Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: November 2006

An Author Archive by Month (38 entries)

The Social Psychology of Gender Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Over at Overcoming Bias, the smartest man I know argues that we underestimate the quality of women's lives - and overestimate the quality of men's lives - because the genders have different propensities to complain. Women who complain get a... MORE

Milton Friedman: The Man Who Laughs

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Mark Skousen has a great picture and a great story about one of Milton's last big laughs. Don't miss it! P.S. In Forbes (registration required), Skousen explains that Galbraith was Photoshopped into the picture as a joke.... MORE

According to the NYT, libertarians ruled Washington during the Clinton era: FOR years, the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, exercising a lock on the party’s economic policies, argued that the economy could achieve sustained growth only if markets were... MORE

Difference in Deference

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Overcoming Bias, Robin Hanson amusingly contrasts the abject deference the public gives to physicists with the stubborn defiance the public gives to economists: Consider how differently the public treats physics and economics. Physicists can say that this week... MORE

Does Happiness Research Raise Happiness?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
There's a mini-literature on whether the study of economics causes people to become more selfish. Has anything been written on whether the study of happiness causes people to become more happy? My guess is that studying happiness doesn't cause happiness.... MORE

Are Husbands Really Like Potatoes?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
When men's incomes go up, everyone expects the demand for wives to go up as well. If average male income rises, men have to offer women a piece (maybe a large piece) of the increase if they want to attract... MORE

Shylock Was Robbed

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The best way to experience Shakespeare is on t.v. with the English subtitles on. Read Shakespeare, and you miss the visual cues; watch it performed, and you can't make out the words. My latest foray into Shakespeare is the Al... MORE

Ezra and Elasticity

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Carefully read Ezra Klein's piece on why Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) won't slow the growth of health care spending. Long story short: 5% of the population consumes 50% of the health care. To significantly cut costs, you've got to restrain... MORE

The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
The worst thing about Thanksgiving is the boredom. Fortunately, there's a great solution: Treat your captive audience to a slice of economic controversy. Immigration? Inequality? Polygamy? It's all good. Now if, like me, you're having Thanksgiving with a bunch of... MORE

The Envy of the World

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
I just re-read a series I wrote on envy and the history of economic growth, and with the benefit of hindsight, there are few posts I'm prouder of. What do you think about a book inspired by... "What Took You... MORE

Do Experts Know More? A Childish Counter-Example

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I usually think that experts are more likely to be right than laymen. But Tyler's blog on "expert advice" on how to make kids eat vegetables gives experts a bad name: 1. Try many times -- fifteen or more --... MORE

Polygamy: Facts Not Fear

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I suspect that a major factor driving envy of the rich is a deep-seated male fear of losing the mating game. My hypothesis is that the irrational resentment that many men feel over the high pay of CEO's... MORE

Becker on Polygamy

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I lectured on polygamy this morning; then, by pure coincidence, I came across Gary Becker's latest word on the subject. Highlight: Some oppose polygyny because they believe too many women would be "swept off their feet" by smooth-talking actual or... MORE

Overblown: Pessimistic Bias Foiled Again

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I just read a good chunk of John Mueller's Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them. It's a mighty blow against the most powerful form of pessimistic bias that's afflicted the... MORE

Save Your Breath

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt raises a great question: [H]ow bad would something have to be before I would challenge it? I have, on occasion taken stands against bigotry that were potentially dangerous to myself--telling my project manager, for example, that his racist... MORE

Bernanke to Friedman

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Here's what my teacher Ben Bernanke told Milton Friedman on his 90th birthday: Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna:... MORE

Cato Unbound Update

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My reply to my critics is up at Cato Unbound, and the followup conversation is now underway. My favorite part: To turn Friedman's argument around, I think that he's the one with an unrealistic, stilted psychology that's "vulnerable to caricature... MORE

Hail the Victorious Dead

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Milton Friedman's sad passing reminds me of King Theoden's last words in The Return of the King: You have to let me go. I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed. ...and makes... MORE

Electoral Deconcentration

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the '70's, Naderites put forward various "deconcentration" bills that e.g. capped firms' market shares at 12.5%. Get bigger, get trusted-busted. Brian Doss at Catallarchy has a modest proposal for electoral deconcentration: [W]hy not require that an incumbent’s margin of... MORE

Suburban Happiness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Counter-examples to the claim that happiness research pushes for left-wing policies keep multiplying. It's well-known that social interaction is an important cause of happiness. Now it looks like suburban sprawl - the bane of leftist land use activitists - is... MORE

Why Do Sales Taxes Exist?

Tax Reform
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw's post on AMT reform reminds me of yet another simple challenge to the rational, selfish voter model: Since we can deduct state & local income and property taxes on our federal income tax, but not state & local sales... MORE

Elitism: The Lesser Poison

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Now we're getting somewhere. Arnold writes: One can argue, as Bryan does, that populism is more dangerous because the people are really, really ignorant. [Actually, I argue that the people are really, really irrational! -B.C.] However, my counter-argument would be... MORE

The Mirage of Libertarian Populism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
There are times and places where most people want more individual freedom than they have. The majority of the citizens of the Soviet Union did not want the state to seize farmers' land, or send Orthodox priests to Siberia. The... MORE

Orwell and War Socialism

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Economist blog suggests we give George Orwell a booby prize for his 1941 declaration that World War II proved the superiority of socialism over capitalism: The first award goes, post-humously, to Mr George Orwell, socialist writer, who penned these... MORE

I've been beating up on Analytical Egalitarianism quite a bit lately (see here, here, and here). Now Sandra Peart, a leading proponent of this view, has risen to the challenge. According to Peart, scholars should assume equal human abilities because... MORE

Will the Real Wise Advice Please Stand Up?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Arnold wonders if I'm asking a trick question: Bryan writes, Politicians usually ignore wise advice. Is that a reason not to try to make them take wise advice? Coming from a libertarian (or someone who I thought was a libertarian... MORE

What's Wrong With DeLong?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm puzzled by Arnold's critique of Brad DeLong: 1. The technocrats occasionally make large errors, which tend to persist far longer than market failures. 2. Even when the technocrats are wise, the political process is never going to coincide with... MORE

Immigration: Has the Public Been Ignored?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Matt Yglesias is puzzled that my piece in Cato Unbound uses immigration as an example where the public's misconceptions have led to pernicious policies: Strangely, he takes immigration as his main example. If I were trying to devise an example... MORE

Since its inception, the slogan of Marginal Revolution has been "Small steps toward a much better world." It turns out, however, that MR's prolific Tyler Cowen doesn't think that policy would improve much even if everyone knew as much economics... MORE

Doubt the Vote

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've written the lead essay for this month's Cato Unbound. I've got a habit of laughing at my own jokes. My favorite from the Cato Unbound essay: As long as elites persist in unmerited deference to and flattery of the... MORE

The Mankiw Column Fortune Didn't Want You to Read

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
It's called "Why Some People Shouldn't Vote." And if you think you've anticipated his whole argument, you're probably wrong. At least I was.... MORE

Dexter: Beyond Good Intentions

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A cliche of literature is the sympathetic character who does bad things. The moral of the story is usually that as long as you mean well, you basically get a pass. Showtime's got a new series that turns this cliche... MORE

Who's On Your Shoulder?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Ezra Klein engages in some interesting introspection: Nowadays, I know that folks from that end will be looking to cut apart my ideas, I have to protect my points against their insights which, in turn, means I absorb their insights.... MORE

What Austrian Brain Drain?

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
Degrees of Freedom has an incisive critique of my Austrian brain drain allegation: If Austrian economics and mainstream economics were both equally persuasive, we should still expect to see far more libertarians who were persuaded by mainstream economics than libertarians... MORE

Bastiat in Fairfax?

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
My chairman Don Boudreaux continues to hone his sense of economic ridicule: If, unlike me, you accept the logic of Ms. Lee's argument that it's wrong to let American consumers buy goods made by workers who toiled under government-regulatory standards... MORE

Essay Contests: Worth the Risk

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Professors don't get paid for good essays, but students do! The truth about essay contests is that the number of submissions is usually absurdly low considering the size of the prizes and the opportunity cost of students' time. Your latest... MORE

More on Fundamentalist Divorce

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I went back to the drawing board on fundamentalist divorce rates to check out a couple readers' hypotheses. The findings: 1. Excluding people who have never been married, fundamentalists are - as the stereotype would predict - less likely to... MORE

Samuelson: Blame the People

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robert Samuelson launches a pointed attack against the good sense of the American people: The Catch-22 of American democracy is this: A government that mirrors public opinion offends public opinion by failing to do what it promises. People then conclude... MORE

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