Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

March 2006

A Monthly Archive (60 entries)
My undergrads think that a Mason win in basketball will lead to skyrocketing applications. Russ Roberts isn't so sure.... MORE

Management by Re-organization

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
James Pinkerton pushes an idea to make the Federal government more effective. [Former Congressman Bob] Walker's idea, which makes it print debut here in TCSDaily, is this: Take the functions of the federal executive branch and turn them all into... MORE

Suppose you have a secret that the world will hold against you, but it's sure to leak out one day regardless of what you do. What's the best way to come out of the closet? I started thinking about this... MORE

Are Low-Skilled Americans the Master Race?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you could give American high school dropouts a 1000% raise by exterminating every man, woman, and child in Latin America. Would that be the right thing to do? No? Why not? Your answer, hopefully, is that murder is wrong,... MORE

With Critics of Immigration Like This, Who Needs Advocates?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I occasionally quip that I like the whole range of economists from Mises to Krugman. We can squabble amongst ourselves, but it's amazing how much we really agree. Now Krugman is voicing doubts about immigration, but once again, he doesn't... MORE

Putin's Potemkin Dissertation

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Vladimir Putin's supposed to be an economist. Kind of embarassing. But it turns out that he plagiarized his dissertation, so we can justly banish him from the club: According to the Kremlin’s official biography, Putin, 53, obtained a PhD in... MORE

Health Care Live and in Concert

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
On Wednesday, March 29th, if you're a Capitol Hill type, you can hear me at a live gig at noon. B-339 Rayburn. Topic is health care policy. And if you thought that George Mason taking on U-Conn was tough, see... MORE

The Jane Galt Health Plan

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the last of a good series of posts on health care, she writes, Have the government pay for all health care expenditures above 15% of adjusted gross income, and cover 100% of health care expenditures by people living under... MORE

Transparent Government and Libertarianism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, [There is ] a big principle-agent/incentive compatibility problem between representatives and the citizens they represent. Politicians want to get re-elected. If they can subsidize interest group A at group B’s expense without group B really noticing due... MORE

My take on anti-foreign bias

International Trade
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, The Battle of the Borders is a distraction. In the context of an existential threat coming from militant Islam, Mexicans and other Hispanics seeking better opportunity in the United States are, at worst, a... MORE

Half Million Rally Against Anti-Foreign Bias

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
It's not often that economic literacy has half a million people march on its behalf. From the AP: LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of immigration advocates marched through downtown Los Angeles in one of the largest demonstrations for any cause... MORE

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ethics, But Were Afraid to Ask

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
In 1992, I read an essay that changed my life: "Moral Objectivism," by the Wunderkind philosopher Michael Huemer. Even as an undergraduate, Huemer had a gift for making the hardest questions simple: [S]ubjectivism must say (1) that moral judgements are... MORE

Deadweight Loss for Toddlers

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
My boys' latest favorite book is The Tawny, Scrawny Lion. It's not only a great story; it also illustrates the concept of deadweight loss with greater clarity and force than most textbooks: Once there was a tawny, scrawn lion who... MORE

Health Care Spending

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
A blogger writes, Yes, yes, hindsight is 20/20. But the fact that the patient started to improve clinically within about 4 days of her inpatient hospital course (and with that, essentially showed us that she had mono, not lymphoma) makes... MORE

Rogoff vs. Blinder

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Ken Rogoff writes, Globalization proceeded at a rapid pace through much of the last century, and at a particularly accelerated rate during its last two decades. Yet the vast body of evidence suggests that technological changes were a much bigger... MORE

Methodological Individualism

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
Don Boudreaux explains, Whatever the topic -- war, economic growth, government regulation -- the only way to achieve genuine understanding of what's going on is to trace all actions back to the individuals who take them. The fact that individuals... MORE

The Misconception of the Twentieth Century

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Even many people with little sympathy for the Soviet Union admire its "heroic" role in World War II. What all too few people realize is that for the first twenty-two months of World War II, the Nazis and the Soviets... MORE

Alan Blinder is not Boring

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
In another paper, on the relationship between economics and policy, he writes, In the academic world, where we routinely prepare papers that perhaps two dozen other people will ever read, the standards of evidence are quite strict. Proofs must be... MORE

Alan Blinder is Not Stupid

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
Despite Harold Meyerson's make-work bias interpretation, Blinder's actual paper says, The job categories that will move offshore as the Information Age progresses will not disappear entirely from the U.S. and other rich countries. But their shares of the work forces... MORE

Economic Fallacies

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
Two painfully bad op-eds in the Washington Post today. First, Robert J. Samuelson writes, What we have now -- and would with guest workers -- is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving it in... MORE

Charles Murray writes, Instead of sending taxes to Washington, straining them through bureaucracies and converting what remains into a muddle of services, subsidies, in-kind support and cash hedged with restrictions and exceptions, just collect the taxes, divide them up, and... MORE

News Without Paper

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes, What would a new-era newspaper look like? First, I think I'd skip the "paper" part. I've visited a lot of newspaper offices, and many of them proudly display the printing presses that produce their product, just... MORE

Framing Anti-Foreign Bias

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
Non-economists suffer from anti-foreign bias, a tendency to underestimate the benefits of interacting with foreigners. But how stubborn is this bias? A well-crafted survey by Michael Hiscox has the answers. Everyone in his sample was asked "Do you favor or... MORE

Cognitive Economics?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Craig A. Lambert writes, the Russell Sage Foundation, which devotes itself to research in the social sciences, consistently supported behavioral economics, even when it was in the intellectual wilderness. Current Sage president Eric Wanner, Ph.D. ’69, whose doctorate is in... MORE

Libertarian Health Care Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, I believe that the state’s grant of monopoly privelege to certain official certifying agencies has a lot do do with the high cost of health care. Besides creating artificial scarcity (and therefore huge rents for M.D.s), the... MORE

Public Choice Theory, Example n

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
Andrew Samwick quotes a New York Times story on how Congress is "improving" the private pension system. Someone must pay for this. Currently, the pension agency finances itself in part through the insurance premiums that companies are required to pay... MORE

Notably Unnotable: Should Wikipedia Delete Me?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Wikipeda recently featured a discussion about whether the article about me should be deleted: Caplan is an associate professor, who wrote a few articles, and has a number of opinions. He certainly isn't notable. It seems to me that the... MORE

Slate Produces Two Good Columns

Social Security
Arnold Kling
William Saletan writes, The point of Social Security was to subsidize those who couldn't work, not those who could. The program's founding document said it would support old people who were "dependent," "beyond the productive period" and "without means of... MORE

Has Harris Done It Again?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'm a huge fan of Judith Harris' The Nurture Assumption, which powerfully debunks the idea that how your parents raised you has a large effect on how you turned out. Now she's got a new book, No Two Alike, which... MORE

The Verdict on V for Vendetta

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I had a good time, but V for Vendetta was a disappointment. The heroes weren't anarchists, and the villains weren't really fascists - just jerks. And they cut the best scene from the book: V's dialogue with Madame Justice. (Check... MORE

Type II error

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
"Where's Arnold?" you may be asking. I had jury duty this week, and it was a difficult criminal case. We deliberated for almost three days, and deadlocked at 6-6. Loosely speaking, the liberals voted acquittal, and the conservatives voted conviction.... MORE

Making a Virtue Out of Compulsion

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
I recently mentioned that if you're feeling lonely, you should criticize Austrian economics, and you'll never again lack for human contact. Now Walter Block, Christopher Westley, and Alex Padilla have a hilarious 79-page piece of satire which turns Austrians' compulsive... MORE

More Cool Work By Hainmueller and Hiscox

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
In "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration In Europe," Hainmueller and Hiscox confirm what I've been telling economists for years: Low-skilled workers are more opposed to immigration because they are less economically literate, not because they selfishly calculate that immigration... MORE

Well, not quite the world, but in the latest issue of Critical Review I debate Pete Boettke, Pete Leeson, David Gordon, Rodolfo Gonzalez, and Ed Stringham. The subject: My earlier CR article, "Is Socialism Really 'Impossible'?", which argued that the... MORE

Parents Say the Darndest Things

Revealed Preference
Bryan Caplan
Steve Levitt often quips that "People lie, numbers don't." I say that both people and numbers lie some of the time. The tough question is figuring out how much trust you should give people or numbers in any particular case.... MORE

Friedman Extends Hotelling

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
David Friedman re-explains Hotelling's analysis of natural resources, then argues that - due to insecure property rights - Hotelling's rule underestimates how fast prices will rise: Suppose I own underground oil, but I believe there is a substantial chance, say... MORE

More on Krugman and Wells

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I write, They argue that eventually we will need government rationing of health care. But they say that this issue can be deferred, because in the short run the shift to a government-run health care finance system would save enough... MORE

Credible Incentives for Your Teenage Bum

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
This month on Econlib, Donald Cox has a great column on economics for parents: Ever since I started the mind-bending journey that is parenthood—my wife and I have a daughter in first grade and a son in preschool—my appreciation for... MORE

Don't Let Tyrone Off So Easily

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I think that policies like the minimum wage or the laws to force Wal-Mart to pay more in health care benefits are issues where the economic impact is small relative to the emotional activation. People on the left... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Evil Twin on the Minimum Wage

Price Controls
Arnold Kling
Tyrone writes, Minimum wages probably lower the net amount of government intervention in an economy. Lower minimum wages would mean higher welfare payments to make up the difference. Ever heard of EITC? In reality, minimum wages and EITC work together... MORE

Great Minds on Health Care?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Clive Crook writes, Citizens everywhere desire unrestricted access to state-of-the-art technologies. Increasingly, they insist on choice and control, too. Yet they are unwilling to pay what those things cost. People demand as a right the best health care money can... MORE

Goods, Bads, Marginal Utility, and Happiness Research

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When psychologists introduce economists to happiness research, they usually emphasize the finding that, once people enjoy a modest First World standard of living, additional income doesn't make them much happier. What surprises me is that more economists haven't responded "As... MORE

Pushback on "Fair Use" for Patents

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Michael Rosen and Thomas J. Van Gilder write, The patent system has not developed such a mechanism ["fair use"]. This is so in part because patents tend to deal more with the physical implementation of ideas rather than their expression.... MORE

Socialized Medicine

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Paul Krugman and Robin Wells write, If US politicians could be persuaded of the advantages of a public health insurance system, the next step would be to convince them of the virtues, in at least some cases, of honest-to-God socialized... MORE

Debate vs. Theater

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
David Friedman writes, Many years ago, when I was the guest on a show whose host I knew, I was struck by how much less pleasant a person he was on the air than off. I concluded that he was... MORE

Econlog and the Academy

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Apparently Hollywood is reading Econlog. Last September, I praised the underlying economics of Crash. Now it's won Best Picture. I sure didn't see that coming!... MORE

I suspect that Larry Summers would still be president of Harvard if he hadn't shared his thoughts on gender imbalance in the sciences. Patri Friedman now advances the theory that men dominate in the sciences because their priorities are so... MORE

Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Inequality is the topic of both the latest Cato Unbound and the latest WSJ Celebrity Death Match. In the Cato piece, David Schmidtz writes, Here is a truism about the wealth of nations: Zero-sum games do not increase it. Historically,... MORE

Spencer Lives - and He Teaches at Harvard

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
My Non-Bleeding Heart Libertarian market niche is being eroded by Jeff Miron's new blog. Here's what he has to say about New Orleans: The Katrina disaster occurred mainly because government spent billions constructing these levees in the first place; without... MORE

Curious Brad

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong seems pleased that I believe in and act upon the equity premium and home bias puzzles. Now he wants to know more: But has he mortgaged his house to the gills and invested the proceeds in international equities?... MORE

Obscure Demand Function Factoid

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Why did so many comic books during the Silver Age features gorillas? (Didn't know that they did? Neither did I!) According to Wikipedia: There are several rumors surrounding the wide use of gorillas in comic books at the time: 1.... MORE

Measuring Skill

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
How can you tell whether a worker is "low-skilled" or "high-skilled"? Most economists' knee-jerk reaction is to see how many years of education the worker has. But a far better measure is simply labor income. If you've got a Ph.D.... MORE

Watch the Horizon

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Check out Brad DeLong's elegant explanation of the equity premium puzzle. If you look at the 1-year stock vs. bond return spread, it's easy to see why people don't buy more stocks. But if you look at the 20-year stock... MORE

Tyler Cowen, Unplugged

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
He says, the President’s tax commission came up with a proposal to reduce tax deductions for some kinds of nonprofit organizations. In my view, that would be a mistake. I have a Tocquevillean sympathy for the proliferation of intermediate institutions... MORE

Licensed to Rent-Seek

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
Alan B. Krueger reports on Morris M. Kleiner's research on occupational licensing. He provides much evidence that the balance of occupational licensing has shifted away from protecting consumers and toward limiting the supply of workers in various professions. A result... MORE

The Blackberry Patent Dispute

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
I offer my two cents. Some of the problems with patent laws could be fixed by developing standards for "fair use." Under a "fair use" standard, there would be circumstances where one company could use another company's patented ideas in... MORE

Happiness Research: Get Used to It

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold has curtly dismissed happiness research: Books that are based on research designed to predict behavior belong in the Social Science section. Books that tell you how to be happy belong in the New Age/Self-Help section. If we followed this... MORE

Delayed Marriage, Declining Fertility

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
A book chapter by Francesco Billari says, In 1980, in most countries [the report is on Europe], first marriage was experienced on average before age 25 for women: only a few exceptions existed. This pattern completely changed in the next... MORE

A Patriarchy Complex?

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Phillip Longman writes, Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not. In addition to the greater fertility of conservative segments of society, the rollback of the welfare state forced by population aging and decline will give... MORE

Health Care Op-Eds

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In the San Francisco Chronicle, one by your truly. Those of us who propose market-oriented health-care reform need to spell out what this will mean for consumers -- how it will increase their responsibility to study the costs and benefits... MORE

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