Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: June 2010

An Author Archive by Month (34 entries)
Over at Cato Unbound, my old friend Sheldon Richman denies that restrictive covenants are kosher in libertarian terms:[I]n a fully free society restrictive covenants in deeds would be unenforceable because they are feudal in nature and thus violate fundamental libertarian... MORE

The Counterintuitive Explained

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Although I've argued that basic economics is intuitive, I recommend this short Wikipedia article on the counterintuitive.  Its best example:[A] policy of catching large fish and throwing back small ones may be counter-productive. In response to that policy, evolutionary pressure... MORE

The Strange Political Economy of Kidnapping

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
In the United States, stereotypical kidnappings are almost non-existent.  But in some Third World countries - especially Latin America - the problem's quite serious.  Mexico's up to 8000 reported kidnappings per year, and experts plausibly claim that over 90% of... MORE

Association, Exclusion, Liberty, and the Status Quo

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
One of my conservative friends keeps telling me that, "The right to associate is the right to exclude."  As a libertarian, I agree.  But the subtext of his slogan is that libertarians focus far too much on government regulations that... MORE

Tyler on Wage Stickiness: A Quick Note

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
While I was away in Atlanta, Tyler asked, "How sticky are wages today?"  His doubts:Keep in mind that unemployment rates today are disproportionately concentrated in low-income and low-education workers.  Haven't we been told, for years, that these same individuals are... MORE

Social Science in the Trenches

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have to think that this passage from All Quiet on the Western Front exaggerates the intellectuality of the average soldier, but it's such a great read that I'm going to break my personal rule against blockquoting:"But what I would... MORE

Health Pricing Transparency in Imperial Germany

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last November, Tyler Cowen enumerated fourteen things to do instead of Obamacare.  Number six:Make an all-out attempt, comparable to the moon landing effort if need be, to introduce price transparency for medical services.  This can be done.This Singaporean recommendation stuck... MORE

The Seen, the Unseen, War, and Peace

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Economists and libertarians often argue that foolish policies prevail because the benefits of government action are more visible than the costs.  To bolster their point, many reference Bastiat's classic essay, "What Is Seen and What is Not Seen."  Here's how... MORE

First They Separated the Twins...

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I staunchly oppose putting twins in separate classrooms when they prefer to be together.  As I explained before:Sure, if you separate twins, they'll make more friends.  But that hardly means you're doing them a favor.  The reason why twins put... MORE

I recently read a paper by Loyola prof (and GMU Ph.D.) Dan D'Amico.  The first part of the paper explained that among crime researchers, there is a strong consensus that the U.S. government is too punitive - even though the... MORE

My Father's Day Essay for the WSJ

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My Father's Day essay for the Wall St. Journal is now up, and I've got EconLog readers to thank.  You've been a great sounding board for all the main arguments about family economics I've been stockpiling over the last five... MORE

In econ grad school, you learn a dozen good ideas and a hundred seemingly irrelevant ones.  Most of those hundred ideas deservedly languish in obscurity; no one uses them to explain the real world, even in conversation.  But once in... MORE

Charter Cities vs. Anti-Foreign Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Atlantic's got an incredible profile of Paul Romer.  The highlight is yet another example of how anti-foreign bias blocks paths to progress.  Romer seemed close to getting two charter cities in Madagascar, then things went pear-shaped:Barely a year after... MORE

Inflation, Socialism, and Moral Indifference

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Back in 2008, I told my lunch buddies that the bailouts were worse than four years of 10% inflation.  Now I think that's an understatement.  Crazy new policy initiatives will probably end after the next election, but the idea trap's... MORE

How Lucky Was I?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When I talk to economists who earned their econ Ph.D. in the 70s and 80s, they paint a grim picture: 70 hour workweeks, followed by truly comprehensive exams where everything's fair game and lots of students fail.When I talk to... MORE

Ego & Hubris

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I don't know what's more amazing:1. That there's an autobiographical graphic novel, Ego & Hubris, about former Cato intern Michael Malice.2. That self-described "strident leftist" Harvey Pekar collaborated with Malice on the project.  (Malice wrote most of the script, Pekar... MORE

Education and Anti-Market Bias: The Illusion of Perversity

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Most libertarians and free-market economists are surprised when I tell them that more educated people are more libertarian and more pro-market than the general population.  I think they're in the grip of two illusions:1. Sampling bias.  Well-educated leftists cling to... MORE

Economic Enlightenment and Education: Reply to Arnold

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold approvingly cites the new Buturovich-Klein study finding that people who went to college know less about economics than those who didn't.  But if you read the original piece, the authors graciously distance themselves from this very conclusion!In commenting on... MORE

The First Amendment and the Principles of Public Opinion

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Three principles of public opinion I've pushed over the years:1. The status quo is popular.  Well-worded questions usually show that the median person favors the status quo, exactly as the Median Voter Model predicts.2. Liberty is more popular at an... MORE

The Triumph of Harold, Kumar, and Liberty

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In two weeks, I'm giving a FEE lecture on "Public Opinion for Libertarians."  I'll probably start by asking for a show of hands: "Who wants the depressing version of today's lecture?  Okay, who wants the really depressing version?"  The sad... MORE

Free Richter

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Richter reissue is also available as a free pdf.  From my intro: From the outset, many questioned the practicality of the socialists' solution. After you equalize incomes, who will take out the garbage? Yet almost no one questioned the... MORE

Hanson's Brief History of Warfare

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The latest from Robin Hanson's odyssey through anthropology:Most confusion comes from seeking a one-way trend, as in "is there more or less war than in ancient times?" Problem is: overall, warfare increased, then decreased. [...] Yes, most of the "tribal"... MORE

Lidtke's The Outlawed Party

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
After learning the basics of Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws, I turned to Vernon Lidtke's The Outlawed Party: Social Democracy in Germany, 1878-1890, published in 1966.  Despite Lidtke's obvious sympathy for this proto-totalitarian movement, I really enjoyed it.  I take inordinate pleasure... MORE

Chickens for Peace

Game Theory
Bryan Caplan
David Friedman's dinnertime conversations with his son Bill inspired the following hypothetical:Imagine that someone in our future is equipped with a device capable of delivering packages to the past. He makes a list of thirty or forty of the most... MORE

Richter Back in Print

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
A handsome new edition of Eugen Richter's dystopian novel Pictures of the Socialistic Future, featuring a new introduction on the "born bad" thesis by yours truly, is now available from the Mises Institute for just $12.  When I read political... MORE

Libertarian Nurture? The Case of the Paul Family

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The NYT has a fun story on how Ron Paul raised Rand Paul:In keeping with their position as the First Family of Libertarianism, the Pauls of Lake Jackson, Tex., did not have many rules around their home. "Behave yourself and... MORE

Traditional Third World Elites: A Qualified Defense

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My parents and teachers raised me to despise traditional Third World elites - not kleptocrats like Mobutu or Marcos, who were barely on their radar, but anyone who lived well in the midst of poverty.  "The extremes of wealth and... MORE

In "Cato Memories," I recalled the joy of cleaning the archives:In a footnote in Why Americans Hate Politics, E.J. Dionne wrote: "My thanks to Ed Crane and David Boaz of the Cato Institute for letting me read through their excellent... MORE

The evidence on nature, nurture, and sexual orientation just got a lot better.  (For earlier discussion, see here, here, and here).  Gene Expression summarizes the latest evidence:Three recent twin studies have largely overcome previous methodological issues, demonstrate clear genetic influences... MORE

Who Wants to Move to Minnesota?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Steve Sailer cites:Moynihan's Law of Proximity to the Canadian Border: on just about any socially positive measure, there is a positive correlation between a state's ranking and it's distance from the Canadian border: e.g., Minnesota is usually... MORE

Markets: Rich/Nice vs. Poor/Mean

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Consider a model where workers are either rich or poor, and employers are either nice or mean.  Rich workers might be more conscientious than poor workers, or simply less tempted to steal from their boss.  Nice employers trust their workers... MORE

If Capitalists Ran the Schools

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Robin's been warming up to Bowles and Gintis' classic Schooling in Capitalist America.  The usual summary of B&G is that our educational system is basically a factory that makes good cogs for the capitalists' social machine.  As a product of... MORE

What I've Been Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
1. Cheaper By the Dozen.  The true story of a turn-of-the-century efficiency expert who combines his two passions - time and motion studies and his twelve kids.  Recommended by Joshua Gan.2. La Perdida. Graphic novel about a (half)-Mexican American leftist... MORE

Magna Carta Club, Part 2

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
Due to limited demand, I'm going to finish up the Magna Carta Club with one last post on Clauses 11-63.  Highlights:Clause 11.  Further demagogic limits on Jewish money-lenders' rights to collect on debts.Clause 12. Limits the tax known as "scutage";... MORE

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