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Bryan Caplan: January 2007

An Author Archive by Month (26 entries)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Here are three surprising transportation factoids from Clifford Winston's Government Failure vs. Market Failure. Winston on planes: Airport expenses are covered by passenger facility charges and landing fees, which are set by local airport authorities based on an aircraft's weight...... MORE

Dysculturation?

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Claims about dysgenics usually quickly degenerate into a big debate about nature vs. nurture. Steve Sailer interestingly argues that both sides are missing the deeper point: It's important to realize that for evaluating the likelihood of Idiocracy or Freakonomics, it... MORE

Building a Better Idiot

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Let me join Tyler and Steve Sailer in recommending the very funny Idiocracy. If you're interested in intelligence research and/or behavioral genetics and have a sense of humor, you'll have a big smile on your face. I know I did.... MORE

Soon after the first Iraq torture scandal, I remember a pompous politician declaring (more or less) that "The reason why we don't torture prisoners is so American soldiers don't get tortured." Whatever you think about torture, this argument seems underwhelming.... MORE

Hanson's Mistake: Facts, Values, and Experts

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson begins his health econ class with a heavy dose of disillusion: I teach Health Economics starting today, and every year I start with data assuring students that learning data will not change their health policy opinions. He cites... MORE

Economists who support the minimum wage realize that it is - at best - a small transfer. Why do they keep focusing on it? A common answer: The minimum wage has symbolic value. Here are two of Klein's respondents: A... MORE

I second Arnold's recommendation of the Klein-Dompe piece. Dan Klein is probably the greatest intellectual entrepreneur I know. Who else would see a petition to raise the minimum wage and think "Wow, what an opportunity to write a fascinating article"?... MORE

Beating the Odds: Why Do People Insist on Even Bets?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"I'm sure that a Democrat will win in 2008." "Sure? OK, let's bet at 100:1." "Umm, no thanks. But I'll do it for even odds." I've had a bunch of conversations like this. Someone proclaims to know the future with... MORE

Euro Bet

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I made a wager this weekend while I was at a Liberty Fund conference in Chicago. Fellow participant Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell made quite a few predictions about the non-future of the EU that struck me as overconfident. When he... MORE

Calhoun's Defense of Poland's Unanimity Rule

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Historians have a standard story about the partition of Poland in the 18th century: Poland was unable to defend itself effectively because it had a crazy unanimity rule that gave every nobleman a veto over everything. Seems plausible. But yesterday... MORE

The Philosophy of Introspection

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've long claimed that economists undervalue introspection. Now Tyler is giving opponents of introspection some new excuses for ignoring it, and ends with: Will Bryan Caplan take the bait and present his argument that such studies are a priori false... MORE

A Gem for the World's Econo-Cartophiles

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
I've loved maps since I was a small child, but I've never seen one like this before. Neat.... MORE

The Incomparable Hanson

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here is one of the most original philosophical examples I've read in years. It starts: Imagine you are walking in the wild and come across what looks like a big rock painted with the following words: I may look like... MORE

Consensus on Roosevelt Fast Approaching

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Gross says Roosevelt was better than Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. I agree. This does raise the interesting point that given world conditions for investors, the U.S. should have been able to do really well without really trying. Instead it... MORE

Suppose most economists believe that "Libertarian economists can't do math," and that, on average, they are correct. How does this affect libertarian economists' incentive to learn math? You could say that this stereotype will be self-fulfilling. If everyone assumes that... MORE

American Mugabe?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad thinks it's a little crazy for me to compare Roosevelt to Mugabe: To get to somebody willing to argue that the entire New Deal taken as a whole made things worse, you have to go to somebody like Arnold's... MORE

Normal Criticism of the New Deal

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong's of course right that I'm not normal. At the same time, he's backed off enough that I wonder if he'd put himself in the same boat as two normal guys with negative things to say about the New... MORE

Roosevelt's Law of Tooth and Claw

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Hamilton and Arnold are making a lot of sense. On the negatives of the New Deal, though, it's also worth pointing out how scary Roosevelt's policies and populist rhetoric were to business. If I were a potential investor in 1933,... MORE

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Over vacation, we stayed with my brother's family at his cabin in Lake Arrowhead. In this slightly cramped space, my brother and I kept trying to watch the extended cut of Gladiator. Unfortunately, my four-year-old sons kept trying to watch... MORE

WIN and the PBC

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I'm too young to remember, but my memory still instantly links Ford with his risible "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN) buttons. The same memory inspires James Hamilton to write an inspired account of the famed Burns-Nixon Political Business Cycle (PBC). I... MORE

Bastiat Lives At Cafe Hayek

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Don and Russ continue their Herculean effort to make economics too clear not to understand. The latest gems: Don on protectionist anecdotes: But I wonder how many of these people would accept the following line of argument: Researcher Jones, like... MORE

Why Does Homelessness Persist in Rich Liberal Cities?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
During my stay in SoCal, a surprising thought kept returning to me: Why hasn't government solved the problem of homelessness? I know this question seems out of character. But I not saying that government should solve the problem of homelessness;... MORE

If this doesn't make you laugh out loud, what will?... MORE

Million Dollar Babies: Economic Fact versus Popular Fancy in L.A.

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just got back from another vacation in Los Angeles. As they say, it's a "city of contrasts," but the most interesting contrast is rarely mentioned. On the one hand, even pretty ordinary Angelenos - especially the elderly - reside... MORE

Me in the Economist

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I was surprised to learn that the Economist thought this little post deserved a broader audience: But as with any argument involving economists, there is more than one side to it. For one thing, many experiences demand a substantial outlay... MORE

A Faustian Bargain: Romania and Bulgaria Join the EU

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
One day I expect my sons to give me a grand tour of Romania. Thanks to their mom, grandparents, and company, my sons' Romanian is at least as good as their English. So I've got more than just an academic... MORE

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