Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

June 2013

A Monthly Archive (81 entries)

Greed Is Tolerant

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Kelly Miller was the first black admitted to Johns Hopkins.  He became a professor of mathematics at Howard in 1890.  In 1895, he introduced sociology to the curriculum and became a sociology professor.  One of his essays, "The Negro and... MORE

Ken Minogue, RIP

moral reasoning
Alberto Mingardi
Though he was used to dine with friends every Sunday, once Adam Smith "retired to bed before supper; and, as he went away, took leave of his friends by saying 'I believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other... MORE

Tullock on Advertising

Business Economics
David Henderson
I'm at a Liberty Fund conference on bureaucracy in Brunswick, Maine and I found an interesting passage in one of the readings, Gordon Tullock's The Politics of Bureaucracy. It's an aside on advertising. Tullock writes: Due to the ubiquitousness of... MORE

Caplan-Ting Immigration Debate

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
My Students for Liberty immigration debate with Jan Ting of the Center for Immigration Studies is now up.  Here's the teaser, here's the whole thing.  Credit where credit is due: Ting was brave enough to debate before a hostile libertarian... MORE

The Most Bourgeois Place on Earth?

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
We're halfway through one of those most noble of life's rituals--helping a family member move, in this case, my sister to Minnesota--and we spent this morning at what I would argue is the most bourgeois place on Earth: the Mall... MORE

Better Mixed Economy: Henderson on Litan and Schramm

Growth: Causal Factors
David Henderson
What should be done to increase the growth rate of the sluggish U.S. economy? This is the main issue that economists Robert Litan and Carl Schramm address in their book, Better Capitalism. The book is mistitled. As valuable as many... MORE

The Present and the Future Both Need Bastiat

Growth: Causal Factors
Art Carden
I agree with Bryan: Frederic Bastiat's essay "What is Seen and What is Not Seen" is "the pinnacle of profundity." Indeed, on re-reading Bryan's post on Bastiat from last summer, I realized he wrote most of what I was planning... MORE

Henderson on Kunruether et al

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
But Kunreuther, Pauly, and McMorrow show that when insurance regulators themselves don't cause adverse selection, it tends not to happen. They write: Where adverse selection does potentially occur, and to a serious degree, is in markets where regulation prevents insurers... MORE

I am always proud to claim vindication by bet.  But I am extremely reluctant to claim vindication by events.  Few things are easier than (a) making vague claims, (b) waiting for something or other to happen, then (c) crowing about... MORE

Parental Economics and Risk: A Couple of Reading Suggestions

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Art Carden
Last week, I raised a few proverbial glasses to my wife and two of my kids. It's only proper that I continue with a few words on parenting. While I've basically given up Facebook (I'm still cleaning out my friends... MORE

Debate: Does Democracy Work?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last week I did an online debate for Learn Liberty with philosopher Helene Landemore.  The topic: Does democracy work?  Here's my opening statement.Democracy clearly works if you set the bar low enough.  Is democracy better than dictatorship?  Of course.  Does... MORE

Atkinson and Krugman on Tax Rates

Taxation
David Henderson
On May 20, British economist Anthony Atkinson and Paul Krugman had a long discussion about inequality and income tax rates. Atkinson thought the top income tax rate should be 60% and Krugman thought it should be 73%. Apparently, the City... MORE

In my profession as an economics professor and through churches I have attended, I've been around a lot of people who want to "make a difference." They almost inevitably equate "making a difference" with "working for a government or a... MORE

Prison Sentences: Finally Some Good News

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
One of the scariest facts about the United States is that our governments' rate of incarceration competes for the highest in the world. Why do I say, "competes for" rather than is? Because when a government forcibly keeps its citizens... MORE

Tabarrok on the Ethics of Immigration

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I just discovered this great old (2000) piece by Alex Tabarrok on immigration.  Highlights:As far as wages are concerned the only difference between immigration and birth is that birth takes longer. When your neighbor has a child it as equivalent... MORE

Happy Anniversary, Shannon Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
Ten years ago today, our college pastor Scott Sparks--who was at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa before he moved to Knoxville--asked then-Shannon Taylor if she would take me to be her lawfully wedded husband. Shannon said "I do." Ten years,... MORE

What is a 'fiscal union'?

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
The other day I attended a conference on the euro-crisis, and I questioned two of the speakers on what they meant for "fiscal union." Sometimes, words become cozy, people use them rather liberally as they become fashionable, but we lose... MORE

Immigration: Anu Bradford's Creative Suggestion

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
One of the biggest issues separating those, like Bryan Caplan and me, who want to allow much more immigration and those who want to limit it to its current level or lower is the issue of the welfare state. Even... MORE

Naik on Bastards and Stigma

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Very interesting FB post on bastards and stigma by Vipul Naik, reprinted with his permission."When you see a redneck, you call him a redneck. Perhaps, when you see a bastard, you should call him a bastard. Shame is a powerful... MORE

Deirdre McCloskey: Julian Simon Award Winner

Economic History
Art Carden
Tonight, I'm introducing Deirdre McCloskey at the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual dinner, where she will be recognized with the Institute's 2013 Julian Simon Award. Professor McCloskey is a most deserving recipient and one of the worthy intellectual heirs of Julian... MORE

Defensive Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold Kling pointed me to Lester Therow's 1972 Public Interest piece on "Education and Economic Equality."  In Therow's lingo, the "wage competition view" roughly equals the human capital model and the "job competition view" roughly equals the signaling model.  It's... MORE

Uncertainty Can Go Both Ways

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
In the latest issue of Regulation magazine is a symposium on carbon taxes. The lead article is by Bob Litterman and then four authors, including me, responded. Here's an excerpt from my piece. On two other issues, I disagree with... MORE

Efficiency, Equity, and Ideology: What "Other Values" Matter?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Art Carden
Here's a puzzle I've noticed: criticize government intervention on efficiency grounds, and you will be quick to be told that there are "other values" (equity, for example) that a good society should consider in addition to efficiency. Perhaps you will... MORE

A Hawk-Dove Ideological Turing Test

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In Stereotype Accuracy, Clark McCauley describes a fascinating Ideological Turing Test from 1972:Dawes, Singer, and Lemons (1972)... recruited students who were "hawks" and "doves" with regard to the Vietnam War and asked them to write opinion statements that the typical... MORE

Is television the new agriculture? Upon strong pressure on the part of the French, the "audiovisual" industry will be kept out of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations. Simon Kuper had an interesting article on the FT, providing... MORE

Krugman's Faulty Analogy

Labor Market
David Henderson
I promised earlier to post on a couple of Paul Krugman's posts that caught my eye. In a June 10 post, "Unemployment Benefits and Actual Unemployment: An Analogy," Krugman admits the point that unemployment benefits can increase the unemployment rate... MORE

The June issue of Cato Unbound features a lead essay on recycling by Mike Munger and, so far, response essays from Edward Humes, Melissa Walsh Innes, and Steven Landsburg. As of right now, there are also "conversation" essays from Mike... MORE

Quotable

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
From Shikha Dalmia:[T]he GOP has managed to alienate not just Hispanics allegedly collecting welfare and living below the poverty level. With a few exceptions like Cuban and Vietnamese Americans, it has alienated every ethnic minority: high- or low-skilled; Asian or... MORE

Happy Birthday, David Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
One year ago today, we welcomed our third child into the world. We named him David Simon Carden--David for the Old Testament king, foibles and all, and Simon after Julian Simon. One of the most tragic beliefs people have today... MORE

Bastards and Stereotype Accuracy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a firm believer in stereotype accuracy.  I just finished re-reading my favorite chapters from Lee, Jussim, and McCauley's excellent Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences.  The book was published in 1995; Jussim's recent summary brings us up to date. ... MORE

Which Books Should We Re-Read?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Art Carden
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to... MORE

Bastards, Immigrants, and Misanthropes

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In the Game of Thrones series, people use the term "bastard" literally.  If your parents weren't married when you were born, you're a bastard.  While bastards are common in Westeros, everyone looks down on them for the crime of existing. ... MORE

Dambisa Moyo and the conquest of the US by China

Trade Barriers
Alberto Mingardi
Is the Chinese blend of capitalism, communism, and mercantilism an alternative to Western "democratic capitalism"? Author and economist Dambisa Moyo argues so in a recent TED talk, suggesting that Western countries (which means, first and foremost, the United States) need... MORE

Happy Birthday, Taylor Grace Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
Three years ago today, I started learning an important lesson about love. Our daughter, Taylor Grace Carden, was born, and I learned that the love a father feels for his children isn't particularly comparable across kids. It doesn't mean anything... MORE

NSA Surveillance: More Hay and More "Hey!"

Regulation
David Henderson
In a post earlier this week, "NSA Surveillance: A Cost/Benefit Analysis," I quoted John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart's statement, "However, the reaction has continually been to expand the enterprise, searching for the needle by adding more and more hay."... MORE

U.S. Foreign Policy: The Swiss Perspective?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Switzerland hasn't fought a war since 1815.  The standard explanation is Swiss neutrality.  When other countries fight, the Swiss do not take sides.  As this official Swiss website explains:The advice of Switzerland's popular saint, Nicholas of Flüe (1417-87), "Don't get... MORE

Here's a great story about Ken Ilgunas, a young man who dug himself out of two years of undergrad student debt. How did he do it? By moving to Alaska, getting a job, and not spending. In two years, he... MORE

Mankiw's Misleading Treatment of Public Goods

Public Goods
David Henderson
In his treatment of public goods in Principles of Economics, 5th edition, Greg Mankiw gives the standard two characteristics of a public good: (1) the good is non-excludable, that is, a person can not be prevented from using it, and... MORE

Apple's E-Books are Pro-Competitive

Business Economics
David Henderson
The Wall Street Journal had an excellent editorial today (print) and yesterday (electronic) on the absurd antitrust suit against Apple. It's titled "Throwing the Book at Apple." Two paragraphs: At the time, prior to the existence of the tablet device... MORE

NSA Surveillance: A Cost/Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
However, the reaction has continually been to expand the enterprise, searching for the needle by adding more and more hay. Far overdue are extensive openly published studies that rationally evaluate homeland-security expenditures. The NSA's formerly secret surveillance programs have been... MORE

Krugman on "Unproductive Finance"

Finance
David Henderson
In the last couple of weeks, Paul Krugman's blog has been a target-rich environment. In the next few days, I'll have one or two more posts on recent Krugman posts, but one this morning caught me eye. I'll quote almost... MORE

Why My Billion-Dollar Plan Won't Work The Way I Want it To

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. - F.A. Hayek On May 29, I offered my proposal for how I would answer Bryan's "spend a... MORE

My latest op-ed was published today by AL.com. In it, I evaluated claims by Senator Jeff Sessions and Rep. Mo Brooks that "we don't have that many jobs" (Sessions) and that "simple economics" says "You increase the supply of anything,... MORE

How do you say "Austerity for Liberty" in Greek?

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
In one of his most thought-provoking posts ever, Bryan Caplan argued that Instead of pushing for "constructive" free market reforms, libertarians should doggedly focus on austerity: opposing spending increases, and pushing spending cuts. (...) If libertarians have any political success,... MORE

Atlas Shrugged: My Two Favorite Passages

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Art Carden
Last week, I asked about my two favorite passages in Atlas Shrugged: the tunnel disaster (pp, 539-560 of the Signet 50th Anniversary Edition) and the scene in which the young man Hank Rearden referred to as "Non-Absolute" dies (start on... MORE

The Effects of Education: Fishing Proverb Edition

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Human Capital"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."Ability Bias"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to philosophize and... MORE

One way or another, the supply of taxis is regulated in most places. In some countries, governments raise barriers to entry and get into fixing prices, awarding licenses only to individual drivers. In others, cab companies are allowed to operate... MORE

On May 29, I explained my answer to Bryan's question about using a billion dollars. I added a bonus question based on a conversation with Bryan: In the short run, Facebook will probably lead to an increase in the divorce... MORE

BAAAA! Tremble Before the Mighty Sheepskin Effect

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you get another year of education, how big of a raise should you expect?  The answer, it turns out, heavily depends on the year.  Years that typically lead to a credential - especially years 12 and 16 - pay... MORE

What has (Local) Government Done to Our Ice Cream?

Property Rights
Alberto Mingardi
To paraphrase Einstein, two things are infinite: the universe and the creativity of politicians. My own country, Italy, offers plenty of examples of such a creativity. Let me just point to a recent one. Together with pizza and spaghetti, "gelato"... MORE

I already wear a lot of hats. I'm excited to add another: travel writer. I love to travel, and at the beginning of the year, I started dabbling in the world of credit card travel rewards and the like. This... MORE

Foreign Language Study: Should it Be Compulsory?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Art Carden
A few weeks ago, I was in Stockholm, Sweden for a conference. My observations along the way brought to mind co-blogger Bryan Caplan's posts about foreign language requirements(1, 2, 3). Specifically, during my layover in Amsterdam, I noticed that some... MORE

What Does Education Signal? The Case of Edward Snowden

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A striking biographical fact about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden:By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing,... MORE

When Government Cries Wolf

Regulation
David Henderson
Henderson's Law of Warnings: Trivial Warnings Drown Out Serious Warnings If the government were more judicious with its warnings and tried to focus on the high-probability dangers--and this is what governments do in many other countries--lives would be saved. Human... MORE

Semi-Rivalry and Fiscal Externalities

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose a country has a progressive tax system.  If everyone equally consumes government benefits, isn't everyone with below-median income automatically a net fiscal burden - i.e., a person who withdraws taxes more from the Treasury than he contributes?Naive analysts usually... MORE

Free Markets to the Rescue

Regulation
David Henderson
One of my biggest disagreements with fellow libertarians is on the issue of optimism versus pessimism. I tend to be an optimist, while some fellow libertarians--I have in mind my friend Robert Higgs as an extreme example--tend to be pessimists.... MORE

DeLong on Skidelsky on Keynes

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Time passed. The death toll from WWI mounted toward ten million, Keynes became angrier and angrier at this civilization-breaking catastrophe, and angrier and angrier at the politicians who could see no way forward other than mixing more blood with the... MORE

Krugman: Beggar Thy (American) Neighbor

moral reasoning
David Henderson
Either that, or Paul Krugman believes in the Easter Bunny. In his June 6 New York Times column, "The Spite Club," Paul Krugman castigates some Republican governors for refusing to extend Medicaid to a larger population. He writes: No, the... MORE

Better Living Through Economics: Using Incentives to Get Fitter

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Art Carden
My latest article at Forbes.com explains the set of self-imposed constraints I'm using to eat better and exercise. I'm threatening myself with a very sharp stick; for every goal I don't meet, I have to give the Democratic Party $5... MORE

Your Sort Is Prohibited: A Licensing Dialog

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When you shop online, vendors usually give you a bunch of different ways to sort your options.  Take Amazon:One popular sorting option - especially for customers with low income - is "Price: Low to High."  You've probably used it yourself... MORE

Feeling Good About Solar Panels

International Trade
Alberto Mingardi
War is the health of the state, said Randolph Bourne. What then about trade war? The European Union is imposing tariffs on solar panels imported from China, as Chinese manufacturers are accused of dumping and EU producers are "suffering badly",... MORE

Coming Attractions: What To Look For Next Week

Econlog Administrative Issues
Art Carden
I've scheduled my posts for next week. Here's what's in store: 1. Monday: "Foreign Language Study: Should it Be Compulsory?" I was inspired by a recent trip to Sweden. If you're interested in some background reading, Bryan Caplan lit a... MORE

Daniel Kuehn Follows in George Stigler's Footsteps

Revealed Preference
David Henderson
Correction: Daniel Kuehn is tempted to follow in George Stigler's footsteps. On a short blog post today, Daniel Kuehn, preparing to teach an undergraduate course in the history of economic thought, writes: I wish I could completely skip Marx... does... MORE

Recent Reading: Fiction Edition

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Art Carden
1. Foundation. I'm working on reading more fiction, and I'm trying to check off some of the classic trilogies and series in fantasy and science fiction. About a year ago, I read C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy (which was brilliant) and... MORE

Caplan-Ting Foreign Policy Debate

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I debated Jan Ting twice at this year's Students for Liberty Conference: once on foreign policy, and once on immigration.  Our foreign policy debate is now up, including an awesome animated intro.  Enjoy!... MORE

Five Points in Birmingham is a destination for an interesting combination of good food and crazy. There's a Chick-fil-A in Five Points, and I didn't realize until I read this article that said Chick-fil-A doesn't have a drive-thru. There was,... MORE

Are you a libertarian?  Are you tired of being called "hard-hearted"?  Then I've got a solution for you!  You'll still be insulted.  But instead of being condemned as "hard-hearted," you'll be mocked as "soft-headed."  All you have to do: 1.... MORE

What Tyler Cowen Said

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I have not taken the time this week to go through the huge controversy on the web about the preliminary results on the effect of ObamaCare on health insurance prices in California. That's not to say that I haven't read... MORE

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Experimental Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've long argued (here, here, and here for starters) that weak incentives are a major cause of political irrationality, but I've failed to convince Gerry Mackie, Jeff Friedman, Tyler Cowen, and many other critics.  So I was delighted to discover... MORE

IRS Speakers' Fees

Taxation
David Henderson
Andrew Kaczynski has posted an official report from the Treasury Inspector General that documents the amounts paid for various conferences held by the Internal Revenue Service. Here is a list of speakers and pays for an IRS conference in Anaheim.... MORE

I Don't Have To

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Condi Rice Plays "Hide the Options" My favorite piece ever from Objectivist philosopher David Kelley is his article "I Don't Have To." In it, he takes on the idea that there are these things that we must do or that... MORE

The long-promised but slow-in-coming dialogue promised here. PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE Jacob Carden, Age 4 Taylor Grace Carden, Age 2 Dad: Art Carden, an Economist, Age 34 Scene: Chuck E. Cheese's in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Dad: Children, I notice you... MORE

Shall Europeans elect their President?

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
There is a certain consensus, among the European ruling classes, that the EU's next step should coincide with the democratic election of its number one official. However, interviewed by Der Spiegel, Mrs Merkel recently declared that she would be... MORE

Misanthropy by Numbers

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you're a self-doubting misanthrope.  You want to malign a group of people, but don't feel up to the job.  I'm here to help.  If you stick to the following four easy steps, you can and will craft a rhetorically... MORE

Robert Murphy on Bitcoin

Money
David Henderson
Bitcoin is an ingenious concept that challenges the way economists have traditionally thought about money. Its inbuilt scarcity provides an assurance of purchasing power arguably safer than any other system yet conceived. Critics argue that because of its lack of... MORE

Feeds and Follows: My RSS Feeds and Twitter Follows

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Art Carden
I got a lot of great suggestions from readers when I asked which blogs I should be reading. I'm conflicted: on one hand, blogs bring a lot of great new ideas to my attention, and they have created an amazing... MORE

Greg Mankiw's Story

Economic Education
David Henderson
I don't remember what I said next. But I kept talking, and she was polite enough to keep responding. When the train pulled into the station, we boarded, and I sat next to her. We chatted for the next few... MORE

Rothbard: How a Circle Becomes a Movement

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you've ever been baffled by Murray Rothbard's appeal, check out "The Six Stages of the Libertarian Movement."  It beautifully captures not only his intellect, but his charm.  Highlight: His rich description of how a study circle becomes an intellectual... MORE

Glass 45 Percent Full

Family Economics
David Henderson
American households have rebuilt less than half of the wealth lost during the recession, leaving them without the spending power to fuel a robust economic recovery, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve. From the peak of the... MORE

Does liberty require polymaths?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Alberto Mingardi
In the epilogue to his The System of Liberty: Themes in Classical Liberalism--an excellent book that anybody seriously interested in classical liberal ideas should read and ponder--George H Smith takes a snapshot of the very different reasons to which we... MORE

California's Phony Budget Surplus

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
My personal finances are doing great. I have a "surplus." I saved $1,000 last month after paying all my expenses. Well, not all my expenses. I didn't pay my $1,500 monthly mortgage. But, hey, don't be picky. The above is... MORE

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