Bryan Caplan  

Guilty as Charged

Judge This Magazine By Its Cov... What I'm Reading...

I've long enjoyed negative-but-fair reviews of my work, but this negative-but-fair review of me personally is even better:

This George Mason economist favors free market biases over legitimate democracy, and has more ears in Washington than you might think.
Given the number and diversity of the links, it's clear that the author, Steven White, is an avid Econlog reader. (Hi, Steven!) Almost everything he says is accurate, though perhaps he should have also told his readers at Campus Progress about my views on immigration, religion, terrorism, and Columbus.

Come on, Steven, even a "right-wing ideologue" is left twice a day.

Update: Steven White responds:

I actually did include information about his atheism and distinctly non-right-wing views on immigration, the war, and Columbus in the initial draft, but this got dropped during editing to help in sticking to the point.


It's telling, of course, that simply explaining Caplan's arguments to the average person (or, in this case, an audience of college liberals) makes them recoil in horror (though Caplan, no doubt, would see as a sort of anti-intellectualism or irrationality).

If I were a college liberal, I'd be more curious than horrified, but I guess that means I wouldn't remain a college liberal for long. :-)

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (8 to date)
Alex J. writes:
And because of this, we’d all be better off if you didn’t participate in economic decision-making.

I think Caplan would say we'd all be better off if you didn't participate in political decision making.

Buzzcut writes:

Your e-stalker is not only a jackass, but he's an appologist for Communism, it appears. Typical academic.

Also, he writes:

Often enough, people become wealthy through social privilege and blind luck. But Caplan ignores these realities

I am sick and tired of the left justifying theft on the basis that I obtained my property through luck. My wealth may have a component of luck to its acquisition, but that is no justification for it being taken away from me through taxation.

John Pertz writes:

HAHA Brian

I must say that your comic photo was by far the most flattering. The rest of the conservatives profiled look less than amused in their pic. Although, the funny part about the whole "know your right winger" section is that if you were to engage any of those people in conversation they would probably hate your guts just as much as they hate the left. Michelle Malkin and Brian Caplan in the same political camp, now that is comical.

Troy Camplin writes:

I'm jealous. Where's me? I know, I know, I 'm not yet famous, and I'm not really a Right-winger (that doesn't matter to the Left -- if yu are in favor of free markets, you are a Right-winger, even though the political Right is as anti-free markets as the Left; some people don't know the different between the political Right and classical liberalism), but still, it would be nice to be on someone's hate list! :-) P{erhaps one of these days. One cannot be a classical liberal academic and not find hatred thrown his way sooner or later.

Lance writes:

It's unfortunate Mr. White sees democracy as an end to itself, and not a means to the goal of maximizing individual liberty.

DPT writes:
Progressive critics of “free trade” don’t distrust foreigners. If anything, they simply distrust corporations that have long histories of exploiting foreign workers

Right, and putting up trade barriers or trying to force other countries to regulate their economies for trade deals, thus reducing their economic competitiveness and helping out American workers, isn't exploitative in any way.

I also like the implication that believing you are right and the majority is wrong is well, wrong.

At least Caplan is honest about his elitist tendencies. "In a modern democracy, not only can a libertarian be elitist; a libertarian has to be elitist," he wrote. "To be a libertarian in a modern democracy is to say that nearly 300 million Americans are wrong, and a handful of nay-sayers are right."

Yes? So? Couldn't one say this about any political belief system when it was in it was in the minority? Progressives had to believe they were right and millions of Americans were wrong when they started out. Same thing with abolitionists. And those elitist wingnuts in the Enlightenment who decided a republic was a better idea despite millions of people and centuries of history favoring monarchies.

Progressives should know better than to make such an argument. Claiming to know a better policy than the majority isn't necessarily wrong. After all, how many Americans really agree with the views espoused by campus progress. If the majority dissents, are the activists trying to promote change there elitists to be shunned?

I may not be in line with Caplan's views all the time, but that analysis certainly didn't convince me of the superiority of the far left either.

John writes:

You're too charitable, Bryan. I thought it sucked.

He misrepresented key tenets and danced around hard nuggets. He's a lightweight. You're far too nice.

"But as liberal economist Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute recently wrote in The American Prospect, Caplan’s biggest problem is that "he fails to show that his version of economics gives us the optimal policies." His "anti-market bias" argument, for example, criticizes progressives for focusing too heavily on motives rather than results, but he obscures the often remarkable levels of corruption and greed guiding decisions that in fact don’t end with optimal results for society"

I don't see White calling Bernstein to task on proving the opposite nor does he ask himself about the greed and corruption of government.

Like I said, it sucked.

Rex Pjesky writes:

I'll second what Pertz said about your picture, it makes you look really cool. Are you sure he didn't mix up you image with Will Wilkinson?

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