Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: July 2010

An Author Archive by Month (30 entries)

How Bad Was Moral Relativism?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I just finished re-reading Paul Johnson's Modern Times.  According to Johnson, moral relativism was the root of all evil in the twentieth century.  I'm tempted to agree, but ultimately I doubt that meta-ethics played more than a supporting role in the statist horrors... MORE

"They'll Just Save It."

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
How many times have you heard the following argument in the last two years? Tax cuts/helicopter drops of cash/whatever won't stimulate demand.  People are too nervous to spend.  Whatever you give them, they'll just save it. The problem with this... MORE

Principles of Good Debating

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
While ghost-writing for the Conservative Missionary and the Libertarian Missionary, I found myself reflecting on the principles of good debating.  I realize that debating can just be a sophistical exercise.  But it doesn't have to be.  In fact, it has... MORE

Education, especially female education, seems to reduce fertility.  Economists standard explanation is that women's foregone earnings are the leading cost of children.  If you raise women's education, you raise their potential income; and as you raise their potential income, you... MORE

Marketing Liberty to Immigrants

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Libertarian Missionary remarked:It's possible that immigrants will vote to destroy the system that attracted them, but unlikely.  Immigrants come here because they prefer life here to life at home.  It wouldn't take a marketing genius to win them over... MORE

Economic Creationism

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
GMU's former chairman and economic educator extraordinaire Don Boudreaux:And It said "Let there be higher wages. And there was."[...]So why are so many people enthusiastic about statutes such as this one [the living wage]?Proponents of such legislation are economic creationists.... MORE

Drugs, Death, Censorship, and Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Singapore doesn't just execute drug dealers; it censors and arrests those who expose the ghoulish process:A veteran British journalist and author promoting his book on the death penalty in Singapore was arrested in the country today for alleged criminal defamation... MORE

Another nail in the coffin of Hong Kong's exceptionalism: Its first minimum wage law passed.Hong Kong's Legislative Council passed the Minimum Wage Bill on Saturday after a debate that lasted 41 hours. The law is set to take effect early... MORE

The Conservative Dissenter

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Convincing conservatives to legalize drugs is an uphill battle for the Libertarian Missionary.  But how about for the Conservative Dissenter - the conservative who tries to convince other conservatives to abandon the drug war?  I'm thinking of the late William... MORE

The Libertarian Missionary

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
You've already heard from the Conservative Missionary - the hypothetical conservative debater eager to convert libertarians to his side.  Now it's time for the Libertarian Missionary to take the podium. Why Conservatives Should Be LibertariansI agree with my conservative opponent... MORE

The Social Science of German Gaming

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Undercover Economist Tim Harford puts Germany's mighty gaming industry/culture under his detective's magnifying glass.  Here's five theories: human capital, weak competition from television, tradition/weirdness, low concentration ratios, and Great Man: "There are two schools of thought as to why the Germans... MORE

What's Wrong With Modern Times?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In my youth, I was a huge fan of Paul Johnson's Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Eighties.  His revised edition pleased me less, but I still loved the book.  But whenever I mentioned Modern Times to... MORE

The Conservative Missionary

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I had a blast at Wednesday's Libertarianism vs. Conservatism Debate at Cato.  It's great to see students who care enough about fundamental ideas to publicly argue about them.  Some attendees would have preferred a more focused topic, but I would... MORE

In response to my criticism, Arnold writes:So my challenge for Bryan (and for the rest of the profession, because I am the one who is out on a limb on this) is to come up with a definition of money... MORE

New Richter Podcast

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My new podcast on Eugen Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future is up.  The interviewer is the genteel Jeff Tucker, who spear-headed the republication of this neglected dystopian classic.... MORE

Sympathetic Self-Interest Quotes

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for a sympathetic quote about self-interest to open Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  The main quotes from Smith are too ponderous, and the main quotes from Rand are too off-putting.  Suggestions?Update: I think J. Daniel Wright's Hamlet... MORE

The Productiveness of Conversation: My Ranking

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Reading the Reason debate between Brink Lindsey, Jonah Goldberg, and Matt Kibbe inspired me to rank how productive I find conservations with the following groups.  #1 = "most productive"; #6 = "least productive":1. Libertarian economists2. Conservative economists3. Libertarian non-economists4. Liberal... MORE

Arnold, Money, and Nominal GDP

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Out of all of Arnold's macroeconomic views, only one strikes me as truly absurd: His skepticism about the ability of central banks to affect nominal GDP and other nominal variables.  The latest example:[A]n increase in the supply of money will... MORE

Last week, I posed the following challenge:[T]he inevitable existence of some statistical discrimination doesn't make the practice immune to criticism.  You can grant that it's OK to some degree, but - even if the law is silent - still limited... MORE

Say It Loud, Say It Proud

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you were in marketing, would you take this advice?1. To "raise the status of intelligence and analytical thinking," don't......stand for instrumental rationality, for Science, for attitudes which go beyond traditional religion, for the conquering of limits, for probabilistic reasoning,... MORE

Cloning v. Cryonics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Which is more outrageous: cloning yourself and raising the clone as your son, or freezing your head in hope of achieving immortality?  Why?... MORE

Why Hold Reserves?

Finance
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you see an individual, a bank, or a corporation sitting on a big pile of money.  What should you conclude?Theory #1: The actor has nothing good to spend it on.  The individual is satiated, at least relative to existing... MORE

Cryonics and the Hanson Family

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Wordsmith Kerry Howley has a great piece on the Hanson family and cryonics in the New York Times Magazine:"I'm just really terribly curious," Robin told me in January over Skype. "Cryonics isn't just living a little longer. It's also living... MORE

No matter what they say, everyone engages in statistical discrimination. (See also here).  Judging everyone as an individual is expensive, and relying on statistical generalizations is a cheap and effective alternative.  You don't clutch your purse when you see a... MORE

Willingham, Flow, and Why Students Don't Like School

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Willingham is a psychology prof at UVA and author of the American Educator's "Ask the Cognitive Scientist" column.  In Why Don't Student Like School, Willingham tries to popularize psychology's main lessons for practicing educators.  It's a fun read, and... MORE

So Why Don't Students Like School?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I just finished Why Don't Students Like School?  I'll review it shortly, but let me leak my leading complaint: The book is mistitled.  Frankly, it doesn't even try to explain why students don't like school.If you had to answer the... MORE

What I'm "Dogmatic" About

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Tyler recently wrote:If you're very dogmatic in one area, you may be less dogmatic in others.  I've also met people -- I won't name names -- who are extremely dogmatic on ethical issues but quite open-minded on empirics.  The ethical... MORE

What's the Worst War Since WWII?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
According to Reuters, it's the Second Congo War (1999-2003) aka Africa's World War and the Great War of Africa: (Reuters) - War, disease and malnutrition are killing 45,000 Congolese every month in a conflict-driven humanitarian crisis that has claimed 5.4... MORE

Bumps on the Treadmill

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
This piece in American Psychologist documents five weaknesses of the "hedonic treadmill" hypothesis:First, individuals' set points are not hedonically neutral. Second, people have different set points, which are partly dependent on their temperaments. Third, a single person may have multiple... MORE

The U.S. government does much more to abridge freedom of association than freedom of exclusion.  But I still think freedom of exclusion is worth defending.  Over at Cato Unbound, my friend David Bernstein has presented a libertarian defense of "the... MORE

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