Replies to Critics on Cato Unbound
By Bryan Caplan
Highlights from my reply to Greg Clark:
I am pleased to in principle accept Greg’s proposed bet:
So if Bryan wants to bet even odds that farmland prices
will be higher relative to average wages in 30 years time, I am happy
to accommodate him…
We just need to work out (a) whether this is a bet on U.S. farmland
prices relative to U.S. average wages, or world farmland prices
relative to world average wages; and (b) what we’ll consider the
canonical measure of the price of farmland. For simplicity, I suggest
we stick to the U.S., use the United States Department of Agriculture’s measure of the average value of farm real estate, and settle on January 1, 2041…
Also: When Clark remarks…
But the empirical evidence population on idea production
is weak, especially once we move to population sizes beyond those of
remote island communities.
… I respond:
What would it take to convince you, Greg? The more populous periods
of human history–most obviously the last few centuries–clearly produced
more scientific, technological, and cultural innovations than earlier,
less populous periods. More populous countries today produce many more
scientific, technological, and cultural innovations that less populous
countries… Here’s a challenge for you: Name the most credible measure of idea production that isn’t at least moderately positively correlated with population.
Highlight from my reply to Matthew Connelly:
I’m puzzled by Connelly’s claim that, “Fertility is not, after all, a good in and of itself, unlike liberty, prosperity, or good health.” It seems to me that, all else equal, it is very
“good in and of itself” when one more person gets to enjoy the gift of
life. Yes, you can point to downsides and trade-offs. But you can do
the same for prosperity and health.
Matt, why are you so much more worried about “fertility cults” than “prosperity cults” or “health cults”? All can be rationales for oppressive policies. All have been. But as I said in my previous reply, libertarians have more convincing ways to defend liberty than flatly denying the goodness of these ends.
P.S. In case you missed the connection, Connelly’s the author of the outstanding Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population – featuring a great moment of libertarian populism.