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  • Originally published 10/25/2013

    The Paranoid Style: Then and Now

    We need to move beyond Richard Hofstadter's formulation of "paranoid" to understand today's Tea Party Republicans.

  • Originally published 01/24/2015

    Cherry-Pikettying

    My previous posts on the data problems in Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty First Century have focused almost entirely on errors contained within his data charts and files. But what happens when one tries to reconstruct those files?To find out, I conducted a simple experiment using Piketty’s Figure 10.5 – the widely cited depiction of wealth inequality in the United States over the past century. I previously deconstructed and critiqued this chart at length, concluding that it is essentially a Frankenstein graph – a clunky assemblage of cherry-picked data points from multiple divergent sources and arranged in an order that seems to confirm Piketty’s historical narrative about a dramatic upturn in inequality since the early 1980s. The purpose was to reconstruct Piketty’s chart using his own source data and techniques, only I would cherry-pick different “representative” numbers than Piketty did from within those sources as needed.The rules:1. I had to use the same data sources that Piketty used in constructing the original. These consist of the estate tax study by Kopczuk & Saez (2004) and SCF studies by Wolff (1994, 2010) and Kennickell (2009, 2011).

  • Originally published 08/15/2014

    Beware of Kafkatrapping

    The term "kafkatrapping" describes a logical fallacy that is popular within gender feminism, racial politics and other ideologies of victimhood. It occurs when you are accused of a thought crime such as sexism, racism or homophobia. You respond with an honest denial, which is then used as further confirmation of your guilt. You are now trapped in a circular and unfalsifiable argument; no one who is accused can be innocent because the structure of kafkatrapping precludes that possibility.The term derives from Franz Kafka's novel The Trial in which a nondescript bank clerk named Josef K. is arrested; no charges are ever revealed to the character or to the reader. Josef is prosecuted by a bizarre and tyrannical court of unknown authority and he is doomed by impenetrable red tape. In the end, Josef is abducted by two strange men and inexplicably executed by being stabbed through the heart. The Trial is Kafka's comment on totalitarian governments, like the Soviet Union, in which justice is twisted into a bitter, horrifying parody of itself and serves only those in charge

  • Originally published 08/15/2014

    Out of Iraq, Etc.!

    Nearly a century ago, after four bloody years of World War I, British colonialists created the state of Iraq, complete with their hand-picked monarch. Britain and France were authorized — or, more precisely, authorized themselves — to create states in the Arab world, despite the prior British promise of independence in return for the Arabs’ revolt against the Ottoman Turks, which helped the Allied powers defeat the Central powers. And so European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations....History alone does not tell us what, if anything, outside powers should do now; there’s no going back in time. But we can say that without foreign interference, even a violent evolution of the region might have been far less violent than it has been during the last century. At least, the violent factions would not be seeking revenge against Americans.

  • Originally published 08/12/2014

    Relationship of Politics to Morality

    In a much circulated article entitled "Against Libertarian Brutalism," the libertarian luminary Jeffrey Tucker divided the movement into two camps--Brutalists and Humanitarians-- that sparked massive infighting.  Brutalist vs Humanitarian libertarians? What is the difference? Wendy McElroy weighs in on the debates.

  • Originally published 08/12/2014

    Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act

    July 2 marked the 50th anniversary of the most famous Civil Rights Act in U.S. history. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 promised justice for all, regardless of race, color, creed, sex or national origin. The plain meaning of the act: “Nondiscrimination. Period.” The law was a triumph of colorblind individualism over group-based discrimination. Tragically, policymakers have spent the past 50 years trashing the act’s meaning by reviving group discrimination.

  • Originally published 08/12/2014

    Robert Higgs Discusses Effects of WWI on Tom Woods Show

    Robert Higgs appeared on the Tom Woods radio show. Higgs discusses the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I and its devastating effects on people and government.  A recording of the show is inside.

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