Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: February 2009

An Author Archive by Month (31 entries)

Two Observations on Milk

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I normally dislike movies based on true stories, but Milk is genuinely good.  Two observations and a question:Observation 1.  I was disappointed that the infamous "Twinkie defense" and the Szaszian critique thereof got virtually no attention in the movie.  What... MORE

Macroeconomic Identity Politics

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I've already faulted Fama for misuse of the macroeconomic identity GDP=C+I+G+NX.  Now TheMoneyIllusion takes the War On Misleading Tautology to a new level:When I discuss the effect of monetary stimulus on aggregate demand with other economists, I notice that they... MORE

Parents habitually try to influence what their kids eat.  "Eat up."  "Clean your plate."  "No dessert until you finish your vegetables."  "Soda?  No, you get milk."  At least in the modern U.S., parents' main goals seem to be to (a)... MORE

Caplan-Hanson Debate: Now Taking Requests

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson and I have agreed to debate each other before the GMU Econ Society after spring break.  But we can't decide what to debate about.  Robin accordingly suggested that we ask our blog readers for requests.  It needs to... MORE

For a New Liberty on iTunes

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
FYI: If you're having trouble keeping up with the For a New Liberty book club, the whole audio book seems to be available for free on iTunes.  Personally, though, I can't bear to hear anyone say Rothbard's words but the... MORE

SummaryIn this chapter on "Personal Liberty," Rothbard puts run-of-the-mill "civil libertarians" to shame.  He's more radical than most of the left on traditional civil liberties like freedom of speech, drugs, and wiretapping.  He stands up for the rights to libel... MORE

In 1975, Ann Landers famously reported that 70% of parents had buyer's remorse: If they had their lives to live over against, they wouldn't have kids.  Landers' study subsequently made it into some statistics lectures as an illustration of the... MORE

Having More Kids: Don't Ask, Do Tell

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I explain that I'm writing a book called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, people often ask me, "Well, why aren't you having any more?"  It's a fair question, but one that one should always hesitate to ask -... MORE

The Principal of Convenience

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Eliezer beautifully articulates the moral outrage I felt from the age of 3 to 18:Another example would be the principal who, faced with two children who were caught fighting on the playground, sternly says:  "It doesn't matter who started the... MORE

Buying Inefficiency: Federal $ and State Medicaid Spending

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Brian Blase, my former RA, presents some edifying facts about Medicaid at National Review Online.The nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill making its way through Congress includes a little bit of everything, but if the bill passes as is, a large... MORE

How a Rational Politician Treats Irrational Voters

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I officially nominate Greg Mankiw for an Emperor Has No Clothes Award.  The Award (it's real!) normally goes to critics of religion.  But politics is the premiere religion of the modern world - and where else can you find impious... MORE

The Resonance of Libertarian Oratory

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My co-author Scott Beaulier's now blogging and teaching a course about Atlas Shrugged.  He always was lucky... except for that time that he accidentally decapitated himself during his first session of Dungeons and Dragons, but that's another story.Anyway, Scott's class... MORE

Two Paradoxes of Singaporean Political Economy

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I've finished my paper for Ethos, the journal of Singapore's Civil Service College.  From the intro (footnotes omitted):Officially, Singapore is a democracy.  When you compare it to almost any other democratic country, though, Singapore has two deeply puzzling features.  Puzzle... MORE

SummaryThis chapter begins with a premise shared by almost everyone - that "involuntary servitude" is impermissible:The libertarian, therefore, is totally opposed to slavery.  An academic question nowadays, one might object?  But is it really? For what is slavery but (a)... MORE

Will's Challenge

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I'd like to think that I'm the but-for cause of this paragraph, but either way, the world should listen:[I]t is a mistake to assume that equality of democratic voice improves the prospects of the poor and working classes unless the... MORE

We Coulda Had a Payroll Tax Holiday

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Tim Kane wisely notes that we could have had a one-year payroll tax holiday for the cost of Obama's fiscal stimulus program:What's amazing is that much of the rest of the bill's stimulus does not actually enter the economy until... MORE

Arnold mentions that:The Washington Post reviews The Lords of Finance, focusing on the role of the gold standard as a policy blunder contributing to the Great Depression. As I've said, a great swath of economists (starting with Milton Friedman and... MORE

Anti-Economist Bias Yes, Conservative Bias No

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Media Matters reports that almost none of the economic "experts" pontificating on Obama's economic plan are actually economists:Media Matters purposefully used a broad definition of "economist" to be inclusive, coding as an economist any guest who has a master's degree... MORE

What Happened to American Unions?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
My favorite subplot in Brink Lindsey's "Nostalgianomics" is his tale of the decline of American unionization rates.  He begins by ridiculing people who blame the change on virtually non-existent policy changes:Scrounging about for a policy explanation for declining unionization, Levy... MORE

Nostalgianomics, A Cato Gem

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I enthusiastically recommend Brink Lindsey's "Nostalgianomics."  It's just plain interesting, well-written, and edifying.  In a just world, it would have appeared in The New Yorker.  The springboard of the piece is Krugman's recent love letters to the 1950s.  Brink grants... MORE

My Analysis Is...

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold wants me to explain why "two-thirds of the American people think they could do a better job on the economy than Congress."  My take is that a lot of Americans want an even more populist approach to the crisis. ... MORE

British Flynn Effect Reverses

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
People in advanced countries have been getting smarter for decades; that's the Flynn effect.  Researchers have been arguing for quite a while about when the Flynn effect is going to level off.  Now Flynn says that in Great Brain, his... MORE

SummaryThis is the shortest chapter of the book, just six pages long.  Rothbard makes a laundry list of what he calls "the major problem areas of our society" and argues that government is central to every one of them.  The... MORE

Does Gravity Kill?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I favorably quoted this line from Larry White: "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."  Soon... MORE

When Russ Roberts rewrites some typically hysterical economic reporting, it's a thing of beauty.  But I still prefer his regular blogging. :-)... MORE

The Remote Control Puzzle

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
How many remote controls do you own?  I probably have at least thirty remotes somewhere inside my house.  The reason, of course, is that virtually every electronic device comes with its own customized remote control.  Some of these remotes try... MORE

Jones on CNN Money

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
My wise colleague Garett Jones has the office next to mine, so I can question him just by shouting.  (We've got thin walls in Carow Hall).  But now that Garett's writing for CNN Money, it's getting much easier for people... MORE

Block, Hazlitt, DeLong, Me, and the Noble Lie

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Walter Block has written a new intro to Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson:Writing this introduction is a labor of love for me. You know how women sometimes say to each other "This dress is you!"? Well, this book is... MORE

SummaryRothbard now applies the normative standards developed in chapter 2 to explain what libertarians have against government (or as Rothbard, inspired by Germanic capitalization, calls it, "the State").  The argument is simple: If a private individual did what governments do,... MORE

Organ Selling in Singapore: The Sad Real Story

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My sources in Singapore inform me that a real free market in human organ donations isn't in the cards - and never was.  An econ prof at a Singapore college explains:My colleagues at the ministry of health tell me that... MORE

Fraud and Punishment

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
While I'm not a libertarian absolutist, there are plenty of criticisms of strict libertarian doctrine that don't hold water.  Two that have been on my mind lately:1. Will Wilkinson doesn't see why libertarianism prohibits fraud:Even when I was a believer... MORE

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