Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: March 2010

An Author Archive by Month (49 entries)

Mish Bet Redux

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Here's Mish's take on our unemployment bet.  Frankly, he's got a pretty funny model of the economy.  When Mish writes...There is always a chance that some new technological revolution will happen to undermine my pessimistic scenario. Certainly a development in... MORE

Balan and the Deserving Poor

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In last week's debate, David Balan surprisingly endorsed the old-fashioned view that only the "deserving" poor are entitled to taxpayer assistance.  As the debate proceeded, however, he admitted that in the real world, a lot of undeserving poor would receive... MORE

Relieving the Extreme Tension in Caplanian Thought

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen says he's found "the extreme tension in Caplanian thought":Bryan loves to stress the heritability of intelligence, income, and even life expectancy, among other variables.  But how can your parents be your fault?  This is a fundamental tension in... MORE

My Alternate Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
After I wrote my opening statement for my debate with David Balan, I was suddenly tempted to start over.  My thinking: Since the resolution is, "Significant governmental involvement in health care is both economically sensible and morally just," maybe I... MORE

Means-Testing and Status Quo Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a big fan of means-testing the welfare state, but many of my favorite people disagree.  I've got a challenge for these hold-outs.  Here goes:Right now we already means-test a lot of programs, such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing... MORE

Bad Predictions, Durant Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
As Niels Bohr remarked, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."  Here's a 1968 howler from the Durants' The Lessons of History:In the United States the lower birth rate of the Anglo-Saxons has lessened their economic and political power;... MORE

What Do We Owe the Deserving Sick?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The main recurring question in the comments on the Separation of Health and State Debate: What do we owe the deserving sick?Garett Harmon writes:Specifically, I feel like you sort of sidestepped the issue of what to do about people that... MORE

Debate Reactions?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I had a blast at the Separation of Health and State Debate.  If you didn't attend, video will be posted in the near future.  If you did attend, I'd like to hear your reactions - and the best questions that... MORE

How Many Employers Will Stop Providing Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Why is employer-provided health insurance so prevalent?  Economists usually point to the tax code.  Cash is taxed; health benefits aren't.  One interesting side effect of Obamacare is that it's going to put the standard view to the test.How so?  If... MORE

My Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Here's my opening statement for today's Separation of Health and State Debate.  Hope to see you there! Why We Should Separate Health and State Government already plays such a large role in health care that it may be hard to... MORE

Do All Libertarians Sound Alike?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
An old cliche tell us that "All the music you don't like sounds alike."  Does the same hold in politics?  Does everyone on "the other side" sound the same?They don't to me.  Krugman, Rawls, Marx, and Lenin are all left-wing... MORE

Michael Cannon's Brave Bet

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm impressed: Cato's Michael Cannon bet Karen Davenport, and let her adjudicate the outcome:I bet Davenport $20 that I could convince her that the following two claims are true:We agreed on three rules.  First, there would be no splitting the difference or... MORE

David Balan's Opening Statement

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
David Balan asked me to post his opening statement for tomorrow's Separation of Health and State Debate.  Enjoy!  I'll post mine at midnight tonight. Thanks to Bryan for agreeing to this debate, and for letting me post my opening statement... MORE

Irrational Partisans

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just came across another fine essay by Brink Lindsey.  Highlight:First, partisanship undermines clear thinking. Second, it undermines moral integrity. In both cases, the root cause is the same: the conflation of friend and foe with right and wrong. Consider... MORE

Obamacare: What the Future Holds

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The "Affordable Health Care for America" timeline that Arnold shared is... interesting.  Assuming that its seven pages accurately summarize the multi-kilopage bill (a big if), four measures stand out.1. It provides "immediate access to insurance for uninsured individuals with a... MORE

Question for Left-Libertarians

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Obamacare penalizes firms that don't provide health insurance.  If a firm has fewer than 50 employees, however, it's exempt:Requires employers with 50 or more employees who do not offer coverage to their employees to pay $2,000 annually for each fullā€time... MORE

Hard-core libertarians often describe themselves as "isolationists."  As Murray Rothbard argued:Pending the dissolution of States, libertarians desire to limit, to whittle down, the area of government power in all directions and as much as possible... In foreign affairs, the goal... MORE

Mish Bet

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I'm back from the Kansas City econobloggers' conference.  My personal highlight: I managed to extract a bet from Mike Shedlock, a.k.a. Mish.  On the fiscal crisis panel, Mish predicted high unemployment for the next ten years.  This provoked a lot... MORE

Obamacare Market

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Can anyone explain what happened in the Obamacare betting market over the past 24 hours?  Why did it fall from near 70, close at 35.1, then rebound to 65.1?... MORE

My Book List

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The fifteen books that influenced my thinking the most, in chronological order:1. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  While I ultimately didn't learn much of substance, this book got me very excited about about ideas.  Nietzsche's vision of discovering the truth,... MORE

The Spread of Szaszian Economics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I was thrilled to publish "The Economics of Szasz" in Rationality and Society, and even more thrilled to win a Szasz Prize as a result.  But I can't say the paper had much influence on the economics profession.  I'm very... MORE

"Everyone" Does Not Equal "Most Everyone"

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Robin replies to my recent post on Hanson's Fallacy:Few deals can guarantee to get everyone more of what they want, but by encouraging and enabling more better wider deals, the use of efficiency analysis sure seems to me to tend... MORE

Haidt Responds

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Don't miss Jon Haidt's response to my questions.  It's in the comments, but I reproduce it here in its entirety. Dear Bryan, and other commentators: The question you ask is one of the most important ones we've been trying to... MORE

Hanson's Fallacy

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson is probably the most logical mind I know, so it pains me when he keeps insisting that:As an analysis tool, economic efficiency is designed and well-suited to finding win-win deals that get us all more of what we... MORE

Kauffman Economics Bloggers Forum

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I'll be attending the Kauffman Economics Bloggers Forum in Kansas City on Friday.  You can watch the whole conference here.  I'm not on any of the panels, but I expect I'll be raising my hand quite a bit. :-)... MORE

I recommend Bloom and van Reenen's 2010 JEP piece on "Why Do Management Practices Differ Across Firms and Countries?"  The paper is mis-titled, but excellent nonetheless.  Its main mission is to measure management practices, then describe how they vary -... MORE

Haidt's Bet

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm impressed to learn that Haidt backed up his Five Foundations theory with his own cash.  The offer expired on August 1, 2009, but it ran for two years:IF ANYONE CAN DEMONSTRATE THE EXISTENCE OF AN ADDITIONAL FOUNDATION, OR SHOW... MORE

Liberal Puritanism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Jason Malloy points out that Jon Haidt recently added a battery of questions to test liberal puritanism.  Here's Haidt's explanation:At Yourmorals.org we have always found that scores on the Purity/sanctity foundation are higher on the political right... MORE

Will's latest blogging on Jonathan Haidt's "five foundations" theory of morals inspires me to publicly ask Haidt a question that's been bugging me: How hard did you try to include items about Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity that would specifically appeal... MORE

The Consumer Satisfaction Standard

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
For the past few years, social scientists have been arguing over the One True Measure of consumer welfare.  Most economists still cling to the Demonstrated Preference Standard: If A buys X, then X makes A better off by definition.  Psychologists... MORE

Socrates Meets Deficit Neutrality

Fiscal Policy
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw tries his hand at Socratic dialog.  It begins:Friend: I am going to take off a few days from work and fly down to Bermuda for a quick vacation.You: But isn't that expensive?  Won't that just add to your growing... MORE

Two Questions for Orszag

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I've got two questions for Peter Orszag:1.  You claim that education and age differences explain the entire difference in average pay between federal employers and other workers.  Does "average pay" include benefits?  The salary gap reported in USA Today was... MORE

Separation of Health and State Debate

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
David Balan and I are going to debate "the Separation of Health and State" before the GMU Econ Society.  The time: Wednesday, March 24, at 5 PM.  The place: Fairfax campus of GMU, Enterprise 80.  The resolution:Significant governmental involvement in... MORE

The App Most Likely to Make Me Get an iPhone

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Time/happiness diaries just got a lot easier: There's now a Track Your Happiness app for the iPhone.  How does it work? Answer a few questions First we'll ask you some questions for statistical purposes. This will take about 10 minutes.... MORE

Richter Contra "New Socialist Man"

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Bryan Caplan
The classic argument against socialism is that it gives people bad incentives.  What's the point of working, conserving, saving, quality control, and/or taking out the garbage if they don't pay?  The classic socialist reply is that capitalism creates the selfishness... MORE

Working: The Graphic Novel

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Readers familiar with my fondness for graphic novels will know that when I recommend the graphic novelization of Studs Terkel's Working, it's no snub.  In the original book, first published in 1972, Terkel interviewed people in a wide variety of... MORE

But Voters Might Run With Their Feet

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I'm convinced that in case of fiscal crisis, voters will indeed "sit on their hands."  I'm willing to believe, however, that voters might still run with their feet.  As Tim Kane puts it, "What if they had a fiscal crisis,... MORE

Sumner Gets Blockian

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Walter Block on measuring economic freedom:[I]t has long been my experience that whenever any person reasonably but not fully sophisticated in economics sees the findings of these studies [of economic freedom], he invariably objects on the ground that his own... MORE

Life Without Lies

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Invention of Lying spoilers!]The supposed premise of The Invention of Lying is that human beings never evolved the ability to lie.  While I greatly enjoyed the movie - it's the best cinematic critique of religion since Life of Brian... MORE

How Many Times Must We Bury Behaviorism?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I noticed continued resistance to survey evidence in the comments.  Frankly, it's hard to believe there's anyone left in social science who doesn't take surveys seriously.  Friedman's original arguments against survey evidence were half-baked, and no one's come up with... MORE

Yes, Voters Will Sit on Their Hands

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
David quotes my long-time friend Veronique de Rugy:Unless we believe that younger voters will sit on their hands while their future payouts are slashed and their taxes are hiked to pay for the benefits of current retirees, then entitlements will... MORE

Boudreaux's Bet

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Don Boudreaux has proposed a clever bet on health care spending with Peter Orszag and Nancy-Ann DeParle:If the House passes a health-reform bill this year and the Senate adopts that bill through reconciliation, pick any year in the... MORE

How the Hive Mind Works

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Garett Jones is working on a book called Hive Mind: Why Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own.  I thought about his project while reading Robert Gordon's article "Everyday Life as an Intelligence Test."  One... MORE

I could be wrong, but it seems like one of left-libertarians' main goals is to salvage populism.  Most libertarians condemn the public's anti-market reflexes.  Left-libertarians reply, in essence, is: "It's only natural for the public to condemn the unholy alliance... MORE

The W.D. Ross Club?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw's latest paper takes the ethical significance of merit (or, as he calls it, "Just Deserts") seriously.  I'm tempted to propose that the two of us become the founding members of a W.D. Ross Club.  Its purpose: to promote the... MORE

Richman Link

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
FYI: Sheldon Richman's talk is up.... MORE

My Anti-Globalization Stereotype

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I thought this comment was interesting:Bryan Caplan's rejection is based entirely on his own stereotype of 'anti-globalization types.' The fact is that many of the college-age students who join such rallies and events are there because they perceive big business... MORE

Should Libertarians Oppose "Capitalism"?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my long-time friend Sheldon Richman spoke before the GMU Econ Society on "Capitalism versus the Free Market."  (The video was streamed here, but it doesn't seem to be archived anywhere; if you've got a link, please let us know). ... MORE

Reflections on The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Normally I dislike movies based on true stories, but The Baader-Meinhof Complex was fascinating.  It's a history of the Baader-Meinhof gang, also known as the Red Army Faction - and as far as I can tell, the movie sticks very... MORE

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