Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: April 2012

An Author Archive by Month (26 entries)
Jason Brennan replies to the critics of bleeding-heart libertarianism, most notably David Friedman.  David feels like he's nailing jelly to a wall:My complaint about the BHL, as may be obvious from the exchanges now going on, is that they insist... MORE

Highlights from "Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?"

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to the half dozen people who sent me copies of Cowen's "Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?"  The paper's even better than I remember.  Highlights:The puzzle, courtesy of the great Tullock:I start with what Gordon Tullock (1994) has... MORE

"Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?" Bleg

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
"Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?" is one of my favorite Tyler Cowen papers.  It's on my graduate Public Choice syllabus.  Unfortunately, it has strangely disappeared from the Internet - and Tyler himself can't easily locate the paper.  If... MORE

Is Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism Evil?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Todd Seavey's awfully unhappy about the rise of bleeding-heart libertarianism.  He begins by describing his recent experience with bleeding-heart non-libertarians:I saw a lecture by (charming, charismatic, funny) Brown professor of Africana studies Tricia Rose last night, and it was a... MORE

The Argument from Hypocrisy

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I think Will Wilkinson failed to understand Matt Zwolinski's argument about the significance of the miniscule level of voluntary donations to the U.S. government.  But this is also an ideal time to defend a related, underrated argument.  I call it... MORE

Calvin Coolidge Channels Lysander Spooner

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Matt Yglesias amusingly mocked Calvin Coolidge's note cards in this video, but the actual speech is remarkable.  The President of the United States sounds only two or three steps short of Lysander Spooner:Taxes take from everyone a part of his... MORE

Why Are Donations to Government So Small?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
My new baby has delayed my intended post on the Matt Zwolinski-Will Wilkinson debate, but late is better than never.  Matt kicked it off:[W]hile government is, in principle, able to do some good, there are very often (almost always?) superior... MORE

Ideas Have Consequences, Valeria Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Valeria Jacqueline Caplan, my first daughter, my fourth child, was born one day early yesterday.  Baby and mother are both doing very well.  As usual, I welcome my child's birth with a reading from the book of Julian Simon:One spring... MORE

Robin Channels Epicurus

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The great Epicurus:Yet much worse still is the man who says it is good not to be born, but "once born make haste to pass the gates of Death." [Theognis, 427]  For if he says this from conviction why does... MORE

How "Ethically Risky" Is Creating a Life?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Today I appeared on Anthony Brooks' NPR show to discuss the ethics of having kids (audio now up).  Philosopher Christine Overall, my sparring partner, emphasized that having a child is "ethically risky."  Who knows what this child's life will be... MORE

To repeat:The "Catholic" approach has extremely high moral standards (e.g. Be celibate; give everything you have to the poor; love everyone), but enforces them loosely.The "Protestant" approach has moderate moral standards (e.g. Don't commit adultery; prudently give to the deserving... MORE

"Catholic" versus "Protestant" Ethics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've often heard people distinguish between two distinct ethical outlooks.  They usually call them the "Catholic" approach and the "Protestant" approach, but the distinction has little to do with theology.  Instead:The "Catholic" approach has extremely high moral standards (e.g. Be... MORE

Educational Counter-Signaling Bleg

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
How successful does someone have to be before he starts bragging, "I never finished college" or "I never went to college?"  Gates and Zuckerberg are clearly there.  How much lower down the ladder of success must you go before such... MORE

Signaling Versus Educational Innovation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler wants to use my little signaling model to predict the future of online education.  At risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I'm afraid a much richer model is required to address Tyler's question.  In the interest... MORE

The Intellectual Danger of Label-Avoidism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In my defense of labels, I claimed that, "Will's implicit label is "label-avoidism."  Adam Ozimek at Modeled Behavior explains the unique intellectual dangers of this label:[T]o define oneself as, for example, "of no party or clique", as Andrew Sullivan does,... MORE

Intellectual Ability and Educational Difficulty

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Eli has a good comment on my signaling model with changing intellectual ability: The math seems right, but I don't understand why you would assume that K is constant. It should be an increasing function of A, no? My intuition... MORE

Is Rising Education a Symptom of Progress?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Workers in some countries are a lot more productive than workers in other countries.  One of the main differences is that people in more productive countries have more education.  When we hear that education in a country is going up,... MORE

Are Political Labels Uniquely IQ-Draining?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson replies to my defense of labels against his attack:Bryan has sort of wrongly inferred that my aversion to specifically political labels flows from a much more general aversion to naming one's convictions. At the limit, Bryan makes it... MORE

In Vino Hateful Ranting?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I never heard of John Derbyshire until a few days ago, but The Nation's inventory of his earlier controversies got my attention.  The most interesting: The Nation accuses Derbyshire of "defending Mel Gibson's racist comments."  A more accurate summary is... MORE

The 2012 Vote That Really Matters

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A tempting speculation: The Supreme Court's vote on Obamacare will have larger effects on policy than the American public's vote on the presidency.  My thinking: If Obama wins, there will be divided government, and if Romney wins, he'll be too... MORE

The Wise Pluralism of David Friedman

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
This month's Cato Unbound discusses Matt Zwolinski and John Tomasi's "Bleeding Heart History of Libertarianism."  David Friedman's response is good enough to make me see utilitarianism in a more favorable light.  Friedman agrees with Zwolinski and Tomasi that pre-20th-century libertarians... MORE

Do Labels and Good-versus-Evil Stories Drain IQ?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a libertarian, a natalist, an atheist, a credentialist, an economist, an optimist, a behavioral economist, an elitist, a public choicer, a dualist, a Szaszian, a moral realist, an anti-communist, a pacifist, a hereditarian, a Masonomist, a moral intuitionist, a... MORE

The New Yorker on the Ethics of Fertility

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Elizabeth Kolbert has a fun piece on the ethics of fertility, featuring Christine Overall, David Benatar, and me.Kolbert on Overall:Of course, people do give reasons for having children, and Overall takes them up one by one. Consider the claim that... MORE

Introduction to Microethics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When they teach their subject, economists almost always start with microeconomics.  Why?  Because it's easier to reach clear-cut answers when you start small.  Once you know what you're talking about, you can build on it.  When economists can't give their... MORE

Weighing the Coerciveness of Marital Law

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've been having an extended Twitter discussion about the history of women's liberty with Cato's Jason Kuznicki (@JasonKuznicki), the Atlantic's Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo), and others.  I find some of the issues hard to address in 140 characters, so I'm moving... MORE

All-Volunteer Matrimony

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The end of the draft is arguably the greatest policy success of libertarian economics.  Libertarians still have plenty of complaints about the U.S. military.  But libertarian complaints about the way the military treats its manpower have virtually ceased.  It's an... MORE

Return to top