Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: November 2010

An Author Archive by Month (39 entries)

The Politics and Economics of Julian Assange

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Forbes' interview with Wikileaks editor Julian Assange:Would you call yourself a free market proponent? Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in,... MORE

Illegal immigrants are one of the few groups that modern Americans openly despise.  Indeed, most people can't even say "illegal immigrants" without sneer italics.  Illegal immigrants are also one of the few groups that effectively can't sue their employers for... MORE

Greens, The Road, and Left Behind

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
When I watched The Road, it seemed nearly apolitical.  At the most abstract level, you could take it as a defense of Hobbes against Locke.  But it's hard to see how liberals, conservatives, libertarians, or anyone else would see it... MORE

Grisly Statistical Discrimination in The Road

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Last night I saw The Road, a truly bleak post-apocalyptic movie.  [Warning: Minor spoilers.]  As I watched, I realized that I was witnessing a mighty counter-example to my views on the propriety of statistical discrimination.  In the movie, about 80%... MORE

The Stages of Libertarian Denial

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Libertarians set themselves apart from other political thinkers by habitually denying that government should do things.  Denial is therefore at the heart of libertarian thought.  Thanks to pop psychology, unfortunately, "denial" has come to mean "refusing to admit the truth"... MORE

Will Eisner's The Plot

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I've repeatedly heard that the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery.  But it was only in reading Will Eisner's The Plot that I came to understand the kind of forgery it is.   Protocols was proven to... MORE

Caplan-Miller in the WSJ

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Wall St. Journal carefully summarizes our work on IQ and economic beliefs: The authors found that intelligence supplanted education as the primary predictor of whether one took an economist's typical point of view. Education moved into second place, followed... MORE

Sociology and Signaling

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Back in 1995, I attended an IHS seminar for graduate students.  We heard some lectures, practiced our public speaking, and did mock interviews.  The last activity was pretty traumatic.  It's hard for a second-year grad student to role-play someone who's... MORE

Why Not Raise the Stakes?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, rapscallion poses an interesting challenge:The bets I've seen placed on this site are so small in value that they don't tell me much other than that none of the bloggers believe in anything with much certainty. A... MORE

Arnold Kling, Noble in Defeat

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Today I cashed my victory check from my election bet with Arnold Kling.  Now it's time to honor him.  Not only did my esteemed co-blogger promptly pay up; he had the courage and honesty to publicly bet in the first... MORE

Cliches of Anti-Pacifism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm a pacifist.  I realize that it's an unpopular position, but I'm still surprised by how quick people are to dismiss the position with cliches.  Here are three of the most common.1. "If you want peace, prepare for war."  This... MORE

In Defense of Supernanny

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I discovered Supernanny when my sons were infants.  I watched in disbelief when Jo Frost reformed monstrous children simply by putting them in "the naughty corner."  But once our infants became toddlers, we gave the naughty corner a try.  To... MORE

Austrians and hard-core libertarians usually jointly dismiss monetary and fiscal policy.  But among more moderate economists, there's a long-standing tendency for pro-market views to correlate with a preference for monetary over fiscal policy.  Friedman and Samuelson are the classic examples:... MORE

Fade-out, Teacher Quality, and Summer Learning Loss

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Getting students to learn is hard.  One of teachers' favorite consolations, though, is that "If I can just get through to these kids, it will all be worth it."  The hope, apparently, is that successful teaching will permanently changes students'... MORE

What I Learned From the Crisis

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
At yesterday's lunch, Tyler asked us to name the most important lesson we learned from the crisis of 2008.  My answer: The Fed is much worse than I thought.  I used to think we could trust an economist of Bernanke's... MORE

The Sumnerian Missionary

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner's written an impressive open letter to conservatives on quantitative easing.  The conclusion is particularly good:I don't think conservatives realized it at the time, but I (and a few other quasi-monetarists) had the strongest argument against fiscal stimulus in late... MORE

The Economy the American Curriculum Prepares You For

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A common argument in favor of American education is that it exposes students to a wide variety of career options.  How are kids supposed to decide their course in life if they don't know their choices?  Unfortunately, this argument has... MORE

The Science of Success

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} My editor at Die Welt Am Sonntag just gave me permission to share the... MORE

Ich Auf Deutsch

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Die Welt Am Sonntag ran my first German-language article a couple weeks ago.  It's an original piece, written by me in English, and translated by their staff.  Some highlights in English: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table... MORE

Television Defended

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Russ Robert's not impressed by my claim that T.V. is great for the family.  My three main arguments, to refresh your memory:1. Television is fun.  I don't want my son to miss out on one of life's great... MORE

Drug War Debate Bleg

Regulation
Bryan Caplan
The GMU Econ Society wants me to debate the drug war in the spring, but I can't think of any decent debating partners.  The ideal opponent is a smart, civil, high-status prohibitionist who lives in the DC area.Your suggestions?... MORE

China, India, and Maoist Apologists

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I do not reply to email from Nazi or Communist apologists.  I don't even write back to say, "I refuse to dignify your email with a response," because that would be a response.  I regard the defenders of totalitarianism as... MORE

Why T.V. is Great for the Family

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my baby acquired a valuable life skill: He learned how to watch television.  I'm thrilled for at least three reasons:1. Television is fun.  I don't want my son to miss out on one of life's great pleasures.2. Television is... MORE

Philosophical Correlations

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Public opinion research on philosophers was long in coming, but the results have been worth the wait.  Here are a bunch of tables summarizing the correlations between philosophers' positions.  Some are surprisingly low considering that they're near-tautological.  "Moral judgment: cognitivism"... MORE

Labor Quality and Multiplicative Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
I'm open to the possibility that variables besides policy, population, and science belong in a multiplicative growth model.  But labor quality - the variable that Clark emphasizes in A Farewell to Alms - just isn't very important.  Sure, you can't... MORE

Here's Greg Clark on growth over at Cato Unbound:I fully agree with McCloskey about the surprisingly poor ability of incentives alone to account for growth. In order to hold on to the central idea that the 10,000-year delay in the... MORE

Ozimek's Challenge to Paternalists

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Is paternalism a slippery slope or not?  People like Thaler insist that it's not.  Adam Ozimek ingeniously explains why disbelievers keep missing the evidence that the slippery slope is all too real.  Evidence like... San Francisco's ban on the Happy... MORE

I'm all in favor of speculation on questions where the data are unclear or non-existent.  But if excellent data exists on a question of interest, we should consult it.  The General Social Survey has been asking Americans "Do you think... MORE

Group-Serving Bias: Bloodlands Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Bloodlands documents the most horrifying single example of group-serving bias I've ever read.  Fair warning: This is not for the faint of heart.In October 1941, Mahileu became the first substantial city in occupied Soviet Belarus where almost all Jews were... MORE

The Long Last Stand

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold cites Karl Smith's "demographic data that support my last-stand-of-the-WORST pre-mortem of the election."  But even on a naive extrapolation of Karl's data, this "last stand" will last decades:Democrats only won the two youngest age brackets.  In twenty years, they'll... MORE

Who Said It?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
This view of democracy is less cheery than the romantic alternatives, and thus less appealing. Its skepticism raises a host of new questions. And it may impose an obligation on those who propound it to make normative sense of the... MORE

The Fed's new policies are arguably as important as the election itself.  How can we explain the timing?  There are two main families of hypotheses:Family #1: The election changed the minds of Bernanke and company.Family #2: Bernanke and company made... MORE

Nutter Russia

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Warren Nutter (1923-1979) was a prescient detractor of the Soviet economy.  Only today, though, did I learn (through my colleague David Levy) that Nutter actually toured the USSR in 1956 - and shared his observations in U.S. News and World... MORE

Roosevelt and Retrospective Voting

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just finished V.O. Key's 1966 classic, The Responsible Electorate.  It's a seminal work in the retrospective voting literature.  Key tries to convince his fellow political scientists that democracy works well because the electorate rewards success and punishes failure.  He's... MORE

Yesterday I presented two explanations for the Democrats' loss of the House:1. Retrospective voting model.  They're being punished for two years of bad economic performance.2. The median voter model.  They're being punished for being well to the left of public... MORE

Election Pre-Mortem

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
There are two standard social science stories about the Democrats' impending humiliation:1. Retrospective voting model.  They're being punished for two years of bad economic performance.2. The median voter model.  They're being punished for being well to the left of public... MORE

Pre-Gloat

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tomorrow is my first of ten chances to win my bet against one-party democracy with Arnold:Republicans will regain control of at least one branch of the federal government at some point between now and January 20, 2017 (two inaugurations from... MORE

Helpful Illusions

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
While I think we have a duty to believe what is true, it's possible for widespread errors to have good consequences.  Attempting to murder someone doesn't cause your head to explode.  But the world would be a better place if... MORE

Mandela and the Communists

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm finding Invictus surprisingly watchable despite its over-the-top depiction of Nelson Mandela as a living saint.  Given my contrarian ways, the movie inspired to search out the inevitably more sordid truth.  The most damning fact on Mandela's public record, in... MORE

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