EconLog small logo

Bryan Caplan: December 2008

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Try This on Your Favorite Curmudgeons

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
If your holiday season was anything like mine, you've heard some elderly relatives denounce the "kids these days."  "They don't read the newspaper!"  "They don't know when World War II ended!"  "How can democracy survive with this level of ignorance?!"... MORE

Tyrannicide: Now in a Theater Near You

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Valkyrie, Bryan Singer's film about the 1944 officers' plot against Hitler, is worth seeing.  But I'm admittedly a little biased.  After all, my first academic publication (in the Humane Studies Review) has a whole section on the philosophy of tyrannicide.  In hindsight, I'm... MORE

I Refused to Shake His Hand

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I truly need a vacation from my vacation.  After my kids were diagnosed with bronchitis, I decided I probably had the same ailment.  I'm a member of Kaiser, but since I'm out-of-state, my only in-plan option in California was to... MORE

The Law: Going from Bad to Worse

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
At risk of offending my many friends in the legal academy, I think that law is a shockingly phony discipline.  Virtually everyone - liberal, conservative, Marxist, libertarian, or whatever - imagines that the law conveniently agrees with what they favor... MORE

History + Comedy = Rothbard

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
For centuries, the State (or more strictly, individuals acting in their roles as "members of the government") has cloaked its criminal activity in high-sounding rhetoric. For centuries the State has committed mass murder and called it "war"; then ennobled... MORE

Education, Ideology, and Awkward Weddings

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Left-right ideology is by far the strongest predictor of party identification.  Education, in contrast, has very little connection to partisanship.*  However, when you look at opinions about specific issues, ideology and education are both extremely important.  For example, conservatives and... MORE

Separating Twins as Economic Illiteracy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Schools usually try to put twins in different classes.  In part, it's for the convenience of the teacher - identical twins can be hard to tell apart.  But the main rationale is that if you separate twins, they will make... MORE

If You Want Peace, Prepare for Peace

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Since 9/11, you've heard it a thousand times: "If you want peace, prepare for war."  My question: What about your enemies?  If they want peace, should they prepare for war, too?Yes, it's a trick question.  Who's going to say, "If... MORE

National defense, for instance, benefits the special interests that President Eisenhower identified as the military-industrial complex, and governments therefore tend to provide too much of it.  Whether the U.S. government specifically does so is controversial, but we can know with... MORE

Dreaming the Simonian Dream

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Thought experiment: What would the world look like if every bit of land had the population density of Singapore?  With roughly 149 million square km of land on the planet, and a density of 6489 people per square km in... MORE

Longevity and the Work Ethic

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A new meta-analysis in Health Psychology finds that people with more conscientious personalities live longer:Howard Friedman and Margaret Kern at the University of California at Riverside found that people who were less conscientious were 50 per cent more likely to... MORE

New Deal Panel

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I enthusiastically recommend this panel discussion on the New Deal, featuring Russ Roberts, Lee Ohanian, David Kennedy, Eric Lascelles, and Joe Martin.  Random observations:1. Kennedy and Lascelles, the most pro-Roosevelt guys on the panel, strangely torpedo their own cases by... MORE

Bruer Update

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
After my my previous post  on John Bruer's The Myth of the First Three Years, I sent him the following email:Hi John, I just blogged *The Myth of the First Three Years*, and my readers were interested in knowing your... MORE

Where Are All the Jerks in My Life?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Do you deal with unpleasant, petty, and/or vicious people during your typical day?  I don't.  As far as I can tell, I personally know a strangely small number of jerks.  As an econo-nerd, of course, I can't just be thankful... MORE

Cold Spouses

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've previously argued that the avoidance of spousal scorn is one of the main reasons why we buy insurance, and pointed out our lack of sympathy for men.  But nothing prepared me for this piece on cryonics and the family:One... MORE

What's Wrong With Urban Politics?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
David Schleicher continues to turn his powerful intellect to the under-studied subject of urban political economy.  Lack of information is always a problem in democracy, but......voters in national elections are provided with a coping mechanism, a bit of publicly provided... MORE

Schleicher's Model of One-Party Democracy

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
As promised, Volokh guest blogger David Schleicher posted his preferred explanation for the persistence of one-party urban democracy.  As first glance, his story seems pretty different from mine.  Here's his lead-in: "I argue that the lack of competition in city... MORE

The Puzzle of One-Party Democracy

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, guest blogger David Schleicher tries to explain why so many cities are, like Singapore, one-party democracies.  He begins by pointing out that the "obvious" explanation is wrong:It is true that in almost all major American... MORE

The Immortal Dilemma

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you were offered the following gamble:1. With probability p, you will live forever at your current age.2. With probability (1-p), you instantly, painlessly die.What is your critical value of p?  If you combine expected utility theory with the empirical... MORE

Neuroscience and Policy: Bait and Switch

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I read John Bruer's The Myth of the First Three Years en route to Singapore.  You might be expecting a rehash of The Nurture Assumption, but this book focuses specifically on attempts to use neuroscience to establish the existence of... MORE

I humbly submit that The Painted Veil contains the most amazing scene of gender conflict ever filmed.  Watch the scene on Youtube, and tell me I'm wrong - and give your alternate selection while you're at it.  While you're watching... MORE

I'm admittedly a sucker for a period piece.  But 2006's The Painted Veil is fantastically good.   It's mostly a love story about two British ex-pats living in China during the 1920s.  But it's set against a vivid background of Chinese... MORE

Crisis Prophet

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Stiglitz is bragging about his amazing foresight:Rereading some of my papers in preparing for the publication of the second volume of my Selected Works (to be published by Oxford University Press), I came across a paper, written almost two decades... MORE

Moderate Muslim Malaysia: What I Saw

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
People often point to Malaysia as a good example of a "moderate Muslim nation."  So when I took a side trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, I was curious to see moderate Islam with my own eyes.  What's it like... MORE

Great White Parenthetical

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
From Larry White's target essay on Cato Unbound:(One can't explain an unusual cluster of errors by citing greed, which is always around, just as one can't explain a cluster of airplane crashes by citing gravity. Anyway, the greedy aim at... MORE

Kane's Pledge

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
After defending bankruptcy for the Big Three, Tim Kane pioneers a new way to put your money where your mouth is:  [T]t is not true that customers won't buy from a bankrupt company.  Happens all the time. So I have... MORE

The Immigrant in My Basement

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I advocate open borders (and I mean truly open borders, not the 95% closed borders of the U.S.), critics often respond like EconLog reader Carter did: [Caplan] said: "But there are literally billions of lower-skilled workers who would... MORE

Best Banking: Animal Analogy Ever

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Arcane banking regulations matter, but it's hard to communicate anything about them to a broader audience.  Alex Tabarrok rises to the occasion with an elegant analogy: When no interest was paid on reserves banks tried to hold as few as... MORE

Return to Neptune, III: Do Tax Breaks Mimic the Market?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Rod seems to see tax breaks purely through a special interest lens: Corporations lobby the government for a special deal, and governments respond at the expense of less organized interests.  I agree that this is a conceivable scenario.  But at... MORE

Return to Neptune, II: The Corporate Income Tax

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
While we're on the subject of differential tax treatment, I don't think Rod or his critics ever mentions the notorious double taxation imposed by the corporate income tax.  This tax matters less than it used to, but the U.S. federal... MORE

Return to Neptune, I: Incidence

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
As I've said before, the conversation sparked by Rod Long's Cato Unbound essay has been rididulously lively.  Now I'd like to append a few points that - as far as I can tell - no one else has made.  (Please... MORE

He is a Pirate King

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
It's amazing that during a resurgence of Somali piracy, I have a colleague who is an expert on both Somalia and piracy.  He's Peter Leeson, the Pirate King of Fairfax.  And now you can finally pre-order his new economic history... MORE

Return to top