23 May 2012

Betting Bryan on Ron Paul vs. Ross Perot

Bryan Caplan, Ron Paul 42 Comments

What I find most amusing about Bryan Caplan’s recent blog post about Ron Paul is that it wouldn’t surprise me if he had no idea just how condescending it is. Anyway, try this part:

Will Paul’s legacy be any more lasting than, say, H. Ross Perot’s? Doherty’s convinced that it will be. I’m still unsure…

Oh. My. Gosh.

You name the terms Bryan and I’m in like Flynn, and I’ll put up $400 to your $100. I propose that we wait until both of them have been dead for at least a year, and then we look at (say) book sales or google searches or (say) thousands of young people who hold memorial services for the guy. Like I say, you think about it and spell out the objective metric(s) and assuming no funny stuff I’m in.

42 Responses to “Betting Bryan on Ron Paul vs. Ross Perot”

  1. Dan says:

    That is a man who just doesn’t get it.

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    “I really don’t see what the big deal with MLK was.” – Klu Klux Klan member.

    • Blackadder says:

      “I really don’t see what the big deal with MLK was.” – Klu Klux Klan member.

      So Bryan Caplan is to Ron Paul as the KKK is to Martin Luther King?

      You need to get out more.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        MF lives in a bubble.

        (Caplan reference.)

        • Blackadder says:

          MF lives in a bubble.
          (Caplan reference.)

          Touche.

          • Ken B says:

            Wouldn’t that burst the bubble?

  3. Tom Woods says:

    That is some deep and serious obliviousness right there.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      I didn’t know you were allowed to post here.
      ;)

  4. Daniel Kuehn says:

    I’m not sure “condescending” is the right word just because he disagrees on the prospective legacy. I think he’ll make a bigger impact than Ross Perot. Part of that is just that there are people in both parties that were on the same page as Perot as far as deficit concerns, so the Reform Party never really was able to grow into something substantial on its own. Libertarians are more distinct, so Paul’s legacy probably will last a while. But I’m probably with Caplan – a decade out he won’t have much more of a legacy than Ross Perot.

    Call it “condescending” if you want, but the only alternative would be for me to lie to your face about my honest expectations.

    • Richie says:

      I agree with you, but probably for different reasons. My view is that Paul goes against the grain in conventional politics, i.e., he advocates smaller government, not larger. Therefore, the establishment and its satellites (media) disregard and/or ignore him and others like him. Paul is and Perot was labeled as “kooks” by the mainstream.

    • Richie says:

      I must point out that, in Paul’s case, his advocacy for smaller government is genuine, unlike the Republican party’s false claims for their desire of smaller government. I did not want to lump him in with those frauds.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I’m not sure “condescending” is the right word just because he disagrees on the prospective legacy.

      Daniel, it is amazing how you and I walk through this world with different glasses. First of all, I’m mildly miffed that you think I consider that part of Caplan’s post to be the condescending part; I was just astounded at that part.

      No, here’s the condescending stuff:

      Even now, it’s tempting to dismiss Paul for his lack of electoral success.

      Paul even has a strange tendency to downplay his libertarian deviations on immigration and abortion for the Republican audiences most likely to appreciate them.

      For starters, what on earth makes Paul so persuasive to so many people? Though I usually agree with Paul’s conclusions, his speeches strike me as rambling, even evasive.

      You might think that Paul’s followers fail to grasp what he’s saying, but Doherty’s first-hand account reveals extremely high issue awareness.

      So like I said, it’s amazing to me that Bryan wrote the above (especially that last line) and you conclude, “Bob is offended by anyone who thinks Ron Paul won’t have lasting influence on U.S. politics.”

      • Ken B says:

        Well I don’t want to argue that in general BC is not condescending; it’s one of his charms and who am I to deny him his accolades. But the bit you riff on seems to be Bryan saying, Ron Paul really isn’t that inspiring a guy and seems a weak vessel for the Libertarian movement. Why the enthusiasm? You cut him off just before he tosses out an idea why: the band wagon effect, and a desperation to fit in. Maybe THAT idea is also condescending, but it’s not baseless: if you read the comments on a certain libertarian blog dear to all of us I think you can see swarming and tribal behaviour from libertarians and Paulines on a regular basis.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Oh my gosh, you just caught me in a huge error Ken B.! You’re right, the part about the bandwagon effect was probably the most condescending of all, and I somehow missed it this morning.

          • Ken B says:

            You are forgetting (RP) Murphy’s Law: deadpan doesn’t work on blogs.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              I was being serious; that part really *was* the creme of the crop of condescension. I’m mad that I missed it.

              • Ken B says:

                Ahh. I thought you were being arch about my implied partial endorsement of the idea.

                FWIW here’s my idea. When I was younger I loved an old Vox recording of the Missa Pange Lingua by Josquin. By modern standards it’s pretty poor, but it was the only thing available at the time. I loved the music and forgave the weak vessel carrying it.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Oh I didn’t read the Caplan post – I thought you were highlighting that as the condescending part.

        That last line seems to open the potential for condescension, but then says Paul supporters actually know what the guy supports. I think this is basically right – and the perspective you guys have is “he’s the best chance by far in a bad field” (not unlike my own answer to the problems with Obama). But I might be missing something.

        I do think Paul rambles… “evasive” is an interesting word – I’m not sure I’d agree with that. He’s pretty up front about things, he just often talks about the wrong stuff and is wrong on the stuff he talks about.

        • Richie says:


          he just often talks about the wrong stuff and is wrong on the stuff he talks about.

          That’s your opinion. So what? I’d rather take my chances with Paul than some hyper-partisan political hack pretending to write about economics.

          • Ken B says:

            Jeez Krugman is an obsession on the blog isn’t he?
            :)

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            re: “I’d rather take my chances with Paul than some hyper-partisan political hack pretending to write about economics.”

            Congratulations, you’ve provided a concise summary of the problems with Paul! “Partisan” should probably be replaced with “ideological” of course.

            You really think Krugman is partisan??? His entire career as a public intellectual has been built on successively beating up on Clinton, then Bush, then Obama. I’m not sure you understand what “partisan” means. It usually means you give at least one of the parties a free pass and bend your analysis to bolster them!!!

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Daniel, if I showed you where Krugman hails Nancy Pelosi as the greatest speaker of the House of all time, and says that the Republicans really are way worse than the Democrats, I guess that would be pointless, right? You would say, “No Bob, that’s not Krugman favoring the Democrats over Republicans, that’s Krugman giving his honest assessment of the situation” I take it?

              • Daniel Kuehn says:

                Don’t make me out to be crazy here. You can believe one party is considerably better than the alternative. Krugman obviously thinks that about Democrats. A partisan is someone who puts the interests of his party above other things, and someone who thinks that party members should get at least somewhat of a free pass because they’re party members. Krugman obviously doesn’t feel that way about the Democrats.

                Come on – can we drop this “because Daniel doesn’t accept every whacky criticism we have of Krugman he’s clearly inimical to reason” thing?

                Krugman has a lot of things he clearly values. He’s not afraid to share those things. Show me prominent instances where he bails on the things he values to make the Democrats look good, and have them rack up again the instances where I’ve already shown the opposite and then we can talk about who is listening to reason on Krugman and who isn’t.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Oh – and btw, I wasn’t thinking you thought the “won’t have lasting influence” part was condescending. I was thinking that you might be thinking along the lines of “Perot was a joke and to compare Paul to Perot is insulting”

      • joeftansey says:

        Paul does ramble though. He is not a particularly good debater. Judging by his old gold standard debate, he never was.

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          Ya, the nicest thing I can muster to describe his public speaking is that the guy is “folksy”.

          That’s sorta like a compliment, right? I think it is at least. I like folksy, personally.

    • Ken B says:

      DK: “I’m not sure “condescending” is the right word”

      Actually this is right. The right word is supercilious. It’s a subtle point. I condescend when I lower myself to your level and do you a service thereby. Bryan is not doing this, he is strking a pose of superiority with coming down to his interlocutor’s level, so he is being supercilious. English is full of traps for the unwary.

      Portions of this comment can serve to illustrate the difference. “Actually this is right. The right word is supercilious.” is condescending as the ‘Actually’ to implies speriority, my troubling to intervene and render a service is present as well. “A better word is supercilious” would not be condescending as it would not imply a clim to superiority. “English is full of traps for the unwary” suggests a claimed superiority so is supercilious. It’s also true of course.

  5. David R. Henderson says:

    Bob, By all the measures you mention above, I think you win hands down. When I read Bryan’s statement, though, I had a different reaction: I was thinking about effect on policy. I believe that a major reason we got the Reps and Dems focused on deficit reduction with major tax increases in the 1990s was that Perot’s strong performance in the polls (19% of the vote if I recall) in 1992 threw a scare into both Clinton and Republicans.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Yeah you’re right that that’s what he had in mind. He and I are conferring over email.

      I’d better win the inflation wagers or else I’m going to be really leveraged…

  6. joeftansey says:

    You guys need to put up a list of all your bets with fellow economists, and which you have won/lost

    :)

  7. Matthew Murphy says:

    Unbelievable. Tyler needs to get out and attend a Ron Paul speech.

  8. MamMoTh says:

    I’ll put up 400$ to your 400$, and chose as a metric their influence on the outcome of the presidential election they took part in

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