Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Public Goods

A Category Archive (51 entries)

Two Cheers at Least for Some Politicians

Public Goods
David Henderson
I rarely disagree with Don Boudreaux about any economic, political, or moral issue and so in those rare cases where I do disagree, it's probably worth noting. Here's one. In a post in September, I talked about which U.S. presidents... MORE

Does Identity Politics Pay?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I scoff at group identity, critics often call me naive.  Won't anyone who heeds my advice to eschew identity politics end up being victimized by all the folks who do take their group identities with utmost seriousness?  Then rational... MORE

Repeat after the economics profession: resources are scarce, and they have alternative uses. Thomas Sowell has said that this is the first rule of economics. He has also said that the first rule of politics is to ignore the first... MORE

Flying blind

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
There is a sort of zero sum aspect to exchange rates. Any change in exchange rates means one currency is weaker and one is stronger, relative to the other. But exchange rates tell us nothing about whether currencies are weaker... MORE

I got off the parking lots roads leading to Samford at around 7:55 after leaving my house three miles away 20 minutes earlier. My time stuck in traffic gave me ample opportunity to think about what my beloved dismal science... MORE

This post is a modified version of a comment from the Libertarian Homeschooler Facebook page. Via The Libertarian Homeschooler, I just saw Radley Balko's new post on "The Criminalization of Parenthood." My wife and I are big fans of Lenore... MORE

The Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole has recently released a Policy Analysis arguing that low-capacity light rail is a bad deal for cities. I found it especially interesting in light of Scott's post last week on "private affluence and public squalor,"... MORE

Private affluence, public squalor, high taxes

Public Choice Theory
Scott Sumner
Every time I visit New York I think about John Kenneth Galbraith's famous remark about American private affluence and public squalor. There is impressive new residential construction. Townhouses in areas like Brooklyn are being fixed up. But the subway system... 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

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

Two decades ago, I spent my summer writing my first academic article.  Topic: "The Literature of Nonviolent Resistance and Civilian-Based Defense" (Humane Studies Review, 1994).  I'm still happy with the result.  The piece begins by noting that conservatives' prognosis for... MORE

Mankiw's Misleading Treatment of Public Goods

Public Goods
David Henderson
In his treatment of public goods in Principles of Economics, 5th edition, Greg Mankiw gives the standard two characteristics of a public good: (1) the good is non-excludable, that is, a person can not be prevented from using it, and... MORE

Semi-Rivalry and Fiscal Externalities

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose a country has a progressive tax system.  If everyone equally consumes government benefits, isn't everyone with below-median income automatically a net fiscal burden - i.e., a person who withdraws taxes more from the Treasury than he contributes?Naive analysts usually... MORE

Population Externality Bleg

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose a city's population exogenously rises.  You might think that price theory clearly implies that demand for real estate will rise.  But that's not so.  In theory, higher population could generate a congestion externality so awful that demand for real... MORE

On The Effects of Homeschooling: A Bet

Alternative Economics
Art Carden
I can't wait for Bryan's The Case Against Education: every semester, my beliefs move in favor of the signaling model and against the human capital model of schooling. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of students who are... MORE

The Wall Street Journal's Mary Kissel tweets: Blocking Hagel sets a bad precedent & lets Obama label the GOP obstructionist. And what happens when the Rs take back the White House?[More on the Hagel non-filibuster here]Do precedents matter? Does my behavior... MORE

Voting, Public Goods, and Free Riders

Public Goods
David Henderson
John C. Goodman has an insightful and relatively short post this morning making the case for voting even when you're virtually positive that doing so won't change the outcome of an election. It reminded me of something I wrote in... MORE

Is the Georgist Single Tax Pigovian?

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

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

Rick Berman: Mercenary/Hero for Freedom

Public Choice Theory
David Henderson
"If this country is worth saving, it's worth saving at a profit." --H.L. Hunt This is a quote from one of the best books of the 1970s, The Machinery of Freedom, by David Friedman. It comes at the end of... MORE

Is Cybersecurity a Public Good?

Public Goods
David Henderson
The usual argument for government intervention, aside from the paternalist and the distribution arguments, is some kind of "market failure," either in the area of public goods or in the area of externalities. When economists want to make a case... MORE

Bauman versus Landsburg et al

Public Goods
David Henderson
In a comment on co-blogger Bryan Caplan's recent post, economist Yoram Bauman writes: If you're looking for another post topic, you could try to mediate between me and Steve Landsburg. (I've given up on him for now :) I thought... MORE

Good Baby

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Kauffman Foundation's Tim Kane generously included one of my questions on the latest quarterly econ blogger's survey:The net externality of the birth of an additional child in the United States is... [POSITIVE, ZERO, or NEGATIVE]Survey says: I suspect that... MORE

The Economics of Fire Protection

Microeconomics
Arnold Kling
Surely, someone has done this? I assume that fire-fighting is an industry with declining average costs. Suppose that it takes $1 million in fixed costs per year to maintain the fire department (that includes normal profit, aka opportunity cost), the... MORE

More Gangs, Less Crime

Public Goods
David Henderson
Our analysis suggests not that gangs cause violence, but that violence causes gangs. In other words, gangs form in response to government's failure to protect youths against violence. The surprising implication of our insight is that efforts to reduce gang... MORE

Unchecked and Unbalanced Watch

Public Goods
Arnold Kling
Pete Peterson writes, the Los Angeles City Council is expected to overturn the 36-year-old policy of city-funded sidewalk repair, returning responsibility to property owners. The city is attempting to narrow a nearly half-billion-dollar budget gap. The sidewalk repair program costs... 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

Bravo for Scott Sumner

Public Goods
David Henderson
Co-blogger Bryan posted on one part of Scott Sumner's recent post on non-blog blogging. I find other parts of Sumner's post way more interesting. For example: Now my biggest problem is time--I spend 6 to 10 hours a day on... MORE

Fukuyama's Perfectly Horrifying Example

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand's newsletters used to end with a "Horror File" of monstrous but true quotations.  I thought about the Horror File when Ron Bailey's Liberation Biology quoted Frank Fukuyama:Life extension seems to me a perfect example of something that is... MORE

Econlog Makes WSJ's Top 25

Economic Education
David Henderson
Econlog is in the top 25 economics blogs, as chosen by the Wall Street Journal. I've waited for my co-bloggers to crow about this, since I'm the newcomer (I started in October 2008), but because they haven't, I will. Of... MORE

Good Answer!

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Here's a spot-on response from my Ph.D. Micro final.The Question: True, False, and Explain:  In signaling models, selfish agents might voluntarily supply public goods. The Answer:True.  Yes, if donating to charities, giving blood, or sponsoring militia units or adopting part... MORE

Will David Friedman Revise his Book?

Public Goods
David Henderson
David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom is one of my favorite all-time books making the case for freedom. I like it on at least four grounds: (1) it's tightly written, which reflects David's tight thinking, (2) it shows a great... MORE

My Daughter's Thoughts on Economic Policy

Public Goods
David Henderson
My wife and I were cleaning out a closet last weekend and came across some of our daughter Karen's writing from elementary school. This is a letter that she wrote to President Clinton on May 26, 1994. She was nine... MORE

National defense, for instance, benefits the special interests that President Eisenhower identified as the military-industrial complex, and governments therefore tend to provide too much of it.  Whether the U.S. government specifically does so is controversial, but we can know with... MORE

Public Goods, Externalities, and Education

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Bruno S. Frey and Reiner Eichenberger write, externalities are not technologically but rather socially determined. There are no inherent properties of a good or service producing external effects, therefore, citizens have to use the political process to determine what is... MORE

When Princeton's Roland Benabou visited GMU a couple weeks ago, he made an argument I've occasionally heard before: Non-economists would disagree with economists less, and respect our views more, if we put more emphasis on the concept of externalities. When... MORE

Stephen Smith makes an argument that seems popular across a wide swath of the political spectrum:Yeah, and how many billion dollars per year does the United States need to spend even on just the military to make this oil available?... MORE

Voting, Vote-Selling, and Externalities

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Philosopher Michael Sandel asked Greg Mankiw whether people should be allowed to sell their votes. Mankiw's answer:[T]he standard argument for unfettered voluntary exchange does not apply because there are externalities. That is, when one person sells his vote to another,... MORE

Tim Noah writes, Suppose the national defense of the United States were relegated to the private sector. Instead of the publicly funded Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, the country would be defended by private militias funded mainly by insurance... MORE

The Virtual Handshake

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
I've been sick for almost three weeks now, and it's not fun. I make an effort not to infect the people around me, but unfortunately conventional etiquette gets in the way. You're supposed to shake people's hands, right? My proposed... MORE

The Tick Petition

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Years ago I signed an online petition urging Fox to release The Tick (the animated series) on DVD. Today I've got the DVD in my hand. Spoon! Who says economists won't help produce public goods? To be honest, I doubt... MORE

When he launched his first blog, Jeff Miron was explicit about his motivation: In this blog I provide a libertarian perspective on economic and social policy. By libertarian, I mean consequential libertarian, not philosophical libertarian. Thus, my arguments are based... MORE

As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom... MORE

A Story that Warms My Heart

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Think firemen provide a public good? At least in rural areas, think again: MINNEAPOLIS – Carl Berg failed to pay a $25 annual fee for rural fire protection and, as a result, firefighters let his house burn to the ground... MORE

Private Provision of Public Goods

Public Goods
Arnold Kling
Subir Gokarn observes, I've often been asked for my opinion on what the country's sunrise sectors are. My response, at first tongue-in-cheek, but becoming more and more serious over the years, is that anybody who decides to compete against the... MORE

Resistance versus Avoidance

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Sunday I declared war on a pair of yellow jacket nests at the base of my house, and it got me thinking. According to conventional wisdom, when I use an anti-yellow jacket spray, I impose a negative externality on other... MORE

Analogy for Government

Public Goods
Arnold Kling
Chris Dillow writes, I’ve got an idea that would revolutionize the way we do our weekly shopping. Every few years, we all vote for our favourite supermarket company. The one that gets more votes across the country than any other... MORE

Environmental Economics

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Joe Katzman has a long, thoughtful post on the economics of common resources, notably water. Perhaps it's also time to factor these eco-services into a variant of GNP, so their depletion and restoration would both show on a national balance... MORE

Mass Transit and Happiness

Public Goods
Arnold Kling
Peter Gordon reports on declining use of mass transit. As a group, the 20 largest U.S. metro areas declined in transit use (all trip purposes; thank you, Wendell Cox) in the 1990s. Not relative decline but absolute decline. As a... MORE

My latest essay is on these topics. There are three layers to the argument against paternalism. The first layer is purely libertarian, which says that government compulsion of individuals is always wrong. The second layer is utilitarian, which says that,... MORE

Lighthouses

Public Goods
Arnold Kling
In an essay on telecommunications pricing, Andrew Odlyzko spends some time reviewing the controversy about whether a lighthouse is necessarily a public good. As an example, a recent commentary [68] claimed that Coase had shown that "[i]nstead of the government-sanctioned... MORE

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