Phillip W. Magness

Historian – 19th century United States

On Tariffs and the American Civil War

| May 26, 2017

A new piece that I wrote on the role of tariffs in the American Civil War era is now available at the Essential Civil War Curriculum, hosted by Virginia Tech. This article is an encyclopedia-style overview of my research on the subject as well as what other scholars have written, but it provides a short […]

Philanthropy and the Great Depression: what historical tax records tell us about charity

| May 19, 2017

As part of my ongoing investigation into early 20th century tax policy, I recently compiled a data series to track patterns in charitable giving during the 1920s and 1930s. As a result of tax code changes in 1917, the IRS began allowing federal income tax payers to deduct up to 15% of their taxable income […]

Different Measurements of Income Inequality – the interwar Wisconsin Example

| May 16, 2017

I have a new paper, co-written with Vincent Geloso, on the measurement of inequality in Wisconsin between 1919 and 1941. The discussion’s geography may initially seem obscure, but there’s a method to this investigation. In the early part of the 20th century Wisconsin had a stable state income tax system and, more importantly, generated high quality […]

On Keynes and Eugenics

| April 25, 2017

My article with Sean J. Hernandez on the “Economic Eugenicism of John Maynard Keynes” is now available at SSRN. This article should be approached as a synthesis of the role that eugenics played across Keynes’ career and in the formation of his economic theories. It is also the proverbial tip of the iceberg as far […]

How the AAUP bends statistics to create an adjunct crisis

| April 13, 2017

Earlier this week the American Association of University Professors released its annual report on the economic status of academia. Repeating a theme from prior years, this report heavily emphasizes the position of adjunct faculty and makes a number of bold empirical claims about the alleged growth of the part time academic workforce. For example, the statement […]

Why Piketty-Saez yields an unreliable inequality estimate before World War II

| April 8, 2017

Next week I will be co-presenting a paper at the APEE conference on the reliability of historical estimates of income inequality in the United States. Our paper examines and offers a number of corrections to the widely cited income inequality time series by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez (2003). This series provides the baseline for […]

Further debating Adjunct Justice

| April 4, 2017

Economist Steven Shulman recently authored a rebuttal of sorts to the first of two articles that Jason Brennan and I wrote on the subject of adjunct justice. If nothing else he deserves credit for doing so in a submission to a scholarly journal, where this conversation needs to take place. Most adjunct “activists” have thus far avoided […]

Low lie the yields of Malthunry

| March 29, 2017

Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, the Great Irish Famine of 1845-52 briefly reenters the public’s consciousness. Parallels to more recent political events, including the Syrian refugee crisis and the ongoing debate over immigration, have also elevated its salience as a historical precursor. In a subtle rebuke of President Donald Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda […]

The English Department attacks academic freedom again

| March 23, 2017

A Faculty Senate report at Wake Forest University adopted the following resolution at a meeting last week: “Motion 2: To freeze current hiring by the Eudaimonia Institute, and cancel any internal (e.g. Eudaimonia conference) or external presentations related to the IE, and to restrict publication of material from EI until the COI committee is established […]

The Marxist Devil and Free Speech on Campus

| March 9, 2017

Jason Brennan authored a long post the other day that presented multiple challenges to anti-speech activism on campus. The entire piece is worth reading, but I wanted to call attention to one point in particular: Some people say we can’t “platform” ideas that could be used for evil. I look forward to seeing those same people […]