Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: March 2007

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Libertyman

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just came across a surprising bit of libertarian trivia that didn't appear in Brian Doherty's magnum opus. Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spiderman, was a self-identified Objectivist. He even created two explicitly ideological superheroes. The first, the Question, inspired... MORE

Here is Wisdom

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From Eliezer at Overcoming Bias: There is an old Jewish joke: During Yom Kippur, the rabbi is seized by a sudden wave of guilt, and prostrates himself and cries, "God, I am nothing before you!" The cantor is likewise seized... MORE

The Presumption of Elasticity

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Did tax cuts in the '80's spur Internet entrepreneurship twenty years later? I can't prove it. But it seems very plausible, and no one's proven otherwise. After all, when marginal tax rates are 70%, the dream of striking it rich... MORE

Poor Choices

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson advised me to read Banerjee and Duflo's "The Economic Lives of the Poor" in the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, and I wasn't disappointed. Long story short: People who live on $1 a day spend... MORE

Show Me the Way

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My goal: Get a reasonably large number of college (or even high school) graduates to go over their transcripts, and state, course-by-course, how often they take what they learned in school and apply it on the job. Respondents should have... MORE

Inside the Revolutionary Mind

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just had the pleasure of reading Tolstoy's "God's Way and Man's." It's one of the most compelling portraits of revolutionary psychology I've ever read. "God's Way and Man's" is a complex tale, but the last half focuses on imprisoned... MORE

Patriotic Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
As a rule, I don't like movies "based on true stories," but I'll make an exception for Joyeux Noël. It's a trilingual tale of fraternization on World War I's Western front, and nicely shows the contrast between individual decency and... MORE

Mission Crisis?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: Starting with the Carter Administration, deregulation reigned in transportation, communications, and--eventually--energy. These victories for market-oriented policies stimulated growth and allowed us to have the luxury of an enlarged welfare state without crippling the economy. "Crippled"? By historical standards,... MORE

Tyler's Crisis Mentality

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has a podcast about what he calls "the intellectual crisis in libertarianism." Again, I'm baffled. To say we're in a crisis strongly suggests that things used to be better for us. But as far as I can tell, as... MORE

Education: Practicality vs. Rate of Return

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm fortunate to have Prof. Karl Smith of Modeled Behavior reading my posts on education. In response to my claim that educators overestimate the practicality of education, Smith writes: I think those who spend their lives in academia will tend... MORE

Winston on Advertising Regs

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Here's a neat passage from Clifford Winston's Government Failure versus Market Failure (complete book available for free downloading): Calfee and Ringold (1994) focused on surveys of consumers’ attitudes toward advertising. Analyzing six decades of data that began in the 1930s,... MORE

Radicals for Capitalism Comes to GMU

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here at GMU, there are always radicals for capitalism. But it is only on 4 PM Wednesday, March 21, that we will have Radicals for Capitalism, and its learned and witty author, Brian Doherty. See here for more info.... MORE

Ethiopia Bleg

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Does anyone know anything about economic freedom in Ethiopia? I'm going to be on a panel where this would be useful knowledge to have - and unfortunately, Ethiopia does not yet seem to be included in the Economic Freedom of... MORE

The Education of Educators

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've often blogged about the dangers of selection bias (see here and here). So in writing a book about education, I have to wonder: To what extent is my personal experience atypical? My main answer: My personal experience exaggerates the... MORE

Page One of My Next Book

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've started writing my next book, tentatively entitled The Case Against Education: A Professional Student Explains Why Our Education System is a Big Waste of Time and Money. Here's page one: I have been in school continuously for the last... MORE

Borjas, Wages, and Immigration: The Complete Story

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
George Borjas is the source of the widely-quoted factoid that immigration has reduced the wages of low-skilled natives by 8%. So I was quite surprised to discover the following table when I was flipping through Borjas' labor textbook:Short Run Long... MORE

300 and Freedom

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
While watching 300 for the second time today, I kept remembering David Stannard's description of America's Founding Fathers as "slaveholding philosophers of freedom." There's a lot of high-minded talk in 300 about free Greeks standing against Persian tyranny (not to... MORE

Great Quip

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Quoth Patri Friedman: Old definitions: Liberals: Favor social freedoms, but not economic freedoms. Conservatives: Favor economic freedoms, but not social freedoms. New definitions: Liberals: Believe in evolution, but not biology. Conservatives: Believe in biology, but not evolution.... MORE

Worst Advice to Libertarians Ever?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not sure if Tyler Cowen's advice to libertarians is the worst any serious thinker has ever given us. But it's up there. I'd like to give my dear friend and benefactor a charitable reading, but I just can't. Stripped... MORE

A Relic of Prohibition

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
An enthusiast on the Pulp Hero discussion board provides some authentic flavor of the Prohibition Era: An official Medicinal Liquor prescription form. It's funny to think that alcohol was once treated like medical marijuana.... MORE

Bayesian Analysis of Hypocrisy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Hanson and Balan aren't the only sharp tacks at Overcoming Bias: Politicians want voters to have a positively-biased view of themselves. Consequently, voters learn more about politicians from their failings than from their good deeds. Barack Obama, for example, smokes.... MORE

Two Cowenian Tenure Claims

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has chimed in on tenure with a bizarre dadaism and a serious challenge: Bizarre Dadaism: To put it bluntly, the tenure system works because for many people their "output" doesn't matter in the first place; tenure is however wonderful... MORE

Tenure and Non-Profits

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Steve Levitt has come out against tenure, and Greg Mankiw is standing up for it on grounds I'd normally accept: [U]niversities may well be better off by paying lower salaries to tenured faculty, despite the adverse incentive effects, than paying... MORE

Puzzled by Brad's Puzzlement

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong is deeply puzzled by a sensible observation over at Free Exchange: The Economist's Free Exchange: Trailing the truth | Free exchange | Economist.com: [P]undits are almost never punished for being wildly wrong about something. Nor are they rewarded... MORE

Ponzi Schemes: What's the Big Deal?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
At last night's paternalism debate, David Balan repeatedly returned to the example of the Ponzi scheme. Later, I found myself reflecting: What's so bad about Ponzi schemes? By definition, Ponzi schemes have an expected rate of return of 0% minus... MORE

Cream of the Crop

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
The most elite man alive has sensibly radical views on immigration. And he's suggested a great nerdy slogan, too: infinite visas. Perhaps he should found the Brains Against Brain Drain Club? I can't help but recall the lead quote to... MORE

Are Elites "Anti-Democratic"?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Acemoglu and Robinson have recently done much to academically revive the view that democratization is a struggle between pro-democratic masses and anti-democratic elites. If elites accept democracy, they do so to forestall even worse outcomes like revolution. (Here's a readable... MORE

Make That Maternalism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A fun time was had by most at the Balan-Hanson debate on paternalism. In the post-debate discussion, someone raised the question of whether men or women are more "paternalistic." Given my earlier work (not to mention casual comparison of lenient... MORE

More Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Enter the Garvey Fellowship Contest by writing an essay on foreign aid. They gave me first prize when I was in grad school; the next winner could be you!... MORE

Economics in Candyland

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
True story: Last night, I was playing Candyland with my four-year-old sons. The green gingerbread man token is always in excess demand, so the house rule is that the boy who plays green goes second. (It's never too soon to... MORE

Should There Be Compulsory Attendance for the Balan-Hanson Debate?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
David Balan and Robin Hanson, two of the smartest voices on Overcoming Bias, are having a debate on Paternalism this Wednesday evening at GMU. The title: "Paternalistic Policy: Altruism or Arrogance?" Given that this debate will resolve this important question... MORE

The Sociology of the V.R.W.C.

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Sociologist Fabio Rojas just introduced GMU economists to diagrams of social networks. These diagrams provide a neat way to quickly show who knows who, who knows people who know people, and who knows everybody. Rojas presented new data on networks... MORE

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