1. Bryan Caplan making a somewhat atypical foray into giving people he disagrees with the benefit of the doubt and soliciting their views on Bastiat. I have some comments there.
2. Bryan going back to the usual schtick of assuming that people he disagrees with professing acceptance of Bastiat because they actually try to obscure him because their policies are irrational (where once again I can't help but think that "irrational" is simply defined as "disagreeing with Bryan Caplan... needless to say, not a classic definition of irrational).
Unfortunately, facebookers seem to prefer the latter post.
Bryan attaches a lot of adjectives and innuendo to the defense of the minimum wage that I wouldn't ("mean employers", for example). But the simple, naive story in my view isn't that bad a defense. I would say to the general public that for everyone to get by in the market economy we ensure that everyone earns a certain minimum level. Of course the sophisticated defense gets more complicated than that, but that is a true statement, right? It's not a "Nobel Lie" as Bryan put it. It's not a lie at all. It is a simplified version of the truth, I'll agree, but that's different from a lie and there's nothing in Bastiat that disputes that.
What is in Bastiat (and every single intro textbook or dinner table conversation about the minimum wage) is the opportunity cost of the minimum wage. The general public understands that a minimum wage makes it more expensive to hire workers than not having a minimum wage. That's the whole damn point - to raise the price of labor. I don't honestly believe that Bryan Caplan - a guy that got into Princeton - was not told this or exposed to this in high school. I think this is the "Nobel Lie" Bryan tells himself about his own past to justify his complaints about defenders of a safety net.
That represents a real trade-off.
But everyone already knows this. Otherwise people would be advocating $20 minimum wages, and they're not doing that. Republicans wouldn't be making these arguments to the general public if the general public didn't know this. You don't learn things from politicians, after all - you get what you already know reinforced and reemphasized.
Anyway, I was encouraged by the first post but did not find the second post very insightful or imaginative.
Thank God I'm an Isolationist!
1 minute ago