18 Oct 2013


Bryan Caplan, David Friedman, David R. Henderson, Debt, Police, Politics, Potpourri, Tea Party, War on Terror 14 Comments

==> David R. Henderson on the Nobel.

==> When reading posts like this from Bryan, I wonder if he hands out the syllabus on the first day of class that just says “YOU WILL GET NOTHING FROM THIS CLASS” at the top.

==> MoveOn.org starts a petition to arrest Republicans in Congress for sedition. I’m waiting for Freedom of Speech champion Paul Krugman to defend their right to be wrong.

==> On the debt limit, David Friedman had some great stuff. Check out his critique of the “we can’t prioritize payments” excuse, and Friedman’s follow-up observation: “By all accounts I have seen, the software system for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign worked flawlessly, in striking contrast to the opposition’s.”

==> What’s really hilarious in the Matthew O’Brien piece on debt default (that Friedman critiqued) is his tone and rhetoric. He starts like this, “The latest absurdity to migrate from the fever swamps to the slightly more respectable Heritage Foundation and on to Congressional Republicans is that not raising the debt ceiling would be no big deal.” A bit later he writes, “Call them the default deniers,” because it’s important to bring in the Holocaust on this issue. But my favorite passage is this: “It’s touching how much faith Republicans have in the government’s ability to seamlessly pick-and-choose which of its 100 million monthly payments to make. But Republicans should perhaps be a bit more skeptical about how much government could solve this problem.” In my book, Matt O’Brien is never allowed to advocate for any expansion in government on any dimension. He doesn’t even think the government is competent enough to reform its payment system, even though he cites an episode in 1979 when the government temporarily fell behind on debt payments after a similar standoff. If government can’t even solve this problem, surely O’Brien is a huge critic of ObamaCare and all foreign occupations by U.S. forces.

==> More examples (here and here) of not only police behaving badly, but how their bosses initially defended them. What’s so crazy about these videos that now pop up weekly if not daily, is that you’re watching to see just how outrageous will it be. Like, did the officers in the first link above actually just gun down a guy for no good reason, or did they completely misinterpret the threat he posed, as he stood there staring at them with his arms at his side? Yet in a competitive market with different security companies, their personnel would be extremely well trained in assessing threats and de-escalating situations.

14 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. valueprax says:

    It’d be funny to see what happened if Bryan Caplan met his doppelganger who was contrarian about real-Bryan Caplan’s beliefs.

  2. Richie says:

    Yet in a competitive market with different security companies, their personnel would be extremely well trained in assessing threats and de-escalating situations.

    They would also be held accountable for murdering (or in this case, severely wounding) an individual, instead of getting paid leave until the firestorm dies down. Oh, and the security company would *probably* lose business. No chance of that happening with the current crop of “heroes” we have now.

    His mother, who had called police to help her son, now wishes she had never done so.

    Not unless you want a loved one, a pet, or yourself dead.

    Sheriff Leon Lott initially backed Derrick — disagreeing with Columbia Police — saying that he had authority to make an arrest, suggesting that Ball was “resisting.”

    Resisting? Resisting his advances is a criminal offense, or resisting because she was being handcuffed and man-handled for no reason other than he’s a punk thug for the state?

  3. Bob Roddis says:

    Perhaps Matthew O’Brien qualifies to be called an economics denier.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    Yet in a competitive market with different security companies, their personnel would be extremely well trained in assessing threats and de-escalating situations.

    And you could sue them because they wouldn’t have “sovereign immunity”. Plus, everyone in a private neighborhood would have been vetted to even be allowed in the neighborhood, so there would be no criminals or crime. Life would be so boring and horrible.


  5. Major_Freedom says:

    Regarding pedagogy, I think a helpful solution to the problem of forgetfulness and such, is to structure post secondary education so that final exams are given the semester or year after the course is taught.

    So students will be taught economics from the reluctant Austrian Bryan Caplan in 2013, say, but be tested in 2014.

    This will give an incentive to students to remember what they’re taught for a longer period. As of now, 99.99% of universities and colleges test just weeks after something is taught, so the actual testing is on short term memory as opposed to long term memory.

    Now granted, this isn’t a perfect solution, since there is nothing to stop students from studying just weeks prior to the exam. So my solution to that problem is to make the topic of a final exam random in terms of the course already taken. That way, students will be incentivized to remember everything in their longer term memory.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Law school only has finals after 15 weeks and thus lawyers remember EVERYTHING. Plus, you can take a bar review course for $1000 and they teach it all over again in six weeks. Which is actually what law school should cost (not to change the subject or anything).

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      Is Brian Caplan even a reluctant Austrian? I think his worldview shares some things in common with the Austrian view, but he did write a piece “Why I’m not an Austrian Economist.”

      • Rick Hull says:

        I found that essay to be well below-par for Caplan. He seems to agree with most if not all of the fundamental tenets, but he picked nits at what (correctly or not) seems to undermine a lot of the Rothbardian superstructure. I’m entirely willing to believe that I missed the brilliance or devastation of his argument, but I still found it underwhelming.

        • Rick Hull says:

          To be more clear, I can believe he found legitimate methodological or epistemological errors, and I can understand that such errors would turn him away. But we are only human, after all, guided mostly by intuition. I did not find these “errors” to be devastating to the Austrian worldview — instead, they were (potentially) devastating to one particular explication (out of many possible).

          • Rick Hull says:

            [meta] I need to reread it before commenting again on it.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “he did write a piece “Why I’m not an Austrian Economist.””

        That’s kind of my point.

  6. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    I don’t have much familiarity with the police, but I was in the military for many years, and whenever we had “leadership” training (which was pretty regularly), the general theme was basically “As a leader, you should implicitly trust and defend your subordinates against any charges right up until the point that overwhelming evidence proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    I don’t doubt that the police train their officers in a similar manner. The bosses are trained to *always* defend their underlings from the scrutiny of the public or the media, even if they happen to have observed said underlings behaving poorly in the past and personally suspect that they are probably guilty. It’s very much an “us against them” attitude where even terrible cops/soldiers are considered part of “us” and are to be sided with over the public at large.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Bryan Caplan’s course in Austrian economics didn’t have a final so he forgot what he learned in the short run and got confused. Thus, he simultaneously believes that no businessman would be dumb enough to fall for the reality of nominal prices (and hence the ABCT is impossible) while at the same time businessmen mistake nominal prices for real prices all the time and hence they get burdened with”sticky prices”. Without the brilliance of Keynes, we would never appreciate the problem of “sticky prices”.

  8. Rick Hull says:

    Bob, I don’t really get the hardon you (seem to) have for Bryan, unless it’s for that old essay about why he’s not an Austrian. Is it good-natured ribbing, or what? I thought his post was insightful and not at all ridiculous, even if counterintuitive.

    Frankly, I would love it if an instructor were brutally honest with me and primed my pump with something like “YOU WILL PROBABLY RETAIN NOTHING OF VALUE FROM THIS CLASS”. For someone with a bit of curiosity, that’s a tempting hook.

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