Bryan Caplan is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and a professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in public economics, public choice, psychology and economics, public opinion, economics of the family and education, genoeconomics, and Austrian economics.
- Bryan CaplanSenior Research Fellow and Professor of Economics, George Mason University
- Mario Villarreal-DiazManaging Director, Red McCombs School of Business
[0:00:01 Speaker 0] Welcome to Policy. Emma Combs. A Data Focus Conversation on Trade Ox I’m Carlos Car Value from the Salem Center for Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. It was a pleasure to have with us today economists Bryan Caplan from George Mason University and alter off two of my favorite books, The Case Against Education and, more recently, open Borders that other books as well. But I’m just mentioned those bees through that I really enjoy, Brian. So welcome and thank for joining us.
[0:00:35 Speaker 1] Thanks for much red meat. Careless.
[0:00:37 Speaker 0] So with all of these conversations, I’m starting by asking the question off. That’s to get ourselves back to march and and try and understand from your perspective, when did you notice, or if you or if you thought that this was a big deal and how would you or is information and models or what was in front of you that convinced you that? Okay, this is serious. There’s gonna be bad. How bad is going to be and and sort of talked through a little bit. How you thought about the policies being put in front of us in the very beginning?
[0:01:04 Speaker 1] I see. So I mean, I have been very vaguely paying attention to news in January February. But I honestly did figure it would end up being something like Ebola or SARS, where it’s limited to one small area of the world and otherwise would have now important effect on me personally. Anyway, on then, I would say Honestly, I started getting a little bit nervous when I was traveling Latin America in February and I just noticed a lot of people working in the airport in Mass and like I never seen that before boxing. And I think that probably still shrugged it off and said, Well, people are crazy, right which I still believe But doesn’t that on crazy home time? And then I guess when I got back I talked to a few people whose judgment I trust a lot on matters like this, especially my colleague Robin Hanson across the hall. And he was saying how, even though he agreed that usually disasters predict disasters do not really transpire, he said. This one was different and I did start paying attention then and then I really did see, especially in the course thesis social reaction which happened much sooner than any significant number of actual deaths or sickness. But just when school started closing, trip started being canceled. And actually I was really shocked with Disneyland clothes and from Los Angeles, like Disneyland close, you closed Disneyland so that with these were the things that got you paying attention numbers. And then once I started paying attention the numbers, I would say that I stop paying attention to most of the other things, which you were just. Anecdotal experiences don’t prove much of anything, but they start looking numbers and saw how the number of cases and the death star rising in a way that was very similar to what people who were. I would say that I, like the moderate estimates, predicted the extreme pessimists predict millions of deaths. They still they still seem crazy to me and again. And of course, if they had said it will happen unless we do the following things that it might may be different. But I think that many of the pessimists we’re saying this is going to happen so and those people like to say have been shown to be wrong, So I guess that’s how most of my thinking of the early faces. When? Anyway?
[0:03:19 Speaker 0] So when you thinking that you know the faces when you start seeing things like voluntary choices by people like just close and distant land or and then be a design that was something that stroke me is like, Whoa, the NBA’s gonna stop. Okay, that’s that’s Ah, that’s gonna be hard. And I was teaching at the time a class in Chicago and we couldn’t fly anymore. And there was some something that that was very surprising to me that I am not surprised, but it was deficit hit home, right, that Okay, this is happening. But there are voluntary choices in terms of policies being put in place. How are you thinking about the choices that were they were given to us? We were given this choice off, off the seem to be like the economy off extremes. And how would you? You know what we reaction to those at first as an economist,
[0:04:00 Speaker 1] you know, I was saying that I don’t think that really wants the economy. It was more of a near unanimity. If we have to go and do something very extreme and honestly, we really have to go and emulate communist China, which you ain’t like you. What almost every country Earth has done is not normal. Right to release it wasn’t normal in town. Communist China made it normal. And if you know any history, anything about history coming in China, I would never consider in a country to emulate really in almost any way. But in terms of the extremism of the reaction, that’s something that I did notice any. I like. The, uh, that’s bothered me very much just the way that people wanted to just shut everything down without really, indiscriminately, without distinctions between what we’re high risk of lovers activities, what are ways to mitigate the risk? So you immediately as an economist on always thinking, not is it say if there’s nothing’s really safe ever right, you could be hit by a bus just walking on the street. So it’s really what are the odds were the actual risks and actually one of the earliest things that I was doing, Waas actually trying to look into infection, mortality rates and notice the other is a big difference between case mortality rates, which is just number of people died compared to the number of people that have been to the tested positive for infection mortality. When you actually know that someone saying What are the odds they die and especially realizing that there’s enormous selection bias because the people that get measured are generally the relievers cases. So you know, I was very concerned there and it didn’t even very quickly. I didn’t see this point that the infection mortality rate valor vary tremendously by age, which then very immediately led me to think well, shouldn’t it be that young people keep living normally more or less and old people than isolate and rather than ever, having everybody isolate? So that was my immediate reaction then, when I learned more about how important underlying conditions are and even doesn’t seem so much that age per se is, is the Kruky issue other than older people, more underlying conditions. But once I realized that is even clearer now, it should be the people that have underlying conditions who generally will be, although not always who should be very careful, and other people should live a basically normal life, both because it’s very costly to ask people and rich the freedom, but that also the point of having healthy people catch. It does move us closer to what we call herd immunity as to how far you have to go in order to get there. It’s a complicated question, but they say it is a continuous variable. So if you have, there is less infection. When 20% of the population has has is immune, then 10%. So just saying, Look, if we can move along that dimension, basically, getting healthy people sick and then having to recover is as a very similar factor getting more People wear masks, you know,
[0:06:45 Speaker 0] vaccinated. That’s the same vision. Is that the idea of like that’s an effective way to get a vaccine, right?
[0:06:50 Speaker 1] Yeah. Yes, yes, yes, right? I guess we also you know, along the way my colleague Robert Hanssen again, he was looking into
[0:06:57 Speaker 0] our relation.
[0:06:58 Speaker 1] Your city actually going be a very elation, basically just giving people low doses, which is that the only very similar to a vaccine might end. You people got very excited him, Of course, since they almost always do whenever he makes the original points good or bad, but usually review
[0:07:17 Speaker 0] So one of the one of the professions that I’ve been particular disappointed with throughout this was was economist. And the reason for it is because, you know, economies are always very, very, very careful at least tend to be very careful thinking about this sort of unintended consequences of doing something. And this one, we were, you know, yes. Very quickly. Think became available. The data that yes, the older and people with preexisting conditions are the most vulnerable. Most of us are not most of us not gonna die of this. And if anything, the risk is actually very comfortable toe under respiratory infections that we face routinely, right? So So that
[0:07:53 Speaker 1] five times it’s still so right. I flues,
[0:07:57 Speaker 0] right? Right. Exactly. I can get a year five blues and Jensen’s arm not gonna tie, right. And But But But then then we’re looking at this thing where Okay, we’re gonna polish. They’re putting place. It falls to be proposed and implemented. And I feel that the majority of the profession was like, Oh, yeah, I know that seems to make sense without really focusing on hammering on the underlying that sort of ah, the consequences and the things that cost, really, that we’re gonna bear associated with? Is there a few voices that were very loud on this? But I wouldn’t describe them. Very few. They’re not the mainstream voices and voices that where you are still being deep, locked down skeptics or something like that, right lung and by scientists, in some ways, do you have the similar impression on the profession?
[0:08:40 Speaker 1] Yes. So I guess that my opinion of my fellow economists peaked around 2007 and has been going downward ever since. So I guess I was not surprised Me like like, you know, ultimately, like I’ve long known that the table economist is a normal human being. First an economist, second or third or fourth. And there’s also been a too big moves in the last 20 years and economic. So one is that there’s been a, ah, move in a more left wing direction. Like, you know, economics was always left wing overall, but but the balance used to be something like 3 to 2 for Democrat Republican ratio. So it waas one where, even though the left wing view was predominant, steal, it was a very mild predominance, and there’s a lot more room for the views, and over time, especially with the next generation economists. It’s been replaced with a very heavily left wing demographic. So there’s that. And the other thing is that as the focus of economics has moved towards doing empirical work and just focusing very heavily on getting proper counsel identification your paper, there’s just been a great forgetting of the fundamental tools of economics, like cost benefit analysis and expected value. And just just with the idea that economics is primarily a grammar of thinking, the way the organized organizer thoughts again this is not lost is entirely but the share of economists that when they hear they have to take a precaution in order to achieve a benefit who now say, Well, wait, how like wow, good, like, what is the actual size of the benefits? What does this say? How much produces reduce the risk? How much is the game? I think that has diminished considerably from where it would have been in seventies for eighties or even nineties, and so I think that’s another thing. But in there I mean, I already did realize how things have gotten worse on, and it’s very disappointing, but unfortunately there’s not too much I could do about it other than to say that there wasn’t. We used to know better. We used to have a better way. And rend also like, Why are you teaching your students the right way to think? Why are you teaching them economic thinking? And then, yes, I know that it’s hard to teach people how to think, but good God, try
[0:10:51 Speaker 0] listening to try, right? Exactly. I think you’re right. Here, I think was in Maybe June 1st, I’m gonna quote you here for a second that you accept a strong presumption in favour. Human liberty. You cannot rightfully shut businesses and order people to stay at home out of an abundance of caution. Instead, the burden of the advocates of this policies to demonstrate their benefits drastically exceed their costs by at least 5 to 1. And nobody did that. Nobody even tried t talk about that right? And that that’s to be so clear with the point that, you know I shouldn’t be. Here is an interview telling what I believe, but that’s that’s what frustrates me The most like, without any indication of the trade offs, were facing these decisions as draconian as they come. Right that this has been, um as they come.
[0:11:35 Speaker 1] Yeah. So in the again, that sounds quite right to me. See Website thinking about all that? Oh, yes. Eso Here’s thing. I mean, I think most people would hear those words that I wrote him say, Well, this is just a dogmatic libertarian who says
[0:11:51 Speaker 0] it’s
[0:11:51 Speaker 1] only going to go and support thes elections principles if you get over a near its mouth insurmountable barrier. But I would say is actually, this test I’m talking about is one that most people use actually for anything that takes seriously. So if someone came out of the cost benefit analysis saying that banning Satanism would pat would just pass Ah, constant if a test by 5% I think almost no one who ever cared about free speech would say, All right, fine. Let’s round up the sameness now and stand. They say, Look, that’s not enough. It like it’s one thing if we got around them up to go and prevent these a 10 and a series of massive satanic attacks or something. But other world buys like even if yes, it turns out that every state n’est really messed up their family and their parents are miserable. And, you know, it causes suicides because people can’t handle the fact that kids become a state n’est. Even so, we’ve really you really gotta show an enormous benefit of bending this principle. Me, That and that applies to almost any principle that anyone really cares about. So to me, the idea he wouldn’t care about the principle of don’t go and tell people they can’t leave their homes right, That seems at least as important as you have the freedom to practice safe s, um
[0:13:02 Speaker 0] And do you share the view that I think a lot of people defend those follows is still on, Like, you know, there was a moment in time where we didn’t know enough about it. There was so much uncertainty, unknowns were too large, and there was a fear of looking what was happening inordinately. Perhaps it was about to happen in New York City off our inability to process the cases. So, like I shut down, let’s say of two weeks was something that would lead, at least to an avoidance, solve the hospitals being overwhelmed and and with the flatten, the curve idea, right? So that was like I think the way those policies were advocated is like a temporary thing to just flatten the curve. Um, yeah, your reaction to that
[0:13:39 Speaker 1] during intercourse. And I say that’s doing it for two weeks is a lot less on justifiable than doing it for months. You were there, right? But I would say so. This is the same. Reasoning is round up all the Japanese after December 7th because, but probably fine. But let’s have an abundance of caution round them all up. How do we know there isn’t at least one terrorist cell among the Japanese thing? I would say All right, I understand that point. And yes, things are confusing right now, but that’s not good enough. And if that and if you think things like that are good enough, then really you are going to be doing one terrible thing after another, right? And it ultimately comes down to the terrible things that are popular will happen and the terrible things that are unpopular probably mount. But really bad things could be popular. It’s the the what I like to call the hysteria and hurting of the population. It really does move around quite dramatically in response to crazy events. So only the this reaction could have been much stronger after a 9 11 for example, So you actually remember after 9 11 some people saying, Well, you know, let me this is Actually I don’t even It was even a joke saying, Look, we don’t really know which countries behind this. Let’s just attack a bunch of Middle Eastern countries Right now it’s like out of an abundance of caution. Let’s just in video lately invade a bunch of places. All right, so So you do realise the horrible things that you’re talking about here and like it seamlessly seems to me like that’s not sufficient. But you’ve been close to get undressed. If I was kind
[0:15:15 Speaker 0] of what I would say in the in the even reaction 9 11 right there was there was a We didn’t face dictatorial powers doing those things for our lives for something that you know, you had a president reacted very strongly to it, and all of it got voted by Congress and, you know, he might disagree with the way that our representatives decided to do something, but it got voted by a legislative body where we’ve been living through a system where we have 50 despot’s plus one. It was really funny is that there’s a lot of people like arguing that that one, that’s what should have been more strong throw. The whole thing is like,
[0:15:45 Speaker 1] really that one you
[0:15:46 Speaker 0] wanna tell gives more part of the one that’s been
[0:15:49 Speaker 1] I mean, my dad is very Steel is always inclined to blame China for anything wrong in the world. And in this case, he really wanted to blame them for the hire evident for the entire pandemic. Right? And get the other question rightly so. What does he wanted them to dio So like, I think he heard stories about how they suppressed it, really only in front news for a couple weeks. Course the day is like it is not clear. That was like being like the very highest level, like you got local people suppressing it. Any case, given that most countries didn’t do very much during that time, you know, I guess those your model could be that the other countries will react eight weeks after the Chinese have officially react. But it’s not clear why that would be your model rather than they react four weeks after it’s clear there’s a serious problem, something like that which I
[0:16:38 Speaker 0] still don’t
[0:16:38 Speaker 1] see that China delayed anything. But unlike anything you have, the way that my dad reaction if China had done something drastic, like foreigners can’t leave room on, either. We don’t we don’t break the quarantine just because you’re not a citizen. Everyone has to stay here again. That’s the kind of thing that I think would have been a major international incident. And yet that, you know, out of all the things trying to get it could have done, I think that home yeah, that’s the one thing I think that that actually couldn’t really doj the balance If they just said no one, no one gets out until the quarantine is over. I mean, the amount of of international blowback that would have caused, I think, would have been enormous. I mean, I doubt that would have caused World War Three, but I would have been still like pulling my collar like 2% chance of World War Three over this. If China just said like no way we’re doing it. Our way. Tough luck, right?
[0:17:27 Speaker 0] Let me think up on this point because this point the point off all that he did a lot of people that even, uh was okay with extension of lock down a zoo we had in the country, like, you know, they say, Well, if China could have, could have could have not mitigated this, but really suppressed the virus, right? If they had locked down in Wuhan somehow you know, there is a state of the world where this could be suppressed there. And I think there’s a lot that we’re learning now. Even place that did then he seems that’s almost like a losing battery. Doesn’t seem to be possible Australia, or seek a huge, huge ramp up in cases now, after what effectively an island was able to keep it under control and suppress it. Um, so and that’s the part that I at least you know, I think it was a big shift in the goalposts off. We’re not trying t flatten the curve to now. Let’s try to keep a shot to mitigate Teoh suppress this end of the virus. And, you know, cold viruses are really hard to make to suppress. They just apparently are incredibly resilient and they’re gonna be around us. And that’s why I think it’s It’s to me, very frustrating to be looking at the recurrent asked for lockdowns as it’s just like, What are you trying to accomplish this point just pushing those infections to the future. And perhaps maybe you’re just hoping that a vaccine shows up first. How do you think that that that sort of, um, the idea out there,
[0:18:46 Speaker 1] Right? So the the view that you’re delaying actually has saved a lot of lives just because even though we don’t have vaccine, we’ve got better anti virals, better treatment. That may be true. So I mean, I tried looking into it and it didn’t seem clearly wrong. But on the other hand, the people that were really optimistic that you lay like and told me things were great, like it wasn’t clear their shock claims were checking out either. So I really am not too clear on that in terms off, whether it just can’t be completely, completely kind of like whether we actually could just get rid of it. So they’re getting it seems like there are some countries we managed to get it down to such a small fraction of where it waas. That does seem least plausible that they could drive it into extinction by, at least with it before one for a country. But then there’s the question of what do you do about relations with the rest of world? So in your country. So you know, this is something where I am not super confident. But this seemed to me that, like Germany got the number of cases down really low and then least mostly, their contract racing teams were so good. So you know, they were there, actually, and you know, they had enough of them relative. The problem that a lot of times the only thing you can do anymore, right? So if you could actually have something like that, it’s been a fairly modest cost. To be able to go and to skin just hold things down, especially given that Germany still is open to all these other European countries. That’s pretty striking that anyone is able to do it. So using it like what? What I said recently is not
[0:20:13 Speaker 0] giving orders, no
[0:20:15 Speaker 1] well, so but I don’t think they but the workers are not still closes for
[0:20:17 Speaker 0] No. But now yeah. Yeah, and then they actually are. They are suffering from cases coming from Spain, apparently, and they’re struggling a bit with that,
[0:20:25 Speaker 1] right? Right. But it’s immediately like him. Morning. My main thoughts is you, like, if you’re not confused, you just don’t understand what’s going on. So, like, I wouldn’t be surprised when three months, every country Randers to get it down to the same level that Germany has got it in. I wouldn’t be surprised when three months, every country is doing his battle. These United States of Brazil. And I’m just really honestly, I’m just pretty confusing the situation. And, you know, like, I noticed that people who pontificate almost never have any concrete prediction. They almost, like, almost never say anything that could be definitely showed me right or wrong much. Let’s put somebody on it and steak the reputation on the line. So I mean, I think, honestly, the the amount of of a respect that I give, you know, for people who say professionally, they’re doing it. But find your professional so you know more than other people do so say something specific. Give me a number of give me a date, right? And give and put some money on its and stake your reputation. This is what’s going to happen to me when someone says I’m an expert much all but I’m just gonna go on speaking platitudes. Well,
[0:21:23 Speaker 0] the experts have said it and they views numbers. They’re like they’ve been me. Either it’s coming or they were absolutely wrong, right to die in the U. S. They said it by a date, even said by July, 2.2 million people in us is gonna die
[0:21:37 Speaker 1] normally when they say that if you would actually pay attention, they have a bunch of qualifying. Words could die and 12 million could die.
[0:21:45 Speaker 0] What I like
[0:21:45 Speaker 1] about 2.2 million could dies. I don’t get you know, like I completely agree 2.2 million could die, right or the other have like unless we going take drastic measures, 2.2 million will die, right? So normally you get like normally well, people there in the public eye have an instinct to avoid saying anything that could ever be demonstrably shown to be wrong. Also, really, which is a big point of feel 10 blocks. Fantastic book, Super Forecasting where you realize Look, anyone who does that, you really showed that they do not deserve your time. They don’t serve your attention. They don’t deserve respect, Riel. People don’t say what could happen. They say What will happen? They give you a date that give you numbers and also give you probabilities. They give you money if the wrong tone,
[0:22:30 Speaker 0] that’s the issue. And those people go went in and even making those statements and convince a lot of our governments to do radical things, their condition, our governments to to to not open schools for the rest of the year.
[0:22:40 Speaker 1] A So far as I know, I don’t know Valley. Maybe maybe I missed it. But I don’t know of any state legislature in the US that is trying to take back powers. Governors. Is there any legislature
[0:22:50 Speaker 0] is one. There’s one so that I think that was it was not a legislator. Where was a court? So the Wisconsin
[0:22:55 Speaker 1] I, of course, of course, different courts I like like,
[0:22:59 Speaker 0] but that’s because of a legislative
[0:23:01 Speaker 1] trying to say you like where they were even trying to push forward a measure saying the governor, the governor has become a dictator, and you can’t do this stuff without our permission.
[0:23:10 Speaker 0] But it was actually very interesting. I don’t think people pay enough attention to this, Is that the legislator in Wisconsin has a pop. The call the emergency powers of the governor have to be justified on a room making basis. So they actually have administrative law procedure to justify its existence of those of those powers they can give you for two weeks. But after that, you have to go and do some justification for their own measures of powers. And it turns out that the data available here was not enough to best the bar. What would call, you know? So then you cannot continue this unless you go through the rulemaking process. The government gave upside like, Oh, I can’t do it because, you know, I don’t think this is made up. I don’t I don’t have This is like in a bad flu. Um, I shouldn’t say that because I got removed. Trump when I say that. But that’s that’s essentially what? What? You know what gave the legend? The gave stopped the governor of Wisconsin to continue the emergency powers that he had a place. Um, so All right, so let’s fast forward to now. Like what? How do we read? In fact, I shouldn’t go back a little bit. He wrote something a while ago, talking about what you were doing. So again, putting your money on. You know where mouth is here. So how did you handle personally some of this stuff lately? You wrote about it, and it don’t why you’re doing it. And you’re surprised by the fact that a lot of smart people that you know, we’re not acting in that way, right? So how did you interpret evidence that how did you act upon that? That evidence?
[0:24:31 Speaker 1] Yes. I mean, like I say you like, There’s the meta point of the way you think about things. And then there’s the actual concrete behavior. So what really surprised me is when smart people don’t think in terms of probabilities, So when smart people just say Look, scientists found there’s a risk of walking through a room that someone read that a sick person breathed in okay, Like, I’d be a maybe. So they didn’t find that there was a risk But how big is that risk might end like Is there any actually like Is that like, Is there evidence that this love this dosage is that this is actually going that this ever gets? People say, What are the odds against people sick? Right? So that’s the kind of thing that really surprised me when smart people were Susie likes party, especially people that are one that normally have quantitative ability just started talking like normal people. Right? Any of you know, the kind of the
[0:25:19 Speaker 0] new Do you have a duty right?
[0:25:21 Speaker 1] Leaving rich like any risk is too high Oregon. Just like Neil Just saying there is a risk like this. Is it weird that we’re generally like using hyperbolic language that’s too dangerous? Or just imagine what would happen if someone you knew died right? I think like these are all the kinds of questions where I would say 22 people need to be trained to do so to say those are terrible questions. Ask their ones that make people that confuse people, prevent the thinking clearly because everything you do can lead to you to your death of the deaths, the deaths of other people around you. So it’s a question of what are the actual odds that you should be focused on If you’re not interested in those odds than I would just say, it’s very hard to take anything you say seriously, also me. That’s sort of the meta point of, you know, the number of people that were just not thinking in a quantitative way on then in terms of you, said the Civic. So, like on the civics, I can much more understands. Like, um, I had a friend who said, I’m still pretty worried and here you’ll hear my reasons why or I still have this uproot measure and they went through the math. You know that. Then I think we could still have a very good conversation. But you know what I like? Basically, what I’m doing is trying to find the most up to date members on infection mortality rate by age, by health status and then figuring out how that compares for me. Two things that I already do routinely, like driving a car right and again buying A by my by my math, my career, My covert risk is probably really like basically then of course. The other thing is, even if you try to stay for saving, you still get it. Of course, even if you starts living in a more relaxed way, you’re very, very likely will ever get it right. So I say, All right, so let’s get ballparks exposed that changing my behaviour to alien living like a 90% honorable way would move my infection rate reinfection probability for 15 to 40% that then you’re talking about something like I think I get, like, a year’s worth of driving risk, which to me is not bad, right? And especially realizing that when I’m driving, I’m often risking the lives of all my Children, right? Who, actually, I’m honestly, I’d rather that I dive. One of them died, and, you know, they’re all games. So there was this really low. So when you put it that way, so like terms of the familiar risk, I just don’t see that this is very risky to my family now. But I’m not blind to the possibility of infecting someone that is high risk. You know, what I say is, you know there’s a lot of common sense measures you can take their most obviously just avoiding contact with people that are high risk or if you know they’re high risk then saying Well, wait, we should probably avoid contact. Or, of course, there’s also asking, So like, are you high risk and, like, unhappy to go on, accommodate you in ways that seem reasonable to you? Right? So those are all ways that I would handle on have handled these things at the same time. So you’re saying, Look, if you’re very high risk, then it is reasonable to say that you should be the one that’s taking extra caution and there’s no recently resentful of that, concurred other people. So you say Yes, everybody would just the world. We just run over on me. I could live my life and everyone else would withstand side. Yes, well, that’s not a reasonable expectation to put upon strangers. That’s for moderate thing, saying, I said, if I see someone wearing a mask that I try to drive, trying to stay further away from them because I take that as a sign that they’re worried, right? So I don’t want to upset anyone or make anyone nervous. On the other hand, I’m not going to go and wear a mask outside to take a hike. Just because someone is terrified of seeing 100 ft away?
[0:28:48 Speaker 0] I will. Because the governor told you to do so, right?
[0:28:50 Speaker 1] Yes, there. Honestly, everyone breaks loss every day. That might have actually stopped during the quarantine, because people are inside. So maybe they’re not breaking laws every day. But any time you’re actually moving around interacting with people, you’re always breaking laws. You were always breaking the law when you’re driving practically I’ve never met a human being who actually follows traffic laws in any scrupulous way because the laws are unreasonable and ridiculous. And really they are. They’re so the police could go on Hassell people whenever they want to for other really, really for other reasons, rather than to actually go and enforce the law per se. So yes, in my view, is And when laws are stupid, people already break the routinely. And honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with this, and I do it to you, but I’m happy to do it.
[0:29:38 Speaker 0] So a point that I think escape a lot of even economist writing about This is something you mentioned it. That Well, you’re going out you’re doing, You understand the risk that you’re faced. And I just just you mentioned a year of Worster driving. Probably driving is the most interesting that you’re doing a routine basis. So you know it’s not trivial that you’re adding that right. But again, you start from such a low level. And I would say that the latest calculations I’ve been looking at, I think it’s something one way to look at a covert risk for people in our age bracket without conditions. It’s something like adding somewhere between two or 20 days in a year. So just a normal life, you just use a little That’s
[0:30:14 Speaker 1] true. That’s way below what I figured what I calculated about six weeks ago. So, I mean, is he also video could be extended to young, very curious, like like
[0:30:25 Speaker 0] so British numbers. So maybe you know when you have a little careful careful with that. But the point I was trying to
[0:30:34 Speaker 1] use never somebody good to me, actually,
[0:30:36 Speaker 0] r e.
[0:30:37 Speaker 1] If I had to either generalize about my own risk from New York City or the entire country, they got
[0:30:43 Speaker 0] rather good Griffin, right? That’s right, That’s right with the point. The point I was gonna make about about one of the one of the issues that you would say. Well, what you make your own choice is creating externality. That’s the thing that we’d like to talk about economics. And actually, now that is that by you going out, you might increase the transmission of the virus, and therefore another vulnerable person might get it. And I more people die as a result of your choices off going out right? You know, bearing the cost off the But But I think that’s not necessarily the whole way to think about this because as we talked about earlier, people like you and me getting effect is actually perhaps a positive externality on, and that has been sort of completely lost in the discussion of this, uh,
[0:31:24 Speaker 1] positive if you could do it responsibly, Exactly. Positive thinking, you know, Then you isolate. So which again is just what I would do, You know, I remember lately, Even in march, I asked me why already. So what is our plan? If one of us gets sick, what are we doing right? And that’s actually where a lot of the stuff on dose response function, which was relevant to me. OK, we don’t want to do is put a bunch of sick kids together in a small room. So if one of you gets taken late, like each person should be spread out of the house as much as possible, open up the windows and there with that and that way you don’t want it getting a really high dosage of it in the same place. Um, yeah. I mean, of course, if you like, with any externality, of course, Driving’s externality and no silver person says they should. You should never drive. Just one thing to say. You take take precautions, look both ways don’t drive too fast. These are all things that prudent people dio and that I’m happy to dio No, not just for my own safety or the safety of other vulnerable people, pedestrians and so on. But when someone is there, someone said, never dry because you could hurt someone that’s an externality that’s crazy and begin like you’re ignoring the enormous cost you’re putting on me, right? You end And I would say the same thing with infections, saying Yes, well, if it’s ah, substantial benefit to others that I can give it a modest cost to myself. Great if or otherwise. But if it’s the other way around, then I don’t think that is so great. I mean, I was actually use Twitter polls on when, when you consider something murder. So I suppose that you know, your second, you deliberately coffin somebody’s face and get second. I like. Is that burner? Yeah, probably it ISS right. How about if you like, I have no symptoms. You stay 6 ft away from other people, and then someone happened, and then someone else happens to get sick as result. Was that murder and say, you know, like that’s nobody else. I could say that’s no more murder than if you actually kill someone. Writing on your bicycles were like you like you were doing very reasonable thing was get once in a long while. Something really bad happens when you’re behaving responsibly, but doesn’t show that when you’re doing so responsible. I like this is one of the great lessons that economists ought to teach their students more, Which is that just because of bad thing happens doesn’t mean you should change your level of precaution. I have a level precaution. The level precaution is designed to achieve a certain level of risk. The fact that the risk happens once doesn’t show that you weren’t cautious enough and yet course didn’t do not economists? No. Like like there was a fire that show that we need more fire precaution. It’s like, Well, like, what is the overall rate of fire? It’s like one in a million that maybe this is this is actually a totally acceptable one, and we shouldn’t do anything. I was like,
[0:33:54 Speaker 0] What will go that expose fresher now. Thank you. So your accent decision making was to write one, though. Don’t expose evaluated. That’s gonna be that’s gonna be back. Right? Um, so two things I want to talk about now, just moving a little bit too to school. That’s something that we’re having. A big Paulist decision that’s taking place right now is like whether or not to open schools and your work has been a very and I want to quote you. I think again here. Maybe not perfectly, but but but ah, lot of your work questioning the value of education. Um, it’s quoted a lot focusing on high school and college. But I think you you went out. We were more vocal about us. And I know I question all of it the whole and by education, you know, mean teaching people stuff. You mean the way we currently teach people are
[0:34:39 Speaker 1] like, Well, when a politician says we need more money for education, that’s what I think. It was
[0:34:44 Speaker 0] actually exactly exactly so. But now here we are, here we are. And somehow we’re gonna live in a world this fall where I can go out and do anything, literally anything in Texas. But my school’s gonna be close. Our kids are gonna be, like, literally anything. Not going to a bar, I think not going to a bar, but anything else we go to college, get a football game in college. My little kid can go to day care, but we cannot go to a school to Mike McKay. Photo helps close
[0:35:09 Speaker 1] public school or private schools
[0:35:10 Speaker 0] where there’s a big fight going on currently. So so local health authorities are issuing mandates, saying that privates cannot open as well nor charters, and that’s a political battle off funding. You want people to get unroll from from from the. So the question is, I guess the question to you to use that is that, um how do you look at this? And you react to say, OK, I knew this this pointless. So who cares, or are you particularly worried about? Do you do you worry about the fact that somehow we’re not gonna have education in the country for perhaps entire fall? So you think of that impact is going to be
[0:35:44 Speaker 1] turned a student learning. I would be amazed if you saw any long run harm in terms of people’s math reading abilities. However, the the point that I mostly talked about in high school college on, But I also occasionally mentioned younger grades. So whenever I talk about education, I I always try to be fair. And I say, Look, whatever else they do or fail to do kill least u K through eight delivers daycare or now I say it. Well, it used to it used Teoh. So even if they’re not learning anything useful years wasting their time, making a bunch of stupid posters and singing songs that allow the kids don’t wanna sing songs, and I have seen plenty of miserable kids being forced to sing songs and schools. Even if that’s going on, say, at least school for my day care workers, a place where kids to go and they could see other kids and someone watches them so their parents could go and do their job and relax, right? And now it turns out the schools are not even going to provide this one function where I’ve Long said. It’s an undeniable thing service that they’re providing. Yes, I say, like if schools aren’t even gonna be ago, are you know, but especially for K through eight, then they are totally worthless at this point. The idea that you’re going to do online education for kindergartners is just absurd, right? So the best case scenario is apparent to sit there making the kindergartner to the work, In which case it doesn’t say the parent. Anytime they can’t do their job, they can’t relax. So why not? Just at that point, you might as well just to home schooling and save a lot of time and cut out the middleman. So, yeah, it is just a case where the schools want to keep getting enormous amounts of tax dollars don’t believe people say schools are underfunded. They get an enormous amount of money per student per year. So you like national average years ago was already up to 12,000 sounds.
[0:37:23 Speaker 0] See, now 50
[0:37:24 Speaker 1] seven, this enormous level of spending per student on average. And what are they offering you? Their often offering you something that’s barely better than was showing them YouTube videos.
[0:37:36 Speaker 0] I didn’t Doesn’t talk process denouncing for heading
[0:37:39 Speaker 1] off. And yes, so you have people saying Give the parents back the money and then let and then let them let them go and figure out what they want to do with their kids. Education seems like huge improvement to me. Eso You know, I’ve been homeschooling my orchids for years, of course. Never got a dime back from that. And originally my younger kids, we’re gonna have school open two days a week and like, all right, maybe that’s not terrible, but better than nothing. But anyway, now it was announced in our area that there will be no in person school whatsoever. So now I’m just going to homeschooling my kids for at least the first corner. He asked why I don’t get that money back, right? Or course you go further and say, Hey, maybe just give the taxpayers back their money, who are not quite the same as the parents,
[0:38:20 Speaker 0] right?
[0:38:20 Speaker 1] We’ve been ripping off taxpayers for all these years to get four of these dubious services, and now we’re not even giving you that. So why not just say, Well, we don’t want the rationale for us, Existing is gone. I mean, I have little doubt that if schools were just for you, received no money, if they didn’t we open. I think that maybe pushing to reopen, which, by the way, I haven’t heard economists saying things like, Well, so you like you’re only you’re worried about saving lives. What about people’s livelihoods? And right here, this is You have to remember the people who want things shut down also want the level of redistribution to compensate for the loss to be so high that that especially most good workers were actually making more money now than they ever did. So they’re not worried about their life with its very much. So there is a reason. So you like a billion different people also say Well, it’s not at all clear why the left is more supportive. Locked down to the right, it could have gone the other way. I’ll see you could have gone the other way in a system without redistribution. But once you have very high levels off not only research in general, but especially extra emergency redistribution, then it all lines up ideologically because the latter left likes the idea of people getting paid to not have to. Dio do not have to do their job. They don’t like the idea that you should have to do. Haven’t average I have a job to get work. They don’t appreciate the the enjoyable consumer products that most people mostly spend their times manning most. What we do is not essential might end, say, And, of course, yes, When is not essential. But it is. But I know it is enjoyable. Why isn’t that good enough?
[0:39:50 Speaker 0] Well, essential. I don’t like I don’t like the terminal. I think essentially something that
[0:39:53 Speaker 1] you won’t die.
[0:39:55 Speaker 0] Exactly why I like to define what’s essential for me, not not not letting letting somebody else
[0:40:00 Speaker 1] really like definitely the categorization of essential or nonessential was laughable. Yes, liquor stores were essential cannabis,
[0:40:08 Speaker 0] cannabis stores, cannabis stores in places that kind of is Is this again? I’m completely afford that. But it’s like you’re gonna have that the essential and that schools schools Not essential. Um, so so that is interesting point you make about, like, you know, where in the country gonna get the ability to in short period of time. Say, Oh, we’re gonna defund the schools if you know they’re not open. Right. But if parents were 21 and roll, then the fact I got the funding because I think most states the home, the home school, sort of basically the money goes back to the copper state coffers. They don’t depend on number stands.
[0:40:41 Speaker 1] I think. I think that’s a normal system. Of course, that schools really hurting. I think the longer get changed.
[0:40:46 Speaker 0] Well, sure, but let’s you put some pressure. And I’m surprised that that has not been at all anywhere a big campaign on this. I’ve been I’ve dropped. Some people like shouldn’t have some campaigns on, like home school. Your kids. If this state’s ask you to home school your kids home schooled kids on and let’s let everybody know you don’t be honest about it, but you know where you see? Know where? The fight for
[0:41:06 Speaker 1] me. So, you know, there’s a list of government employees where people love them based upon the ideals that they associate with associating with. So, you know, veterans, course, fireman police until recently. And teachers, right, of course. Healthcare workers. So these air occupations, where? Because what they don’t what they do sounds good. That story. And, of course, your soldiers in general, not just veterans, whether you sounds good and so they get a lot of love just for existing. So, yeah, I mean, the number of times, right. Seeing big signs around saying like like during the lock down, saying we are so grateful to our wonderful teachers. This is a time I want to say, Look, I’m actually teaching my kids. Where’s my side? No one putting up side saying thanks, Brian, for going and doing the job the teachers are getting paid to do, and you’re not getting paid to do it. But you’re doing anyway. So
[0:41:53 Speaker 0] in any I like,
[0:41:55 Speaker 1] you know, like I I have to say I know some people don’t like the idea Stockholm syndrome. I’m a big fan of it. So yeah, I think that’s a lot of what’s going on. And people are here getting totally ripped off, and teachers are basically giving them next to nothing in exchange for large amounts of money. And yet, because teachers are usually personally likeable and nice, people want to persist. But you know what? Your garbage man was a nice guy, but he stopped picking of your garbage because of Covic. You wouldn’t keep paying him
[0:42:21 Speaker 0] right on. That’s, uh, you like to use the word you You told me once they would like to distress you. The word austerity started a good word. And you like the fun stuff. So So I think that there’s a lot of talk about defunding police this day. So you’re probably funding police Properly funded education system, defunding generally right.
[0:42:39 Speaker 1] Eso funding is greatly underrated. Writer like isn’t just austerity. It’s kind of funny because you’re, like, on your did you funding a sort of the new positive. Probably a term with a positive connotation for austerity. But I like the idea is sweat. Like my dad was like in the eighties. So you go and say, Hey, Dad, 20 bucks first. What do you need it for? And then just like Well, like what happened last? $20 I gave you, Uh, right and likely. What can I expect to see for my money, huh? Right. And these are good questions for anyone that is handing out even their own money to ask. They were heading up somebody else’s money running out taxpayer money, donor money. It is for do not breach of fiduciary duty. Not to ask questions like this, right? If you are running a charity and you don’t ask hard questions like, what do you need the money for? What happened last money I gave you? What have you accomplished with lately? You know, how will I know where this is working? You weren’t doing your job, But I say the same thing for whenever going government officials training at taxpayer dollars thes the questions that you should always be asking to find out. Are taxpayers getting the money’s worth or are they getting ripped off and say, What’s a mean question when teachers need their salaries? Well, isn’t that thing? This is not charity. They’re supposed to be doing a job in exchange for this money. If they don’t do their job anymore, that is totally fair to say. Well, we don’t want to pay money to have people do nothing.
[0:43:58 Speaker 0] Yeah, that’s that. That’s the especially now if they’re actually not even gonna provided daycare. So that that supports really crazy. All right, last question for you have to maybe a little provoking a little bit. Um, you wrote about this wonderful idea off open borders, immigration being completely, completely no loss of immigration anywhere. Just people can move back and forth. It would be amazing for the world. Would that increase GDP by by enormous amount? And it’s hard to disagree with the notion in a sort of hypothetical level. You go through a lot of arguments sporting that and arguments against it. And so one is. I recommend the book highly after a pandemic that your is that any change in your in your thinking about immigration? Is there anything that gives you pause or give you second thoughts?
[0:44:41 Speaker 1] Right? So with The main thing I would say is that tourism is more dangerous than I thought here, because here’s the thing for an immigrant, even a seasonal immigrant. If you were to say You have to go through a two week quarantine on but on both sides of the trip in order to do it almost every year when it was still say yes because there’s enormous game for tourism. On the other hand, if you were to go and do that, that actually probably would greatness your tourism, right? So I get, Of course you could do. You could try to have high speed Kobe testing or something like that. But how do you know there won’t be another disease in really, really good? That’s that’s hard to say. So anyway, what I say is that really we were just just set back so you might take a look at this and then say Cease. This is why we shouldn’t have anyone ever come to our country anymore because we don’t have any. Like we don’t have a bad disease right now. The only place is really gonna come is gonna be from another country. So we just stopped letting people in, and then we’re safe, right? And I said, That’s not really true. You know why? Because you would also have to prevent anyone from your country from leaving coming back. So which it actually is not enough just to keep people out. You actually would have to turn your country into the old Soviet Union, where people either can’t leave or, if they do leave the right style can’t return. All right now, he said. Well, look all right, that’s ridiculous. Then why don’t we don’t have testing and quarantining and so on, which he’s OK, we’ll find. Maybe there’s some use for that, but that is no. But that would be actually a very minor barrier to immigration for work purposes. Which is, of course, the main reason why people want to migrate because it’s it is a substantial up front cost for enormous overwhelming benefits. So I just don’t think would make very much difference again. The ending of the and I would still say that, Um, if you really like, if there could have been some very carefully crafted limits on mobility early on again, like you know, like if China actually said, foreigners can’t leave you on either there there’s one month quarantine. Sorry, right? If they’ve done that, I would be nervous about the peace of the world. But internment, knowing what I know now I think that actually really would have been a high chance of actually saving the rest of world from there from these worst and of course, the amount of gratitude China beginning for that would be less than zero. I think they would probably be a lot of people that were their stock there. And they’re saying you can find one American who died there because they weren’t able to go and get high quality American medical treatment outside of yuan. Yeah, then that could be an international incident, right? But still so something like that, where there’s a small where there’s a reasonably small area where you actually can do enormous good by going and having the state of this temporary abridgment of human freedom. 40 modest number people do something like that to me, like that’s not crazy. At least box. I think what we have done is crazy. We’re just getting your doing. I think it’s good is crazy.
[0:47:29 Speaker 0] That seems to be the gays, right? Right. That seems to be the case. So what’s the what’s estimate again for For if we had open boarders everywhere, in terms of how much richer the world would be
[0:47:38 Speaker 1] eso. It’s sort of like a median estimates something like a doubling out the direction mankind in this in the allium. No regional person says this would happen immediately because the way you get that large increases by moving large populations from low productivity countries, I can high productivity countries. And again it’s on the order of billions of people, which is not feasible during the course of a month or a year or even five years. But over the course of 50 years, moving billions of people is totally feasible, right, and people see how it can’t be done. Now it can be done. In fact, trying to India have had hundreds of millions of people move just within their own countries over the past few decades. So anything you couldn’t do this, although all over the surface of the earth is just wrong. You’re totally realistic to think that we can move billions of people over that long, long period right and again. And like the kinds of years people have about moving, that many people are reasonable that the ratio of a month or a year, they’re not reasonable, that racial decades for this plenty of time to build housing and businesses and everything else for all the people that are coming.
[0:48:40 Speaker 0] And my point of making that is that is that, you know, I may be willing to trade off. Um um, double the GDP over spirit of time for for yeah, even with a higher risk of a disease spreading around and killing a certain number of people because, I don’t know, part of it also thinks that that’s enough. Unavoidable right way have. Ah, and I think that if you double GDP, life expectancy is gonna grow by so many other reasons people gonna get better and why you live longer. And so one that that fuel England long enough, right? Something we’re gonna kill you and gloating, covert and cancer and so one. And the point is that I think that those that I wouldn’t give up on on the immigration ah benefits fight right looking.
[0:49:19 Speaker 1] There are a lot of diseases that epidemiologist classifies disease of poverty that basically diseases where they mostly originate andal and spread in places where people gore for white range reasons. So of course, once they originate and start spreading an area a lot of poor people. They can go and spread through contagion Drescher areas. So I would say this is a reason to want to speed poor countries through the poor, the period poverty to get them out of that danger zone not only for themselves, but also so that you least wind up reducing the risk of a lot of diseases. Which one could actually like you?
[0:49:54 Speaker 0] That’s right. That’s right, Brian, thank you so much on, uh, people like good luck with a home schooling,
[0:50:00 Speaker 1] right? Yeah. You have sort of always breaks human face. So now more than ever.
[0:50:04 Speaker 0] Exactly. By thanks for listening to policy McComb’s