1. This post from Bryan Caplan (HT - Bob Murphy). It's posts like these that really convince me (a.) most libertarians don't understand the people they are arguing with, and (b.) most libertarians do not consider the robustness of their own ideal society, or at least are not aware of or curious about whether other positions on the robustness of their own ideal society. The thrust of the post is a little different - it's about when different people just say "tough luck", and that's a reasonable point. What really bad is his grasp of what much of the other side thinks.
2. The second one is from a facebook conversation excorciating state tax breaks as just "moving jobs around" rather than being "job creators". The post concluded with the claim that real job creators are immigrants. This guy is a thoughtful libertarian, not some kind of reactionary. And he's not alone in that assessment. It's a very mainstream/neoliberal view of things. What I don't get is how a guy like that can hold such a zero-sum view of the economy when talking about state tax breaks but abandon it in the next sentence when he's talking about immigration. Another example of this is the way some people (I've heard Russ Roberts and David Henderson do this in an Econtalk, for example) get the general equilibrium demand lead growth argument when talking about immigrants, but compeltely miss the exact same point when talking about the minimum wage. The supply curve slopes up and the demand curve slopes down in both cases. Demand lead growth arguments make a lot of people comfortable with the impact of immigration on native workers. Why the disconnect with the exact same argument when it comes to the minimum wage? A final example gets back to my facebook friend's point about state tax incentives. These are often denounced as "beggar they neighbor" policies. Why is it that the same people who call this "beggar they neighbor" don't similarly dismiss corporate tax cuts as "beggar thy neighbor"? Both states and the federal government are cutting taxes on businesses. Why is it mercantilism when the states do it but A-OK when the country does it?
3. Some writing on Cafe Hayek about Keynes recently has been so stupid that it's not worth talking about here. But this morning Don had a post that is a common enough sentiment that it's worth talking about. I still don't understand it at all, though. He is sharing a quote and references the fact that the writer is "speaking chiefly of economics circa the mid-1960s - the heyday of Keynesianism and of the related heady belief in the policy prowess of the best and the brightest". I genuinely don't understand this view. I understand what the common response to me would be, but I don't understand how people can bring themselves to consider that sort of response a convincing one. If Keynes and subsequent Keynesians (Krugman and DeLong are perfect examples of this today) have been trying to communicate anything, it's how supremely dumb policymakers can be and how tempting it is to do exactly the wrong thing. The thing that radiates from everything Keynes writes, from Economic Consequences of the Peace to Treatise on Probability, to all his writings in the 20s about the gold standard, to the General Theory is the failure of policymakers and the damage that people can do when they claim that hubristic high ground we call "certainty". All the well known Keynesian public intellectuals have trumpeted this point in one way or another too. Ex-Keynesians that grew into monetarists regularly make this point as well. I genuinely don't understand how Don comes to this view, except that he is doing what Bryan did. Don assumes that because Hayek thought X Keynes and Keynesians must think not-X. It seems to me that we should note that this is a great overlap between Keynesians and Hayekians (some people do recognize this). Now, we still have macroeconomics to argue about when that's done. And I'll still marvel over the fact that Don can hold his libertarian blueprint for social engineering even after reading Hayek, and I'll propose instead we use what we've learned tacitly - from trial and error - and move cautiously in another direction. But I'll at least recognize that he thinks of himself as not having a blueprint for social engineering (I'll keep insisting he does, but I recognize he doesn't think he does). I get the impression he doesn't even realize that we Keynesians are cognizant of this point, though - and that's really what I don't understand.
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