22 Sep 2016

Krugman Wants to Take $$ From Rich People, Just So They Won’t Have It

Krugman 13 Comments

It’s not a regrettable necessity to take rich people’s money in order to help poor people. Nope, Krugman wants it to be a legitimate part of political discourse to take away their fortunes because we don’t want there to be such rich people.

20 Sep 2016

Keeping Up With My Podcasts

Contra Krugman, Lara-Murphy Show 3 Comments

To repeat, I am traveling a lot lately, and I’m behind on “day job” stuff. But:

==> In the latest Contra Krugman, Tom and I talk about Lyin’ Ted Cru–I mean Lyin’ Hillary Clinton.

==> In the latest Lara-Murphy Show, Carlos talks European banks and I talk about the US federal debt.

18 Sep 2016

The Road to Emmaus

Religious 18 Comments

Luke 24: 13-35 records the events of two disciples walking to Emmaus after the crucifixion. They are demoralized because they thought Jesus was the Messiah, but now He’s dead (or so they think). Then He begins walking with them, though they don’t recognize Him:

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

I love the above story, for three reasons:

(1) They don’t recognize Jesus, even though He is literally right in front of their faces.

(2) They had believed in Him during His ministry, no doubt bolstered by His miracles. Part of the urgency in killing Jesus was that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, in front of a crowd. So these disciples presumably knew that Jesus had raised others from the dead, and (possibly) they also knew that He had predicted His own return after being killed. Yet they were so sure that was impossible, they couldn’t see Him in front of their faces–even after others in their group prepped them by saying they had seen an empty tomb and angels.

(3) In order to prove to them that this man they had followed really was the Messiah, and really would come back from the dead, Jesus reminded them of all the prophecies in (what Christians now call) the Old Testament. As Vernon McGee put it, Jesus didn’t show them the nail prints in His hands, instead He showed them the Scriptures.

16 Sep 2016


Potpourri 21 Comments

==> For those who somehow missed my earlier blast, remember to register for the live video presentation Carlos and I are putting on, September 26.

==> A friend sent me this fascinating piece saying that Rothbard was very friendly to Catholic thought. I had known that independently–if nothing else, many of the people he was closest to near the end of his life were staunch Catholics–but this article put things nicely. An excerpt:

It seems safe to say that Rothbard, in his efforts to understand the intellectual roots of libertarian thought, found plenty to admire in the Catholic tradition. What emerges from his historical investigations is a truth I have also come to understand: that there is never a choice between a mythic “individualism” and collectivism. Human beings are born into a state of dependency; someone or something is going to have to care not only for their bodies, but for their proper socialization and moral formation. The historical choices are generally the family/parish/community, or the state. Rothbard became increasingly aware of the dangerous insanity of the the latter option. His articles exposing the religious-left as the inheritor of Yankee pietism (and Hillary Clinton as its prophet) demonstrate this well. If Bill Clinton’s 1992 inauguration was, as Rothbard described it, “a horrifying display of a neopagan, multicultural, New Age religious left at work”, then Obama’s entire campaign, which is steeped in the rhetoric of radical religious leftism, is simply off the charts. [Bold added.]

That part I put in bold is very important. It is what bothers me about a lot of the “lone wolf” libertarians I encounter on the internet. They really do fulfill the caricature of libertarianism that conservatives sometimes mock. You even see people (and I think without irony in some cases) saying that (singles) tennis or golf are “more libertarian” than soccer or baseball.


==> I liked this piece from David Gornoski (HT2 Gene Callahan) on scapegoats and Trump. Check this out:

But Trump is a monster! Yes, but given the right circumstance, so are you. His ugliness is simply more apparent than that of other managers of the state’s sacred violence. Let’s be frank here: though his speech is scarily vulgar, the violence he promises is already occurring.

Think his call to deport illegally undocumented workers is fascist? The Obama administration, garbed as it is with the shimmering rhetoric of victimhood, has already deported over 2,500,000 human beings—23 percent more than Bush.

How about his pledge to torture suspected terrorists? Clinton-Bush-Obama beat him to it. They just don’t talk about it like he does. And let’s not limit it to foreigners; Obama didn’t bat an eye as elderly tax protester Irwin Schiff died of cancer chained to a prison bed far away from his family for breaking the sacred taboo against being too stingy in sharing his resources with the collective.

How about the time Trump promised to target terrorists’ families? Obama, the great defender of Islam, already trumped that when he murdered people like U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, who hadn’t seen his father for two years. This teen and his friends were blown apart by the Nobel prize winner while having a campfire dinner, apparently for the sinful dreams of his father.

Let’s not pretend it is avant-garde to vilify Trump. Everyone’s doing it, especially the cool people, the ones, like us, preoccupied with social status but hiding it in speech always patronizingly preening about victims. From Buzzfeed to Vanity Fair, CNN, the New York Times, broadcast networks, Wall Street, Fortune 500 companies, academia, Hollywood, music stars, Silicon valley, and NPR, to both party establishments, everyone’s united in this orgy of outrage….

Still, scapegoating partially unifies. Just why is it that old enemies like Romney, the DNC, and the media unite to expose Trump’s shady timeshare-like university gimmick but offer deafening crickets for Hillary’s use of the Haiti earthquake to secure an exclusive gold-mining contract for her brother? Trump’s shamelessness reveals the banality of the establishment’s passe violence.

The thing that drives this outrage mob mad is the mirror Trump’s vulgar speech holds up to the state’s violence-based unity. The one thing the crowd can’t stand is a scapegoat’s refusal to apologize for its sins.

15 Sep 2016

Asking Scott Sumner for Clarification

Scott Sumner 14 Comments

As I repeatedly say, I think Scott Sumner is a very sharp guy who understands technical economics models. (For some of the technical papers I’m working on here at Texas Tech, Sumner may be one of the few people I personally know who can give me feedback on the drafts.) But his latest EconLog post really underscored something that has been concerning me over the years, and so I left this comment (which I hope he sees and answers, if he has time):


I would like to request that when you get a chance, you devote an EconLog post to avoiding potential confusion among its readers. Here’s my concern:

==> From a 30,000-ft view, I think a lot of free market economists in 2005 would have endorsed the following: “The Keynesian economists thought the proper policy in a recession was to print money and generate (price) inflation, in order to bring down unemployment. But Friedman and others pointed out that this was quite shortsighted. Once unions and other workers adjusted to the new policy, the so-called Phillips Curve would simply shift. Then we’d have the worst of both worlds, of high unemployment and inflation. That’s why the central bank shouldn’t try to solve a recession by the printing press, but should instead focus on monetary policy rules that provide a stable framework that, in the long run, maximizes real GDP growth and minimizes volatility.”

==> So I know you know all of this stuff, and can get much more nuanced, but I’m concerned the average EconLog reader will take away the lesson from your typical posts here that: “For the last 8 years we have had tight money and that’s why the economy has been bad. The way to fix this recession is to inflate. The way to fix the next recession is to inflate. If unemployment is too high, you need more inflation to fix it.”

Again, I realize that’s not literally what you are saying, but at times it sounds like that’s the take-away message. So if you could at some talk about this, I think that would be helpful.

13 Sep 2016


Contra Krugman, Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 16 Comments

I’ve got to really buckle down in the office, so you won’t be seeing much from me in the next few weeks. Here are some links to keep you from losing it.

==> My flights got screwed up so I missed this live, but Lew Rockwell gave a great antiwar talk on Saturday for the Ron Paul Institute.

==> My reflections on 9/11 and the political uses of crisis.

==> A really interesting Sowell column on income inequality statistics. I didn’t know some of these.

==> Tom and I talk about lead poisoning and Republicans on the latest Contra Krugman.

==> I sure hope Scott Adams wasn’t one of my students:

One of the the most important things I learned while getting my degree in economics is that economies are driven by psychology. If people expect tomorrow to be better than today, they make investments. If they think things are in decline, they wait it out, and that lack of investment makes things decline further. Psychology rules. Almost everything else is just scenery.

==> I know some might regard this as nitpicking, but the following from Scott Sumner really frustrates me:

For several years the Fed has been tightening monetary policy. This started with tapering, then with signals of an increase in interest rates, then an actual increase in interest on reserves. Now Fed officials are signaling that more rate increases are likely to occur. The Fed does this for one reason, and one reason only, to prevent overshooting of their target. If they were in fact “struggling” to hit their inflation target, it’s not clear how they would respond. But one thing that is 100% clear is that if they were truly “struggling”, THEY WOULD NOT BE RAISING THEIR FED FUNDS TARGET INTEREST RATE. This is a really basic point, which is taught in every single EC101 textbook. The Fed raises rates to prevent high inflation, not when it is struggling to achieve it. If you don’t believe me, look at the monetary policy chapter of any recent econ text. No central bank that is raising rates is also struggling to hit its inflation target. They may be failing to hit it (I agree with that claim) but they are not “struggling” to hit it.

OK, I have no problem with the above, *except* for the fact that if I wrote the following, or if (say) someone in Bloomberg wrote the following, Scott would go ballistic and wonder why he and Milton Friedman are the only decent economists since Hume.

[HYPOTHETICAL COMMENTARY THAT WOULD MAKE SUMNER FLIP OUT, WRITTEN CIRCA 2013]: “For several years the Fed has been loosening monetary policy. This started with signals of rate cuts, then rate cuts, then massive expansions of the monetary base. Now Fed officials are signaling that more asset purchases and possible rate cuts (negative rates) could occur. The Fed does this for one reason, and one reason only, to prevent undershooting of their target…This is a really basic point, which is taught in every single EC101 textbook. The Fed cuts rates to stimulate a weak economy, not when it is trying to stifle growth. If you don’t believe me, look at the monetary policy chapter of any recent econ text. No central bank that is cutting rates is also causing a recession. They may be failing to prevent it (I agree with that claim) but they are not causing the economy to tank.”

11 Sep 2016

Peter Kreeft on the Authority of the Bible

Religious 30 Comments

I have a Catholic friend who sent me the link to this essay (though she warned there are a lot of typos from whoever webbed this). Peter Kreeft had been Protestant and converted to Catholicism, so he has an interesting take. (I was raised Catholic and currently consider myself Protestant so that’s why this is particularly intriguing to me.) An excerpt:

There are at least four things wrong with the sola scriptura doctrine. First, it separates Church and Scripture. But they are one. They are not two rival horses in the authority race, but one rider (the Church) on one horse (Scripture). The Church as writer, canonizer, and interpreter of Scripture is not another source of revelation but the author and guardian and teacher of the one source, Scripture. We are not taught by a teacher without a book or by a book without a teacher, but by one teacher, with one book, Scripture.

Second, sola scriptura is self-contradictory, for it says we should believe only Scripture, but Scripture never says this! If we believe only what Scripture teaches, we will not believe sola scriptura , for Scripture does not teach sola scriptura.

Third, sola scriptura violates the principle of causality: that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. The Church (the apostles) wrote Scripture, and the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the Church, decided on the canon, the list of books to be declared scriptural and infallible. If Scripture is infallible, then its cause, the Church, must also be infallible.

08 Sep 2016

The Coming Financial Storms

Lara-Murphy Show No Comments

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