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Bryan Caplan: August 2006

An Author Archive by Month (31 entries)

When Hell Froze Over

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Not long after Abbie Hoffman praised "revolution for the hell of it," David Friedman memorably retorted "revolution is the hell of it." While reading literary historian Gleb Struve's edifying Russian Literature under Lenin and Stalin, I came across an eloquent... MORE

The Tick Petition

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Years ago I signed an online petition urging Fox to release The Tick (the animated series) on DVD. Today I've got the DVD in my hand. Spoon! Who says economists won't help produce public goods? To be honest, I doubt... MORE

Hair Length and the Demand for Haircuts, II

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Several readers basically share my solution to the haircutting puzzle. Namely: Hair length per se is irrelevant to the demand for haircuts. What matters is the acceptable range of hair length - roughly speaking, the difference between the shortest acceptable... MORE

Growing into Freedom

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Heard of the Magdalene Asylums? Long story short: They were quasi-prisons in Ireland for "wayward" girls and women, run by nuns. To sustain themselves economically, the inmates ran Magdalene Laundries. Check out the movie The Magdalene Sisters; and if you... MORE

Hair Length and the Demand for Haircuts

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Puzzle: When is demand for haircuts higher? When short hair is in fashion, or long hair? Or is the relationship more complex? I'll post my preferred answer tomorrow.... MORE

A Taste of Economic Ridicule

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Don Boudreaux is continuing Bastiat's noble tradition of teaching economics with ridicule: As my friend George Leef points out in an e-mail to me, if government can lower firms' costs by paying workers' health-insurance premiums, why stop there? Why not... MORE

A Fool and His Money

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold comes down on the side of paternalistic regulations on investment: To me, an entrepreneur who looks for investors is like somebody who can't swim who finds himself in the middle of a lake. It's dangerous to go near the... MORE

The Libertarian Case for Divided Government

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My former student Stephen Slivinski, now director of budget studies at Cato, has just published his first book, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government. There's lots of neat stuff in this book,... MORE

Homage to Catalonia, II

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
I've long been suspicious of international comparisons that weight all nations equally. When someone says "Former British colonies do better than former French colonies," my reaction is "Yes, but India did badly for decades, and it's probably got more people... MORE

Homage to Catalonia

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
As far as I'm concerned, all the jokes about economists "lacking the personality to be accountants" fall flat. The truth is, we're the life of the world's intellectual party. In evidence, I present this hysterical set of pics from the... MORE

Yanquico

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Immigration skeptics like Victor Davis Hanson, author of Mexifornia, warn that Mexican culture is supplanting our own. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "Mildly. What's the big deal?" But a fine essay by Douglas Massey has shown me the error... MORE

Mueller on Iraq

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
John Mueller's been very busy since I last looked. Here's one of the most interesting things I've seen about Iraq in months: The public gave substantial support to the military ventures in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq as the troops were... MORE

Capitalism, Democracy, and Polygamy

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
There's a memorable passage in John Mueller's Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery where he argues that minorities can stop majority oppression by (a) coming out of the closet, and (b) banding together to complain: For generations (actually, for... MORE

Sampling Bias on a Plane

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Walking the halls of Comic-Con and GenCon, I repeatedly heard voices gush: "Snakes on a Plane is going to make a TON of money. Everyone I know is going to see it!!!" The numbers are in: SoaP's domestic gross for... MORE

The Experience Machine

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I forgot to mention the greatest experience-producing durable good of all: the Digital Video Recorder. You could argue (mistakenly, I think) that you'll soon take a nice t.v. for granted. But the whole point of a DVR is to expand... MORE

Durable Experience

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From the WSJ, via Mankiw: "Money itself doesn't make you happy," [Harvard psychology professor Daniel] Gilbert says. "What can make you happy is what you do with it. There's a lot of data that suggests experiences are better than durable... MORE

Au Contraire

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen has been preaching against various intellectual vices. My chairman Don Boudreaux thoughtfully adds the Contrarian Vice to the list: Being contrarian is admirable because it keeps the mind open and exploring; it's of a piece with one of... MORE

The Quotable Kling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold quiped: "[H]igher education is the only product where the consumer tries to get as little out of it as possible." If I wind up writing a book on education, that quote will be very prominently displayed! I can't think... MORE

Caught In My Own Trap?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold wonders if I've forgotten the Idea Trap I've talked so much about in the past: He has this theory of "idea traps," in which bad ideas lead to bad outcomes which lead to populists with more bad ideas, etc.... MORE

My Student Gets a Letter in the Washington Post

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
My former student Daniel Lurker (and the youngest graduate in the history of GMU!) got his letter published in the Washington Post. You may even detect trace elements of my lectures: To read Brigid Schulte's recent "Class Questions" article about... MORE

How Much Influence Do Professors Have?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Winterspeak chides me for exaggerating the negative externalities of academic leftism: While I acknowledge that left-wingers are overrepresent[ed] in academia, I think this is an efficient market outcome and I think that Bryan's claims of the harm from leftist policies... MORE

What, Me Worry? Part II

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ubiquitous news reports of airport chaos had even me wondering if I was going to miss my plane. I could have driven back from Indy with friends, but I decided to take my chances at the airport. Total time to... MORE

Doing Good While Doing Well: Breaking Norms at GenCon

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
GenCon was fantastic. The highlight: Fab Rojas ran a sublime session of Pandemonium!, the tabloid journalism role-playing game. We laughed so hard we cried, and our characters got the front-page story: "Dave Chapelle Rescued from Time-Travelling Witches." You didn't have... MORE

What, Me Worry?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm skeptical about all predictions of disaster. I'm predictably skeptical about doom-and-gloom predictions used to rationalize big expansions of government power: global warming, overpopulation, avian flu, resource depletion, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, "Mexifornia," etc. But I've also long raised my eyebrow... MORE

Theory of the Hooligan Firm

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
There's a lot of grist for the social science mill in the soccer hooligan drama Green Street Hooligans. Starring Elijah Wood, in a performance good enough to make you forget Frodo for the duration, it tells the story of an... MORE

When he launched his first blog, Jeff Miron was explicit about his motivation: In this blog I provide a libertarian perspective on economic and social policy. By libertarian, I mean consequential libertarian, not philosophical libertarian. Thus, my arguments are based... MORE

The homeless are different from you and me, and it's not because they have less money. It's because they are extraordinarily low in what personality psychologists call conscientiousness. That's my theory, anyway. A quite watchable documentary on Showtime (and that's... MORE

Paying for Parking

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I know less about Los Angeles, the city I grew up in, than any other place I've ever lived. Throughout my childhood, my dad's mantra was, "Goddammit, we're not going to downtown L.A.!" I always assumed drive time was the... MORE

Strictly Preferred to the AEA Meetings

Game Theory
Bryan Caplan
One week from today, I'll be at the world's most important conference on advanced game theory and experimental economics: GenCon. My dream is to make it the Schelling point around which creative social scientists gather. Who's with me?... MORE

Trade Deficit? What Trade Deficit?

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
According to standard government statistics, the U.S. has accumulated a massive debt to the rest of the world during the last three decades - over 5 trillion dollars. No statistical tricks, however clever, are going to erase that debt. Or... MORE

If You Can't Wait to Buy My Book...

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
...buy a book where I wrote one of the chapters. It's Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, edited by Edward W. Younkins.... MORE

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