Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: May 2010

An Author Archive by Month (54 entries)

Arts, Sciences, and the Future

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Robin Hanson has repeatedly told me that during the next million years, we'll discover all useful science/technology; there's only so much to know, and by then, we'll have it all figured out.  But would Robin see art the... MORE

Counterstereotypical Fact of the Day

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Hispanic men have markedly higher labor force participation rates than white non-Hispanic and Asian men.... MORE

Partners and Liberty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Assortative mating increases family resemblance.  Given my interest in strategic libertarian fertility, then, this suggests another survey question:If you self-identify as a libertarian, please let me know if your spouse/ significant other does as well.Please share.  My answer is in... MORE

How Liberty Runs in Families (I Think)

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to everyone who responded to my Zac Gochenour-inspired poll on parents, children, and libertarianism.  Most of the responses seem consistent with Zac's initial doubts: I'm trying to determine if "strategic fertility" is nonsense or not. I find it one... MORE

Quibble with Crook on Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I was puzzled when Clive Crook wrote: "Public spending is lower in the US, but not vastly lower once you remember to add state and local spending to federal outlays; the US healthcare anomaly accounts for a lot of the... MORE

How Dems and Reps Differ: Clive Crook Edition

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Clive Crook's cynical view of America's liberal-conservative divide mirrors my own.  Quoth Crook:Progressives and conservatives alike call the United States a "free-market economy": both sides have an interest in perpetuating this delusion. The idea is ridiculous - as ridiculous as... MORE

Krugman Between the Lines

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I'm officially pronouncing Scott Sumner the master of Krugman exegesis.  Two gems (the first level quotes are me quoting Sumner, the second level quotes are me quoting Sumner quoting Krugman):OK, let's have some fun with this golden oldie from 2005:... MORE

Parents, Children, and Liberty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One crucial assumption behind strategic libertarian fertility is that the viewpoint actually runs in families.  Incoming GMU Ph.D. student Zac Gochenour's skeptical.  On Facebook, he posed the following questions: [1] If you self-identify as libertarian, please let me know if... MORE

In response to my recent reflections on liberty in the long-run, Patri Friedman defends seasteading over strategic fertility:As an avowed natalist, I am certainly not going to object to advocating for libertarians to have more kids.  I would love libertarians... MORE

Retirement Policy Question

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Is there any country on earth that partly bases retirement benefits on the retirees' number of children?... MORE

Ever Hear of the Civil Rights Act of 1875?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Me neither:The act was passed by Congress in February, 1875 and signed by President Grant on March 1, 1875. It was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1883... The Act guaranteed that everyone, regardless of race, color, or... MORE

"Why Are Jews Liberals?" Symposium

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The highlight of this symposium on Norman Podhoretz's Why Are Jews Liberals? comes from Michael Medved.  It's almost Hansonian in its crude reductionism, and fits the facts better than the other stories:For most American Jews, the core of their Jewish... MORE

How Libertarian Was the Civil Rights Movement?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Rand Paul is in the news for expressing (and then apparently recanting) what I've long seen as the standard libertarian view of civil rights legislation: 1. Government discrimination should be illegal.2. Private discrimination should be legal.3. Private discrimination is immoral.In... MORE

Conscientiousness and Poverty: African Edition

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I praised Rothbard's view that low conscientiousness is a major cause of poverty.  Today Nicholas Kristof discusses especially grisly African examples:[I]f the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes... MORE

If Only: A Review of Arthur Brooks' The Battle

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
According to Arthur Brooks' latest book, The Battle, a vocal social democratic minority in U.S. politics keeps foisting its misguided policies on a solid free-market majority:Whether we look at capitalism, taxes, business, or government, the data show a clear and... MORE

Liberal Conflation

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Academic political philosophers use the word "liberalism" in a way that would baffle almost anyone else.  (See here and here).  Who counts?  Virtually all the thinkers that normal Americans would call "liberal" + mainstream thinkers who call themselves "conservatives" and... MORE

Liberty in the Long Run

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The last topic in the last lecture of my Public Choice class is the "transition problem."  Suppose you accept that radical libertarianism would be a big improvement over the status quo, and stable once established.  How do we get from... MORE

If You Never Miss a Plane...

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
George Stigler famously observed, "If you never miss a plane, you're spending too much time at the airport."  I heard that he wasn't amused by his secretary's corollary,  "If you never make a typo, you're typing too slow."  But he... MORE

Cato Memories

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Thinking about this Friday's Cato Intern Alumni Reunion is making me nostalgic.  I worked in the legendary think tank's old building (yes, the old building!) in the summer of 1991.  It was an amazing experience.  The highlights of my youthful... MORE

Murphy's Law

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Economist Bob Murphy volunteered to help with Haitian earthquake relief.  It's quite a story.  The peak:[T]he Haitians who interacted with our base was that the locals viewed us with suspicion. In particular, when they would see a team of HODR... MORE

The Fed and the Euro

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
CNBC says that Ron Paul blames the Fed's loose money for the Euro's troubles.  Umm, doesn't expansionary Fed policy raise the value of the Euro?  Is there any mechanism under which this makes sense?  Or is Paul's view being misstated? ... MORE

I wrote:Who reasonably expects to gain? On Buchanan's view, the answer should be, "everyone" or "almost everyone."John Thacker responds: But surely it doesn't make sense to expect this to be true of every individual clause, even fully subscribing to Buchanan's... MORE

Magna Carta Club, Part 1

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
The chief goal of the Magna Carta club is to race Buchanan's "veil of ignorance" view of constitutions against my "lock-in political advantage" view.  I don't deny that Buchanan's view has some real-world relevance, but I doubt it's significant.  Don't... MORE

Magna Carta Club Update

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
I've learned that there are actually several different versions of the Magna Carta.  I originally linked to the 1225 version with 37 clauses, but I think it would be more interesting to stick to the original 1215 version with 63... MORE

Food Pessimism and Liberty: Rhetoric I'll Bet Against

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Tyler makes a strong case that libertarians should take "the new food pessimism" seriously:The Julian Simon-savvy crowd that reads MR might not be so impressed, but I wouldn't write off these worries so quickly...  Note that agriculture and land markets are... MORE

Back in 2008, some of my favorite economists argued that unemployment wouldn't rise much, even if there were a big nominal shock.  Why not?  "Labor markets are more flexible than they used to be."  Why?  That was a little hazy,... MORE

Health Insurance, Kids, and Cut-Rate Coverage

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Many employer health plans cover kids for zero or near-zero marginal cost.  This anomaly came up years ago on my now-defunct Armchair Economists' Listserv, and no one had a really good explanation.  Now, as you might have heard, Obamacare has... MORE

Magna Carta Club

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
In my Public Choice lecture on Constitutions, I challenged Buchanan's real (not merely hypothetical) "veil of ignorance" view. My claim:There may be some constitutional rules where a veil of ignorance applies...  But most constitutional rules are about permanently locking in... MORE

Choosing the Right Neighborhood

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
To me, it's obvious that parents often choose neighborhoods in order to affect their kids' long-run outcomes.  True, they rarely wake up in the morning and say, "Let's move to a higher-income neighborhood to boost Billy's adult income."  But when... MORE

Weight Classes for Prisons Revisited

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
I've learned that I'm not the only person to propose weight classes for prisons.  Here's Philip Ellenbogen in the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems:As discussed earlier in this section, a victim of prison rape is often much smaller... MORE

Marginally Less Unreasonable

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Bob Murphy sees a contradiction between my 2008 Bayesian commitment on TARP, my 2009 probability adjustment, and my current views.  In 2008, I said that if the economy tanked, "I still won't be convinced [that TARP is a good idea],... MORE

Extra-curricular Signaling in An Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's a scene from An Education too good not to include in The Case Against Education:Jenny [girl in high school]: I've got an English essay to do by tomorrow morning.Dad: Right. So, the only sound I want to hear coming... MORE

Shooting War

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Shooting War is a dystopian graphic novel written in 2007... about the world of 2011.  You might think you'd need more than four years' distance to make dystopia credible, but the book does a marvelous job.  It's mostly set in... MORE

Bailouts: When Will They End?

Fiscal Policy
Bryan Caplan
I've been against bail-outs from the beginning.  So should have all economists.  It's reasonable to debate the merits of contracyclical monetary policy.  It's not reasonable to debate the merits of rewarding failure on a grand scale.Alas, in "practical politics" almost... MORE

Bizarre Tales from the Delivery Room

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've cross-examined doctors before, but never like this!  Offsetting Behavior's Eric Crampton remained enough of an economist to argue with the anaesthesiologist while awaiting the delivery of his second child:There was some risk that Sue might wind up needing a... MORE

The Economic Philosophy of Child Abuse

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
When is loss of custody a morally acceptable response to child abuse?  To clarify the issue, assume (a) the child is too young to express a preference; and (b) the decision-maker faithfully but fallibly follows whatever standard you pick.Then consider... MORE

Happy Mother's Day: EconLog Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The sections based on "Parenthood As the Trump of all Past Regret" and "The Lorelai Paradox" might not make the final cut in Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, but these two posts are still among my favorites.  Happy Mother's... MORE

Why Not? Weight Classes for Prisons

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Why do we have separate men's and women's prisons?  You don't have to envision the alternative for long to have your answer: Co-ed prisons would be a living hell of rape and brutality. Or perhaps I should say: Even more... MORE

After 9/11: America's War on Terror (2001-)

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
If you want a quick, painless, reasonable, graphic history of America's War on Terror, I recommend After 9/11: America's War on Terror (2001-).  It's too mainstream for my taste, and I would have preferred more of an international perspective.  But... MORE

A Certain Misperception

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, I just posed the following question:Bryan Caplan is less certain about most things than others believe him to be.  What's the source of the misperception?My starting hypothesis: People confuse bluntness with certainty.If you question the premise, remember: A... MORE

The Journal I'd Most Want to Edit

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I think Sumner's being tongue-in-check, but here's his genuinely good idea for a new journal:Most economists obviously disagree with me.  The top economists are constantly making predictions that violate the EMH.  OK, then why not set up a new journal, the... MORE

IQ and Immigration: Only a Slight Caricature

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Mr. Human Biodiversity: The average IQ of immigrants from Mexico is 11 points less than ours.  Therefore, let's hunt them down like animals and cast them back into the fiery chasm from whence they came!Dr. Mainstream Intellectual: Only a monster... MORE

Public Choice Outreach 2010

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
The Public Choice Outreach seminar is back!  The dates: August 13-15, at GMU.  It's a great chance to learn Virginia political economy straight from the horses' mouths.  The speakers aren't set yet, but I'll probably be one of them.  The... MORE

Libertarians for Obama: Time for Hindsight

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The penultimate post of the Libertarians for Obama blog (it packed up on November 9, 2008), sure sounds naive in retrospect.  After the author writes, "I encourage my fellow libertarians, no matter who they supported, to join me in the... MORE

Is Obama Libertarians' Fault?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
My hardest-line Republican friend has been blaming libertarians for Obama's election since November, 2008.  His story in a nutshell: Faced with a choice between Obama and McCain, libertarians chose the greater evil out of spite.  All along, I've been thinking:... MORE

The Further Fact-Checking of Garett Jones

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My colleage Garett Jones points out that the "one-third of Greeks work for the government" factoid appeared almost verbatim in a May 1 NYT piece, and still hasn't been corrected: The government's proposals for deep spending cuts pushed by the... MORE

The Fact-Checking of Garett Jones

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My admirable colleage Garett Jones points out that according to my source for German government employment, Greek government employment is only 14% of the labor force, not a third as the New York Times originally reported.The NYT apparently deleted the... MORE

How Should Editors Treat Luis Angeles?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Luis Angeles nobly confessed to a serious coding error in his paper on kids and happiness.  At least to me, that's a (moderately) negative signal of competence and a (strongly) positive signal of honesty.  If you were a journal editor,... MORE

The (Potential) Enemies List: Two Thoughts

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks for all your comments on my "enemies list."  Two thoughts:1. Many thanks to Sam for pointing out Luis Angeles' retraction.  Since the thrust of my discussion of kids and happiness is that the observed effect is negative but small,... MORE

What's the Greek Economy Really Like?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner was talking about Greece months before its fiscal woes put it on the front page.  This passage was so vivid it stuck with me:Before delving into the numbers, I'd like to first try to dissuade you from thinking... MORE

In 12th grade, I took a one-semester economics course.  My high school didn't have A.P. econ (though I took the test on my own initiative), so the course was a little dumbed down.  Actually, to be blunt, the teacher didn't... MORE

The (Potential) Enemies List

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I expect Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to be controversial.  In fact, I think it will have enemies.  I'm going to stick to my policy of unilateral friendliness, but I'd still like to improve my forecast of who's going... MORE

May Day Remembrance 2010

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
It's once again May Day, and therefore once again time for grateful bloggers to dance on the grave of Marxism.  As usual, Jonathan Wilde of Distributed Republic has volunteered to be lead choreographer of this annual May Day Remembrance.  My... MORE

What If Lenin's Stroke Came Five Years Sooner?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In November, 1917, Lenin overthrew the first democratically elected government in Russian history.  In May, 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, finally dying in January, 1924.  What would have happened if Lenin had a fatal stroke in mid-1917?It's... MORE

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