Tuesday , December 18 2018
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Ain’t a Dime’s Worth of Difference?

There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. This quote is attributed to the late George C. Wallace, governor of Alabama in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, and frequent candidate for President of the United States. I used to think it was true and have thought so at times recently. But take a look at the vote on the recent farm bill, which spends an ungodly amount of money on farmers. Remember that the beneficiaries tend to be...

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Who’s Afraid of Oscar Lewis?

In the 50s and 60s, Oscar Lewis could easily have been the world’s most famous anthropologist.  He wrote a whole series of painstaking ethnographies of poor families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India.  My 12th-grade AP Government class actually made his Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty required reading.  Only recently, though, have I realized that these books aren’t just fascinating in their own right; they’re also illuminating at the...

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People, there’s a whole world out there

The world is much bigger than you or I can imagine. In a recent post, David Henderson does a nice job of showing the absurdity of talking about “the United States” as if it were a single person.  So what would you think of someone talking about North and South America, plus Western Europe as a single person?  That would be even more absurd.  Much more.  The 1.4 billion people who live in that area might almost be said to form an entire world.  (More specifically, the...

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Oil Prices and Inflation

Many if not most economists must find annoying the frequent media reports on the presumed relation between the price of oil and inflation. Or perhaps many have become unsensitized? Here are two examples chosen more or less at random—but from two serious financial newspapers. Last summer, The Economist wrote (“Worker Shortages Could Heal America’s Economy,” July 12, 2018): Yet the economy has not yet overheated. Only recently has inflation hit or exceeded 2%, the Fed’s...

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Bob Murphy Conversation with David Henderson

I had a blast doing this. Here is the link. Now the highlights. The times listed are roughly right. 3:30 to 5:00: My bio 5:00 to 15:00: How I got hooked on economics, especially the role of Harold Demsetz 15:30 to 18:00: Advice Milton Friedman gave 19-year-old me. 18:25: My change in plans after my brother committed suicide. 19:40: My ah-hah moment when I realized that I could really understand some technical economics. 21:15: Demsetz, “Remind me who you are.” 23:00:...

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Just blow it all up?

In addition to the split between the left and the right, there’s also a split between people who favor incremental change and those who want to “blow it all up.”  In 2016, the British voted in a referendum in favor of exiting the EU.  The referendum did not have the force of law, but the government (quite reasonably) was reluctant to ignore the results of this poll.  After all, why even have a referendum if you plan to ignore it? The supporters of the Brexit campaign...

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Read “The Culture of Poverty: An Ideological Analysis”

Next week I’m going to blog a piece that is at once lucid, engaging, insightful, and flabbergasting: David Harvey and Michael Reeds “The Culture of Poverty: An Ideological Analysis.” (Sociological Perspectives, 1996)  As far as I can tell, there’s only a gated version, but if you want to peek inside the intra-left debate on “culture of poverty” research, this is the place to start.

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Haiti > Cuba

Tiny Sunrise Airways runs 12 direct flights weekly from the Cuban cities of Havana, Camaguey and Santiago to Port-au-Prince. Cubans interviewed in the market said they spend about $700 on airfare, food and lodging and another $700 on merchandise, which they resell at a markup high enough to make several hundred dollars profit per trip. Most of those interviewed said they made near-monthly trips, generating more than $2,000 in extra income a month in a country where...

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Lower-Class Families and Evolutionary Psychology

A few more thoughts on Rodman’s Lower-Class Families: 1. There is little sign that the welfare state has anything to do with ubiquitous impulsive sexual behavior in Coconut Village.  Even the neediest single moms appears to receive little or no support from the government. 2. So how do the neediest single moms cope?  Rodman: What does the woman do, however, when she has children by a man and he leaves her?  The separation may “solve” the man’s financial problem if he...

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Regulation watch

One often hears about the Trump administration’s deregulation push. But how real is it? Is the number of regulations rising or falling?  One Mercatus Center study found that growth in federal regulations slowed during 2017: As the saying goes, talk is cheap. What do the numbers—the numerous metrics of the stock and flow of regulation—tell us about the Trump administration’s first year of regulatory reform? For one, the growth of regulation has clearly slowed. During...

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