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Bryan Caplan: April 2014

An Author Archive by Month (25 entries)

Ayn Rand in the Happy Lab

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand made many uncharitable claims about her philosophical opponents, but this passage from Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged takes the cake:They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to... MORE

Cowen and Crisis Reconsidered

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robert Higgs famously blames the growth of government on crises - especially wars and depressions.  I firmly believed in this story for over a decade until I read Tyler Cowen's critique:The ratchet effect becomes much stronger in the twentieth century... MORE

George R.R. Martin's Pacifist Tendencies

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I've argued that George R.R. Martin's novels vividly illustrate my case for pacifism.  Now G.R.R.M. tells us directly:You're a congenial man, yet these books are incredibly violent. Does that ever feel at odds with these views about power and war?... MORE

Great line from Lars Christensen.  Read the underlying facts.... MORE

Too Many

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"There are too many X" is usually a socially acceptable complaint.  With one key exception: If the X's are people.  Declaring, "There are too many blacks" makes you a racist.  Announcing, "There are too many Jews" makes you an anti-Semite. ... MORE

Talking to Mark Krikorian

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
At last night's debate, I finally got to talk to the Center for Immigration Studies' Mark Krikorian.  Some thoughts:1. Mark has good manners and radiates little anger.  Immigration opponents would be more influential if they emulated him.  2. Fortunately, such... MORE

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Last night's immigration debate with Mark Krikorian and Alex Nowrasteh was... interesting.  Reflections forthcoming.  For now, here's my opening statement. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 America Should Open its Borders Under current U.S. law, it is illegal for... MORE

Crazy Immigration

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Under open borders, over six billion people would be free to move to the United States.  The population could increase by more than a factor of twenty.  And under real open borders, there's no mandatory waiting period.  If everyone wants... MORE

Social Desirability Bias: How Psych Can Salvage Econo-Cynicism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The strongest evidence against the economic way of thinking is the way that people describe their own behavior.  People rarely announce, "I'm looking out for number one."  Businesses rarely advertise, "Our own profit is our top priority."  Students rarely declare,... MORE

Tuesday Immigration Debate

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
This Tuesday, Reason is hosting a DC debate on "Should America Open Its Borders?"  Cato's Alex Nowrasteh and I say yes; the Center for Immigration Studies' Mark Krikorian says no.The Center for Immigration Studies' masthead reads, "Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant."  I've dissected... MORE

Tourists Welcome

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Almost everyone wants to heavily restrict immigration.  Foreigners will take our jobs, go on welfare, poison our culture, and vote for socialism.  But there's one kind of foreigner almost every country welcomes: tourists.  Sure, locals gripe about their cluelessness and... MORE

I've Won My TARP Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Back in 2008, I noted an obscure TARP provision: SEC. 134. RECOUPMENT.Upon the expiration of the 5-year period beginning upon the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with... MORE

Try Harder or Do Something Easier?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A friend tells you, "I'm thinking of starting a restaurant.  Advise me."  You know that about 60% of new restaurants fail in their first three years - and have no reason to think that your friend would be anything other... MORE

Smoking, Social Desirability Bias, and Dark Matter

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
At the IEA blog, Kristian Niemietz points out that expenditure surveys fail to detect most of the tobacco sales visible in national product accounts.  For most goods, the two show broadly the same pattern: with small errors, what people profess... MORE

Civil Disobedience: King versus Huemer

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" defends an odd position: You may morally break an unjust law IF you make no effort to evade the legal punishment for the unjust law you break.In no sense do I advocate... MORE

Divorce and Motivated Reasoning in the WaPo

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In The Economic Naturalist, Robert Frank remarks: Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Psychologist Tom Gilovich has suggested that someone who wants to accept a hypothesis tends to ask, "Can I believe it?"  In contrast, someone who wants to reject... MORE

Kids and Happiness: The State of the Art

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Nelson, Kushlev, and Lyubomirsky's "The Pains and Pleasures of Parenting: When, Why, and How Is Parenthood Associated With More or Less Well-Being?" (forthcoming in the Psychological Bulletin) is a great survey of research on parenthood and happiness.  Quick version: Contrary... MORE

Crude Self-Interest: Why Kids Go to College

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists tend to dogmatically reduce human behavior to crude self-interest.  They're often deeply wrong.  Sometimes, though, the shoe fits.  UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute has been asking kids why they're going to college for a long time.  In recent decades,... MORE

The Impolitic Wisdom of Simon Kuznets

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Highlight from Diane Coyle's GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History:Kuznets, however, saw specifically his task as working out how to measure national economic welfare rather than just output.  He wrote:It would be of great value to have national income estimates... MORE

The Righteous Scofflaw

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The most popular argument against illegal immigration is probably that breaking the law is wrong.  At least since the Nazis, though, virtually no one believes that breaking the law is always wrong.  Instead, we all recognize circumstances under which being... MORE

The Ghetto of Talent

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Charles Murray has recently come under attack for the position he staked out in Human Accomplishment on gender and achievement.  He's ably defended himself by pointing out what he actually wrote.  In the process, though, I remembered my favorite part... MORE

Water Runs Downhill, and School Is Boring

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've been reading everything I can on how people feel when they're in school.  The evidence is thin, but confirms the obvious: Most people find school super-boring.  The High School Survey of Student Engagement is probably the single best... MORE

Is Welfare a Band-Aid for Nominal Wage Rigidity?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The minimum wage and welfare (broadly defined to include unemployment benefits and such) curiously interact.  As I've previously explained:The minimum wage deprives the unfortunate workers shown in red of their ability to support themselves.  Given this involuntary unemployment, the case... MORE

Answering Arnold's Challenge

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Tyler publicizes a challenge from founding EconLog blogger Arnold Kling:I still want to see an economist reconcile a belief in secular stagnation with a belief in Piketty's claim that the return on capital is going to exceed the growth rate... MORE

You Don't Know the Best Way to Deal with Russia

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Foreign policy experts love making bold predictions.  The clearer their conclusions, the wiser they sound.  Unfortunately, as Philip Tetlock documents, their predictions about controversial topics are scarcely better than chance.  They're all style, no substance.  The Economist's recent editorial on... MORE

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