Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: April 2009

An Author Archive by Month (40 entries)

Mueller's Theory, Wilkinson's Practice

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I've long remembered this passage from John Mueller's Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery:For generations (actually, for millenia) homosexuals have been persecuted both in democracies and nondemocracies, and their defining sexual activity has been routinely outlawed.  This tiny minority... MORE

Cry Panic!

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I quoted Scott Sumner: "I believe that the depression was caused by events that took place in September and October, when the markets actually crashed," and replied:I'm strongly tempted to second Scott.  My main proviso: He's got to let... MORE

SummarySome libertarians argue that the implications of libertarianism for foreign policy are unclear.  In this chapter, Rothbard argues that libertarianism implies strict "isolationism":Pending the dissolution of States, libertarians desire to limit, to whittle down, the area of government power in... MORE

When You Put It That Way, Scott...

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I can't believe how much excellent material Scott Sumner hides "below the fold."  A prime example: Whenever I read opinion pieces by almost any macroeconomist-- Keynesian, monetarist, new Classical, Austrian, etc, there is almost invariably a point where alarm bells go... MORE

Crisis Dialogue

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
My co-author Scott Beaulier shares a funny but informative dialogue with his lawyer here.  Excerpt:LAWYER: So you're an economist at Mercer?ME: Yep.LAWYER: What do you think of this crisis?ME: Well, I'm really concerned about the long-run effects it will have. ... MORE

Stocks, Flows, and Friendship

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
When a good friend hurts your feelings, what do you do?  I normally chalk it up to miscommunication, and silently forgive them in my heart.  But I seem to be in a minority here.  I often see friends grow apart... MORE

Szasz on the Turing Tragedy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I'm 89, I'll be grateful if I have a quarter of Szasz's insight and writing ability.  Here's his latest - the fascinating tragedy of mathematician and AI pioneer Alan Turning:In 1951 Turing... confessed to his homosexual affair and was... MORE

Why Do Married Men Make So Much Money?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
If you've ever played around with wage or income data, you've probably noticed that married men make a lot more money than every other combo of gender and status.  If your econometric model allows marriage to affect men's and women's... MORE

Caplan-Hanson Debate Video

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
You asked for it; now you've got it.  Thanks to the GMU Econ Society for doing the legwork.... MORE

When I tell parents that twin and adoption studies find small effects of nurture, they often respond, "That's OK.  I'm willing to make a big sacrifice to help my kids a small amount."Frankly, it's not clear what these parents have... MORE

Can Billions of Parents Be Wrong?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Gary asks the $10,000 question:Bryan, I'm mostly on board with Judith Harris's hypothesis, but one thing bothers me: why do parents believe so strongly that they can influence their children? Perhaps parents' intense efforts at influencing their... MORE

Best Ridicule of the Week

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
If, like Mike Huemer, you oppose both gun control and immigration restrictions, you'll appreciate this fine piece of ridicule from Chris Rasch:Just imagine what would happen if we relaxed gun laws. Poor people would buy guns. Uneducated people would buy... MORE

Do Parents Affect How Long You Live?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Parents - especially moms - spend a lot of time nagging their kids to eat right, get some fresh air and exercise, not smoke, etc.  If nagging changed behavior, and there is some validity to popular perceptions about "what's healthy,"... MORE

SummaryThis chapter, on "Conservation, Ecology, and Growth," is an early statement of free-market environmentalism.  It begins by ridiculing leftists' decades of contradictory complaints about capitalism: "Stagnation; deficient growth; overaffluence; overpoverty; the intellectual fashions changed like ladies' hemlines," and quoting one... MORE

A Trillion Nazis Versus the Trolley Problem

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Last week, I defended the usefulness of moral hypotheticals.  Last night, I dismissed trolley problems as "silly."  Fenn, an Econlog reader, is understandably puzzled: "Silly trolley problems?"Wasn't it just a coupla days ago you were talking about Nazis and defending... MORE

The Book Mike Huemer Should Write

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Here's a note I just sent Mike Huemer:Your latest essay is so wonderful that it gives me an idea:  You should write a book on applied ethics, with the immigration essay and the gun control essay as models.  Instead of... MORE

Is There a Right to Immigrate?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
That's the title question of philosopher Michael Huemer's latest essay.  Like his earlier piece, "Is There a Right to Own a Gun?,"  this is a masterpiece of applied ethics.  It begins with an explanation of the general concept of prima... MORE

Free Will and Behavioral Genetics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Behavioral geneticists (BGs) don't like to be called "genetic determinists."  "No, no, no," they protest, "all we've shown is that genes exert some influence.  Twin and adoption studies show that environment is important, too."  But what would they say if... MORE

Lee Kuan Yew's Immigration Contradiction

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Singapore is relatively open to immigration.  But Lee Kuan Yew has no apparent sympathy for the Vietnamese boat people:In the weeks before Saigon fell, a huge armada of small boats and ships packed with refugees set out across the South... MORE

Robin Hanson now has an official catechism.  A key passage:I need not accept all clients, but for the clients I do accept I work to suggest deals that, if accepted, would get them more of what they want, relative to... MORE

The more I think about Robin's position on efficiency, the more it puzzles me.  In his talk, he heavily emphasized economists' need to build an iron-clad reputation for "neutrality" in order to persuade a world full of non-economists who distrust... MORE

Sumner's Free Trade Example

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm pleased to see that Scott Sumner's not just a cool macroeconomist; he also moonlights as an economic philosopher.  Here's a challenge Sumner poses to me inspired by my debate with Robin: Assume that imports of Barbie dolls will eliminate... MORE

My choice: David Friedman's class on "Legal Systems Very Different From Ours."  Other suggestions? ... MORE

Who Loses From Efficiency?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
During last night's debate, Robin repeated an argument many economists have made: In the long-run, maximizing efficiency is actually better for everyone.  If we consistently adopt any policy with benefits greater than costs, then the times that you win will... MORE

Are Grotesque Hypotheticals Cheap Shots?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In my opening statement for last night's Caplan-Hanson Debate, I relied heavily on a couple of grostesque hypotheticals:...Robin endorses an endless list of bizarre moral claims.  For example, he recently told me that "the main problem" with the Holocaust was... MORE

SummaryA common reductio ad absurdum of libertarianism is that it implies anarchism.  Rothbard now eagerly bites this bullet.  Indeed, this chapter is the most detailed defense of anarcho-capitalism that he ever wrote.Rothbard begins by sketching how a free market would... MORE

Pre-Debate Disagreement

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In his promo for Tuesday's Caplan-Hanson debate, Robin writes:We don't actually disagree that much; basically we both like debates but couldn't find anyone else to debate us.  So we looked for something we sorta disagree on, and will at least... MORE

Singapore's Independence: What Was the Point?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In his From Third World to First, Lee Kuan Yew admits that his original political motivation was simply nationalism:The Japanese occupation... aroused my nationalism and self-respect, and my resentment at being lorded over.  My four years as a student in... MORE

Friedman vs. Doherty: Help Me Take a Side

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I had a strange feeling reading the latest Cato Unbound.  I find Patri Friedman completely convincing when he writes:Our brains have many specific adaptations tuned for the hunter-gatherer environment in which we evolved, which in some ways differs wildly from... MORE

The Banana Subsidy Bubble?

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Remember the Fable of the Banana Subsidy?  Government subsidizes bananas.  People buy a ton of bananas and store them on their roofs.  The bananas weigh so much that their roofs collapse.  Then people say, "It's the government's fault!" - which... MORE

Democracy: What We Want Is What We Get

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Today I got a wonderful coincidental birthday present: I met Patri Friedman.  I also got to enjoy his Cato Unbound essay on "Folk Activism."  It's highly recommended, but here's a passage I've got to criticize:In the modern world, however, bad... MORE

Will Obama Consider Geoengineering?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
EconLog readers will already be familiar with geoengineering.  Now Obama's science advisor says the idea on the table:John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is... MORE

Last week, Arnold approvingly quoted Tyler's one-sentence explanation of "systemic risk": If your banks are less risky, often something else is more risky, and vice versa. This morning it just occured to me that this is precisely the opposite of... MORE

From the Preface of My Next Book

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Who This Book Is For When I tell people that I'm writing a book called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, the most common response is, "Because they'll take care of you in your old age?"  Now's a good... MORE

SummaryIn this chapter, Rothbard advocates the abolition of publicly-owned streets and roads:Abolition of the public sector means, of course, that all pieces of land, all land areas, including streets and roads, would be owned privately, by individuals, corporations, cooperatives, or... MORE

Israel, Palestine, and the Enlightened Preference Approach

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I gave EconLog readers a primer on the "Enlightened Preference" approach to policy.  The key idea is that you give subjects two surveys.  The first tests objective knowledge; the second elicits policy preferences.  The idea is to... MORE

Hong Kong: The Envy of Lee Kuan Yew

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In Lee Kuan Yew's massive From the Third World to the First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000, there is only one country that he positively seems to envy: Hong Kong.  In his view, Hong Kong had a less favorable starting point... MORE

Joe Sacco's Palestine: Some Unanswered Questions

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Last year, I bought The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels, which in turn led me to buy dozens of its recommendations.  I'd like to blog virtually every one, but only a handful have enough social science to review at EconLog. ... MORE

Harris: The Postcard Version

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
For clarification, I sent Judy Harris one last email:Me: One last question.  Are the following two propositions a correct summary of your view? 1. Shared *family* environment has virtually no effect on personality or outcomes (income, education, health, etc.). AND... MORE

A Conversation With Judy Harris

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
[My apologies for formatting problems. Let me know if this still doesn’t look right. - B.C.] Since there was some disagreement about whether I was correctly interpreting Judy Harris‘  The Nurture Assumption, I decided to go straight to the source. ... MORE

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