Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

January 2006

A Monthly Archive (59 entries)

Less Liberty Than Meets the Eye

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Gallup poll that Arnold talks about seems to have a shocking result: even though American political discourse obsesses over liberal versus conservative, for every three people who fit these labels, there are two who do not. If you ask... MORE

Data on Political Beliefs

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Two items in the Wall Street Journal. An editorial notes that the Chinese top the world in their support for market capitalism. In a poll conducted for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes between June and August... MORE

A License to Sing?

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
I was confused last night while watching the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues. For a reason I couldn't grasp, Billie needed to win over public opinion in order to get a "cabaret card." But surely, I told my... MORE

You're All Winners

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Thanks so much to everyone who suggested titles for my book. I'll be mulling this over for a while, but my readers will be the first to know once I've made up my mind. P.S. Despite the title, I am... MORE

The Disease it Purports to Cure

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
William Easterly writes, historically poverty has never been ended by central planners. It is only ended by "searchers", both economic and political, who explore solutions by trial and error, have a way to get feedback on the ones that work,... MORE

At First Glance: Bias in the Media

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Economists have done some sophisticated work on media bias. For example, Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo have a neat paper, "A Measure of Media Bias," that compares the think tanks that politicians and the media cite. They find that the... MORE

Skewness in Earnings

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong asks, What skills and assets do the top 1% of America's pretax income distribution have today that lead the market to grant them 14% of total income, when their counterparts back in 1980 were granted only 8% of... MORE

Elite Folly and Selection Bias

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've been arguing for several years that more educated people have more sensible views about economics than less educated people. (No need to wait for my book; see here and here). Arnold is not the first to demur. Many economists,... MORE

Name This Book!

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Since Arnold is already pumping up my book, and it's been accepted by a major university press, it's time to announce my official Title Contest. If we've learned anything from the success of Freakonomics, it's that titles matter. And while... MORE

Elite Fools

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Although I like Bryan Caplan's new book, I disagree with treating government as an elected dictator. Another aspect that troubles me is Caplan's brand of elitism.... MORE

An Elected Dictator?

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Although I agree with much of what Bryan Caplan has to say in his new book, there are a couple of points that give me problems. One, which has come up before in this blog, is his dismissal of the... MORE

Majority Fools

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
I don't know whether it comes across to our readers, but co-blogger Bryan Caplan is an important scholar. His latest book, for which he is still mulling a title, is a major work. I like the title Majority Fools, which... MORE

Stuck on 1968

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay. In 1968, Milton Friedman was on the fringe of respectability. His Presidential Address to the American Economic Association in 1967 could not have been more defiant of the conventional wisdom. At that time, economists thought that... MORE

The Joy of Econ

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
Are you puzzled by the appeal of the late Murray Rothbard? Try his newly available lectures on The History of Thought: From Marx to Hayek. All libertarian prejudice aside, I don't think any thoughtful economist could deny that Rothbard exudes... MORE

Cinematic Proof

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
If you're one of those economists who says "we can only talk about observable behavior," check out Brokeback Mountain: One minute of sex, two hours of yearning.... MORE

No Perfect Health Care System

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Samuelson writes, Americans generally want their health care system to do three things: (1) provide needed care to all people, regardless of income; (2) maintain our freedom to pick doctors and their freedom to recommend the best care... MORE

Mozart: An Ultimate Resource

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen has urged all bloggers to give Mozart his props this week. Here goes: Dear Wolfgang: I am very sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you. But you'll be happy to know that I have probably heard... MORE

Where Dysgenics Goes Wrong: Comparative Advantage Strikes Again

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
A number of smart people, Charles Murray included, are worried about "dysgenic pressure." The story, in brief, is that: 1. Intelligence is highly heritable. 2. The more intelligent have fewer kids than less intelligent. 3. Our average IQ is declining,... MORE

Confirmation Bias confirmed

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and... MORE

A Diabetes Legend

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay For me, it is a bit difficult to credit the notion that insurance companies induce people to choose foot amputations over preventive visits to podiatrists. Even if the podiatrist visit is not covered by insurance, it... MORE

Giffen's Paradox of Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
If you thought that Bush economics was an oxymoron before, wait until you read this morning's lead story in the Washington Post. President Bush will propose that Americans be allowed to take tax deductions on more of their out-of pocket... MORE

How to Get in the Financial Times

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
How economics is changing: A few years ago, the Financial Times discussed my article on systematically biased beliefs about economics. A few days ago, the Financial Times discussed my blog on the economics of dental hygiene.... MORE

Whenever I go out in public, I notice pairs of mothers and daughters. Once kids hit adolescence, you rarely see mothers and sons, fathers and sons, or fathers and daughters spending much time together. But mothers and daughters of all... MORE

Folk Beliefs, Locke, and Marx

Economic Philosophy
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write Folk Marxism looks at political economy as a struggle pitting the oppressors against the oppressed. Of course, for Marx, the oppressors were the owners of capital and the oppressed were the workers. But folk... MORE

Where Eugenics Goes Wrong: The Implications of Comparative Advantage

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Almost no one wants to be called a "eugenicist." It's a term of abuse. But if you go back to the origin of the term, it basically amounts to the following two claims: Claim #1: One of the main causes... MORE

Gnomonomics

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Apparently I'm not the only guy who teaches economics using cartoons. Larry White uses South Park to score a damning point against Jeff Sachs: One of the all-time greatest episodes of South Park is “Underpants Gnomes,” wherein the coffee-addled character... MORE

Funding Jihad

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Due to mild fear of a strip search at the airport, I decided not to fly with Daniel Brown's A New Introduction to Islam. But it was worth the wait. In another fascinating section, Brown explains how the early holy... MORE

Valuing Life

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Robert H. Frank writes. Mr. Landsburg's argument finesses the important distinction between a "statistical life" and an "identified life." The concepts were introduced by the economist Thomas C. Schelling, who observed the apparent paradox that communities often spend millions of... MORE

Scholarly Beliefs and Folk Beliefs

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I meditate on the topic. Regardless of the state of scholarly belief about Keynes, folk Keynesianism is dominant. For example, most people believe that we should worry about whether "the consumer" will spend freely. Everyone fears... MORE

Inequality and Innovation

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
David Wessel writes, the best minds in labor economics differ on whether the 1990s and early 2000s are best seen as a continuation of the 1980s inequality trend (Harvard's Mr. Katz) or an end to it (Berkeley's David Card.) The... MORE

Education Spending

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Ken of Upper Left Coast came up with an analogy between Maryland's Walmart Law and a proposed reform for public education. I wonder if those who rejoiced in the passage of Maryland's law -- and who, I'm relatively certain, gave... MORE

Pricing the Internet

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen steps into an old issue, of how Internet usage ought to be priced. In purely economic terms, the idea of charging Google or other "bandwidth hogs" does not sound outrageous. The casual assumption here is that bandwidth is... MORE

How Islam Spread: Veeery Slooowly

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I am engrossed by Daniel Brown's A New Introduction to Islam. It's packed with juicy scholarship. A standard history will tell you that Islam swept the Middle East in the space of thirty years. What it won't tell you is... MORE

As I Was Saying

Price Controls
Bryan Caplan
As couple days ago, I wrote: But if my analysis is right, there will be some lucky workers who keep their jobs, don't immediately see their wages fall, and get extra health care. It will be easy to run a... MORE

Liberals and Walmart

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
I have started a new series of essays about the assumptions made by (modern) liberals. The first one says, Liberals see the market as an arena in which evil corporations inflict their greed on innocent victims. I wish you would... MORE

Are Neighborhood Effects Really Genetic Effects?

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Bryan Caplan
A new paper leads Tyler Cowen to ask: "Are Neighborhood Effects Really Family Effects?" But I'd say he's suffering from what I've called "environmental bias." Since the whole behavioral genetics literature has already found shockingly weak evidence of family effects... MORE

Mind Wide Open

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The main finding in Philip Tetlock's awe-inspiring Expert Political Knowledge is that open-minded "foxes" are better predictors than theory-driven "hedgehogs." But toward the end of the book, he has a fascinating chapter about a fascinating exception. Background: There's a whole... MORE

Economists are lambasting Maryland's "Fair Share Health Care Fund Act", which effectively forces Wal-Mart to spend at least 8% of its payroll on health care. While I'm happy to join in the chorus, I nevertheless believe that many opponents of... MORE

Maryland, Wal-Mart, and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
As the New York Times puts it, The Maryland legislature passed a law Thursday that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states. Economics says... MORE

Confession of a Broken Planner

Price Controls
Bryan Caplan
Tom DiLorenzo has a charming anecdote in the latest issue of the Free Market: During the post-war occupation of Germany, American "planners" rather liked the Nazi economic controls, including price controls, that were in fact preventing economic recovery. The notorious... MORE

A Verdict on Mindless Economics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
During my four years at Princeton I can't recall anyone other than myself having the slightest interest in methodology. How the times have changed! Princeton's Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer have put out a lengthy methodological tract, "The Case for... MORE

Strategic Petroleum Futures

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Marc Sumerlin writes, The market for long-dated oil futures contracts is not sufficiently large or liquid enough to fully and inexpensively hedge the vast quantity of investment that is needed for the U.S. to substantively reduce its dependency. Hedging is... MORE

Targeting Aid to the Poor

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
James Heckman writes, Although much public policy discussion focuses on the failings of schools, a major finding from the research literature is that schools and school quality contribute little to the emergence of test-score gaps among children. By the second... MORE

The Censors of Ghost Town

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Howard Stern premiered today on Sirius satellite radio, and I couldn't be happier. I don't find Stern funny. I don't subscribe to Sirius. But this move is another market-driven nail in the coffin of the censors at the FCC. These... MORE

Wild Hypotheses

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Pete Boettke wants to see Economics with Attitude. I have often asked job candidates what the wildest hypothesis related to their research in economics and political economy that they want to pursue would be. Here are some of my ideas... MORE

The L.A. Times has a big expose about the union founded by Cesar Chavez: Today, a Times investigation has found, Chavez's heirs run a web of tax-exempt organizations that exploit his legacy and invoke the harsh lives of farmworkers to... MORE

Kling on Kuttner on Kuttner vs. Friedman

Monetary Policy
Arnold Kling
My latest essay. Kuttner has apparently missed the point of the concept of a natural rate of unemployment, which is that the unemployment rate should not be a "target for monetary policy." What Friedman means by the term natural unemployment... MORE

School Voucher Ruling

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Florida Supreme Court decided that school vouchers violate the state constitution. The narrow question we address is whether [vouchers] violates a part of the Florida Constitution requiring the state to both provide for “the education of all children residing... MORE

Beliefs and Consequences

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write Over the past 50 years, economists have become less materialistic. No, we have not become hippies, rejected consumerism, and discovered spirituality. As social scientists, however, we have noticed that a large share of wealth... MORE

Milton Friedman Sparring

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Robert Kuttner attempts to debate Milton Friedman MF: ...in the case of medicine, I would really like to see, and I wish I were competent myself to do it myself, a comparative study between dentistry and medicine. RK: But dentistry... MORE

The Banality of Corruption

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
The front page of today's Washington Post has two stories on corruption. The main story is a stereotypical "one evil man" story on Jack Abramoff. The other story, on Maryland funeral law, probably explains everyday corruption more clearly. Maryland's leading... MORE

The Upside of Asia

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok has a pair of neat posts on India and China. The first points to a vast expansion of private schooling in India, and makes the plausible argument that growth is causing education rather than the other way around.... MORE

IQ, Algernon, and Introspection

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Bryan Caplan
There are a lot of people who take offense at the idea that people have different levels of intelligence - and even at the idea that something called "intelligence" exists. As with most controversial issues, more data is unlikely to... MORE

Mankiw's Wish List

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Speaking of miraculous political conversions, here is Greg Mankiw's wish list. Just repeat after me: • #1: This year I will be straight about the budget mess. I know that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. I know... MORE

Reviving Political Economy

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: The mainstream approach treated economic behavior and political behavior completely differently. We viewed economic phenomena, such as a price change, as determined by an entire system. We took political decisions as arising from personal whim. We... MORE

Would a Cancer Vaccine Pay?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
One of my favorite web sites, Edge.org, recently posed a question to famous thinkers: What is Your Most Dangerous Idea?. There are many interesting ideas on a variety of topics. Paul Ewald said that it may be possible to find... MORE

Solow Paradox Revisited

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Raffaella Sadun and John Van Reenen write, The rebound of US productivity growth has been a major economic development over the last decade. This “miracle” is linked to IT as the productivity acceleration was particularly strong in those sectors that... MORE

Reflecting on the best social science of 2005, it is striking how much of it appears in The Onion. Here are just a few articles that provide more insight than the typical publication in the American Economic Review: Bush to... MORE

Why is Nationalized Health Care Popular?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Gary M C Shiu asks The real puzzle is: If national health care is indeed that "inefficient" as Arnold claimed. Why is it so prevalent across the world, and why it is so difficult to get rid of? I don't... MORE

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