Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Arnold Kling: February 2008

An Author Archive by Month (57 entries)

I plead guilty to plagiarism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Brian Doherty at Reason Hit and Run set up a thread on the civil disobedience idea. A commenter named Picaro listed videos of some folks who could accuse me of plagiarism. For example, this manicurist. If nothing else, the video... MORE

Hal Varian's Words of Wisdom

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
This interview has many. A good quote to give my statistics students: If you are looking for a career where your services will be in high demand, you should find something where you provide a scarce, complementary service to something... MORE

What Causes Educational Inequality?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Brink Lindsey writes the upper-middle-class kid grows up in an environment that constantly pushes him to develop the cognitive and motivational skills needed to be a good student; the low-income kid's environment, on the other hand, pushes in the opposite... MORE

WHO's Health Rankings

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Glen Whitman writes, suppose that a country currently provides everyone the same quality of health care. And then suppose the quality of health care improves for half of the population, while remaining the same (not getting any worse) for the... MORE

Can You Guess?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Without peeking at this Washington Post story, try to fill in the blank. Criticism of creating a new ______ came from all sides. Many Democrats expressed fears that the new body might lead to a sharp increase in frivolous --... MORE

Fun to Read

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Drew Endy says, Programming DNA is more cool, it's more appealing, it's more powerful than silicon. You have an actual living, reproducing machine; it's nanotechnology that works. It's not some Drexlarian (Eric Drexler) fantasy. And we get to program it.... MORE

Is Mike Moffatt less than three degrees away?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Nicholas A. Christakis says, We found that weight gain in a variety of kinds of people you might know affected your weight gain — weight gain in your friends, in your spouse, in your siblings and so forth. Moreover, people... MORE

Put up with it

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Ken Silber writes, The idea that people should be, say, lying down in front of police cars to protest hair salon regulations and the like is disproportionate, counterproductive and inane. It amounts to saying libertarian ideas aren't compelling enough to... MORE

Arithmetic and Language

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
This is interesting, if only tenuously related to economics. English-speaking children, who are prone to such errors as “twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven.” French is just as bad, with vestigial base-twenty monstrosities, like quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (“four twenty ten nine”) for 99. Chinese,... MORE

The Housing Market

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
I've written a lot about the housing market over the years. I thought I would put together a coherent story for what I think has transpired.... MORE

The GMU Crowd

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Earlier, I posted a picture of four Masonomists. Now you can read the article. A sample: Controlling for income, Caplan explained, well-informed poor people favor very different policies than poor people who are not informed. Informed how? Well, he explained,... MORE

Paging Randle McMurphy

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
My latest essay talks about the possibility of letting groups of people splinter off to form new states within the United States. It gets pretty weird. Ken Kesey wrote a novel in which a ward of mental patients has their... MORE

Cap and Rent-Seek

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, Under pressure from agriculture industry lobbyists and lawmakers from agricultural states, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to drop requirements that factory farms report their emissions of toxic gases, despite findings by the agency's scientists that the... MORE

We'll Take Tim Harford

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
The Daily Telegraph reports, Britain has now lost more than one in 10 of its most skilled citizens, while overall only Mexico has had more people emigrate. ...Britain's exodus is far higher than any of the OECD's other 29 members.... MORE

The Left is Always Right

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Lane Kenworthy writes, The most striking of the report’s findings is how little of the federal government’s mobility expenditure goes to those with low incomes. This chart shows the estimated amounts that go to lower-income households (bottom two quintiles of... MORE

The Masonomics Fab Four

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan, Robin, Alex, and Tyler: Lots more pix here. Taken to accompany an article in Doublethink that should be online soon. Note that Bryan is in his classroom teaching uniform. Recall that in Masonomics I made the Beatles comparison.... MORE

Kotlikoff on the Fair Tax

Tax Reform
Arnold Kling
Laurence Kotlikoff writes, What if Mr. Megabucks sits and counts his money? With a direct wealth tax Mr. Megabucks pays $15 million immediately and is left with $50 million in purchasing power. Under the FairTax, Mr. Megabuck is in the... MORE

Thomas Sowell Podcast

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
This week's econtalk conversation, between Russ Roberts and Thomas Sowell, is not to be missed. My favorite nugget is when Sowell describes the professional progress women made early in the 20th century, because the age of marriage and childbearing was... MORE

Look at Cuba

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Michael Stastny writes, Cubans don't have access to "world news" (no foreign newspapers, no internet, no satellite dishes), so the people I talked with were actually quite happy with their situation ("We don't earn much, but as opposed to other... MORE

Bailie Mae

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
According to Felix Salmon, take a borrower who's underwater, with a mortgage for more than their house is worth. Refinance the mortgage so that it comes down to the value of the house, and then give the lender a tradeable... MORE

The Classical and Medieval Economy

Economic History
Arnold Kling
George Grantham writes it appears likely that at its peak the classical economy was almost as large as that of Western Europe on the eve of the Industrial Revolution...in the more fertile districts of southern Britain and northern Gaul rural... MORE

Ancient Rome, etc.

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Mark Koyama has two more follow-ups, here and here. In the first, he writes Roman transport links were as good as any that existed in Europe until the late 18th or even the 19th centuries. This may address a point... MORE

Solar Power Arithmetic

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Marc Danziger writes, For a 3KW installation (about 275 sf of cells), the total cost to me would be approximately $18K. Let us use my favorite asset valuation equation: profitability = rental rate plus appreciation rate minus interest cost The... MORE

More on the Trouble with Minarchism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
More material has been added to Cato Unbound since I first posted. Michael Munger writes, The danger to limited government, the threat to the Montesquieuan system of checks and balances, comes from an unexpected source. “Good government” types, people who... MORE

Ron Bailey on Sustainability

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
He sums up a lot of information including. the amount of land needed to grow enough food to feed a person has plummeted from about one-and-a-quarter acres in 1950 to about half an acre today. Jesse Ausubel, director of the... MORE

Yet More Economic History

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
A representative sentence from John Darwin's history of the world since 1400, After Tamerlane (p. 305). The steamship and railway were the battering rams with which European traders could break the monopolies that African coastal elites and their inland allies... MORE

On Economic History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Mark Koyama writes, in the great agrarian empires such as Rome, there was a large volume of trade in ordinary goods. Grain, wine, olive oil, ceramics, were traded on a tremenous scale. They were not plundered and then redistributed as... MORE

Personality and Ability

IQ in Economics
Arnold Kling
Nobel Laureate James J. Heckman, et al write, Most economists are unaware of the evidence that certain personality traits are more malleable than cognitive ability over the life cycle and are more sensitive to investment by parents and to other... MORE

Campaign Stories

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes I think Paul Krugman simply has this completely wrong. He is referring to what seems to be an obscure sparring point on health care reform, going back to her failed reform effort of 1994. One narrative, which... MORE

It will be a great day when

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle notices a story that Virginia has a voluntary taxation program with little uptake. She writes, This is what economists call "revealed preference". What most of us are really in favor of is higher taxes on other people. If... MORE

Anti-fascism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Thomas Sowell writes, What is called "planning" in political rhetoric is the government's suppression of other people's plans by superimposing on them a collective plan, created by third parties, armed with the power of government and exempted from paying the... MORE

Conservative Fascism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, National service should be a rite of passage for 20-somethings, and these volunteers could mentor students through high school and college years. ...That’s the conservatism of the fresh start. I think that everyone who is in favor... MORE

Dogs: I Take it Back

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
When I wrote, Which do you think takes a bigger toll on the environment, owning a dog, or owning an SUV? My bet would be on the dog. I'm thinking of all of the resources that go into dog food.... MORE

Energy Conservation

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
The McKinsey Global Institute likes to beat that drum. They argue that in the U.S. and other developed economies, there is a big opportunity to save energy in lighting. In China and developing regions, the opportunity is more efficient heating... MORE

The Trouble with Minarchism

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Anthony de Jasay writes, To the extent that the collective choice rule can define or by a rule-change amend the frontier, its zone may encroach on the zone of individual choices, while the reverse is of course not the case;... MORE

Preventive Health Care is not a Free Lunch

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
'rdan' quotes a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not. Careful analysis of the costs and benefits of specific interventions, rather... MORE

Taking the Initiative on Health Care

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
A proposed initiative in Arizona reads, No law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type. No law shall interfere with a person's or entity's right to... MORE

The Cause of Everything

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
India News reports, The recent cold wave sweeping across Mumbai and other parts of India could be attributed to global warming, experts said Tuesday here at an environmental conference. Thanks to Sean Corrigan for the pointer.... MORE

A Health Care Proposal

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
from Kevin Drum: But if it's price signals and competition you're after, why not cut out the middleman and have consumers pay doctors directly? For example, imagine a national healthcare plan that paid 75% of all medical expenses but required... MORE

Contemporary Tulip Bulbs

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports, Profitable sports franchises may be priced at 20 times annual cash flow, at least double the valuation of a mundane company with similar prospects. Weaker teams can sustain operating losses of $10 million a year... MORE

Consumption vs. Income

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan write, The bottom deciles of consumption exceed those for income, suggesting under-reporting of income. There is a high and rising under-reporting rate for government transfers, a source of income that is particularly important... MORE

Venezuela Plays the Oil Card

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Bloomberg reports, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, cut off sales of crude, gasoline and diesel to Exxon Mobil Corp. in retaliation for the freezing of $12 billion in assets in a legal dispute. Two possibilities: 1. Venezuelan... MORE

Health Insurance Innovation?

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen waxes romantic. Let me also tell you my ideal world. Insurance companies are judged by honest third party intermediaries. Insurance companies compete like heck to make customers satisfied. Insurance companies monitor doctors, read Robin Hanson, and require evidence-based... MORE

Frank Knight on the Humility Factor

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
He said, The probability of the people in power being individuals who would dislike the possession and exercise of power is on a level with the probability that an extremely tender-hearted person would get the job of whipping master in... MORE

When in Doubt, Regulate?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In my view, that is what we can expect from the next Administration. From a tax perspective, the Democrats will be constrained. All of their beloved "middle-class tax breaks" will be inoperative unless the Alternative Minimum Tax is curtailed. The... MORE

Dogs and the Environment

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
John Whitehead discusses environmental taboos, including plastic bags and not cleaning up after your dog. Actually, I think that where I live, at least 10 percent of dog-owners do not clean up after their dogs. But I want to raise... MORE

Easterly on World Poverty

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts interviews William Easterly. I highly recommend this podcast. Two points in particular struck me. 1. The "poverty trap" is a bit of an optical illusion. Seeing that in 2007 a lot of countries were in poverty is not... MORE

The Real Subprime Story

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Kristopher Gerardi, Adam Hale Shapiro, and Paul S. Willen write, We attribute most of the dramatic rise in foreclosures in 2006 and 2007 in Massachusetts to the decline in house prices that began in the summer of 2005. Subprime lending... MORE

Low Income, High Marginal Tax Rate

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Jeff Frankel quotes Jeff Liebman: "There are some excellent papers that carefully model how the cumulative effects of the welfare system create a poverty trap. But I don’t think either of these papers includes all of the factors facing the... MORE

The Regulatory State

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
Alfred Kahn, the saving grace of the Carter Presidency, writes, The assumption of Democratic control of Congress last year and the probability that its majority will be increased by this year's elections portends a growing, deeply troubling ideological split within... MORE

My Election Assessment

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I conclude, None of the leading contenders for President in 2008 has the humility factor going for them. You just have to close your eyes and hope that whoever we elect does only minimal damage. I continue to view elections... MORE

Hal Varian on Modern Capital

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
He writes, The only thing one could do with those railroad tracks was carry trains. It would have been fantastic if the miles of excess railroad tracks could have been transformed into highways to service the new growth industry coming... MORE

More on Trade and Empire

Economic History
Arnold Kling
James McCormick reviews Bryan Ward-Perkins on the fall of the Roman Empire. the era between Pompeii’s suppression of the pirates in the mid-first century BCE and the fall of Carthage to the Vandals in 439CE is the longest period of... MORE

A Patchwork of Prejudices

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
CNN reports, Sen. Hillary Clinton can thank Latino and Asian voters for her projected victory in California. Early exit polls indicate that Sen. Barack Obama carried white voters in California because of his overwhelming support among white men. White women,... MORE

Trade and Hegemony

International Trade
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, In the absence of hegemony, trade is impaired. If Marco Polo wants to buy goods in Afghanistan and sell them in China, he has to be able to avoid having his goods stolen, either by bandits... MORE

Uncle Jonathan Wants You

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Gruber writes, It is useful to think about the uninsured as tuna and those who already have insurance as dolphins. The goal of environmentally conscious fishermen is to catch as many tuna as possible in their nets, while minimizing... MORE

A Health Care Experiment

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Called the Medicare Coordinated Care Demonstration Coordinated care services are actions taken by a Registered Nurse (RN) Care Manager to help your doctor(s) determine your care. The RN Care Manager will also check on you at regular times and help... MORE

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