Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: April 2007

An Author Archive by Month (39 entries)

Division of Labor in Graphic Novels

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Bismark is often quoted as saying that "People who like sausages and legislation should never watch either being made." (The actual line isn't as catchy: "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.") If your... MORE

Wake Forest Liberty and Society Seminar

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
This summer, I'll be giving my first series of IHS Liberty and Society lectures. The seminar is at Wake Forest University, June 2-8. The bad news: The application deadline is over. The good news: You can still email conference organizer... MORE

Farm Subsidies: The Dirty Truth

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's the best survey I've ever seen on farm policy. Big findings: Farm subsidies are extremely popular. Respondents had to choose between the following positions: A. It is not consistent with the American way to have a whole sector of... MORE

Do the Overweight Pull Their Weight?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A result from Kate Bundorf that (a) I'd like to believe, (b) Seems logical in light of basic micro, but (c) Still strikes me as implausible: Who pays the added costs associated with high rates of obesity? Most health insurance... MORE

Get the Best Education in the World, Absolutely Free!

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's Robin Hanson making a point I always tell my labor students: The best education in the world is already free of charge. Just go to the best university in the world and start attending classes. Stay as long as... MORE

The Next Book I Won't Be Writing

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
About a year ago, I asked blog readers to help me pick a title for my book. Now Justin Fox is offering me a catchy title and co-author: I'm thrilled to announce that Bryan and I will be collaborating on... MORE

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis: Act As If It's True

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
DeLong also links to an excellent piece by Justin Fox. Bottom line: The Efficient Markets Hypothesis has its problems, but even so, low-cost index funds remain your best bet: The message that the behavioral finance guys have for investors is... MORE

Most Bizarre Sentence Ever?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
From Brad DeLong: I don't know what I am going to say. I'm tempted to try a comparison of four intellectuals at four different moments in western print-culture: William of Occam, Niccolo Machiavelli, Adam Smith, and Tyler Cowen.... MORE

Taking Out the Competition

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Two resolutions of the take-out paradox that I'm not buying: 1. Fairness, best expressed by Nathan Smith: Maybe different prices for take-out and dine-in would be perceived as "unfair" by customers, and undermine business. Or maybe the restaurateurs themselves feel... MORE

Rodrik and Economic Policy Reform

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I cherish my negative inspirations - the thinkers who clearly and cogently champion positions I think are completely wrong. So I'm pleased to see that one of my favorite negative inspirations, Dani Rodrik, has taken to the blogosphere. I keep... MORE

My Take on Take-Out

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks for some excellent comments on the take-out paradox. On reflection, Arnold's beverage-centric explanation seems more important than the one Tyler and I agreed on over lunch. But you be the judge: Dine-in patrons provide an important advertising benefit for... MORE

The Missing Take-Out

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Almost every restaurant does take-out these days. Funny thing is, they usually charge as much for take-out as they do for dine-in. How is that possible? Dine-in requires servers and a lot more real estate. Shouldn't it be cheaper? As... MORE

The Economics of Recycling: A Child Could Understand

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
When I read to my kids, I rarely editorialize. I figure that if they want my opinion, they'll ask. But when we read Where Does the Garbage Go? this morning, I had to speak up. As you could guess, the... MORE

I was born into a family of tax consumers. My father was an engineer for a defense contractor during the last decades of the Cold War. My mom was a substitute teacher for the public schools, though she did spend... MORE

Write Your Calhounian Class Autobiography

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
Last year, I convinced quite a few econo-bloggers to post their "class autobiographies." (Here was mine). One thoughtful reader suggested that it would have been more fruitful to build on John Calhoun's theory of class. For Calhoun, the relevant classes... MORE

Scrooge and the Junker Fallacy

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Another great section in Landsburg, from the chapter "What I Like About Scrooge": This is a law of arithmetic: if Scrooge eats less, there's more food for someone else. This is a law of economics: if nobody else wants that... MORE

Public Choice Outreach 2007

Public Choice Theory
Bryan Caplan
Get your applications in for the 2007 Public Choice Outreach Seminar, July 12-15. Both faculty and students are excellent, and you'll get to meet many of your favorite bloggers. Apply now!... MORE

I Coulda Been a Contender

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
For every winner, there are ten people saying (perhaps under their breath) that "I'm as good as him. It could have been me." Now Robin links to a clever study showing that this is more than just self-deception: In our... MORE

Does Humility Really Walk on Water?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I just filled out a recommendation form that asked me to rate a student's "humility." Every other attribute I was asked to evaluate - e.g. "Intellectual Ability" and "Integrity" - was positive, so apparently humility is supposed to be positive... MORE

In Praise of My Competition: Landsburg's More Sex is Safer Sex

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Since my own book is about to come out, it seems like a bad time to praise the competition. But I'm going to do it anyway. Steve Landsburg's More Sex is Safer Sex is fantastic. Once again, Steve has written... MORE

Climate Preference Survey Pretest

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Remember my Climate Preference Survey idea? Suppose you surveyed a random sample of Americans with the following question: "Overall, would you rather the climate in the area you live got warmer, got cooler, or stayed the same?"Yesterday, I polled a... MORE

Myth of the Rational Voter Now Physically Exists

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My book now physically exists. I held it in my hands. But never fear, there's still time to pre-order. Why not go ahead? Even if you hate the book, the cover alone is worth the price of admission. :-)... MORE

First World Subsidies and Third World Poverty

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
I never touch the stuff, but tomorrow I'm on a panel discussing the coffee trade at the Johnson Center. It's all part of GMU's International Week. While getting ready for the talk, I was pleased to learn that activists concerned... MORE

Subjective Age

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just turned 36. But it seems like I was celebrating my 35th birthday three months ago - and asking everyone I knew how old they felt inside. Two universal patterns: 1. Every male I asked feels a lot younger... MORE

Do Econlog Comments Pass the Rational Expectations Test?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yes! The correct answer to the ice cream demand question is that sales went up by 200%. Here's the histogram of reader's responses: When people gave a range, I took the midpoint. When they gave a lower or upper bound,... MORE

You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To: A Noble Lie?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
People say a lot of silly things about how belief in the importance of intelligence, true or false, is "dangerous." Today I read one of the few pieces that actually presents some thought-provoking evidence on this point: Carol Dweck's chapter... MORE

Ice Cream Demand

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
It was 85 degrees in Fairfax last Monday. When I bought an ice cream cone at Ben and Jerry's, I asked the owner how much extra business he was doing that day compared to the typical day in January. What... MORE

Word Inflation: Disappointment Is Not Collapse

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's surprise surprises me. 0% growth for one decade during the next four in countries with plenty to eat counts as a "collapse"? I think both Arnold and I would scoff if, say, Krugman claimed that the incomes of the... MORE

Education Against Art

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From Rolling Stone's review of Grindhouse: As the late critic Pauline Kael famously stated, "Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize." The whole movie's a fun ride, but Tarantino's half... MORE

Magic Potencies on the Mind as Whole

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Once a teacher admits that his lessons have little or no practical use, he usually retreats to the view that it doesn't matter what his students learn. The important thing is that students are "learning how to learn." One thing... MORE

One reader tells me that the Wall St. Journal's op-ed page has spent the last twenty years claiming that Europe is on the "verge of collapse." Googling "Wall St. Journal Europe 'verge of collapse'" turns up little or nothing. In... MORE

What's a Collapse? What's a Verge?

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Question for Arnold: How bad would things in Europe have to get to count as a "collapse"? Even if their per-capita GDP fell by 50%, they'd still be doing very well by world and historical standards. And it's hard to... MORE

Overcoming Popularity

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Eliezer at Overcoming Bias has an interesting anti-majoritarian piece that is very similar to my "Intellectual Gladiators" argument: You can survive by being popular, or by being superior, but alternatives that are neither popular nor superior quickly go extinct. P.S.... MORE

Why Europe Goes Wrong

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tyler's piece on Europe also lays down a challenge to American social democrats: They [social democrats] think that enough changes would make America enough like Europe; I do not understand their underlying model of the differences between America and Europe,... MORE

How Europe Goes Wrong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tyler continues to baffle me. Now he's deeply misstating the free-market case against European social democracy: Market-oriented types look at Europe and think it is on the verge of collapse, when it isn't. They can't imagine that it doesn't, in... MORE

The Cause of Corruption

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Fellow Templeton prize-winner Kevin Schmiesing revisits our Cato dialogue on corruption, culture, and growth. Background: Among the symposium’s exchanges was one between George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan and me about the relative importance of “political culture” and “personal culture”... MORE

Culture of Enterprise Conference

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Cato hosted a conference with ISI for Templeton Enterprise Award winners. Full audio and video are available from the Cato website. Don't miss Thomas Woods, one of the smartest and most articulate historians I've ever met, and if... MORE

A Single Person With Doubts About the "Gap Year"

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I carry around an entrepreneurial idea of an American equivalent of the "gap year," which would be a year of education in between high school and college. This year would involve finding a part-time job, living in and... MORE

Why Not Wrestle With a Pig?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.--George Bernard Shaw "The advocates of X are jerks; therefore, X is false" is the classic ad hominem argument. But most of... MORE

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