a rather Austrian viewpoint. But in all sorts of areas -- from space and jet aviation in the 1950s and 1960s, to computers in the 1970s and 1980s, to... MORE

Outsourcing Data

International Trade
Arnold Kling
Daniel Drezner writes that actual data on outsourcing has been hard to come by. Now, however, we can add some actual figures to the overheated debate. The Government Accountability Office has issued its first review of the data, and one... MORE

Economics of Health Insurance

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I contend that what most people think of as health insurance is not technically insurance, but something else. An equivalent plan for restaurant meals would be that instead of paying for your meal, you would pay an... MORE

Economic Illiteracy

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan Caplan summarizes some evidence. One of the first things that stands out is anti-foreign bias. When they contemplate economic interaction with foreigners, the general public gets unreasonably negative... A second major pattern in the public's economic illiteracy is make-work... MORE

Social Security and Real Production

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Don Lloyd decries the accounting approach to Social Security. The common flaw in all of the proposed remedies above is that they focus on dollars and money. This is too narrow and ignores the fact that the primary end goal... MORE

mp3's and lectures

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen asks, Why don't econ bloggers post their classroom and public lectures? I already do. I add one or two per week. The latest one includes an interactive quiz. I record them using an Olympus DS330 digital voice recorder.... MORE

Escalation of Income

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I suggest using an escalator rather than a pie as a metaphor for differences in income. Overall, over 60 percent of families surveyed in 1975 made it to the top 40 percent in 1991. If the "distribution... MORE

Environmental Economics

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Joe Katzman has a long, thoughtful post on the economics of common resources, notably water. Perhaps it's also time to factor these eco-services into a variant of GNP, so their depletion and restoration would both show on a national balance... MORE

Book Pitch

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
My TechCentralStation friends let me write a pitch for my book. I believe that economists have a right to feel that we have superior knowledge on issues of public policy. However, the implication of this is not that we should... MORE

Entitlement Arithmetic

Social Security
Arnold Kling
According to Thomas Saving, an economist who is one of the trustees of Social Security and Medicare, we are already taking money from general revenue to fund the deficits in those programs. This year, for the first time in recent... MORE

Education and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Alison Wolf challenges the conventional wisdom. large international studies often find a negative relationship between education and growth rates. Egypt is a classic example of this. Between 1970 and 1998, its primary school enrollment rates grew to over 90%, secondary... MORE

Ideas and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Charles I. Jones writes, The nonrivalry of ideas implies that increasing returns to scale is likely to characterize production possibilities. This leads to a world in which scale itself can serve as a source of long run growth. The more... MORE

Wages Move Toward Equilibrium

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week writes, the surge in companies going to India, China, and Eastern Europe in search of very cheap brainpower may soon be coming to an end -- far sooner than anyone has anticipated. Why? Simply put,... MORE

Outsourcing = Economic Activity

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
The Economist writes, SO YOU want to withdraw cash from your bank account? Do it yourself. Want to install a broadband internet connection? Do it yourself. Need a boarding card issued for your flight? Do it yourself... Many people complain... MORE

Higher Education Lobby

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post looks into one of the dirty little secrets about the higher education industry: its intense political lobbying. The more-established schools want to block legislation that would, among other things, make it easier for students to transfer academic... MORE

Squeezed Up

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post (possibly more reliable link here) does not use phony documents, but the thrust of the story, including the headline "More U.S. families struggle to stay on track" is at variance with the facts that they present. The... MORE

Hayek and the Internet

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Michael Van Winkle argues that the Internet's weblogs represent Hayek's concept of spontaneous order. We've all heard critics of the Internet claim that, because no one "controls" it, no one can control it from disseminating the most outrageous rumors and... MORE

My Book is Available

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Finally, Learning Economics is available for purchase. You may order it here. Some endorsements may be found here. The book starts out, Each year, thousands of people study economics, but not many learn it. Most of them leave their economics... MORE

The "Cost" of Privatization

Social Security
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post adds up the cost of President Bush's campaign proposals. They include this: An estimate from the Social Security actuary's office, included in the 2001 report of a Social Security commission appointed by Bush, put the cost of... MORE

Health Care Policy

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
My latest essay on health care policy: I think it is useful to divide the health care issue into three areas: general wellness; acute care; and discretionary procedures. The problems and solutions differ by area. What I mean by general... MORE

Where is the Failure?

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, Economists are losing the battle for mindshare in public debates and discussions about the economy. Too much of what we economists write meets the technical canons of modern economics, but reaches a very small audience (if it... MORE

Town Vs. Gown

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Two recent articles discuss economic and sociological divides in politics. Joel Kotkin writes, Kerry's challenge, Sperling and his three co-authors declare, is to convince voters in swing states such as Arizona, Colorado and the industrial Midwest that they should get... MORE

Paul Samuelson

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Since the name of Paul Samuelson came up recently, I thought I would toss out a few random impressions of him. I only had Samuelson for one course, which I believe was in the Spring of 1977. It was part... MORE

Labor Market Puzzle

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen lists ten possible explanations for the weak labor market in this recovery. He concludes But I would sooner call the whole thing a continuing mystery. Note that most of these hypotheses imply that the economy can still become... MORE

Blaming Health Care Producers

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Are health care suppliers to blame for high health care costs in the United States? Uwe Reinhardt and others say yes. I am not convinced. The basis of this claim is somewhat weak, however. In health care, it is difficult... MORE

Outsourcing Muddles

International Trade
Arnold Kling
Can trade make us worse off? Evidently, Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson is going to make that claim. Trade, in other words, may not always work to the advantage of the American economy, according to Mr. Samuelson. In an interview last... MORE

Happiness Research Still Makes Me Unhappy

Revealed Preference
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen acknowledges, Unlike Arnold Kling, however, I do not reject the implications of happiness research altogether. The ever-excellent Michael of 2Blowhards.com has now come forward and offered a good summary of what happiness research implies... "Everyone seems to have... MORE

Third Rail Issues

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Samuelson writes, The central distributional issue of our time is not between rich and poor. It is between retirees and non-retirees. In fiscal 2003, Social Security and Medicare cost $744 billion. All federal retirement and disability programs now... MORE

Fear Factor

Economic Philosophy
Arnold Kling
How does government grow? I offer this hypothesis: My theory is that the political process preys on fear. A politician identifies something that constituents might perceive as a threat. Next, the politician "markets" the threat, playing up its importance. Then,... MORE

Measuring Labor Income

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
This post by Ben Muse shows the potential for mischief in talking about declining wages. He cites an article by Michael Pakko and quotes Pakko as saying, Having reached a peak of 58 percent in 1970, wages and salaries have... MORE

Nobel Laureates speak

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal asks a series of questions to a number of Nobel Laureates in economics. On one question, whether the global income distribution will be more equal 50 years from now, several of them say "yes," because they... MORE

Double-Counted Jobs?

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Asymmetrical Information links to Random Jottings, who quotes an anonymous economist on the possibility that the payroll employment survey double-counts jobs whenever the labor market gets so tight that workers take new jobs before their old employers can even update... MORE

Policy Specifics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I look at the specifics of the President Bush's economic proposals. Overall, I am afraid that the President's concept of the "ownership society" owes more to David Brooks than it does to Stephen Bainbridge. But the... MORE

Productivity vs. Distribution

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Jeff Madrick is not impressed with Wal-Mart. Critics are compiling evidence that Wal-Mart's success, while entrenched in the brilliant management of new technologies, is dependent on low labor costs... A new study by Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs of the... MORE

Should Pacey Teach Economics?

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
I have started teaching a class at George Mason called Economics and the Citizen It's been over 20 years since I taught at a college level, and I feel like Rip Van Winkle. After the first class, I was given... MORE

Middle Class Squeezed Up

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Bruce Bartlett explains what is happening to the shrinking middle class. In fact, the ranks of the poor have fallen along with those of the middle class. Using the Times' characterization of any household with an income below $25,000 in... MORE

Elephants in the Big Tent

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
Who speaks for the Republicans? Is it David Brooks? Now almost every leading politician accepts that government should not interfere with the basic mechanisms of the market system. On the other hand, almost every leading official acknowledges that we should... MORE

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