11 Apr 2019

“Elusive” by Robert P. Murphy

Conspiracy, Humor, Steve Landsburg 1 Comment

I posted this as a joke on Facebook, but now that I see Steve Landsburg had a lot of trouble flying American via DFW, I feel compelled to share it here as well. Also, in the comments of Steve’s post, people are saying these mechanical delays are deliberate, as part of the union(s)’ efforts to fight against management. Does anyone know if this is true?!

10 Apr 2019

Krugman on a Panel

Krugman No Comments

Did anybody watch this? Is it worth me exploring?

08 Apr 2019

Lara-Murphy Show Ep. 69

Lara-Murphy Show No Comments

This was one of the best episodes (in my opinion) of the entire podcast. I explain the yield curve inversion from an Austrian perspective, and Carlos explains why a business owner who wants to implement IBC should retain personal ownership of the policy (rather than having the company own it).

04 Apr 2019

Potpourri

Bob Murphy Show, Climate Change, Contra Krugman, Daniel Kuehn, Shameless Self-Promotion, Tom Woods 22 Comments

==> A writer in The Guardian admits socialism necessary to stop climate change. See, we’re not paranoid.

==> Speaking of socialists, even some of them oppose MMT. C. Jay Engel and I discuss.

==> I may have already posted this but: In the latest Contra Krugman, Tom and I talk about Krueger and the minimum wage debate. I also correctly pronounce the name “Daniel Kuehn.”

02 Apr 2019

“Where Are All the Libertarian Women?”

All Posts 3 Comments

Answered here:

02 Apr 2019

The Flu Preference

Humor 8 Comments

When I describe gastrointestinal illness as “an extreme, socially disapproved preference,” the most convincing counter-example people offer is the flu.  Do I really think people “want to have the flu” or choose the flu as a bizarre alternative lifestyle?

My quick answer: These objections confuse preferences with meta-preferences.

No one chooses to have the gene for cilantro aversion.  Yet people with the cilantro aversion gene are perfectly able to eat this vegetable.  They just strongly prefer not to.

Similarly, when I say that those “with the flu” are people who value blowing chunks more than avoiding grossing out their family, this doesn’t mean that they like having these priorities.  If they could press a button which would eliminate their desire to puke, I bet many with the flu would press it.  But given their actual cravings, they prefer to keep vomiting heavily despite the suffering of their families.

Is this all just a word game?  No.  The economic distinction between preferences and constraints that I’m drawing upon has three big substantive implications here.

First, people with extreme preferences could make different choices.  People with cilantro aversion are able to eat cilantro.  People with the flu are able to stop vomiting.  For example, an adult with the flu usually makes it to the bathroom before puking.

Second, as a corollary, people with extreme preferences can – and routinely do – respond to incentives.  Although it hasn’t been formally tested in the lab, I’m sure the appropriate experiment would find that this “need” to throw up would be postponed more often in cases when the carpet is very expensive–thus proving that vomiting, even when you “have the flu,” is a rational choice in a world of tradeoffs.

Third, as a further corollary, people with extreme preferences can – and routinely do – find better ways to cope.  People reshape their own preferences all the time; perhaps you can do the same.  If you find yourself “with the flu” and feeling miserable, take a bath and a nap. Don’t just wallow in your misery.

* I’m well-aware that many physical symptoms also respond to incentives.  You can pressure a diabetic to lose weight, which in turn reverses his diabetes.  But all of these incentive effects require time to work.  The symptoms of the flu, in contrast, can and often do respond to incentives instantly, because they are choices that are always within your grasp.  “I’m divorcing you unless you stop puking right now” is a viable threat.  “I’m divorcing you unless you stop being diabetic right now” is a silly one.

P.S. If you liked my analysis, you will also enjoy Bryan Caplan’s similar discussion of clinical depression.

01 Apr 2019

IBC and the Business Owner, Part 1 of 3

Lara-Murphy Show No Comments

I start a new series on our podcast with Carlos.

28 Mar 2019

BMS Ep. 24: Murphy Dissects His Discussion on MMT with Warren Mosler

Bob Murphy Show 1 Comment

My latest episode