Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Politics and Economics

A Category Archive (565 entries)

Read Scott Alexander

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I find fascinating new things to read every day.  But it's been a long time since I found a fascinating new thinker to read - someone who makes me say, "Tell me everything."  Then about two weeks ago, I discovered... MORE

Conservative Relativism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I spent a lot of time conversing with conservative intellectuals this week.  What surprised me most was their moral relativism.  Sure, they spent a lot of time griping about left-wing relativism: The awful liberals refuse to admit the West is... MORE

Jeff Hummel's Case for Martin Van Buren over Tyler

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
Last weekend, I posted about who should be on Mt. Rushmore. In the comments, there was discussion about who was the greatest American president. Ivan Eland, not a commenter but a friend who has written a book on the subject,... MORE

Rojas on Marijuana Legalization

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Support for marijuana legalization was stalled for decades, then skyrocketed.  What happened?  Vox's latest analysis heavily relies on sociologist Fabio Rojas, also known as the Best Man at my wedding.  Highlights:Fabio Rojas, a professor at Indiana University who studies social... MORE

The Key to victory: Run against Piketty-nomics

Politics and Economics
Scott Sumner
This is good news: New Zealand's NZX 50 Index increased 1.1 percent, driven higher by power-company stocks, after John Key won a third term as prime minister. Key, a former head of foreign exchange at Merrill Lynch & Co., led... MORE

Are Your Clicks More Powerful Than Your Votes?

Politics and Economics
Art Carden
At the beginning of the year, I tweeted The Clickbait Pledge: The Clickbait Pledge: I will click on nothing "shocking," that will "blow [my] mind," or relating to celebrity antics.— Art Carden (@artcarden) January 30, 2014 I therefore found the... MORE

Intellectual decay

Political Economy
Scott Sumner
Tyler Cowen recently linked to a good article by Francis Fukuyama: The two dominant American political parties have become more ideologically polarized than at any time since the late nineteenth century. There has been a partisan geographic sorting, with... MORE

Quarters on the Sidewalk as Stimulus

Politics and Economics
Art Carden
A very brief Twitter exchange from last week: @WesleyVaughn Dropping a million quarters on sidewalks around town would be a better idea.— Art Carden (@artcarden) August 12, 2014 I was jesting, but only sort of. As a friend has suggested,... MORE

Charles Cooke's lame dismissal of left wing nerds

Politics and Economics
Scott Sumner
Here's Charles Cooke in the National Review: One part insecure hipsterism, one part unwarranted condescension, the two defining characteristics of self-professed nerds are (a) the belief that one can discover all of the secrets of human experience through differential... MORE

Bootleggers and Baptists in Alabama Politics

Politics and Economics
Art Carden
I think Bruce Yandle's "Bootleggers and Baptists" theory of regulation has an enormous amount of explanatory power. My review of his new book on the subject will appear in the Independent Review at some point. Yesterday, we got to see... MORE

Free Market Virtues

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots... MORE

21 Short Claims About Political Motivation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I wrote:If you want lots of X, but are too ignorant to evaluate X's indirect effects, you probably just really love X.  If you want lots of ice cream, but are too ignorant to evaluate ice cream's effect on... MORE

Liberal Authoritarianism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics often view liberals as deeply authoritarian.  Most liberals naturally object to this unflattering claim.  Critics notwithstanding, liberals don't relish using the power of government.  They don't have a raw preference for forcing everyone live their way.  Instead, liberals maintain,... MORE

Some Questions About Partisan Expulsion

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you're an embarrassment to your political party.  In many countries, your party can formally expel you.  This serves three functions.  First, damage control.  The fact that your party expelled the embarrassment mitigates your guilt-by-association.  Second, prevention.  After you're expelled,... MORE

Would (Our) Open Borders Lead to (Their) Closed Borders?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
My Facebook friend Anna Krupitsky asks a great question:Let's imagine: if United Stated today opened its borders, how many countries and how soon would close theirs for people leaving?There's ample evidence that ending emigration restrictions leads to more immigration restrictions. ... MORE

Henderson on TANSTAAFL

Economic Education
David Henderson
At the start of every class I teach, I give my students what I call "The Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom." These pillars, I tell them, are the basis for a huge percent of economic analysis and if they master... MORE

Some Explanations for the Curious Absence of Socially Conservative Economics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Ross Douthat provides an array of explanations for the curious absence of socially conservative economics.  His top stories:1. There's more socially conservative economics than meets the eye.The first is that social conservatives actually do make such arguments, even if the... MORE

Gun Grabbing: A Reversal of Fortune

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
While reflecting on the Briggs-Tabarrok Effect, I stumbled across a shocking Gallup survey.  Back in 1959, Gallup started asking a random sample of Americans the following question:What about the possession of pistols and revolvers -- do you think there should... MORE

I want to add a hearty "amen" to David's post on Michael Cohen's recent article on President Obama's truth-challenged claims about health care. My views on the economic literacy of the American electorate are Caplanian, but Cohen stakes out a... MORE

UPDATE BELOW In selling the health-care plan that bears his name, President Obama has, according to the fact-checking website Politifact, said at least 34 times that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." That statement was... MORE

Reclaiming Fairness as a Precept of Commerce

Politics and Economics
Bart Wilson
Fairness isn't an end commonly associated with markets. If anything, our empathetic instincts often lead us to view the outcomes of competition in the marketplace as unfair. But fairness as it relates to markets wasn't always such a hazy concept.... MORE

The flying postman

Politics and Economics
Alberto Mingardi
Officially, Italy has a no longer a "Ministero delle partecipazioni statali" ("Ministry of State Shareholdings") since its suppression by referendum in 1993. The Italian government has privatized much since--but politics do not understand privatization as relinquishing control on a particular... MORE

Time for a Third Party? Let's Bet

Politics and Economics
Art Carden
Via Students for Liberty on Facebook, I saw this Politico article reporting polling data showing "Record demand for third party." As one of the comments points out, it's the sort of thing that gets attention periodically but that never really... MORE

Ezra Klein's Claim about the Shutdown

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This [the shutdown of well under half of the federal government] is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance.... MORE

Henderson's Godwin's Law

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
If you read blogs much, you've probably come across Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law states: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. I think it's basically correct. However, one could formulate... MORE

One of the most compelling characters in Adam Smith's work is the person he refers to as "the man of system." Here's Smith's oft-quoted passage from The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The man of system, on the contrary, is apt... MORE

Four Readings from Frederic Bastiat

Economic Philosophy
Art Carden
File Frederic Bastiat under "under-appreciated thinkers." I'm talking about Public Choice in my principles of macroeconomics class tomorrow, and here are a few readings from Bastiat that continue to inspire me: 1. "What is Seen, and What is Not Seen."... MORE

Via Scott Shackford, at Reason, we learn of "The Scourge of Illegal, Underground Dinner Parties." In short, people are paying to attend dinner parties featuring fancy food. And such transactions are unregulated. Naturally, people are concerned. Presumably, some of those... MORE

Psychohistory and us

Politics and Economics
Alberto Mingardi
OpenCulture has just re-published some predictions by Isaac Asimov about life in 2014. I read Asimov as a teenager and, as I'm sure many of you were, I was always delighted by his science fiction and his sense of humor.... MORE

Liberty Fund's own Sarah Skwire is one of my favorite people, and by reading some of her columns in The Freeman I've been able to catch up on the classical education I thought I had and always claimed but eventually... MORE

Business, Lobbying, and the Big Picture

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When the sugar industry lobbies for sugar tariffs, economists are quick to cry "Rent-seeking!"  A concentrated interest lobbies for a concentrated benefit, paid for by a diffuse public - nothing mysterious.  Strangely, though, businesses also often lobby for Big Picture... MORE

Why Should We Go To War With [Name]?

Politics and Economics
Art Carden
A few years ago--I think this was at Division of Labour--I asked readers to go to RandomCountry.com, spin for a Random country, and then make the case for war with that country. With the prospect of military adventures in Syria... MORE

Why are YOU A Libertarian?

moral reasoning
Art Carden
The Institute for Humane Studies' LearnLiberty.org project has created a Tumblr asking people why they are libertarians. This one caught my eye. Shayne, age 20, is a LIBERTARIAN because I cannot remember a time without WAR abroad and WAR at... MORE

I'm going to start an occasional series here at EconLog titled "Research That Should Get More Attention" based on books and papers I read (and re-read) that more people should, in my humble opinion, read (and re-read). The first installment:... MORE

I'm working on a book I'm co-authoring with Deirdre McCloskey on the economic history of the last few centuries. Here is a choice passage from page 44 of her 2006 book The Bourgeois Virtues: The tempting shortcut of taxing the... MORE

Sympathy for the Citizenist

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Citizenists strike me as extraordinarily angry people.  But I have to admit: If I were them, I'd be angry too.  Consider their intellectual situation: Every orthodox moral theory - utilitarianism, Kantianism, egalitarianism, libertarianism, wealth maximization, Rawlsianism, Christianity, and Marxism for... MORE

Many people worry that a majority of the voting-age population will soon pay no federal income tax and will, therefore, be motivated to vote themselves even more federal transfers. Undoubtedly, most of those paying little in taxes want more government... MORE

Is royalty the most absurd thing?

Politics and Economics
Alberto Mingardi
Art Carden uses a brilliant tweet by Neil deGrasse Tyson to point out the absurdity of royalty: "A curious tradition -- to look at a newborn baby and say to yourself, 'Because of your DNA, one day you will rule... MORE

The Absurdity of Royalty

Economics and Culture
Art Carden
The world is aflutter with news of the Royal Baby. In a tweet, Neil deGrasse Tyson points out the absurdity of royalty: "@neiltyson: A curious tradition -- to look at a newborn baby and say to yourself, 'Because of your... MORE

In today's post on AL.com, Scott Beaulier of the Johnson Center at Troy University explains how the River Region Obesity Task Force is looking to measure students' BMIs. A few thoughts: 1. First they came for the beer, but I... MORE

On Bastiat and the Edifice Complex

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
Last week, I asked my principles of macro students to do the following: Evaluate this argument in light of Frederic Bastiat's essay "What is Seen, and What is Not Seen." You may use the assigned readings and videos, but you... MORE

Long-time readers of EconLog will know that most of the common objections to increased immigration are simply wrong. For review, here's Ben Powell's explanation of how immigrants don't wreck our economy, take our jobs, or depress wages. Still, one of... MORE

Althaus on War and Informed Opinion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Sam Wilson's results on war and income don't surprise me, but I think Art is misinterpreting them.  Income is a decent proxy for political knowledge, and Scott Althaus ably summarizes the subtleties of political knowledge and foreign policy in his... MORE

A popular saying during the Civil War was that it is a "rich man's war but a poor man's fight." On July 4, Neil DeGrasse Tyson tweeted: July 4th, USA: The Star Spangled Banner, Fireworks, the 1812 Overture, Air Shows... MORE

Questions for Independence Day Evening

Political Economy
Art Carden
I thought it best to honor the principles of liberty on Independence Day by reviewing a long defense of the idea that governments' claims to political authority are indefensible. I'm finishing a review if Michael Huemer's The Problem of Political... MORE

Dambisa Moyo and the conquest of the US by China

Trade Barriers
Alberto Mingardi
Is the Chinese blend of capitalism, communism, and mercantilism an alternative to Western "democratic capitalism"? Author and economist Dambisa Moyo argues so in a recent TED talk, suggesting that Western countries (which means, first and foremost, the United States) need... MORE

Why My Billion-Dollar Plan Won't Work The Way I Want it To

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. - F.A. Hayek On May 29, I offered my proposal for how I would answer Bryan's "spend a... MORE

Shall Europeans elect their President?

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
There is a certain consensus, among the European ruling classes, that the EU's next step should coincide with the democratic election of its number one official. However, interviewed by Der Spiegel, Mrs Merkel recently declared that she would be... MORE

Back in 2010, USA Today and other popular media loudly declared that federal employees were grossly overpaid.  Famed economist Peter Orszag swiftly denied this allegation on behalf of the Obama administration.  I found his response extremely suspicious, but was too... MORE

Talk this Morning: "More Immigrants, Please"

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Art Carden
I'm speaking this morning to the New Horizons Program at UAB--a lifelong education program for senior citizens--on immigration. My outline and bibliography are here. I'll discuss jobs, wages, culture, crime--and the eugenic origins of immigration restrictions. I'm also going to... MORE

Why Are Asians So Democratic? The Respect Motive in Action

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Republican critics of immigration often decry Hispanics' lop-sided identification with the Democratic Party.  Due to their low income, the story goes, Hispanics naturally prefer the party of Big Government.  Since Hispanics will never vote Republican, Republicans' only prudent response is... MORE

Henderson on the Libertarian "Thing"

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Last weekend, our local newspaper, the Monterey County Herald, ran this Associated Press story by Nicholas Riccardi. The article is more interesting than the headline would suggest because its author found libertarian elements in the political shift in the west.... MORE

Marriage, Kids, and Party

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've often heard that family is the key divide between Democrats and Republicans.  Democrats are supposed to be single and childless, Republicans married with kids.  So I decided to check this out for myself in the General Social Survey. ... MORE

Democracy in Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Singaporean blog TR Emeritus recently reprinted my "How I See Singapore," prompting critical response.  The main complaint is that I ignorantly claim that Singapore is a democracy.  I understand the pushback.  Singapore gets mediocre scores on international democracy ratings... MORE

Center Libertarian?

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
For years, conservative commentators on the Fox News Channel and elsewhere have said that the United States is a "center right" country. They seem to say it more insistently when the voters elect a left-wing Democrat as President. But James... MORE

Barack Beane Obama

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
One of my favorite books of the last decade was Michael Lewis's Moneyball. It's about how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane used statistical analysis to offset the advantage of more heavily funded teams and make his small-market team into... MORE

Reality Check

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The lessons people want to draw from Romney's defeat:1. He would have have won if he were more/less socially conservative.2. He would have won if he were more/less economically conservative.The lessons people should draw from Romney's defeat:1. He would have... MORE

My Visit to NASA

Business Economics
David Henderson
Every fall quarter I teach an economics class to Executive MBA students by distance learning. For the first time, we have civilians in the program--in this case 5 students from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. When I teach 5... MORE

Evil and Support for the Welfare State

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've been reflecting on Garett's post on human evil and the welfare state ever since he wrote it.  The most striking passage:Bryan notes that by some moral standards, we don't owe much to strangers in general; if that's right, how... MORE

Ed Crane: An Appreciation

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In yesterday's mail, I received the last of Ed Crane's bimonthly memos. The Cato Institute, of which he is CEO until Monday, sends it out to people who contribute at least $100 annually to Cato. I'm writing this to express... 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

Why Obama Will Be Re-Elected

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
An article yesterday by Conor Friedersdorf, "The GOP Wasted 4 Years on the Wrong Critique of Obama's Foreign Policy" plus my own observations of Mitt Romney and his apparent strategy now convince me that Barack Obama will be re-elected. Why... MORE

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

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
Bryan makes a good argument in his post earlier today titled "Will False Belief in the SIVH Destroy Romney's Candidacy?" The evidence against the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis is strong. But Patrick R. Sullivan's comment should not be missed. He wrote,... 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

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

A Relook at Enron

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
But the historian must look deeper. Was Enron really a free-market, capitalistic company even when its apparent self-interest lay elsewhere? Or were profit centers dependent on tax subsidies, advantageous regulation, or checks written on the U.S. Treasury? Was Enron passive... MORE

Living in Bubbles

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Warsh writes, I expect the Democrats to dominate this election (and probably the next), the Tea Party to slowly shrink, the caucus of Republican pragmatists to grow, until one day the GOP credibly offers to take over and improve... MORE

Civil War Watch: Sentences to Ponder

Social Security
Arnold Kling
John Mauldin writes, some people get so angry when you challenge their beliefs. You are literally taking away the source of their good feeling, like drugs from a junkie or a boyfriend from a teenage girl. Keep that in mind... MORE

Think Tank Rumors

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Kauffman Foundation seems to be shutting down its DC operations. I wish I knew more about the goings-on there. I have nothing against Kansas City, but I hope there is no general contraction taking place at Kauffman. Meanwhile, there is... MORE

The 1960s and Today

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In response to my post on Civil War Scenarios, some commenters brought up the 1960s. I actually do not have to read a history of the 1960s--I can remember them. One thing people forget about the 1960s is how many... MORE

Civil War Scenarios

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Peggy Noonan writes, I suspect some conservative used the Romney campaign's listless response as a stand-in for what they'd really like to say to Mr. Romney himself, which is, "Wake up, get mad, be human, we're fighting for our country... MORE

The President's Roanoke Speech

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Reihan Salam points to two of the strongest reactions to President Obama's Roanake speech ("You did not build that"). Virginia Postrel writes, The president's sermon struck a nerve in part because it marked a sharp departure from the traditional Democratic... MORE

The Case for Government

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A new publication from the Boston Fed informs us. Time will tell. But universal public education still stands as one of America's most successful government programs. America's public schools have taken their share of criticism, and some of it may... MORE

The Centrists Attempt to Regroup

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I got an email the other day tipping me off to today's launch of the Fix the Debt campaign, a bipartisan effort. These folks are the shattered remains of what used to be the center in American politics. I don't... MORE

A People's History of American Empire mentions that former South Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Cao Ky was an open admirer of Hitler.  Intrigued, I decided to investigate.  The charge checks out.  Exact quote:"People ask me who my heroes are. I... MORE

Tone vs. Substance

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
In a comment on the Don Boudreaux book, Jason Collins writes, As most of Boudreaux's posts are in what you define as category (c), the book is not going to change the mind of your liberal friend. Contrast the comments... MORE

Opening Minds, Closing Minds

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The following thought occurred to me recently. Suppose we look at writing on issues where people tend to hold strong opinions that fit with their ideology. Such writing can (a) attempt to open the minds of people on the opposite... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Column, Again

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Cowen writes, Ezra responds to my column of Sunday with this post. He also can point to Catherine Rampell and Bryce Covert. In a comment on my post, Cowen wrote, I definitely agree we are spending and borrowing too much... MORE

Sentence to Ponder

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
From Tyler Cowen: If your blogging or writing doesn't increase the degree of trust among people who do not agree with each other, probably you are lowering the chance for better policy, not increasing it, no matter what you perceive... MORE

Tyler Cowen writes for the NY Times

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
His latest column ends, The reason that we aren't getting more expansionary macro policy is fundamental: a lack of trust. It's not an easy problem to fix, but the place to start is by recognizing it. Two possibilities. 1. He... MORE

The Sector with the Sticky-Wage Problem

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
As Josh Barro points out, it is the public sector. San Jose spends $142,000 per FTE on wages and benefits, up 85 percent from 10 years ago. As a result, the city shed 28 percent of its workforce over that... MORE

Executive Nullification

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, Obama's semi-amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants sounds like the best U.S. political news of the 21st-century. I am less certain. Even if you want open borders, I am not sure that this is how you... MORE

Is Obama's Semi-Amnesty for Real?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I don't just think that immigration restrictions are bad policy; I think they're a grotesque crime against humanity - with all that implies.  Given this starting point, Obama's semi-amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants sounds like the best... MORE

The Big Gulp Ban

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, I've often suspected that paternalists like Mr Noah generally cares more about sending "a powerful message of social disapproval" than about the actual effects of paternalistic policy on welfare. It's worth remembering that liberalism is, at its... MORE

The Political is Personal

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Dan Balz writes, a report issued Monday by the Pew Research Center paints a particularly stark portrait of a nation in which the most significant divisions are no longer based on race, class or sex but on political identity. Read... MORE

Steven Chu vs. Bernie Madoff

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A commenter on this post wrote, I don't find it very credible that Steven Chu spends his whole life studying physics (and extremely successful at it) so one day he could reward some political cronies of his boss. Comparing Chu... MORE

Random Thought

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
From a graduation speech by Neil Howe, reprinted by John Mauldin. The Millennial Generation is correcting for the excesses of Boomers and Gen Xers who today run America. I need not remind you what those excesses are: leadership gridlock, refusal... MORE

The Energy Loan Scandal as a Non-story

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Mark A. Thiessen writes, as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, "Throw Them All Out," fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department's grants and loans went to "individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama's National Finance... MORE

Caplan v. Murphy on Paul: Getting to Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Bob Murphy's confident that Ron Paul will have a lasting political legacy.  I'm not.  He proposed a bet, I counter-offered, and we haggled.  Bob reproduces our haggling with permission.  My offer #1:Right now there are roughly zero members of Congress... MORE

Ron Paul's Revolution

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired is the latest book by historian and journalist Brian Doherty.  Like his magisterial Radicals for Capitalism, Ron Paul's Revolution is first and foremost an oral history.  Doherty lays out all... MORE

The Road to Freedom: Bumps and All

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Reading Arthur Brooks' The Road to Freedom is eerily like having a conversation with myself.  He never calls himself a libertarian, and certainly never mentions Ayn Rand or Thomas Reid.  But the Hollywood pitch version of Brooks' book is "Rand... MORE

Ron Paul vs. the Median Voter Model

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'm already devouring Brian Doherty's Ron Paul's Revolution.  Brian's such a great writer and such a careful historian - a true treasure.  To me, though, the biggest puzzle isn't how Ron Paul can command the loyalty of 5% of the... MORE

Criticizing Your Own Side

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma thinks that pundits on the left are more willing to criticize their own team than pundits on the right. My guess is that people on the right think it's the other way around. If so, then let me... 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

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 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

Political Economy of the Zero Bound?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen offers a theory. The greater the number of protected service sector jobs in an economy, the more likely those citizens will oppose inflation. Inflation brings the potential to lower real wages, possibly for good. The wages that are... MORE

A Guide to Budget Rhetoric

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Because the budget is so far from being sustainable, budget rhetoric needs to be re-interpreted. When their side refuses to cut spending because it would be "cruel," they are ensuring that future spending cuts will be even crueler. When our... MORE

Brief Notes from Kansas City

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Here is Tyler Cowen in cartoon form. At lunch, at our table we were talking about the question of why redistributive policies are not more popular with voters. Brink Lindsey said that voters prefer to affiliate with successful people than... MORE

Thinking about Think Tanks

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tevi Troy writes, If donors see and use think tanks as pawns in a political war, the value of their product will be diminished in the eyes of the public, journalists and senior government officials. He made this point in... MORE

The Affiliation Heuristic, Continued

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
I can use Bruce Schneier's Liars and Outliers as the basis for another take. A basic question in the book is how human society is able to scale above the level where we can all recognize one another. For example,... MORE

The Affiliation Heuristic

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
It seems to come up a lot in the discussions of Cato. Cato has worked really hard to cultivate a favorable/neutral reputation with liberal intellectuals. "We're not the religious, homophobic, xenophobic right-wing crazies. We're the anti-war, anti-Fed, anti-pot-law right-wing crazies."... MORE

Another Take on the Soap Opera

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, this isn't a battle between good and evil, and the stakes are probably lower than you think. Not unlike my take, although he has more inside knowledge than I do. Read the whole thing. I have a... MORE

The Koch Cato Affair

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Don Boudreaux shares his thoughts. My take: 1. Usually, corporate soap opera is less important in the grand scheme of things than it is to the people involved. Institutions go on. History goes on. 2. We discussed think tanks with... MORE

Charles Murray Watch

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
From Esquire, August 29, 1978: THE DANGEROUS ARROGANCE OF THE NEW ELITE by David Lebedoff -- For the first time, the author contends, there is emerging in America an intelligent elite that genuinely mistrusts the basic tenets of democracy. The... MORE

Foreclosure Paperwork

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Lifted from the comments: If the shoe were on the other foot, if people who had obviously paid their mortgages were being thrown out of their homes because of some trivial defect in the loan documentation, would these same commenters... MORE

What Bernanke Needed

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
On Matt Yglesias' reading of "Ben Bernanke and the Zero Bound," Laurence Ball is saying that Bernanke needed to be more of a jerk:Former Treasury Secretary and former National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers has always suffered in the eyes... MORE

The Political Report of the President

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Today the Economic Report of the President was released. As I remember the report in past years, the introductory chapter was typically political, while the rest of the report is focused purely on economics. These chapters often have been very... MORE

Imagine Grateful Welfare Recipients

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine the following scenario: Recipients of food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and student loans suddenly start expressing daily heartfelt gratitude to the taxpayers who provide for them.  The eager proponents of these programs stop angrily demanding more.  Instead, they spend... MORE

Notes from the Welch-Goldberg Show

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The event was billed as a debate Are Libertarians Part of the Conservative Movement? And, yes, both speakers talked about reversing the question. The format consisted of 4-minute opening statements followed by one-minute responses to questions. It makes for lively... MORE

Supply, Demand, and Outcomes

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Reihan Salam has had a number of interesting posts recently. Here, he discusses Kevin Carey's analysis of how subsidies to college education ultimately benefit not the consumers but the suppliers. Suppose that you want people to have more high-quality education... MORE

Concerns with the CBO

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Wall Street Journal reports The inquiries of the Congressional Budget Office, which haven't been made public, concern the CBO's analyses of some of Washington's most complex and controversial measures, including bills on financial regulation, health care, small-business lending and... MORE

My Hoover Talk Today: Live Stream

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
I just found out that my Hoover Institution talk today to a group of students will be live streamed. It's at 3:10 p.m. EST (12:10 p.m. PST). Here's the link. Topic: "Five Myths about Free Markets."... MORE

A Little Optimism from Walter Block

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This is part of economics professor Walter Block's answer to someone who expressed deep pessimism about the prospects for liberty in the future: I agree with your negative assessment of short term success. It is due to biological hard wiring,... MORE

The Economists We Have

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
David Colander writes, not only are economists as a group not humble enough, what lay people are presented as economist's policy recommendations are often the policy recommendations of the least humble economist. In summary, my argument is that lack of... MORE

A Default Scenario

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
There is a compendium of papers in Econ Journal Watch on the prospects for a U.S. debt default. Garett Jones and I authored two of the papers. We discussed the topic on Friday with Reihan Salam. A preview is below.... MORE

Economists and Influence, A Depressing Take

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Jim Tankersley writes, "If you bat .300, you're going to win the National League [batting title]. But if you bat .100 as an economist in D.C., you're going to go to the Hall of Fame." So mused conservative economist Douglas... MORE

Ferguson on Murray

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Niall Ferguson writes, As Murray shows, there is a conservative solution to the problem of inequality. Scrap the failing welfare programs of the '30s and '60s before they bankrupt America. Ensure that everyone has a basic income. Then simplify the... MORE

Henderson on Stossel

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I red-eyed it to NYC Monday night to tape a segment on John Stossel's show on Fox Business Network. I returned the same day. Total time in NYC: 11 hours. The segment was a debate with Colonel David Hunt, who... MORE

Re-Org Proposal

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
You may recall that I wrote an article proposing that the executive branch of the government be re-organized. Coincidentally, President Obama asked for the power to reorganize and made an initial suggestion related to commerce. It seems to me to... MORE

Business Experience

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson summarizes some discussion of the relevance of business experience to being President. One of the tropes that he mentions (without endorsing it) is that "business people don't realize that when you come to Washington you just can't boss... MORE

Tevi Troy on Think Tanks

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz and I talk with him in this video. Comments welcome. What can we do to make this a regular program that you look forward to every week? The conversation raises doubts about whether the emerging trends in think... MORE

The Case for a Re-org of the Executive Branch

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
My latest essay: As an example of careless organizational structure, consider that prior to the financial crisis the Federal Reserve Board was responsible for consumer protection with respect to mortgages, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development was responsible... MORE

Return to "What Could President Paul Actually Do?"

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I was going to write a post called "What Could President Paul Actually Do?" until I realized I already wrote it four years ago.  Since it still seems current, I'm reposting it instead: What would happen if Ron Paul actually... MORE

An Answer to Truman's Prayer?

Efficient Markets Hypothesis
Arnold Kling
Claudia Goldin, William Nordhaus, Richard Schmalensee, and Anil Kashyap write, Each week since late September, along with 37 other economists at top universities, we have been answering questions on major public policy issues... Schamelensee was on my dissertation committe. President... MORE

The Future of Talking Heads?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A half-hour discussion that Nick Schulz and I held on line, with James Pethokoukis as our guest. We talked about his blog post on economic policy ideas. We conducted this using a Google+ hangout. I recorded it using Camtasia Studio... MORE

Worth Reading

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
The latest issue of National Affairs has a number of interesting articles. Scott Winship challenges the claim that economic life has become more risky. Note that this is separate from Winship's article on income mobility, which also is worth a... MORE

Libertarian Ideas for the Mainstream

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
James Pethokoukis gets snarky about Obamanomics and then offers constructive suggestions, based largely on two e-books, Race Against the Machine and Launching the Innovation Renaissance. 9. Create a patent system with the length of legal protection depending on the cost... MORE

Economists and Influence

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Richard Green asks why economists do not have more influence at the White House. His answer: economists have poor social skills I do not think that is the issue at all. There is diversity among economists, and there are plenty... MORE

My "Occupy Monterey" Talk

Upcoming Events
David Henderson
On Saturday, December 10, I'll be giving a talk at Occupy Monterey. Title: Crony Capitalism versus the Free Market Time: Saturday, 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Place: Colton Hall lawn, Monterey.... MORE

Comments on Eurozone Solutions

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, When it comes to debt, the periphery countries simply don't want to pay up. Their national wealth is many times their gdp and thus much much greater than their debts, even for Greece. It's amazing how many... MORE

Betty Friedman Nails It

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
"People talk about Main Street vs Wall Street. It should be Main Street vs the Beltway." David Friedman's latest post is so to the point that I'll simply quote the whole thing: Reading Google News this morning, I noticed a... MORE

Two Long Reads

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
1. Bloomberg discloses information it obtained on banks receiving loans from the Fed. The Bagehot adage is "lend freely, at a penalty rate." The Fed got the first part. 2. Lee Ohanian argues against the excesses of public sector unions.... MORE

Your Thoughts on the Eurasian Union

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Three days ago Russian, Kazakhstan, and Belarus formed the Eurasian Union, designed to do for the former Soviet bloc what the EU did for Europe:[E]xperts stated that apart from post-Soviet states, membership to the Eurasian Union could be expanded to... MORE

Dinner with Tim Congdon

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The other night, RealClearPolitics hosted a dinner with Tim Congdon, the author of Money in a Free Society. Congdon is a British disciple of Milton Friedman. Scott Sumner knows who he is, but not vice-versa. Unlike Sumner, Congdon uses a... MORE

One Scenario for Sovereign Debt

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Robert Samuelson writes, as economist Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute makes clear in an open letter to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. What the IMF should do is organize a huge rescue fund -- at least $1 trillion to... MORE

A Pessimistic Prediction

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In which the author predicts an attack in or near Las Vegas. A few weeks ago I made a few optimistic predictions and a few pessimistic ones. My optimistic ones tend to be about how even semi-free markets will solve... MORE

Have a Nice Day, Mario Draghi

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
It turns out that the new head of the European Central Bank is another alumnus of the MIT economics department. However, since he got his Ph.D in 1976, he and I did not overlap. The friend who pointed this out... MORE

Euro-TARP

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I am making the mistake of reacting to the latest twists in the saga of Greece and other European countries. I started by reading this: Britain is poised to provide billions of pounds for a new global economic rescue package,... MORE

Newspaper Macroeconomics

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
I am not a fan of textbook macroeconomics. But it is a marvel of logical consistency when compared with the macroeconomics that you get from journalists. From the perspective of a macroeconomic textbook, journalists write as if the aggregate supply... MORE

Engineering the Financial Crisis

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
That is the title of the new book by Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Klaus. I have just started to read it. Their view is very close to mine in several ways. First, they emphasize the role of capital regulations in... MORE

True Monopoly or False Dichotomy?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Adam Schwiebert writes, citizens are told that the only choices they have are to either raise taxes or incur massive layoffs/program cuts. Absent from the False Duopoly is the third option: realign government compensation packages. I agree completely with the... MORE

Wesley Mouch Update

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Andrew Fox writes, Those Occupy Wall Street-types in their tents at MacPherson Square? If they really, truly are bugged by corporate welfare, they need to schlep their signs and their chants and their anger over to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.... MORE

Democracy Without Government

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
From an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The process is what scholars of anarchism call "direct action." For example, instead of petitioning the government to build a well, members of a community might simply build it themselves. It... MORE

David Leonhardt Signals a Bottom

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
He writes, The most worrisome aspect about our current slump is that it combines obvious short-term problems -- from the financial crisis -- with less obvious long-term problems. Those long-term problems include a decade-long slowdown in new-business formation, the stagnation... MORE

David Wessel's Economic Questions

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
He wants to ask them to Republican candidates for President, not me. But my answers are in italics. All below the fold.... MORE

Obama's Weird Tax Plan

Taxation
David Henderson
According to the Sept. 19 White House fact sheet, "The President calls on [the super committee] to undertake comprehensive tax reform, and lays out five principles for it to follow: 1) lower tax rates; 2) cut wasteful loopholes and tax... MORE

Political Cynicism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
From Russ Roberts. And the next president, Republican or Democrat, will spend less than we've been spending. But not a lot less. So those Tea Partiers are in for disappointment. Oh, we might go back to the level of government... MORE

The Decline in U.S. Economic Freedom: The Movie

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Matt Mitchell, a sharp young economist at the Mercatus Center, has come up with a 14 second video that shows the rise and fall of economic freedom over the last 4 decades. Note that the decline was precipitous under Bush... MORE

The Irony of the Irony of The Onion

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday's Onion reads:In a moving and beautiful ceremony held atop Lower Manhattan's gleaming, 120-story-tall Freedom Tower, the nation commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by raising a glass to the stable democracy of Afghanistan and to a decade... MORE

The Economics of Judicial Conflict of Interest

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Jeffrey Toobin Implicitly Makes a Strong Case that May Surprise His Fans There has been a lot of discussion, especially on the left, about whether Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself when that court gets to decide on... MORE

Cesar Chavez on Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
Bryan Caplan writes: The children of the foreign-born go far beyond this. Immigrants hurt them the most, but they oppose immigration the least. How is this possible? The best explanation is that the children of the foreign-born, like many other... MORE

Immigration vs. the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Who loses the most from additional immigration?  The data is clear: The biggest losers are immigrants who are already here.  This is hardly surprising: recent and new arrivals are in close competition because they supply nearly identical skills.  Ottaviano and... MORE

The Stupidest Most Annoying Argument for Stimulus

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma recycles a chart from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities showing cuts in employment in education. Ergo, we need to send stimulus money to state and local governments. I don't mean to single out Mark. Every Democrat... MORE

My NPR Non-Appearance

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Earlier today, I got an email from someone at NPR asking if I was available to comment on the President's speech afterward. I replied with my phone number, and the woman called me (not an on-air personality. I will withhold... MORE

Is Russia a "Thug State?"

Institutional Economics
David Henderson
Although the KGB was abolished in 1991 after its chairman, Vladimir Kryuchhov, participated in the failed coup d'etat against USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, the KGB mentality still thrives. Russian is run by former KGB officials and Kremlin-friendly oligarchs. They control... MORE

The Outlook for Social Security

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Charles Blahous writes, population aging will remain a bigger financial challenge even than health cost inflation for decades to come. The vast majority of long-term cost growth in Social Security and Medicare, for example, is projected to take place by... MORE

Republicans and Technocrats

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
On Monday, Brad DeLong told us that two months in the Clinton administration convinced him that...America's best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.I'm tempted to say,... MORE

Good News and Bad News on the Jobs Front

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Investor's Business Daily reports that employment at Federal regulatory agencies increased 5 percent between March of 2010 and March of 2011.... MORE

Paging the Left

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle points to this analysis of why public worker pensions are underfunded. Basically, seemingly innocuous assumptions about the rate of return are very unrealistic, and this leads to massive underfunding. Back in 2003, when many Republicans were pushing private... MORE

The Alternate Universe Problem

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, If the GOP doesn't cut a deal sometime pretty soon, we're either going to default on our debt (hello, financial crisis, unemployment spike, substantial and immediate drop in GDP, followed by an angry mob of voters descending... MORE

Vargas and Understatement

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I am in awe of Jose Antonio Vargas.  He has more courage in his little finger than I have in my whole body.  Which makes his understated byline all the more puzzling:Jose Antonio Vargas is a former reporter for The... MORE

The New York Times on "Lucrative"

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Neither Ms. Abedin [Anthony Weiner's wife] nor Mr. Weiner earn lucrative salaries, and Ms. Abedin is worried about her husband, who has been in politics much of his adult life, finding work. Mr. Weiner would still be eligible to collect... MORE

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Henderson attacks the political sacred cow of bringing back manufacturing jobs. To me, it is in the same class as "energy independence," "green jobs," or "affordable housing." That is I cringe whenever I hear a politician talk about the... MORE

Last week, NPR did a great interview with Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times in which she discusses highlights of her recent book, Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. It's co-authored with Joshua... MORE

David Friedman on Markets vs. Coercion

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Earlier today, David Friedman posted a thoughtful piece on a speech by a retired judge who told the audience how badly government works and why they should, therefore, try to make it work better. David points out that the judge... MORE

Nikita Khrushchev on War

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I've been reading John Mueller's excellent book, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. I just finished Chapter 3, "Deterring World War III," in which he argues that nuclear weapons weren't necessary to deter World War III because World... MORE

Random Recommendations

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
1. Robin Hanson writes, We humans are much better at coming up with reasons for opinions than at choosing coherent sets of opinions He shows a video of students asked about a proposal to redistribute grade-point averages by forcing the... MORE

My Perspective on the Budget Fight

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
I don't think of the long-term budget fight as being between Democrats and Republicans or between rich and poor. I look at it as a fight between people with funded retirements and unfunded retirements. If I have saved enough to... MORE

How Pacifist Was the Last Anti-War Movement?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Not very, unfortunately.  Here's the WSJ on Heaney & Rojas:many antiwar Democrats saw the election of President Barack Obama as a sufficient victory for their cause and withdrew from the streets. The researchers conducted 5,398 surveys at 27 antiwar protests... MORE

A Suggested Tax Calculator Tool

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
In a comment on this post, Daniel Kuehn explains what is going on with the new government tax receipt tool. It simply allocates Social Security taxes to OASDI and Medicare taxes to Medicare. What is left to allocate are income... MORE

A Tax Receipt

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
The government now has a tool that supposedly tells you where your tax money is going. You can try it here. I did not have my own tax data handy, so I used the generic family with $80 K in... MORE

If You're Happy and You Know it

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
You are more likely to be libertarian. At least if the James Lindgren paper cited by Tyler Cowen says what I think it does. Apparently, the phrase "angry left" contains a redundancy. I find this a plausible story. David Henderson... MORE

Posner on Means-Testing

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
From Richard Posner, the man who possibly inspired me to stay in econ:Perhaps some politician will be bold enough to advocate that all entitlements programs, including social security as well as Medicare, be means-tested, as Medicaid is. There is no... MORE

Morning WaPo

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Two items caught my attention. 1. A front-page story on the prospects for requiring higher down payments on mortgages. The story is all about how horrible this would be. It makes extensive use of quotes from an organization called the... MORE

Recommended Reading

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
1. Bryan's 40 aphorisms. 2. The latest Robin Hanson aphorism. many economically-puzzling regulations and policy inclinations tend to make everyone act like high status folks act, regardless of how appropriate that is for their situation. I think that describes the... MORE

Jeff Frankel Channels Bryan Caplan

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Jeff writes, Whenever a candidate promises to "give the American people a government as good as they deserve," I can't help thinking, "no, no; don't do that!" Pointer from Mark Thoma, who is not only indispensable but is blogging from... MORE

Morning Crankiness, Nobel Laureates Edition

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
I am a bit "off" this morning. Ordinarily, my philosophy is "catch them doing something right." If you try to correct people when they do something wrong, they just take offense, and you accomplish nothing. But, nonetheless: Nobel Laureate Paul... MORE

A Whiff of Liberaltarianism from the Left

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Elaine Kamarck writes, in the spirit of a new progressive incrementalism, here are three battles that progressives should fight in the next Congress to put our fiscal and economic house in order: create jobs by cutting the payroll tax and... MORE

Finally, An Intellectually Serious Case Against Immigration

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
In langur troops, a core of related females and their offspring associate for up to a few years with unrelated immigrant males.  If the newcomers win, they drive the other males away and systematically kill infants less than six months... MORE

The Dimensionality, Evolution, and Influence of Punditry

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I discovered a remarkable political scientist, Georgetown's Hans Noel.  I learned a lot from him over lunch, but it was his seminar that blew me away.  He presented results from two papers: "Interpreting Legislative Ideal Points with Help From... MORE

Will Gay Marriage Lead to the Privatization of Marriage?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Jason Sorens hails an historic bill to privatize marriage in New Hampshire:To my knowledge, HB 569 is the first bill ever drafted and introduced in a legislature that would abolish government marriage licensing. The bill is the brainchild of libertarian... MORE

A Scott Sumner Post to Ponder

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
He classifies political affinities along a 6-spoke wheel: progressives, pragmatic libertarians, dogmatic libertarians, conservatives, corrupt Republicans, corrupt Democrats. He writes, I would like to argue that most of the really important public policy issues are not even part of the... MORE

Lessons of Smoot-Hawley

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
In Peddling Protectionism: Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression, Douglas A. Irwin writes on p. 99-100: In terms of political strategy, the Smoot-Hawley tariff represented a huge miscalculation by progressive Republican insurgents...to address the farm situation through a tariff revision. The... MORE

The Author of the Administration's Housing Finance Report

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
As reporters ask me about the report, I in turn ask them where the real report is. I mean, I cannot believe that such a sketchy, half-baked proposal was given an official seal (two of them, one each from HUD... MORE

Weather and Turn-Out

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I was finishing up The Myth of the Rational Voter, I needed citations on a fact that "everybody knows" - that bad weather depresses voter turnout.  I was surprised by how little evidence I found.  But last night, my... MORE

The Great Pacification

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you grant every nostalgic memory about the wonder of the Fifties.  Stipulate that America was packed with happy prosperous one-earner families, cozily protected by their unions and patriotic employers.  There's still one wee problem to worry about: nuclear war... MORE

My Tax Dollars at Work

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Crime in the work place is a problem, whether it takes place in the public sector or the private sector. But one advantage of having goods and services provided by private firms rather than by government is that you put... MORE

Government Workers

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Iain Murray tries to count how many there are. When we add up the true size of the federal workforce -- civil servants, postal workers, military personnel, contractors, grantees, and bailed-out businesses -- and add in state- and local-government employees... MORE

What I'm Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Back on the Road to Serfdom, a collection of essays edited by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. The authors are mostly people you have not heard of, and the topics are varied. Per Bylund writes (p. 52), the Swedish model is... MORE

Missing Politics

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Two decades ago, I asked a libertarian professor, "Is there any socialist analog of the Institute for Humane Studies?"  "Sure," he replied.  "Harvard University, Columbia University..."  Does anyone know of a less flippant response to my question?In a similar vein,... MORE

For Discussion

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
From Mario Rizzo: The unreasonableness, or so it seems, of our political culture is, to a large extent, a product of the kind of special interest redistributionist society we have built. Read the whole thing. My thoughts: 1. I have... MORE

A Nation of Cowards: The Case of World War II

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
David says I "overstate" the extent of human cowardice.  If, per the title of his post, I claimed that people "always" avoid war, he'd be right.  But these are my original words:Yes, the man in the street often says he's... MORE

War: What Is It Here For?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Albert Jay Nock's classic essay "Peace the Aristocrat" begins promisingly: The peace advocates are notably disposed to rest their case with proving that war is irrational, illogical, horrible, and costly; and they appear to think it quite enough to do... MORE

The Attitude

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Cole writes, We, the Real Americans, in order to form a more God-Fearing Union, establish Justice as we see it, Defeat Health-Care Reform, and Preserve and Protect our Property, our Guns and our Right Not to Pay Taxes, do... MORE

Carroll's Bet Proposal

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In response to my remarks about conservative passion, Heritage's Conn Carroll proposes a fairly attractive bet: Here is the bet: Identify the three highest rated conservative talk show hosts (I think its Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck). Pick three random shows from each... MORE

Conservative Passion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Several responses in the comments dispute my premise that the two issues conservatives are most passionate about are immigration and war.  I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but it's hard to believe.  The conservatives that I know can't stop... MORE

The Popularity of Atrocity

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ralph Raico's Great Wars and Great Leaders seems to suggest that in World War II, the American public was even more vicious than the German.  According to Raico, the American people clearly backed the nuking of Japan:The political elite implicated... MORE

Krugman Misstates Dickens's Point

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that? This is from Paul Krugman's column, "The Humbug Express," in the... MORE

Wilson vs. Debs

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Two other things are important to add to Bryan's story about Woodrow Wilson's reprehensible treatment of Eugene V. Debs. 1. Bryan points out that Debs ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket in 1912. His Democratic opponent? Woodrow Wilson,... MORE

The Political Externalities of Open Borders: Digest Version

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"How can the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter favor open borders?"  I've heard the question dozens of times.  Once you admit that (a) democracy does what voters want, (b) voters irrationally oppose markets and liberty, (c) voters... MORE

President Obama vs. the WOGs

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I am reading The Symbolic Uses of Politics by Murray Edelman, a book first published in 1964 that is of great personal significance to me, as I will explain in a later post after I finish the book. Meanwhile, I... MORE

What Franklin Roosevelt Accomplished

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I have been reading William E. Leuchtenburg's The FDR Years, a collection of essays by the author. Jonah Goldberg had recommended one of the essays, called "The New Deal and the Analogue of War," written in 1964. I should hasten... MORE

Raico on the Lop-Sided Treatment of Mass Murderers

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Pointing to Communist crimes is not meant to "trivialize" the destruction of European Jewry, nor can it do so. The massacre of the Jews was one of the worst things that ever happened. But even supposing that it was the... MORE

Small Government vs. Conservative Government

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Paul Ryan debates David Brooks. What I heard at the debate was shaped by Jonah Goldberg's description of libertarians and conservatives. The conservative wants the government to be conservative, with little concern about its size. The libertarian wants the government... MORE

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

The County Where I Live

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post editorializes, In other localities, officials have taken a more matter-of-fact approach to painful cost-cutting, including layoffs, furloughs and salary freezes. In Montgomery, where unions boast openly about their ability to install and remove the very elected officials... MORE

Not Who You Think

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
1. Not Mencius Moldbug: But a king--a king without any real power, that is--is such an ennoblingly arbitrary, such a tender and organically human institution. It is easy to give our loyalty to someone whose only claim on it is... MORE

Last Stand of the WORST

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In an earlier post, I described the 2010 election as the last stand of the white, older, rural and small town voters. Now, the Washington Post reports, The Republican Party's big gains in the House came largely from districts that... MORE

TSA's Phony Choice

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This is from an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. The "he" referred to is John Pistole. [Ayn Rand was accused of overdoing it when she used less-obvious names for villains.] "If you have two planes, one where people are... MORE

The Politics of the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Ed Glaeser is naive. He writes, Wyden-Gregg option is to limit the mortgage deduction to exclude second homes, home equity lines, and mortgages over $500,000. Lowering the upper limit on the home mortgage interest deduction should appeal to progressives, who... MORE

Maryland's State Pension Blues

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
The Examiner reports, State teacher pension payments will grow 10 percent annually and its benefits contributions will grow 8 percent annually, while General Fund revenues -- responsible for all teacher pensions and 60 percent of benefits -- will increase only... MORE

Deficit Reduction and Tax Policy

Tax Reform
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, Why, for example, are tax cuts included in a proposal to reduce the national debt? That makes no sense at all except as an attempt to impose a particular ideology on the tax code. For decades, economists... MORE

Deficit Reduction Politics

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Steve Teles writes, The party base has significantly more leverage over elected officials in the Republican than the Democratic party. The chance of being successfully "primaried" if you are a Democrat is low, and in any case there is not... MORE

Random Thoughts on the Bowles-Simpson Plan

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Washington Post story starts here. One quote: The Bowles-Simpson blueprint would leave in place the vast expansion of health-care coverage enacted this year, rejecting GOP calls to repeal "Obamacare." 1. This is the huge carrot that Bowles-Simpson offers to Democrats.... MORE

Rare Agreement?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
one cannot defend the actions of Team Obama on taking office. Law, policy and politics all pointed in one direction: turn the systemically dangerous banks over to Sheila Bair and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Insure the depositors, replace... 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

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

Three that Caught My Eye

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
1. William Easterly on the $320,000 kindergarten teacher story. Under the project studied, there were random assignments of teachers and students to classes. The striking thing in the findings is the identification of "Good" and "Bad" kindergarten classes, as shown... MORE

Exit Polls

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I find these fascinating. Note that this link takes you to the first of four pages. These are for House races. It seems that of those who were polled, 46 percent recalled voting for Obama in 2008 and 45 percent... MORE

Demographics and my Pre-Mortem

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In response to Bryan's pre-gloat, some commenters seem to suggest that demographics are over-rated as an electoral force. You might want to look at Red States and Blue Cities. William Easterly comments, We now see that there are really no... 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

Requests

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A reader requests that I update the One-Party State Watch. This story about the success of Google's $1.8 million political fundraising dinner serves the purpose. Another reader asks me what my benchmarks would be for taking the Tea Party seriously.... MORE

Morning Commentary

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
First, on the political situation. This poll claims that Back in 1974 - shortly after Richard Nixon's resignation in the Watergate scandal - 55 percent of Americans were optimistic about "our system of government and how well it works." Today,... MORE

Political Predictions

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I think, after having paid medium attention to the House of Representatives races, that the Republicans will have a net gain of 52 seats in the November elections. I realize that this is not analysis--it's based on some data and... MORE

Election Pre-Mortem

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I made a bet with Bryan that seems increasingly dubious. I took the view that the demographic trends favor Democrats. More of the population is non-white, born after 1980, and located in large metro areas. So, how are the Republicans... MORE

The Supremacy Clause

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In which our economist attempts legal scholarship Some opponents of California's Proposition 19, which I posted about earlier, claim that if it passes, California's state law will conflict with federal law on marijuana. Then, they argue, because of the supremacy... MORE

Where's the State of the Free?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In Montreal, I met William Ruger and Jason Sorens, creators of the Freedom in the 50 States index.  It's a neat project, no doubt partly driven by Sorens' leading role in the Free State Project.  Competing indices exist, but the... MORE

Karma

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Haidt writes, For the tea partiers, federal activism has become a moral insult. They believe that, over time, the government has made a concerted effort to subvert the law of karma. Read the entire essay. My comments could go... MORE

David Ignatius, Court Reporter

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Co-blogger Arnold has an excellent post this morning on Washington Post columnist's David Ignatius's piece on the rage against Washington. Ignatius asks why there is so much rage against the federal government given how good policy from Washington has been.... MORE

More Praise for TARP

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Ignatius writes that the bailouts almost surely saved the country from another Great Depression. You might expect that the rest of the essay would explain why we should believe this. Instead, he goes on to ask, What accounts for... MORE

Morning Links

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
E. J. Dionne hearts Rep. Tom Perriello. Perriello was one of the participants in the panel on the future of the middle class where I felt out of place. He was not the Congressman who threw down his pen. But... MORE

I Wasn't Invited

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Matt Welch writes, There you have it. The 47 smartest economists around the president of the United States agree that the best way to solve the "untenable fiscal situation" is to boost education spending, weatherize homes, throw more bad money... MORE

Gridlock at the Worst Time

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, More and more laws will be frozen in place. This already seems to be the case with immigration policy. More and more expenditures will be frozen into place. Politics will become more symbolic, and in some ways... MORE

Comments on Various Links

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I think all of these come from Mark Thoma. 1. Robert Reich writes that fiscal and monetary policy will not get us out of the recession. So what's the answer? Reorganizing the economy to make sure the vast middle class... MORE

Two Links

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
1. File this story under "collapsing center watch." (Yesterday, I linked to my response to a NYT question about the state of the economy. In that response, I changed the subject in order to mention my view that the political... MORE

Outline for a Talk

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
To be given next month, not open to the public, on the widely-unread Unchecked and Unbalanced. 1. We are in the midst of three crises--a financial crisis, a political crisis and a sovereign debt crisis. I will propose that they... MORE

My Hammer and Some Nails

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
My solution is competitive government. I do not think that wanting to live in Silver Spring Maryland should automatically subject me to the local school monopoly, the national pensions system monopoly, and so on. I would like to be able... MORE

Phil Maymin on Glenn Beck

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
But Beck does not make a single case against immoral government behavior. In fact, he agrees with the principle. And this is the third, and biggest, problem that I have with him. He started and ended his show with the... MORE

We Need a Tea Party

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts points to an interesting article on the decentralized organization of the tea party. I could not find much in Montgomery County, Maryland, where Russ and I live. Yesterday, I voted in our Democratic primary. I voted for any... MORE

Northern Evangelicalism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The social fabric is fraying. Human capital is being squandered. Society is segmenting. The labor markets are ill. Wages are lagging. Inequality is increasing. The nation is overconsuming and underinnovating. China and India are surging. Not all of these... MORE

Arthur Brooks of AEI

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I went to a Cato annual picnic yesterday. Several of my Cato friends were not there. Brink Lindsey, obviously.* But there happened to be some no-shows among folks who I know that are still there. You know who you are... MORE

My 2003 Bet

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I mentioned on my post yesterday that I had made a bet in 2003 about an outcome in the MIddle East in 2008 and that I won my bet, although the other bettor didn't pay up. Interestingly, none of the... MORE

I Can Only Sputter

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
WSJ Real Time Economics reports, Republicans have held up Mr. Diamond's confirmation because he is not an authority on monetary policy. Peter Diamond is well qualified to be a Fed Governor. In my opinion, those who oppose him need to... MORE

The Desire to See Others Suffer

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
James Lewis argues that fascism involves the political use of sadism to recruit millions of followers in a campaign of pleasurable punishment against a scapegoated person or group. I found the essay provocative, which is a term I apply when... MORE

The Upcoming November Election

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Larry Sabato writes, the main cause of Democratic distress isn't promoting liberal legislation but simply being in charge when bad things are happening to the nation's economy. So, we have high unemployment, and the party in power is being blamed.... MORE

Media Bias and Warren Olney

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Last week I posted on a case of media bias and a case of media bullying. Here's another true story about media bias, this time involving Warren Olney, a well-known name in the Los Angeles radio market. In the early... MORE

Questions Worth Answering

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
You're unlikely to see more thought-provoking questions than the set in Robin's latest:Some classic great divides: tyrants vs. freedom-lovers, rich vs. poor, faithful vs. heathen, urbanites vs. townies, men vs. women, intellectuals vs. ignoramuses, artists vs. the undiscerning, greens vs.... MORE

My Run-in With the Washington Post

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I didn't put "media bias" in the title because this isn't exactly a case of media bias: it's more a case of media bullying. I was the health economist with Martin Feldstein's Council of Economic Advisers from September 1982 to... MORE

Media Bias and the L.A. Times

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Bryan Caplan's and David Boaz's comments on media bias remind me of an incident that happened almost two years ago. Ralph Vartabedian called me to get my take on the members of President-elect Obama's economic team, particularly Christina Romer and... MORE

Boaz on Media Bias

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
You don't have to convince me that liberal media bias is real and large.  But Cato's David Boaz points out another amusing example: [M]ainstream (liberal) media regularly put an ideological label on conservative and libertarian organizations and interviewees, but not... MORE

Left, Right, and Wrong

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Brink Lindsey is interviewed by Jonathan Rauch for the "five books" series. Lindsey's book choices are not as interesting as his comments on the role of the progressive left and the traditionalist-conservative right. At any given time truth is partly... MORE

Journolist Ethics

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma has written a couple of posts about the Journolist story. I have to say that very few of the comments that I have seen, pro or con, have dealt with the issues that concern me. When people on... 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

Paul Gregory on Communism

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Although I haven't found time to listen to more than about 20 of Russ Roberts's Econtalk podcasts, one of his latest, his interview with our Hoover colleague Paul Gregory, is one of the best I've heard. Here are some of... MORE

How Does Narrative Emerge?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Daily Caller reports, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, "Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares --... MORE

Like co-blogger Arnold, I enjoyed reading the discussion among Brink Lindsey, Jonah Goldberg, and Matt Kibbe about the Tea Party Movement and whom libertarians should ally with. All three made good points but none of the three addressed a key... MORE

Libertarians and the Tea Party Movement

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A debate among Brink Lindsey, Jonah Goldberg, and Matt Kibbe. Although it is self-recommending, I have read it. Lindsey says, prior to the rise of the conservative counter-establishment--think tanks, talk radio, websites, and Fox News--the right's dark side was subject... MORE

Morning Libertarian Rant

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
John Shure writes, Those who are blaming states for their severe budget shortfalls and arguing that Congress shouldn't provide much-needed assistance until states "clean up their act" (here's a recent example) are wrong on both counts. Pointer from Mark Thoma.... MORE

Unchecked and Unbalanced

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Terrence P. Jeffrey writes, In the July 26, 2008 issue of the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ), Dr. Berwick published an article praising the NHS on its 60th birthday and urging Great Britain to reject free enterprise in health care.... MORE

Natural Libertarians?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Lee Harris pens a provocative essay. To natural libertarians, there can be no more existential conflict than the one they face today. Are they destined to perish from the earth along with their cherished cultural and religious traditions, pushed aside... MORE

Sarah Palin's First Hundred Days*

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
She comes to office in January of 2013 with three priorities in economic policy. These are restoring the health of the private nonfinancial sector, putting entitlements on a sustainable path, and reversing the trend toward centralization of power. 1. A... MORE

Is the Beast Starved?

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, In many respects, the expansionary phase of big government is coming to an end, and quickly. ...It is not that fiscal conservatives have won a grand battle of ideas, but rather that governments realize that the bills... MORE

Social Science in the Trenches

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have to think that this passage from All Quiet on the Western Front exaggerates the intellectuality of the average soldier, but it's such a great read that I'm going to break my personal rule against blockquoting:"But what I would... MORE

Joe Barton is Wrong

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Yesterday, Republican leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence issued a statement castigating their fellow Republican Congressman Joe Barton. Barton had apologized to BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, for the shoddy treatment he received from Congressmen of both parties. He... MORE

Hypothetical Agendas

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Following up on Hypothetical Bargains (read that one first), let me offer some hypothetical agendas for a tea-party influenced Republican Party, as a way of explaining the relationship between the soil and the weeds. Think of the four agendas as... MORE

Hypothetical Bargains

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Below the fold is an essay that is partly a reaction to reading parts of William Voegeli's new book, Never Enough, which ruminates on liberalism, conservatism, and the welfare state.... MORE

Tea Time

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
That was the name of this symposium, which I attended. In general, the conservative establishment seems to have discovered the Tea Party movement, and so in addition to the symposium I want to talk about other attempts by elite conservatives... MORE

The First Amendment and the Principles of Public Opinion

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Three principles of public opinion I've pushed over the years:1. The status quo is popular.  Well-worded questions usually show that the median person favors the status quo, exactly as the Median Voter Model predicts.2. Liberty is more popular at an... MORE

The Triumph of Harold, Kumar, and Liberty

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In two weeks, I'm giving a FEE lecture on "Public Opinion for Libertarians."  I'll probably start by asking for a show of hands: "Who wants the depressing version of today's lecture?  Okay, who wants the really depressing version?"  The sad... MORE

Is the Ruling Class an Elite?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Daniel Klein writes, According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101. Liberals are confident that they are smarter and better educated... MORE

Rent Sucking

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
Economists use the term "rent seeking" to refer to people investing resources in getting government favors. In the Concise Encyclopedia article I wrote on this, I explain why I think the term is inappropriate. But if rent seeking were the... 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

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

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

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

Various

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I think I got to these either from Mark Thoma or Yves Smith. 1. Wolfgang Munchau writes, I have heard credible reports suggesting that the underlying situation of the German Landesbanken is even worse than those estimates suggest. Last year,... 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

Impressions of Tea Partiers

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I am missing Matt Ridley, Arthur Brooks, and Jeff Miron speak in DC this week because I am in Indiana. The first leg of my trip was to do a "house concert" for a group of about 35 people, many... MORE

Capturing the Dynamic

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Ross Douthat writes, This is the perverse logic of meritocracy. Once a system grows sufficiently complex, it doesn't matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only... MORE

Finally, Some Good News

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
The Fix is Out During the Clinton years the country edged left on issues of private autonomy (sex, divorce, casual drug use) while continuing to move right on economic autonomy (individual initiative, free markets, deregulation). This is from Mark Lilla,... MORE

Has Arizona State University Been Audited?

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
A year ago, in his commencement address at Arizona State University, President Obama engaged in a little gallows humor. After ASU had decided not to give him an honorary degree, Obama joked about payback (at about the 1:17 point) for... 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 New Sectarianism in America

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Richard Cohen writes the very reason most Americans find secularism a strange and useless term is that this country has never had a state religion. I believe that America does have a state religion. I call it the religion of... MORE

What Went Wrong?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, In the first year of the Obama administration, the Democrats, either wittingly or unwittingly, decided to put the big government-versus-small government debate at the center of American life. I would put this somewhat differently. The left decided... MORE

What I Said, Recorded Version

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
The April 14 hearing on the HAMP program (modifying loans for troubled mortgage borrowers). I start some time after 1:31 (that is, one hour and 31 minutes into the hearing). I also got some questions at about 1:53. I actually... MORE

Is Pictures of the Socialistic Future Satire?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Instapundit linked to my recent excerpt from Eugen Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future, then posted the following update:UPDATE: A reader emails that the quoted segment is satire. Nothing to that effect at EconLog, though.It's true that the quote comes... MORE

Explaining Socialism's Moral Decay

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm now finishing up a new introduction for a reissue of Eugen Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future.  In writing it, I identified three distinct answers to the question: "How could a movement founded to liberate workers from capitalist oppression... MORE

Group Identity and Fiscal Conservatism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson analyzes the generation gap. I suspect that the more strongly certain libertarian ideas and tendencies are associated with the cultural politics of Baby Boomer conservative Republicans, the more strongly young people with libertarian inclinations will tend to identify... MORE

Congress Messes Up

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of the reasons to have hearings on legislation is so people who comb through it can point out hidden traps, ambiguous language, unintended consequences, etc. But large parts of the Senate bill on health care that went into law... MORE

Friday's Rant

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I need to stop this. I don't want to turn into the Paul Krugman of the right.... MORE

Question for Brad DeLong

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
You objected, reasonably, to my attempt to characterize what you might have said about a hypothetical debt-reduction thesis issued by a Republican. Could you state your position on my substantive point, which I will repeat here: Relative to current law,... MORE

The Light of Day?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Not exactly. My op-ed was placed here, where it probably will get fewer readers than this blog post. The public probably does not understand this budgetary legerdemain, but their instinct is to distrust Congress. In this case, the populist instinct... MORE

Miscellaneous

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
My talk in North Carolina. During the Q&A, I get attacked from the right. Michael Elsby, Bart Hobijn, and Ayseful Sahin discuss what is happening the labor market in the current recession. Recommended. Anne Applebaum argues that now that health... MORE

Jonah Goldberg on the Tea Party

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I enjoyed this dialog between Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg argues that conservatives are legitimately skeptical of mass movements, but that as things have evolved, the tea party is looking better and better. This echoes my own evolution. I... MORE

John Dingell's Mask Slips

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
On March 22, on a radio talk show, Detroit-area Congressman John Dingell stated that it would take a long time to get the regulations together to implement Obamacare because, in his words, "it takes a long time to do the... MORE

Varadarajan on Frum

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Tyler Cowen cited David Frum's analysis of the Congressional Republicans' "mistakes" in the recent health care debate, saying he was "right on the mark." I occasionally like to beat on Republicans too. They aren't called the "stupid party" for nothing.... MORE

Do All Libertarians Sound Alike?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
An old cliche tell us that "All the music you don't like sounds alike."  Does the same hold in politics?  Does everyone on "the other side" sound the same?They don't to me.  Krugman, Rawls, Marx, and Lenin are all left-wing... MORE

What I'm Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Social Security, by Jagadeesh Gokhale. He gave me a copy when we had lunch today, so I'm just getting started. I'll write more when I've read more. Meanwhile, we can deem it self-recommending for someone who wants to be conversant... MORE

Public Sector Unions vs. Taxpayers

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports on cuts proposed in the budget in Montgomery County, Maryland. The proposed budget cuts in Montgomery, which require county approval, reflect not just the recession but also decisions made by officials over many years. Salaries and... MORE

The Sixties and the Tea Party

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
David Brooks sees similarities, while Jonah Goldberg sees differences. The similarity between today and the 1960's is that our country seems highly polarized. On the other hand, I think there is one enormous difference between the 1960's and today. In... MORE

Richman Link

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
FYI: Sheldon Richman's talk is up.... MORE

My Anti-Globalization Stereotype

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I thought this comment was interesting:Bryan Caplan's rejection is based entirely on his own stereotype of 'anti-globalization types.' The fact is that many of the college-age students who join such rallies and events are there because they perceive big business... MORE

Should Libertarians Oppose "Capitalism"?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my long-time friend Sheldon Richman spoke before the GMU Econ Society on "Capitalism versus the Free Market."  (The video was streamed here, but it doesn't seem to be archived anywhere; if you've got a link, please let us know). ... MORE

Reflections on The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Normally I dislike movies based on true stories, but The Baader-Meinhof Complex was fascinating.  It's a history of the Baader-Meinhof gang, also known as the Red Army Faction - and as far as I can tell, the movie sticks very... MORE

Health Care Summit Post-Mortem

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I thought that President Obama did well to convey a willingness to negotiate. If I were the Republicans, I would move off the "scrap the bill" talking point and instead go with something like this. We have some areas where... MORE

Intrade on the Midterms

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Intrade now hosts fourteen different betting markets on the number of House seats the Republicans gain in the 2010 elections.  "Republicans gain 35 or more seats" is trading at roughly 50/50.  That's not quite enough to instantly win my bet... MORE

CEA on "Reforming Health Care"

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
The chapter, "Reforming Health Care," in the Economic Report of the President February 2010, is chock full of interesting facts and arguments. There are strengths and weaknesses. What this chapter shares with the other 9 chapters is that it actually... MORE

The Political Scene

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
1. I was on a panel at the American Action Network today. My talk got a lot of laughs. At some point, there may be C-span video, but they might not have covered the panels.* There were a number of... MORE

Ralph Nader and Campaign Finance

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
At the event I was at on Saturday, Ralph Nader gave an excellent speech. I had seen him speak at UCLA in 1974 and I was unimpressed both by his content and by his delivery. His speech on Saturday was... MORE

Bipartisanship or Irreconcilable Differences?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Pundits bemoan the absence of bipartisanship. Implicitly, they believe that bipartisanship is necessary and sufficient to solve public policy problems. Another possibility is that our politics today actually involves irreconcilable differences. One picture of American politics is that only about... MORE

Paranoia About Paranoia

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Michael Gerson writes, But there are others, new to political engagement, who have found paranoia and anger intoxicating. They watch Glenn Beck rail against the omnipresent threat of Saul Alinsky, read Ayn Rand's elevation of egotism and contempt for the... MORE

A Strange Preference on Wage Subsidies

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma says that he signed a petition, which reads in part, There are many ways to design an effective hiring tax credit, but in general the beneficial effects will be greater the stronger the hiring incentives and the lower... MORE

Will Wilkinson and Brink Lindsey Get the Finger

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
from Ed Kilgore, of the Progressive Policy Institute. Certainly, few self-conscious libertarians have much tolerance for racism, but they are encouraging a point of view about "welfare" that has long been catnip to racists. And that's a problem for liberals.... MORE

Michael Kinsley on Disagreement

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
He writes, Slate's Jacob Weisberg, wrote over the weekend that the "biggest culprit in our current predicament [is] the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large." Defending Weisberg, Kinsley goes on to say, it is silly to... MORE

Gary Johnson and Jeff Miron

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Like snow, they are all over the DC area this week, for example at a Reason event that I missed. Jeff Miron is, like me, a graduate of Swarthmore College in the 1970's, an economics Ph.D from MIT in the... MORE

Spotted at the Johnson Center

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
At GMU's student center, a group of student activists sat behind a table bearing the following sign:We Will Pay You $1 Cash to Watch a 4-minute Video!I was shocked.  I've never seen another activist group offer cash for attention.  My... MORE

Best Paragraph of the Day

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
We are reminded by Mr. Young that one of Mr. Edwards's early boosters was the late Ted Kennedy, who "saw almost unlimited potential in this young, energetic, well-spoken, good-looking Southerner." In a conversation with Mr. Young, Mr. Kennedy waxed sentimental... MORE

Will Obama Be a Carter or a Clinton?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago, I was worried by the "Obama as FDR" scenario.  That cloud is lifting.  Now two alternate scenarios for Obama keep coming to mind.Scenario #1: Obama as Carter.  He'll ineffectively stick to his guns, seem weak, become a... MORE

Name that Blip Redux

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tom Ault makes an interesting point in the comments:I'd just like to point out that some commenters are looking at a graph of total government spending (the sum of federal, state and local spending) and drawing correlations based on which... MORE

Name that Blip

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's last post inspired me to double-check the long-term trend of government spending relative to GDP.  Here's a nice graph courtesy of www.usgovernmentspending.com:Aside from the two World Wars, the growth was almost linear until the early Reagan years.  Then it... MORE

The Genius of Libertarianism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, "You know the way to boost your poll numbers is not do anything," Obama said at a town hall gathering in Ohio last week. "That's how you do it. You don't offend anybody. I'd have real... MORE

O'Grady on Haiti

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
You can't make this stuff up. Apparently-serious people are suggesting that Bill Clinton be made the aid czar. Mary O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal says why this is a bad idea. An excerpt from her piece: According to sources... MORE

Obamacare Passes By 6/30/10: Should I Bet Against It?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Intrade price of Obamacare passing by June 30, 2010 is 36.0.  I'm sorely tempted to bet against it's passage, even after reading the fine print:This contract will settle (expire) at 100 ($10.00) if a healthcare reform bill is passed into... MORE

How I Would Have Sold Obamacare

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts and Will Wilkinson are baffled by Krugman's understanding of how the U.S. government works.  I think Krugman might actually be right.  Yes, there is division of powers.  But leadership, rhetoric, agenda setting, and commitment all work to some... MORE

In his latest TV ad for subsidies for wind-generated power, T. Boone Pickens states words to the effect: Much of our oil is imported from countries that hate us. Pickens uses this to argue that the U.S. government should subsidize... MORE

Huge News Story I Missed in December

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
MItch McConnell Enabled Obamacare Just before Christmas, I read somewhere that Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, had made it easier for Harry Reid to pass the ugly Senate health care bill. I hadn't understood it at... MORE

Yuval Levin on Capitalism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Now that it is on the web, I listened to Yuval Levin's lecture . Basically, Levin does not think that capitalism has any enemies. However, he thinks that it has many misguided and/or unreliable friends. 1. Liberals are misguided/unreliable because... MORE

Rubin on Palin

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
I'm glad Arnold called our attention to this piece on Palin by Jennifer Rubin. I thought Rubin nicely explained the visceral reaction many Jews, including one woman I'm very close to, have to Palin. I'm not a Palin fan and... MORE

Two Follow-ups

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
1. On the current state of the economy, Mark Thoma highlights the employment-to-population ratio. Here is his chart: I think he is right to push this, because I find it a more reliable indicator than the unemployment rate. The graph... MORE

The Next Bubble?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz and I write, If Congress and the president want to push the country in a greener direction, there are easier -- and safer -- ways of doing it. Put a price, in the form of a tax, on... MORE

Billion Dollar Bribe

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you had a billion dollars to spend in Washington to advance liberty.  What's the biggest libertarian policy reform your billion could buy?  How precisely should you spread your money around?Remember: Many obvious strategies would lead to bad publicity and... MORE

Emotional Politics

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson and Jonah Goldberg (among others) are debating whether a little bit of nationalism is a good thing. For example, Wilkinson writes, Liberty is best loved when it is loved because it is good -- because it makes possible... MORE

The Public Choice of the Ancient Hebrews

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I just finished Richard Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible?  It's a classic popularization of the Documentary Hypothesis, which claims that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is actually a medley of four earlier sources called J (the... MORE

Congressional Millionaires

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Factoids of the day: 1.  44% of Congressmen are millionaires.  2. Consistent with the "limousine liberals" stereotype, eight out of the ten richest are Democrats.I wonder how much of this can be explained by the vast overrepresentation of lawyers in... MORE

A Turning Point?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Those of us who are opposed to the concentration of power in the hands of technocrats have had much to be depressed about over the past year. However, sometimes fortunes change. I wonder if this past week will come to... MORE

My Alternative Health Care Bill

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen offers his, which strikes me as overly complicated. The bill I would propose would be one that encourages experimentation at the state level. Offer to support an experiment that allows an individual state to adopt single-payer, while allowing... MORE

Bush Admits His Errors

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In a speech last week, former President George W. Bush admitted that he had erred in imposing new layers of regulation on the U.S. economy. Here's the news story: Former President George W. Bush, outlining plans for a new public... MORE

Tullock on The Unpredictability of Dictatorial Succession

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Tullock's chapter on "Becoming a Dictator" in Autocracy:Economists know the so-called random walk hypothesis regarding the stock market, which holds that all available information is already incorporated in the market price, with the result that the price or its... MORE

Politics for Kids

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
A few weeks ago, Carl Mounteer, a local lawyer, and I were invited to present our views on a local tax issue to the Monterey County Weekly, the local left-wing weekly. Carl and I had written the ballot argument against... MORE

Russ Roberts on Capitol Hill

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
At a hearing on the "pay czar," he doesn't mince words. We don't need a Special Master to level the playing field. We just need to take the crony out of crony capitalism so we can get back to the... MORE

Zingales to Republicans: Go Jeffersonian

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Luigi Zingales writes, The Republican Party has to move from a pro-business strategy that defends the interests of existing companies to a pro- market strategy that fosters open competition and freedom of entry. ...A pro-market party will fight tirelessly against... MORE

The Incomparable Tullock

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I am all-in for Gordon Tullock, my Nobel-worthy colleague who retired last year.  He is notorious as a homo economicus reductionist.  If you actually read his works, however, you will see that his view of human nature is far subtler... MORE

The Bonus Issue

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I was against the bailouts from day one, and I have not changed that position. Government spent my money without my permission on bailing out AIG, Goldman, and the rest. I won't repeat my references to Henry Paulson as a... MORE

The Tonkin Principle

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
FinReg21 reports, While emergency bailout funds helped avert a collapse of the financial system, the Treasury Department now thinks the money should be diverted to helping small businesses and homeowners, a Treasury official said. Speaking before the Congressional Oversight Panel... MORE

Big Finance and Big Government

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Andrew Ross tells us what the big boys were doing during the crisis. Neil Barofsky says that the government was playing a confidence game. The fact that there is some populist anger in the country these days is not a... MORE

The Real Meaning of Privilege

Game Theory
David Henderson
Once we start using the word "privilege" where what we really mean is "wealth," we start applying this term to those who came by their wealth without special privilege-the Bill Gateses of the world, sure, but also the more-common successful... MORE

The Biggest Lie on Health Reform

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Of the following statements made by President Obama in his speech on health reform last week, which is not true? Answer below the fold. a) "if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance... MORE

More Tea and Sympathy

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Again, off mission so below the fold.... MORE

Tea and Sympathy

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
A conservative photo-journalist refers to yesterday's rally in Washington as The Conservative Woodstock. I believe that this day could be referred to in the not too distant future as the day that changed America. This was the day the great... MORE

Obama Speaks

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
[Update: My reactions to the President's health care speech are here.] The folks at Cato think that President Obama's speech to school kids was creepy. I agree. You know what it reminds me of? In 7th or 8th grade, during... MORE

I've Got a Little List

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ryan Avent's not happy with my exploratory list of anti-suburban regulations:This is truly a remarkable list. One thing to note is that Caplan doesn't seem to grasp that criticisms of pro-suburban policies are largely about the forms that are encouraged... MORE

Cities, Suburbs, Country: Who's Subsidizing Whom?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I was pointing out some ways that government discourages suburbanization, I started wondering about budgetary cross-subsidies between cities, suburbs, and rural areas in the U.S.  Who's subsidizing whom?  Nothing decent googles for me - though I did come across... MORE

Cash for Clunkers in Action

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This video, and many like it, easily available on YouTube, would have Bastiat rolling over in his grave. As Bastiat put it, "destruction is not profitable" (1.18), at least not for society as a whole. The person in the video... MORE

Tyler Cowen on Pretense

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
On his blog today, Tyler Cowen, who does not usually use harsh language, does use it when referring to libertarians. He writes: By the way, some libertarians like to pretend that Milton Friedman blames the Fed for "contracting" the money... MORE

Correction on Corporate Campaign Contributions

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
How's that title for alliteration? On his blog today, Tyler Cowen repeats a standard mistake made by many, including many in the media, about political contributions by U.S. corporations. With the tag line, "Which firms give the most to politicians?,"... MORE

Why oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Those who read Brad DeLong's blog will recognized his oft-asked question. Here I'm asking it regarding the alleged Lockerbie bomber. Like many Americans, I was incensed when I first heard that he would be released--for compassionate reasons, of all things.... MORE

The Economy and the News Cycle

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Friends of mine have asked me lately how badly President Obama's economic policies are working. My reply is that it is way too soon to tell. I would expect that by now, the effect of Obama Administration policies on unemployment... MORE

Why I am Not a Republican

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Dana Milbank thinks that he has found a "ventriloquist" providing GOP talking points on health care. Castellanos used the word "experiment" six times to criticize Obama's plan; Steele, the eager pupil, used it 30. Only one thing would have made... MORE

Obama to Africa: Don't Imitate Me

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
In his speech yesterday in Ghana, President Obama said, among other things: No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top. and But what America will do is increase assistance for responsible... MORE

Why Are the Neurotic Anti-Market?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The man in Roomette 3, Car No. 11, was a sniveling little neurotic who wrote cheap little plays into which, as a social message, he inserted cowardly little obscenities to the effect that all businessmen were scoundrels.               -Ayn Rand,... MORE

Why Are the Agreeable Anti-Market?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Once you grant that personality has an important effect on ideology, it's only natural to wonder why.  Gerber et al propose what they describe as "two tentative and equally plausible possibilities here, one focused on other regarding judgments and the... MORE

Personality and Ideology: Compared to What?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold makes a fair point about the size of the effect of personality on ideology.  Why then am I so impressed?  Because compared to most conventional predictors of ideology, the personality variables do well.  I've spent many hours looking at... MORE

Personality and Ideology: A Quick Rejoinder

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, Suppose someone had the personality least favorable to economic conservatism: a 0 on Extraversion, 1 on Agreeableness, 0 on Conscientiousness, 0 on Stability, and 1 on Openness. According to the same regression referenced earlier, this person is expected... MORE

Statistical vs. Material Significance

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
I appreciate Bryan's pointer to an article by Alan Gerber and others on personality and ideology. However, the article illustrates what I consider to be a methodological error. That error is to use statistical significance as a metric. Statistical significance... MORE

Left-right ideology is the single most powerful determinant of party identification and issue positions, but ideology itself is almost impossible to predict.  It does have a few mild correlates - for example, the well-educated are a little more liberal, the... MORE

Not From the Onion

Regulation
David Henderson
FTC Takes First Step in Regulating Internet Alarming Development on Internet Catches Government's Attention What some fail to realize, though, is that such reviews can be tainted: Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500... MORE

Summers vs. Goolsbee

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
President Obama was getting his daily economic briefing one recent morning when a fly distracted him. The president swatted and missed, just as the pest buzzed near the shoes of Lawrence H. Summers, the chief White House economic adviser. "Couldn't... MORE

Motives and Outcomes

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In a comment on my post yesterday, Will Wilkinson defended his parallel between Republicans and Democrats. I had granted him that there were parallels in their hypocrisy. But he went further, writing: I think some libertarians and conservatives are annoyed... MORE

One-Party State Watch

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Newt Gingrich connects some dots. In 2008 alone, the UAW gave $4,161,567 to the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama. In return, the UAW received 55 percent of Chrysler and 17.5 percent of GM, plus billions of dollars.... MORE

The Aristocracy of Pull, 2

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
In a December post, I wrote about the aristocracy of pull, that beautifully descriptive phrase that Ayn Rand used in her classic novel, Atlas Shrugged. It refers to the use of government power to allocate resources. Today, my fellow blogger... MORE

One-Party State Watch

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Bradley Symposium transcript is now available. Mitch Daniels (p.13): You can be a silver-spoon, blue-blood, wind-surfing, coastal elitist, but if you wear the Democratic label you are presumed to be connected and empathetic and to understand the problems of... MORE

The Other Demographic Suicide

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's concerned about demographic projections of impending Democratic super-majorities.  But there's a major demographic trend going the other way: Whites in Republican states have a lot more kids than whites in Democratic states.  My source is none other than Steve... MORE

Bet Accepted

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, I predict that 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 now). So Arnold, how about a $100 bet at even... MORE

One-Party Democracy Is Not Coming: I'll Bet on It!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's worried that the U.S. is moving to one-party democracy.  I completely agree with Arnold that one-party democracy is possible.  This is a central theme of my forthcoming article on Singaporean political economy, and over the past six months I've... MORE

The Washington Post vs. the Obama Administration

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Opening today's Washington Post, there are three editorials. The lead editorial is on Obama's policies with respect to the automobile industry. the spectacle of creditors being stripped of their legal rights in favor of a labor union with which the... MORE

Notes from the Monterey Tea Party

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
On April 15, I went to one of the few demonstrations I've ever been to: the Monterey, California Tea party. I didn't know what to expect. It happened on what seemed like the coldest day of the year. The temperature... MORE

Obama's View of Service

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In a strange ad on TV, President Obama encourages us to serve. My purpose in this post is not to make a point I have already made elsewhere (here and here), namely, that everyone who produces a product or a... MORE

Judiciary Dishonesty

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
This weekend, I spoke on free trade at the Club for Growth's annual meeting in Palm Beach this weekend. At dinner last night, I heard an amazing story from Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa. I was amazed at... MORE

Quality Comment

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Chris Auld just posted an excellent comment on Brad DeLong's blog.  Brad showed his readers a few graphs on the income-voting connection.  Chris went to the original data:Basically, the poor were more likely to vote for Obama, but once household... MORE

Two Perspectives on Deficits and Debt

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
First, from columnist Steven Pearlstein Two trillion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but in a pinch we could pay it all back in just one year if we were willing to reduce household and government spending by about... MORE

Great Lines from Bob Lucas

Macroeconomics
David Henderson
The first book review I did for Fortune, in 1984, was of Arjo Klamer's Conversations with Economists. In future posts, I'll quote some of my favorite quotes from Bob Solow and from others. Here's my favorite passage from the interview... MORE

Who is Jan Helfeld?

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In a comment on one of my recent posts, commenter Patrick Sullivan referenced an interview with Harry Reid in which the interviewer tried to get Senator Reid to admit that taxes are involuntary. Reid simply wouldn't. I found the style... MORE

Sentences of the Day

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In response to Tyler Cowen's statement that Arnold Kling "wasn't guilty of anything in the first place, except perhaps having exaggerated the coercive nature of taxation," commenter Laserlight asks: Are you suggesting that taxation is not coercive? If I just... MORE

"The President Believes"

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
In a recent post I wrote about Larry Summers: I doubt that he likes the awful [stimulus] bill, but what I'm pretty sure of is that he likes being on the inside. One commenter, Charlie, wrote: it's amazing how both... MORE

Sense from Frank Rich

Economic History
David Henderson
Yes, you read that correctly. Frank Rich, the partisan New York Times columnist, has a good column today. In it, he delves into what he calls "[T]he tsunami of populist rage coursing through America." Here's one of the best sections:... MORE

Who is Advising these Guys?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Ed Glaeser does not like the Republican mortgage plan any more than I do. I am not sure that plan is still alive. It may have been superceded by another ill-conceived idea, a tax break for home buyers. See Tyler... MORE

Wolfe in Safety's Clothing

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In my latest Forbes.com article (co-authored with my book co-author Charles Hooper), I (we) take on Naderite Sidney Wolfe's views on safe drugs and on conflicts of interest. We point out that despite Wolfe's view that consultants to drug companies... MORE

Block Owes Me a Buck

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In July, 2007, I bet Walter Block at 200:1 odds that Ron Paul wouldn't be the next U.S. president.  I would rather have lost, Walter.  But alas, you owe me $1.... MORE

Alex Tabarrok on Obama

Political Economy
David Henderson
Alex Tabarrok went to see President-elect Obama speak at George Mason University on Thursday and came away impressed. Why? Here are Alex's words: His [Obama's] goal is "not to create a slew of new government programs, but a foundation for... MORE

Krugman's Tin Ear

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
I could just as easily have titled this post "Krugman's Achilles Heal." Basically, it's that Paul Krugman seems never to take account of the findings of public choice. Even a basic understanding of public choice would make him question his... MORE

Education, Ideology, and Awkward Weddings

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Left-right ideology is by far the strongest predictor of party identification.  Education, in contrast, has very little connection to partisanship.*  However, when you look at opinions about specific issues, ideology and education are both extremely important.  For example, conservatives and... MORE

I'm admittedly a sucker for a period piece.  But 2006's The Painted Veil is fantastically good.   It's mostly a love story about two British ex-pats living in China during the 1920s.  But it's set against a vivid background of Chinese... MORE

Return to Neptune, III: Do Tax Breaks Mimic the Market?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Rod seems to see tax breaks purely through a special interest lens: Corporations lobby the government for a special deal, and governments respond at the expense of less organized interests.  I agree that this is a conceivable scenario.  But at... MORE

Unpresidential Remarks

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, If our next president seems flip or overconfident, observers will be skeptical above all else. Tyler mostly talks about idea traps, a notion that I think of as Bryan's. Let me make some remarks that are sufficiently... MORE

After the Election

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Paul Krugman writes, for the past 14 years America's political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. ...Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people. You can see how mellow Krugman has become... MORE

Will Networks Blow It Again?

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
In the presidential election of 2000, all of the major networks but Fox News Channel blew it. Not by declaring Gore the winner too early or, later in the evening, Bush the winner too early. Those are predictions and you... MORE

How McCain Could Have Won

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my RA, Brian Blase, made the smartest point about political strategy that I've heard all year.  In fact, if Blase were McCain's right-hand man instead of mine, the Republican candidate's probability of victory would be about 40% instead of... MORE

Left versus Right: What's the Big Deal?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Call me crazy, but I think that McCain and Obama are basically the same.  You might like to persuade me otherwise, but you've got to understand where I'm coming from.  First, when I classify people's politics, I think in terms... MORE

Politics and Identity

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
I recommend this lecture from Bill Bishop. By the way, I am finding an incredible amount of interesting videos these days. I think that somebody who is motivated to learn and has some good sources of recommendations could get do... MORE

The Camden Bobos Proposal

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Below is a list of Ten Proposals for the next Administration, which came from a talk by Juan Enriquez. I thought that the main point of the talk is that politicians are dealing in unreality. Certainly, in the debates, every... MORE

Whatever Happened to Gridlock?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Until recently, the nice thing about American democracy was that it was hard for policy to rapidly get worse.  What happened?  Robin Hanson points to the amazing epidemic of deference to doom-saying economists.  Is that the real story?  If it... MORE

The Call for a Commission

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
The Hill Reports, An independent financial oversight committee should be established to examine what led to the economic meltdown, House Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Wednesday. The National Journal's Congress Daily (subscription required) reports, Democratic leadership... MORE

Is Obama the Next FDR?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've previously said that I'll count myself lucky as long as Obama doesn't turn out to be the next FDR.  Now the affable Paul Rubin's arguing that my luck won't hold:Barack Obama is one of the most liberal members of... MORE

Questions I Would Like to See Asked

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
I would love to see this question asked at a Presidential debate: If half of the troubled mortgage loans are for non-owner-occupied homes, that is for houses owned by speculators, do your proposals still make sense? My understanding is that... MORE

Public Opinion and the Bail-Out

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Is the public fur it or agin it? The major surveys conflict:A poll by Rasmussen Reports early in the week found that 44% of Americans opposed the plan and 25% supported it. However, a USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday showed... MORE

Revolt of the Elites

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I am getting ready to take a couple days off from blogging. If I could count on Congress to leave town now, I would put in an order to increase my holdings of stock index funds. But I'm going to... MORE

Mining Mill

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to Gerald Gaus' critique of The Myth of the Rational Voter (part of a full forthcoming issue of Critical Review on the book), I've discovered a fun passage from one of my least-favorite thinkers, J.S. Mill. I knew that... MORE

Hail Scott Adams

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you haven't heard, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has commissioned a survey of professional economists. His explicit hope is to raise the quality of policy:So how does a voter decide which candidate would be best for the economy? [...]... MORE

Gelman's Graphical Treat

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman, King of Charts and Graphs, and author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, has prepared an exclusive set of statistical pictures just for Econlog readers. Gelman's graph shows CNN's exit poll data, broken down by... MORE

Gelman's Great Book

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman has turned his eagle-eyed research on the American voter into an excellent book, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. (The book's website is here). If you ever doubted the value of empirical research, this book will... MORE

Low Collective Benefits

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Sudhir Venkatesh writes Introduced with much fanfare in 1993, HOPE helped municipal governments demolish dilapidated public housing projects and revitalize their inner cities. To receive program money, mayors agreed to move families from the projects to low-poverty neighborhoods and build... MORE

How Many Americans Could Pass the Citizenship Test?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Should you have to pass a test to be allowed to vote? People tend to freak out when I sympathetically consider this possibility. It not fair! Who would write the test? Wouldn't it be discriminatory?! The funny thing is that... MORE

Perfect Post

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok has just written the perfect blog post. Don't miss it. P.S. Here's my only post that's arguably in the same league.... MORE

Parsing Senator McCain

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Voters should read this speech by Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. It includes things that excite me and things that concern me.... MORE

Obama thinks we can be perfect (?)

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
My guess is that Barack Obama just casually made this remark. I believe in our ability to perfect this union because it's the only reason I'm standing here today. I suppose that to most people, this is just another nice,... MORE

Good Question

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Fatal Misconceptions:And why did organizations that proclaimed family planning as a human right fail to oppose increasingly coercive policies in India and China? Why, instead, did they provide friendly advice and support, and defend them to all the world?... MORE

Why Hillary's Harmless

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A while back I argued that trade policy would be better under Hillary than Obama:My assumption is that neither candidate would actively promote free trade, so the greater evil is the candidate who can "get things done." Given Obama's winning... MORE

Over the Sea: Patri's Dream

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
One of my favorite footnotes in Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism:Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton and son of anarcho-theorist David, is even today actively planning to launch artificial sea platform communities, which he's calling seasteads, currently hoping to start one... MORE

A Woman of the People

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
According to Reuters, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday dismissed the "elite opinion" of economists who criticized her gas tax proposal..."I'm not going to put my lot in with economists," Clinton said when asked to name an economist who... MORE

India, 1977: A Libertarian Populist Moment

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Matthew Connelly's outstanding Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population nearly brought a pro-democratic tear to my elitist libertarian eye. Trotsky once wrote that:In a country where the sole employer is the state... [t]he old principle: who does not... MORE

Euro Bet II x3: The Bet's On

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Mark Steyn's graciously accepted my latest Euro bet, along with David Henderson and EconLog reader Rafiv. (Rafiv, I will need to know your full name and location to seal the deal with you; just let me know and we're on).... MORE

Euro Bet II: Win Mark Steyn's Money

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's an especially specific claim in Mark Steyn's America Alone:The U.S. government's National Intelligence Council is predicting that the EU will collapse by 2020. I think that's a rather cautious estimate myself. Ever since September 11, I've been gloomily predicting... MORE

Will Goolsbee Last?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I don't know how I got on Hillary's emailing list, but it's not without some entertainment value. It looks like she's trying to get Austan Goolsbee fired for privately avowing what I've called "felicitous hypocrisy" about NAFTA. Will Hillary succeed... MORE

Don Boudreaux raises a deep question I've often asked myself:But if I were a pro-regulation and high-tax kinda guy, why would I dispute the claim that America's economy has performed remarkably well for everyone even since 1973? Why would I... MORE

Politicians: How Outraged Should You Be?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
You all know what Brad DeLong thinks about George Bush. Well, that's what I think about politicians in general. Even so, politicians almost never make me angry. I expect them to be atrocious, and I'm rarely disappointed. When I hear... MORE

The Outlier Who Would Be President

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's a neat piece on the peculiar status of John McCain in Poole and Rosenthal's ambitious empirical analysis of Congress:Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, the two authors of the most widely used estimates of the ideal points of members of... MORE

Sacrificing an Economic Adviser

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler is upset. It seems the Barack Obama campaign is distancing itself from Austan Goolsbee, who is indeed a first-rate economist...Which kinds of advisers will flourish best in a "message consistency" environment? Independent and critical minds, able and willing to... MORE

Who Will Be Less Bad for Trade?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Bhagwati says Hillary's worse than Obama:[W]hereas Mr Obama’s economist is Austan Goolsbee, a brilliant Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD at Chicago Business School and a valuable source of free-trade advice over almost a decade, Mrs Clinton’s campaign boasts of no... MORE

Jeremy Horpedahl argues that you can make most public support for bigger government vanish simply by mentioning that more spending means higher taxes. I'd like him to be right. But I'm not convinced. First, overall government spending passes Jeremy's Mueller... MORE

One of the Best Critiques of My Work

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I just noticed that my former student Jeremy Horpedahl penned an awfully clever critique of my work almost a year ago. Highlight:I would encourage you to read Eva Mueller's 1963 QJE article "Public Attitudes Toward Fiscal Programs." Mueller's survey design... MORE

Two Sentences that Make Strange Bedfellows

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold quotes two sentences by Ken Silber. I can't recall the last time that one sentence was so sensible, and the next so wrong-headed. The sensible:The idea that people should be, say, lying down in front of police cars to... MORE

Can You Guess?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Without peeking at this Washington Post story, try to fill in the blank. Criticism of creating a new ______ came from all sides. Many Democrats expressed fears that the new body might lead to a sharp increase in frivolous --... MORE

Castro's Resignation: The Market Says It Matters

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The gist of CNN's story is that Castro's resignation makes little practical difference. But the market says otherwise:The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, which aims to profit from the resumption of U.S. trade with Cuba, surged the most in its 13-year... MORE

Campaign Stories

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes I think Paul Krugman simply has this completely wrong. He is referring to what seems to be an obscure sparring point on health care reform, going back to her failed reform effort of 1994. One narrative, which... MORE

When in Doubt, Regulate?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In my view, that is what we can expect from the next Administration. From a tax perspective, the Democrats will be constrained. All of their beloved "middle-class tax breaks" will be inoperative unless the Alternative Minimum Tax is curtailed. The... MORE

My Election Assessment

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I conclude, None of the leading contenders for President in 2008 has the humility factor going for them. You just have to close your eyes and hope that whoever we elect does only minimal damage. I continue to view elections... MORE

A Patchwork of Prejudices

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
CNN reports, Sen. Hillary Clinton can thank Latino and Asian voters for her projected victory in California. Early exit polls indicate that Sen. Barack Obama carried white voters in California because of his overwhelming support among white men. White women,... MORE

Dan Klein to Paul Krugman: You Can Do Better

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Krugman-bashing has become a cottage industry, but you'll have to search long and hard for a better workmanship than this piece by Dan Klein and Harika Barlett. Klein and Barlett inventory all of Krugman's NYT columns, and find a curious... MORE

What a Difference a Month Makes

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's what Chris Hayes wrote about Ron Paul last month:But even if the Paul campaign doesn't point the way toward some lasting, powerful, paleo-cosmo libertarian coalition (and, really, let's hope it doesn't), he is at least providing libertarians with a... MORE

Ron Paul's Baggage

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Folks have dug up some newsletters from the 1980's and 1990's put out under the Ron Paul brand. They do not sound so good. "[O]ur country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists--and they can be... MORE

Can Ron Paul Ensure a Democratic Victory? Will He?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ron Paul is highly unlikely to be the next president. But could he become the Republicans' Nader? Suppose after being knocked out of the primaries, Paul runs on the Libertarian Party ticket. He's got a big war chest, and enthusiastic... MORE

Faces versus Policies

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold already quoted my favorite section from my Sunday editorial in the Washington Post, so let me quote my second favorite part:Pundits love telling us that voters are "fed up" with politics as usual. Candidates follow suit, insisting that --... MORE

Certainty and Uncertainty

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, David R. Henderson asks me to list three policy areas where my views are uncertain. Since this blog (or at least this author) has been streaming uncertainty for over four years, this strikes me as an odd... MORE

Ron Paul: My Two Cents

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler, Megan, and Bryan have been discussing Ron Paul. My opinion is closest to Megan's. I view the Ron Paul phenomenon as a successor to the Ross Perot phenomenon or the Pat Buchanan phenomenon. His supporters are expressing alienation and... MORE

Douglas Hibbs is famous for his Bread-and-Peace election forecasting model; Andrew Gelman produces some nifty graphs to boil down Hibbs' results. Growth is clearly a very strong predictor of incumbent party vote share - though I suspect that Achen and... MORE

What Could President Paul Actually Do?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
What would happen if Ron Paul actually became president? First, I'd have to write a $200 check to Walter Block. But what would happen next? There are some major changes that Paul could make unilaterally. He really could recall U.S.... MORE

Why Not Make Politics a Real Popularity Contest?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Politicians in a democracy face truly crummy incentives: No matter how good or bad their performance, they receive the same salary. What would we expect from a CEO who faced the same reward structure? As soon as you start talking... MORE

Popular Dictators: Who Could Pass the Democratic Test?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Some call Putin a dictator, yet few deny that he would win a fair election. If you look around the world, how many bona fide dictators could say the same? Let's start with: Castro Kim Jong Il Mugabe Mubarak The... MORE

Two Rothbardian Reductios

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Despite his army of detractors, Murray Rothbard was a master of the reductio ad absurdum. In Power and Market, he out-did even Bastiat:Suppose that Jones has a farm, “Jones’ Acres,” and Smith works for him. Having become steeped in protariff... MORE

Why Did So Many Libertarians Support the War?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When the Washington Times announced that libertarianism is trendy, I couldn't help but think "It would be a lot trendier if libertarians had been against the Iraq War from the start." Plenty of libertarians were against it, of course. But... MORE

Median Voter to Self: Keep Up the Good Work!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A recent Gallup poll confirmed the continuation of a 30-year trend: The median voter believes in himself! The question: More generally, how much trust and confidence do you have in the American people as a whole when it comes to... MORE

The Wittman-Caplan Debate

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you attended my debate with Donald Wittman, or wish you could have, here are some additional links, including the full text of my opening statement. I continue to be surprised by how much Wittman has moved away from the... MORE

Thoughts on September 11

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
All of this is off topic as far as economics goes, but this day still reverberates with me. 1. I understand that if you look at history, the probability of being killed by a terrorist is low. But if you... MORE

Remember the political power survey that Ilya Somin and I pre-tested last year? Since then, we've added a third co-author - Wayne Grove of Lemoyne College - done extensive revisions, and been given access to 25 questions worth of space... MORE

One insight I've gleaned from reading a lot of presidential debate transcripts (see here, here, and here): Democrats and Republicans have radically different demonologies. Both sides see evil forces behind the world's troubles, but their lists have only one overlap.... MORE

Numbers to Ponder

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The latest issue of Reason cites a study by economic consultant Gary Shilling. More than half of all Americans--53 percent--now depend on government for their income. In 1950 the figure was just 28 percent...Shilling totaled up federal, state, and local... MORE

The High-Tech Solution to Voter Irrationality

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
This didn't make it into the book, but one of my favorite remedies for voter irrationality has long been to simply clone John Stossel. His column today just reinforces my support for the clone-Stossel solution: More practically, [Caplan] thinks that... MORE

Toward Better Debate

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I suggest political debate would be more enlightening if we asked proponents to focus on their assumptions. When you say that your policy proposal would be an improvement, what are the key assumptions behind that statement? For example, suppose that... MORE

I Bet An Austrian

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Austrians have strong philosophical objections to the application of probability theory to most of the real world, but that didn't stop Walter Block from publicly offering to bet at 200:1 odds that Ron Paul will be elected president:Can't happen? Give... MORE

Watch the Platforms, Not the Winner

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The well-educated have relatively reasonably beliefs about policy. Puzzle: If you look at voting behavior, education does little to make people more Democratic or more Republican. So what difference does it... MORE

See One-Man, One-Vote Questioned on National TV

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
More educated people think more like economists; in fact, more educated people pretty much have more reasonable views across the board. Furthermore, by a happy coincidence, more educated people are more likely to vote. Once my book gets to policy... MORE

The Theory of Pandering

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts, in this speech, offers a theory of political pandering. He suggests that politicians know that they are exaggerating problems, because the solutions they offer are so pathetic. If you really thought that all the gains in the economy... MORE

The World's Most Honest Politician?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Quite possibly, it's this guy. He's straight out of last night's rerun of the Twilight Zone. HT: Eric Crampton... MORE

Why Europe Goes Wrong

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tyler's piece on Europe also lays down a challenge to American social democrats: They [social democrats] think that enough changes would make America enough like Europe; I do not understand their underlying model of the differences between America and Europe,... MORE

Mission Crisis?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: Starting with the Carter Administration, deregulation reigned in transportation, communications, and--eventually--energy. These victories for market-oriented policies stimulated growth and allowed us to have the luxury of an enlarged welfare state without crippling the economy. "Crippled"? By historical standards,... MORE

Great Quip

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Quoth Patri Friedman: Old definitions: Liberals: Favor social freedoms, but not economic freedoms. Conservatives: Favor economic freedoms, but not social freedoms. New definitions: Liberals: Believe in evolution, but not biology. Conservatives: Believe in biology, but not evolution.... MORE

Worst Advice to Libertarians Ever?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not sure if Tyler Cowen's advice to libertarians is the worst any serious thinker has ever given us. But it's up there. I'd like to give my dear friend and benefactor a charitable reading, but I just can't. Stripped... MORE

Are Elites "Anti-Democratic"?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Acemoglu and Robinson have recently done much to academically revive the view that democratization is a struggle between pro-democratic masses and anti-democratic elites. If elites accept democracy, they do so to forestall even worse outcomes like revolution. (Here's a readable... MORE

What Did Pinochet Know that Cowen Doesn't?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
With his characteristic fatalism, Tyler tells us:If they put me in charge of a Latin country, I don't think I could deliver superior growth performance. At best I would avoid some of the really stupid mistakes, but I couldn't turn... MORE

The most intellectually serious proponents and fellow travellers of anarchism are, paradoxically, a bunch of stodgy economists. That's one of the lessons of Ed Stringham's new 700-page anthology, Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice. This volume brings... MORE

Milton Friedman, Hated Conservative

Cross-country Comparisons
Arnold Kling
Shortly before he died, Milton Friedman gave the Wall Street Journal an email interview. China has maintained political and human collectivism while gradually freeing the economic market. This has so far been very successful but is heading for a clash,... MORE

The Free-Market Agenda

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I say that it should be 1. Increase the proportion of children who are schooled outside of the public school system. 2. Increase the proportion of health care spending that is paid for directly by consumers. 3.... MORE

Liberaltarians?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The Brink Lindsey essay that everyone is talking about is here. Allow me to hazard a few more specific suggestions about what a liberal-libertarian entente on economics might look like... Shift taxes away from things we want more of and... MORE

Where Economists Agree

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
According to Robert Whaples, the overwhelming majority (87.5%) agree that the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade. Even more (90.1%) disagree with the suggestion that the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries.... MORE

Electoral Deconcentration

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the '70's, Naderites put forward various "deconcentration" bills that e.g. capped firms' market shares at 12.5%. Get bigger, get trusted-busted. Brian Doss at Catallarchy has a modest proposal for electoral deconcentration: [W]hy not require that an incumbent’s margin of... MORE

Since its inception, the slogan of Marginal Revolution has been "Small steps toward a much better world." It turns out, however, that MR's prolific Tyler Cowen doesn't think that policy would improve much even if everyone knew as much economics... MORE

Is Elitism the Answer?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
As Bryan just said, he has a new essay summarizing his forthcoming Myth of the Rational Voter. I agree with some of his diagnosis: if you underestimate the benefits of immigration, or the evidence in favor of the theory of... MORE

Doubt the Vote

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've written the lead essay for this month's Cato Unbound. I've got a habit of laughing at my own jokes. My favorite from the Cato Unbound essay: As long as elites persist in unmerited deference to and flattery of the... MORE

The Mankiw Column Fortune Didn't Want You to Read

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
It's called "Why Some People Shouldn't Vote." And if you think you've anticipated his whole argument, you're probably wrong. At least I was.... MORE

Wording the Questions

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Seeing Greg Mankiw's reference to the World's Smallest Political Quiz put me in a puckish mood to tweak the questions. Alternative versions (Arlo's versions?) are in parentheses. Government should not censor speech, press, media or Internet (People should be allowed... MORE

Survey Pre-Test: Who in Government Has Power Over What?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A few months ago, readers of this blog gave helpful comments on the first draft of the Caplan-Somin survey about who in government has power over what. Now we're ready to pre-test. If you've got the time, please take this... MORE

Fantasy Agendas

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen wants to means-test Medicare, get rid of farm subsidies and other corporate welfare, legalize more high-skilled immigrants, join Greg Mankiw's Pigou Club (meaning a tax on the use of evil fossil fuels) and get rid of the corporate... MORE

Surveying on the Cheap: Role-Playing an Average American

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Near the end of "Is There a Free-Market Economist in the House?," Dan Klein and Charlotta Stern say: "Economists, then, are free-market compared to other social scientists. What about compared to ordinary Americans? Unfortunately, no one has a good handle... MORE

Most Economists Have Two Hands

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern write, Supporters of free-market principles, we maintain, would score at least a 4.0 on the 18-question policy index presented here, and strong supporters would score at least a 4.5. By contrast, the mean for... MORE

From Far Left to Libertarian

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, I travelled the route from Far Left to libertarian. I think that quite a few libertarians have travelled that route, and yet I cannot think of anyone who has gone the other direction. This leads me... MORE

Think Before You Sign

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok berates economists who signed a petition in favor of raising the minimum wage. He's willing to forgive them for disagreeing about the magnitude of the disemployment effect, but not for failing to check facts from the almanac: Nevertheless,... MORE

Elephants Clashing

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Ryan Sager writes, Why, as activists and students and journalists gathered for CPAC, was there a distinct sense that something was amiss? Because the marriage at the heart of the conservative movement was falling apart. ...Will social conservatives continue to... MORE

Unstrategic Alliances

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Laugh if you must, but I've always enjoyed the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Last week, I came across another great read in a recent issue: John Payne's "Rothbard's Time on the Left." It's a fascinating account of Rothbard's "strategic alliance"... MORE

Mueller on Iraq

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
John Mueller's been very busy since I last looked. Here's one of the most interesting things I've seen about Iraq in months: The public gave substantial support to the military ventures in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq as the troops were... MORE

Caught In My Own Trap?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold wonders if I've forgotten the Idea Trap I've talked so much about in the past: He has this theory of "idea traps," in which bad ideas lead to bad outcomes which lead to populists with more bad ideas, etc.... MORE

How Much Influence Do Professors Have?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Winterspeak chides me for exaggerating the negative externalities of academic leftism: While I acknowledge that left-wingers are overrepresent[ed] in academia, I think this is an efficient market outcome and I think that Bryan's claims of the harm from leftist policies... MORE

What Does Your Ideology Say About You?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Speaking at the Public Choice Outreach seminar this afternoon, Robin Hanson repeated an hypothesis he's been entertaining for a while: Liberals are trying to show that they are caring; conservatives are trying to show that they are tough. Perhaps, but... MORE

Is Bush Stupid?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The answer, according to an article in the latest issue of Political Psychology is: In absolute terms, no way: ...Bush is definitely intelligent. The IQ estimates range between 111.1 and 138.5, with an average around 125. That places him in... MORE

Critique My First Serious Survey

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've never written a serious survey before. Sure, I wrote the Libertarian Purity Test twelve years ago, but that was just for fun. But now I've written a first draft of a survey on which my co-author Ilya Somin and... MORE

Competitive Manipulation

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's carved out an intermediate position about who's responsible for bad policies. Yes, the public currently opposes e.g. raising the retirement age. But: It depends on how the issue is framed. When Al Gore framed it during his acceptance speech... MORE

How Does Winning the Lottery Affect Ideology?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Not much. A neat new paper in Political Psychology by Doherty, Gerber, and Green finds that winning the lottery decreases support for the estate tax. But there is only weak evidence that lottery winners favor less redistribution, or are more... MORE

United 93 vs. Sleeper Cell

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I saw United 93 today on Greg Mankiw's recommendation. It's well worth watching, especially the frenzied conclusion. But if you really want to understand terorrism and terrorists through art, you'll get far more out of Showtime's inspired Sleeper Cell (now... MORE

Back to Normal

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've spent the last five years haranguing my fellow economists to abandon their faith in the self-interested voter hypothesis. One reply has been that modern U.S. politics is an outlier: People today may care more about gay marriage than income... MORE

Prof. Steve Miller

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
My student, research assistant, and co-author Steve Miller defended his dissertation today. He's doing some very creative work on IQ, education, and political economy, including: a neat critique of Thomas Dee's well-known article on the civic returns of education, and... MORE

Communist Economic Policy: Stalinism or the Red Army?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Did the members of the Soviet bloc copy Stalin's economic policies after World War II because they were run by True Believers? Or were they just afraid of the Red Army? My knee-jerk reaction is to say "True Believers, of... MORE

Politics Gets Ugly

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Scandinavian economists Henrik Jordahl, Niclas Berggren, and Panu Poutvaara are conducting a survey on Beauty in Politics. Do we judge politicians by how they look, and, if so, how? Go here to help them find out.... MORE

Dear Prudence

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Would a society made up of totally selfish human beings be worse than the society we have today? Could it even function? In last week's Inaugural James M. Buchanan Lecture, Deirdre McCloskey seemed to think that the obvious answers were... MORE

Less Liberty Than Meets the Eye

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Gallup poll that Arnold talks about seems to have a shocking result: even though American political discourse obsesses over liberal versus conservative, for every three people who fit these labels, there are two who do not. If you ask... MORE

Elite Folly and Selection Bias

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've been arguing for several years that more educated people have more sensible views about economics than less educated people. (No need to wait for my book; see here and here). Arnold is not the first to demur. Many economists,... MORE

Mankiw's Wish List

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Speaking of miraculous political conversions, here is Greg Mankiw's wish list. Just repeat after me: • #1: This year I will be straight about the budget mess. I know that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. I know... MORE

Digging Out the Fundamental Difference

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I think it's fair to say that one has to believe either one of the following statements: 1. The U.S. political system is fundamentally different from the Soviet system; or 2. The U.S. political system is only superficially... MORE

Unbundling the Warlord

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold (see here and here) bundles together several distinct claims about government. 1. Society is better off if somebody - anybody - stops the "war of all against all": Once one warlord becomes successful, then it is easy for a... MORE

Descent into Warlordism

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: Warlordism means a situation in which there is no rule of law. A warlord rules by rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies. and To break a warlord equilibrium, you need government. That is the Hobbesian solution--a Leviathan... MORE

Anarcho-Capitalism and Statist Lock-In

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I teach undergraduate industrial organization and graduate public finance, I finish with the economics of anarchy - or, more specifically, of anarcho-capitalism. To call anarcho-capitalism a controversial proposal is gross understatement. But the most common objection voiced by the... MORE

The Corruption Trap

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Philip Keefer writes, political competitors who are unable to make credible promises to most voters will, upon taking office, underprovide public goods, overspend on transfers to narrow groups, and engage in significant rent-seeking. That is, the behavior of such politicians... MORE

Cowen's Law

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
My latest TCS essay is built around one of my favorite Tyler quotes. I write, There are passionate Republicans and passionate Democrats. But I agree with Tyler Cowen that neither party is likely to seem attractive. I can give a... MORE

The State as Parent

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write Under the welfare state, government usurps the role of the family in education, health care, and saving for retirement. As economic historian Robert Fogel has pointed out, these are the fastest-growing segments of our... MORE

Campaign Finance Reform

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Gary Becker writes, Part of the hostility to campaign contributions reflects a general hostility to advertising found among intellectuals in all spheres, including many economists. This hostility greatly underestimates the importance of advertising in providing information, in helping new products... MORE

More on the Muslim Median Voter

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
From an interesting profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in The Nation: As Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris have argued in their book Rising Tide, the true clash of opinions between Islam and the West is not about democracy but sex.... MORE

What Does the Median Muslim Voter Want?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm one of the staunchest defenders of descriptive accuracy of the Median Voter Model, and one of the harshest critics of the median voter. Democracy gives the people what they want, but what they want is based on systematically mistaken... MORE

Admitting We Were Wrong

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay: The two viewpoints might be summarized as follows: --Conservatives: Cutting taxes will help reduce the size of government. --Liberals: Big government is not really so bad. In the face of overwhelming evidence over the past five... MORE

Privatize Lenin!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt drew my attention to a new push to bury Lenin's mummy. As usual in Russian politics, both sides are wrong. The economically sensible and morally beautiful choice would be to auction off Lenin's corpse on eBay, and use... MORE

Personality and Politics: New Evidence from Germany

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm convinced that economists have a lot to learn from personality psychology. For example, personality is a great predictor of occupational choice. Librarians are highly introverted, and salesmen are highly extraverted, just as you'd expect. Preferences matter, Becker and Stigler... MORE

How I Feel About Think Tanks

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Among many posts, Virginia Postrel writes, Think tanks, unlike universities, are supposed to influence public policy, not to produce knowledge for its own sake. This discussion started with Daniel Drezner, and continued in other places. You might catch up by... MORE

The Russian Soul

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I came across these interesting thoughts from Soviet emigre Jamie Glazov in FrontPage magazine: [T]he governments of a people are a result of the neuroses of the people they rule. I was born in the Soviet Union. While I cherish... MORE

Tyler Cowen's Tight Constraints

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen suggests four problems for policy research to solve. In several cases, his constraints on the solution are significant. For example, he wants to see A good health care plan that is practical, not too far from politically feasible,... MORE

Economists under-represented?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Matthew E. Kahn writes, If economists would be such a useful addition to Congress as we remind our colleagues that there are “no free lunches” and that all actions have unintended consequences, why have we made so few inroads here?... MORE

Nasty, Brutish Looting

Public Choice Theory
Arnold Kling
Lee Harris writes, To me, the looting came as no surprise: it was a completely natural phenomenon. It was exactly what my own theory of the social order would have predicted. What else should you expect when a civilized order... MORE

Hard Heads, Soft Hearts

Social Security
Arnold Kling
Niall Ferguson and Laurence J. Kotlikoff, writing in The New Republic (subscription required), propose to tackle the fiscal mess three ways. First, they suggest replacing existing Federal taxes (personal income, corporate income, payroll, and estate) with a consumption tax that... MORE

How Constitutions Might Matter

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Many economists hold the view that constitutions don't affect policy. The argument goes roughly like this: "If most people want to do X, no sentence on a musty piece of parchment is going to stop them." Even if this argument... MORE

Debate With Wittman Continues

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The latest issue of Econ Journal Watch features the second round of my debate with Donald Wittman. Here's me; here's Wittman.... MORE

Exit and Voice

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Michael Munger points out how a competitive marketplace gives greedy, impersonal merchants an incentive to behave as if they love him. Of course, I would prefer the "Everyone loves Mikey!" explanation. If I am treated well, it should be because... MORE

Medians, Means, and Irrationality

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Commercial speech does not currently enjoy the same protection under the Bill of Rights as other forms of speech. Donald Wittman has an interesting argument in favor of the double standard: The law of large numbers may explain the puzzle... MORE

Rule By Fools Is the Rule

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong keeps asking "Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools?" (see here, here, and here for starters). This makes me wonder whether he'd ask the same question if he came across the following passage from Jeffrey Cohen's... MORE

Libertarian Credo

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In reaction to the Supreme Court's decision backing city seizure of property, Don Boudreaux writes libertarians reject the notion that the state is something other than a human institution deserving more credence, respect, deference, and trust than is commonly given... MORE

Thinking vs. Feeling

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In a rambling essay, I write I view economics as training in thinking. That does not mean that you lose your empathy with people. It means, however, that you pay attention to the consequences of policies, regardless of their motives.... MORE

Libertarians and Blogging

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Warren Meyer answers the question of why so many libertarians blog. Finally, since libertarianism is really about celebrating dynamism and going in a thousand different directions as each individual chooses, in some sense the Internet and blogging are not only... MORE

Foundations of Libertarianism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
James Piereson offers an interesting history of the role of foundations in stimulating political ideas and debates. In the period running from the end of World War II down to the present, conservative philanthropy has gone through at least two... MORE

Political Business Cycles: They're Alive!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Twenty five years ago, political business cycles were a hot topic. The idea is that incumbents artificially juice up the economy during election years to improve their chances of re-election. By the time I was in grad school, though, conventional... MORE

Proportionate Belief

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I argue that what I call the Law of Proportionate Belief...states that one should believe in a certain proposition or policy prescription in proportion to the arguments for that position. ...What I most despair of is finding... MORE

Does Unified Government Mean Big Government?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
New evidence confirms my suspicion that divided government leads to smaller government. The latest news: A policy analysis by Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at the Cato Institute, finds that: "Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush’s... MORE

The President and Economic Advice

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
What is it like trying to advise the President on economics? Russ Roberts interviews Greg Mankiw, who recently left the Council of Economic Advisers to return to Harvard. Roberts: What is your perception of the President as a consumer of... MORE

Why Most Economists Are Hawks and Why They Might Be Wrong

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've never seen a survey, but casual empiricism makes me think that economists are hawks. Arnold Kling calls himself a Jacksonian - "the patriotic fighters for whom the worst sin is not going to war, it's losing one." But even... MORE

34 Postcards About Terrorism

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
What's the deal with terrorism? The Department of Homeland Security summarizes the views of 34 different teams of social scientists here. Recommendations range widely. The authors advocate everything from encouraging empathy to making it harder for terrorists to provide social... MORE

Voters As Mad Scientists

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Voters aren't selfish. That's an important question where the political scientists are right and the economists are wrong. But I part company with the political scientists when they draw implications about how well democracy works. After they shoot down the... MORE

A Little Evidence I'm Wrong About Voter Motivation

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I disbelieve what I call the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis (SIVH for short). Political scientists like David Sears have amassed a mountain of empirical evidence against the SIVH, and the evidence on the other side (mostly economists, I'm afraid) is awfully... MORE

Best... Compliment... Ever

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you're thinking of becoming an academic, be warned: You aren't going to get a lot of positive reinforcement. Most of the time you will simply be ignored. Almost all of the remaining feedback is negative. (Stop by my office,... MORE

"Faith" Means Not Wanting to Believe What is True

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
You may have heard the odd factoid that faith in government drastically increased immediately after 9/11. Impossible, you say? Surely when a great tragedy happens, the organization charged to prevent it will lose credibility, not gain it? The factoid checks... MORE

Postmodernism: Private Vice, Public Virtue?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I stumbled across an atypically insightful essay by Noam Chomsky, "What Is Wrong With Science and Rationality?," in the colorfully-named collection Market Killing. You can read a nearly complete version of the essay here. Chomsky pushes two theses in this... MORE

Social Security and Intransitivity

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Bryan's post on the doubtful empirical usefulness of social intransitivity is probably right. Nonetheless, suppose that on Social Security there are three political viewpoints--Democratic, Republican, and nonpartisan--and three policy options--status quo, private accounts, and fiscal medicine. By fiscal medicine, I... MORE

Riker and the Mathematician's Fallacy

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The last chapter of William Riker's classic work, Liberalism Against Populism, contains some of the strangest statements I have read in quite a while. Background: Riker is deeply impressed by the literature on social intransitivity. As Arrow and others showed,... MORE

Economic Debate

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, I am cranky, and annoyed. And I am not asking for very much. All I want is: * No more claims that we know that carving-out Social Security revenues to fund private accounts will have no damaging... MORE

Ayn Rand, Economic/Political General Equilibrium Theorist

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
To finish off my celebration of Ayn Rand's 100th birthday (see also here and here) now let me turn to her contribution to social science. I remember that a critic of Murray Rothbard's work in economics, history, and philosophy quipped... MORE

Pragmatism, continued

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I discuss the recent piece by Jonathan Chait, who argues that liberals are pragmatic and conservatives are ideological. I write, The market solution for health insurance is something that has never been tried. I believe that it... MORE

Pete Boettke often says that I believe that we get the government we deserve. My usual retort is "No, they get the government they deserve, and unfortunately I get the government they deserve too." But in essence he correctly describes... MORE

Who are the Empiricists?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Chait devotes a long article to arguing that liberals are pragmatic and empirical. The contrast between economic liberalism and economic conservatism, then, ultimately lies not only in different values or preferences but in different epistemologies. Liberalism is a more... MORE

Thrift vs. Paternalism

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I argue that For those of us who value self-reliance and thrift, the economic trends suggest a need to increase saving and to invest heavily in human capital. For those who value paternalism and redistribution, those trends... MORE

Why I Don't Hate Why Americans Hate Welfare

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I suspect a lot of my friends would hate Martin Gilens' Why Americans Hate Welfare. Gilens takes a stab at the question: Why doesn't the United States have a European-style welfare state? And his answer, to put it crudely, is... MORE

Friedman on the Battle of Ideas

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman writes, Hardly anyone today, from the far Left to the far Right, regards socialism in the traditional sense of government ownership and operation of the means of production as either feasible or desirable. Those who profess... MORE

Politics and Academia

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
The issue of why academics lean left has received considerable notice. I am not sure of the answer, but one thing I do not buy is the notion that people become professors out of an unusually strong desire for public... MORE

Tax Breaks vs. Subsidies

Tax Reform
Arnold Kling
Edward Lotterman writes, When or why should government use direct payments versus tax breaks? The answers are more political than economic. One skeptic has argued, "Politicians and economists have a love-hate relationship with tax breaks. Politicians love them and economists... MORE

Exit Polls

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
As a teacher of high school statistics, I found the controversy over exit polling to be somewhat amusing. Exit polling is necessarily stratified. You have to plan ahead of time which precincts to sample and how many voters in each... MORE

Second Term Policies

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Marginal Revolution offers advice for economic policy for the second term of President Bush. 7. Take in more immigrants, but demand higher levels of skills and education. At the very least, take in any revenue-positive immigrant. 8. Abolish the Department... MORE

Disappointing Election Year?

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
That's my perception. I picture voters under 40 as having less allegiance to top-down economics and top-down moral legislation. I would think that the trend would be libertarian. ...Instead, during the debates, it seems to me that we witnessed libertarian... MORE

Campaign Season Economics

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says that it's not pretty. Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry managed to appeal to all four of the economically ignorant biases identified in Caplan's paper. You could say that Kerry hit the economic illiteracy quadrifecta! ...it is... MORE

Town Vs. Gown

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
Two recent articles discuss economic and sociological divides in politics. Joel Kotkin writes, Kerry's challenge, Sperling and his three co-authors declare, is to convince voters in swing states such as Arizona, Colorado and the industrial Midwest that they should get... MORE

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