Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: September 2012

An Author Archive by Month (37 entries)

Is the Georgist Single Tax Pigovian?

Taxation
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, John Strong asks me:Bryan, earlier this year you offered some arguments against a Georgist land tax and expressed bewilderment that tax economists don't seem to notice the obviously preferable alternative of Pigouvian taxes on negative externalities. You wrote:... MORE

Gilens vs. the Political Externalities of Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Martin Gilens isn't known for his work on immigration.  Yet strangely, his two best-known books - Why Americans Hate Welfare and Affluence and Influence - have major implications about the effect of immigration on American politics.  Everyone worried about the... MORE

Affluence, Erudition, and Influence

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Whenever someone claims that income affects people's politics, I always ask, "Have you controlled for education?"  I've spent over a decade playing with public opinion data.  I know from experience that if you're trying to predict people's opinions using both... MORE

Incorruptibly Evil

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I do not intellectually engage with apologists for Nazism or Communism.  When I think someone does not deserve a reply, I simply don't reply.  Still, Counterpunch's instantly infamous "Pol Pot Revisted" has a striking passage:The people now in charge of... MORE

Somin on Libertarians and Jim Crow

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here are Ilya Somin's interesting observations on my recent bleg, reprinted with his permission. Bryan, David Bernstein probably knows more about this than I do. But here are a few examples: 1. Moorfield Storey, one of the early leaders of... MORE

Why Is Democracy Tolerable? Evidence from Affluence and Influence

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Before I studied public opinion, I often wondered, "Why are democracies' policies so bad?"  After I studied public opinion, I started asking myself the opposite question: "Why aren't democracies' policies even worse?"  The median American is no Nazi, but he... MORE

Libertarians and Jim Crow Bleg

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A searching question inspired by Vipul Naik: Consider the period between 1930 and 1964.  What priority did libertarians give to the abolition of Jim Crow laws?  How many even considered the issue worth specifically addressing?The first instances that come to... MORE

Of Monkeys and Micro

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Calorie restricted diets demonstrably increase the lifespans of yeast, fish, rodents, and dogs.  Will they work for humans?  For obvious reasons, controlled human experiments are problematic.  Researchers therefore turned to the next best thing: experiments on non-human primates - rhesus... MORE

Vipul Naik and the Priority of Open Borders

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Vipul Naik of Open Borders has started a thought-provoking series of posts on libertarians and immigration:I aim to consider three aspects to this issue in three separate blog posts. In the current blog post, I consider the extent to which... MORE

Long-Run Unemployment at Low Inflation: Dourado vs. Akerlof-Dickens-Perry

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My friend and former student Eli Dourado has gotten a lot of attention for his recent post, "The Short-Run Is Short."  Key passage:Around 40 percent of the unemployed have been unemployed for six months or longer. And the mean duration of... MORE

Do Indians Rightfully Own America?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics of libertarianism occasionally claim that, if libertarians are correct, the entirety of America rightfully belongs to the Indians.  After all, we stole it from them, didn't we?Unfortunately, the preceding question is missing a lot of scare quotes.  Yes, "we"... MORE

Will False Belief in the SIVH Destroy Romney's Candidacy?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Many people believe that voters' positions are determined by their objective self-interest.  I call this the SIVH - the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis.  A massive body of evidence shows that the SIVH is just plain wrong.  Self-interest has no more than... MORE

You Might Be Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} p\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} v\:textbox {display:none;} • Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy...If you bothered to enroll in school or pay tuition, you might be signaling.If you worry about failing the final exam,... MORE

Rafat Channels Tullock, Kuran, and Sunstein

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My Facebook friend Matt Rafat posted an exceptionally insightful update.  Think of it as Tullock's paradox of revolutions meets Kuran and Sunstein's availability cascades: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 I'll say it again in case you missed it the first time: It's... MORE

The Debiasing Dollar: How to Get Markets in Everything

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Critics of the free market often object to commercialism on aesthetic grounds.  Caruso, Vohs, and Baxter's recent paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology ("Mere Exposure to Money Increases Endorsement of Free Market Systems and Social Inequality," 2012) suggests that... MORE

Questions for Austrians

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
On my latest conversation post at Cato Unbound, I pose some questions for Steve Horwitz:1. What are some important, substantive economic claims that can be known a priori? 2. What are some important, substantive economic claims that can be logically... MORE

The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Club, Part 2

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Malcolm's Life of Crime (Chapters 6-10)SummaryWaiting tables at Small's Paradise Bar is Malcolm's school of crime:Some of the ablest of New York's black hustlers took a liking to me, and knowing that I was still green by their terms, soon... MORE

Sumner Channels Yglesias Against Jones

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Garett Jones is one of the most Sumnerian macroeconomists I know.  But he's not Sumnerian enough for Sumner.  Sumner channels Matt Yglesias to question the importance of Garett's debt deflation mechanism (or to be more precise, debt less-than-expected-inflation mechanism):Debt prices... MORE

How Does Belief in the Signaling Model Affect Educational Attainment?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lectures about the signaling model of education usually provoke excellent reactions from the audience.  But they also provoke some truly obtuse questions.  The worst of the worst: "So I might as well just drop out of school?"No!  A thousand times... MORE

Thomas Szasz: A Life Well-Lived

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My great hero Thomas Szasz has died at the age of 92.  I only met him once, but what a meeting!  The year was 2005.  I won the Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties... MORE

Social Desirability Bias vs. Intelligence Research

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When lies sound better than truth, people tend to lie.  That's Social Desirability Bias for you.  Take the truth, "Half the population is below the 50th percentile of intelligence."  It's unequivocally true - and sounds awful.  Nice people don't call... MORE

The Meaning of Cheating

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A beautiful argument, from Alex Tabarrok via me to the cover of Newsweek via Megan McArdle:For many students, college is less about providing an education than a credential--a certificate testifying that they are smart enough to get into college, conformist... MORE

Welcome Guest Blogger Garett Jones

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
If you could persuade one more person to blog, who would it be?  My answer, hands down, is GMU economist and Twitter hero Garett Jones.  I'm positively delighted, then, to welcome Dr. Jones to EconLog as a guest blogger.  He's... MORE

Two More Hanson Posts

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
1. Hanson replies to my claims about his Tautological Fallacy.2. The top two results for the Name Robin's Creatures survey are Sentients and Intelligent Agents.  Background: Robin initially did a small Facebook survey.  The top two choices were Agents and... MORE

Ronald Hamowy, RIP

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The great libertarian scholar Ronald Hamowy died yesterday.  I only met him once, but I read most of his work while I was an undergrad.  Though he had a long and productive career, I'm fondest of his early writings for... MORE

The Tautological Fallacy

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Robin offers the best possible response to my claim that he commits the Metaphorical Fallacy: I'm saying that your mind is literally a signal processing system. Not just metaphorically; literally. That is, while minds have a great many features, a... MORE

The Metaphorical Fallacy

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Consider the following argument:1. Cars are mechanical horses.2. Horses are faster than walking.3. Therefore, cars are faster than walking.Pretty plausible, right?  Unfortunately, this argument is logically as awful as:1. Cars are mechanical horses.2. Horses eat oats.3. Therefore, cars eat oats.Both... MORE

Name Robin's Creatures

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
To help write his book in progress, Robin Hanson is looking for a word to describe the set of things that are EITHER (a) biological humans OR (b) artificial intelligences.  At my urging, he's set up a survey on QuickSurveys... MORE

Austrian Myside Bias

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
My Cato Unbound reply to Steve Horwitz on empirical Austrian economics is up.  I concede that Horwitz...makes several sensible points: Some Austrians have no methodological objection to empirical work.Mainstream economists have a dogmatic, narrow view of what counts as "empirical... MORE

Dan Klein on the Econ Profession

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
When Dan Klein dissects the economics profession, he manages to be simultaneously thoughtful, blunt, and fair: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 My view of the matter, in the broadest terms, is that human culture generally, and in particular Anglo-American culture since the... MORE

When my favorite economists change, I usually think they change for the worse.  Dan Klein is a glowing exception.  I've always liked his work.  But in recent years (see e.g. here, here, and here) Dan's metamorphosized from very good to... MORE

Next Malcolm X Book Club 9/14

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
Part 2 of the Autobiography of Malcolm X book club will premiere on Friday, 9/14.... MORE

Are Austrians Anti-Empirical?

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
Steve Horwitz has the lead Cato Unbound essay this month.  His topic: "The Empirics of Austrian Economics."  My response goes up Friday.  For now, here's Steve:[I]t is not the case, as Josh Barro recently argued, "that Austrian economists reject empirical... MORE

Marginal Revolution University

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Big news: My beloved friends and esteemed colleagues Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are launching their own online education project, MRUniversity.  Since I don't think online education is going to revolutionize education (here, here, and here for starters), my knee-jerk... MORE

The Temptation of Discrimination

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Why doesn't everyone just follow the rules?  The obvious answer, in many cases, is that breaking the rules has concrete advantages... if you don't get caught.  Why do people jaywalk?  Because it's quicker than schlepping to the crosswalk.  Why do... MORE

Imagine a world where no one ever voluntarily buys good X.  Still, everyone affirms that X is very important, a vital good.  If you hold an election, the population unanimously votes in favor of very generous funding for X.Most economists... MORE

The One Blameworthy Lifestyle

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
People are often taken aback when I argue that the First World's poor are usually undeserving.  In modern political discussion, we're supposed to "propose solutions," not point fingers.  Even when we're talking about politically connected banks, we usually discuss alternate... MORE

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