Sunday, March 8, 2015

A 'Make-Work Bias' By Any Other Name...

What is it with all the aliases, anyway? The lump-of-labor fallacy, the lump-of-work fallacy, fixed Work-fund fallacy, Luddite fallacy, make-work fallacy, make-work bias...

MaxSpeak calls attention to a lecture by a George Mason University professor, Garrett Jones, which advocates less democracy. Ten percent less democracy, to be precise.

The cornerstone of Jones's argument is Bryan Caplan's "four democratic biases" outlined in his 2006 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter. One of those supposed democratic biases is our old friend. the lump-of-labor fallacy make-work bias. Bryan Caplan is clearly a suppository of received wisdom.

So here is the basic idea: "Nineteenth-century economists believed they had diagnosed enduring economic confusions, not intellectual fads, and they were right." So, according to Caplan and Jones we should disenfranchise voters because of what "nineteenth-century economists" thought and hand over policy-making power to folks who think those nineteenth century economists were right. Sounds logical.

I have a better suggestion. In an earlier post I cited George Bernard Shaw's "strong opinion that every University on the face of the earth should be levelled to the ground and its foundations sowed with salt."

Let's start with George Mason University.


Magpie said...

We need to arrange an introduction.

Apparently, Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister has never heard of Bryan Caplan.

Which is regrettable, considering that Mr. Abbott is a "right-of-centre, conservative, libertarian" politician.

media said...

of course, everyone knows who bryan caplan (the anarchist faq--actually anarcho capitalist, the complement to the other anarchist faq---birds of a flavuh floc-k together) and garret jones, of the famous mercatus center (had some nobles in econ up there) knows from his 'research' that his 'high iq' supports national productivity ---he's smart enough to know that to get along, go along, and do what you are told.germany showed this was a good idea around 1940---'belsen was a gas' (old national anthem, on youtube---the gas was created by a jewish german who also did stuff for something called 'agriculture'---nitrogen.) and with the eurozone its still valid. lets make work!!! for example universities (also called concentration camps). i think jones, caplan and donald trump are all in the same class---saints and humanitarians. i'm doing a kickstart campaign with bill gates to help them pay off any student or other debts they have.

Denis Drew said...

If the real problem is people dropping out of the workforce -- even if reg unemployment figures seem alright -- then, just reducing hours to put more people to jobs wont work (some of the employed will jobs).

In America -- on the poor side of town -- the biggest reason for dropping out (or never entering) the workforce is that American born workers wont work for a minimum wage nearly $4 less than LBJ's 1968 minimum -- DOUBLE the per capita income since.

In the half of Chicago that Rahm doesn't worry about -- or ever goes to or pass near -- 100,000 out of I would guess 200,000 gang age, minority males are in street gangs.

Like most American problems it all boils down to not pay people enough to work

Bruce Webb said...

Walker can I make an editorial suggestion?

You say "Bryan Caplan is clearly a suppository of received wisdom."

Based on my first and second hand interactions with what I can only term a sociopath (see his "autobiography" I would suggest a simple edit to:

"Byran Caplan is clearly a suppository". Because it is not 'received knowledge from anywhere but the fever swamp that was Ayn Rand's brain.

Bruce Webb said...

Quintessential Caplan from his autobiography:

"As I digested the stock of libertarian insight, I noticed a phenomenon central to my mature research: Most people violently rejected even my most truistic arguments. Yes, I was a shrill teen-ager, but it seems like anyone should have recognized the potential downside of drug regulation once I pointed it out. Instead, they yelled louder about Thalidomide babies. True, it was not a complete surprise - I had already experienced the futility of trying to convert my family and friends to atheism during the prior year. But I was frustrated to find that human beings were almost as dogmatic about politics and economics as they were about religion and philosophy."

Yes. The fact that people wouldn't ditch long held beliefs once confronted by a self-confessed "shrill teenager" exposing "truistic argumetnts" based on superficial reading of fricking Ayn Rand was the basis for Caplan's ultimate conclusion that almost everyone was an Irrational Voter. Where 'rational' is clearly to be identified with "agreeing with Bryan Caplan" because "duh".

The whole autobiography is somewhere between a hoot and a horrorshow, Caplan's contempt even for grad student colleagues and his own teachers is both deep and disturbing.

Sociopath I said and sociopath I meant.

Jack said...

Two questions come immediately to mind. First, is Bryan Caplan’s book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, the prequel or the sequel to The Myth of Rational Markets? Second, is there even the slightest trace of scholarship in the former title? Or is the book no more than a repository of Caplan's acquired wisdom though without any supportive objective data?

Note also that Caplan is often referred to as a professor at GMU, but he can be seen to be virtually a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. From Wiki, "Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog."

Sandwichman said...


How would "Caplan is a suppository of Ayn-al retentiveness" work for you?