Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: September 2011

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Single Motherhood and Poverty: A Few More Replies

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Lots of good comments on my critique of Marsh.  Some quick replies:PrometheeFeu: A lot of women either do not know about birth-control or more commonly do not know how to obtain or use it. Also, some disastrous education policies have... MORE

When to Wash Your Hands

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
John Marsh replies to my critique of his most outrageous passage:Bryan thinks single-motherhood is a choice, I think it is more or less a given. In other words, if, like me, you wanted to reduce levels of poverty in the... MORE

Marsh vs. A Simple, Effective Way to Avoid Poverty

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
I genuinely like John Marsh's Class Dismissed.  But now it's time to attack the most outrageous passage in the entire book.  Here's Marsh's take on the view that "increased poverty rates owe to an increase in single-parent homes":Nearly two-thirds of... MORE

You Should Be Nodding Your Head

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Eliezer Yudkowsky:There are large numbers of embarrassing people who believe in flying saucers, but this cannot possibly be Bayesian evidence against the presence of aliens, unless you believe that aliens would suppress flying-saucer cults, so that we are less likely... MORE

Three Quotes from the Kindergarten Paper

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm finally reading the much-acclaimed "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings?"  There's no denying that it's an extremely impressive piece.  And unlike many of their fans, the authors are very careful.  Note well: Project STAR was designed to... MORE

Jackals in Retirement

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Democracy is also a form of religion.  It is the worship of jackals by jackasses. - MenckenAlmost everyone likes to make fun of politicians.  But Don Boudreaux has an amazingly clear argument confirming that politicians deserve our derision.  Consider, Don... MORE

Class Dismissed and Signaling

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
In Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality, John Marsh argues that education is overrated.  Unions and redistribution, not education, are the best remedy for poverty and inequality.  I'm clearly not Marsh's intended audience. ... MORE

Unz on Immigration: A Bizarrely Mixed Bag

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen pointed me to "Immigration, the Republicans, and the End of White America by Ron Unz.  It's one of most bizarrely mixed bags I've ever read.  The piece combines...1. Wise long-run political advice for Republicans:In states or regions experiencing... MORE

How Lazy Is the Professoriat?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In my view, low conscientiousness is a major cause of poverty.  Laziness and impulsiveness lead to low marginal productivity.  Sooner or later the market notices and gives you your just deserts.  A smug, self-satisfied view, I know, but I'm only... MORE

I'm no sports fan, but as a betting man, Moneyball intrigued me.  I thought the ending dragged, but the peaks were high.  My favorite (from the shooting script, so the final scene may be a little different):BILLY:Grady, you don't have... MORE

Openness in the Gilded Age

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A great debating point by Don Boudreaux:[Pat Buchanan] frequently asserts that 19th-century America's policy of relatively high tariffs, along with its impressive economic growth, proves that protectionism promotes prosperity.  End of story; full stop; no further analysis is necessary.  Fact... MORE

Supplemental Pessimism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
More things I'm pessimistic about:1. I think First World happiness is basically maxed out.  In rich countries, your happiness depends on your personality, not your situation.  And personality is really hard to change.  Tyler says he's a "revenue pessimist but... MORE

Ethnic Diversity and the Size of Government: A Belated Reply to Sanandaji

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
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About What Am I Optimistic and Pessimistic?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Here's Tyler's list.  Here's mine:1. I am a pessimist about the likelihood of making democracy work better than it does.  We can push the world in a better direction (as Bob Tollison says, "We're all part of the equilibrium"), but... MORE

Corn, God, and Smith

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From The Wealth of Nations, via Dan Klein:The laws concerning corn* may every-where be compared to the laws concerning religion. The people feel themselves so much interested in what relates either of their subsistence in this life, or to their... MORE

Why the Confident Don't Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
The world is full of confident people.  Despite their confidence, it's usually hard to make them bet on their beliefs - and even harder to make them bet at worse-than-even odds.  In one of my all-time-favorite posts by Robin Hanson,... MORE

The Bizarro Blitzer Interview

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Since you're nerdy enough to read EconLog, I assume you're familiar with Bizarro World, Bizarro Superman, and Bizarro Jerry.  Now imagine adding a new figure to this mythology: Bizarrro Wolf Blitzer.*  In Bizarro World, the masses and the mainstream media... MORE

Philosopher Rod Long's gotten a lot of attention for his recent post on Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and it's easy to see why.  Rod leads with Wolf Blitzer's "gotcha" for Ron Paul:Wolf Blitzer: You're a physician, Ron Paul, so you're a... MORE

Two Questions for People Who Respect the Law

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I don't respect the law.  If my conscience says one thing, and the law says another, I often follow the law to avoid punishment.  But in my eyes, legality per se has zero moral weight.My position is admittedly controversial.  As... MORE

How Open Is the U.S. Border?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
How open is the U.S. border?  There are many measures, but my favorite is: How many months' wages do immigrants pay smugglers ("coyotes") to get them across the border?Coyotes' current price is about $3000 per person.I can't find good recent... MORE

Universal Social Programs vs. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Economists habitually mock protectionism for its high cost-benefit ratio.  "$265,000 per job saved!  How ridiculous."  But when you propose means-testing Social Security and Medicare benefits, these same economists usually protest, "A program for the poor will always be a poor... MORE

The Irony of the Irony of The Onion

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday's Onion reads:In a moving and beautiful ceremony held atop Lower Manhattan's gleaming, 120-story-tall Freedom Tower, the nation commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by raising a glass to the stable democracy of Afghanistan and to a decade... MORE

The Political Externalities of Immigration: Two Graphs to Ponder

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've been delving more deeply into the empirical evidence on the political externalities of immigration.  Two striking graphs from Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote's "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?" (BPEA 2001):1. Internationally, racially diverse societies... MORE

Immigration vs. the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Who loses the most from additional immigration?  The data is clear: The biggest losers are immigrants who are already here.  This is hardly surprising: recent and new arrivals are in close competition because they supply nearly identical skills.  Ottaviano and... MORE

Question for Fans of Universal College Attendance

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Question for people who think that (almost) everyone should go to college:Do you also think that (almost) everyone should major in high-paid technical fields like engineering, medicine, and computer science?If not, why not?  If the college premium is an overpowering... MORE

Wages, Welfare, and Elderly Immigration

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Two of the most popular complaints about immigrants:1. They take our jobs.2. They're all on welfare.There's a major tension between the two complaints: Are the immigrants stealing jobs, or loafing?  Contradictions aside, though, you have to wonder: Which complaint do... MORE

The noble Michael Clemens is taking the efficient, egalitarian, libertarian, utilitarian way to double world GDP to the masses.  But one passage made me furrow my brow:All the economic and social arguments against immigrant entry to the workforce could be... MORE

Reflections on The Name of the Game

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Will Eisner might be the most influential graphic novelist of the 20th century.  Contrary to some, he didn't "invent the graphic novel," but his ouvre is awesome nonetheless.  Although I'm a big fan, I only recently discovered what might be... MORE

Live and Let Live

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
David (Henderson, not Gordon) writes:Nowhere in the definition of "tolerate" is there the idea of embracing or liking a particular group, practice, race, type of music, etc. "Tolerance," in short, seems to mean the belief in the idea of "live... MORE

Tolerance and the Libertarian Penumbra

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A while back I wrote of the "libertarian penumbra":Libertarians are famous for their internal disagreements, but they have far more beliefs in common than their core position requires.  For starters, even non-consequentialist libertarians generally believe that libertarian policies have good... MORE

Medical Skepticism: Children's Classics Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The original Pinnochio's take on medicine is amusingly Hansonian: One after another the doctors came, a Crow, and Owl, and a Talking Cricket. "I should like to know, signori," said the Fairy, turning to the three doctors gathered about Pinocchio's... MORE

Keynesianism vs. Pump Priming

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Keynesianism is widely seen as a "pump priming" rationale for government intervention.  The government sees the economy in the doldrums, gives it a much-needed jolt, and then the private economy gets back on feet - with no need for further... MORE

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