Income inequality in the United States: it’s flatter than you probably realize

Most economic discussions of inequality in the United States begin with a U-shaped curve. More specifically, they begin with historical estimates of top income shares (e.g. the top 10%, 5%, and 1%) as depicted in Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez’s famous 2003 paper on the subject. When these figures are displayed across the entire 20th …

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On the intellectual uselessness of a certain method of socioeconomic analysis

A few brief observations: 1. The Labor Theory of Value is incapable of functionally explaining even basic economic relationships. See Menger 1871. 2. The notion that class identity functionally drives political or any other type of collective action is hopelessly incoherent and undermined by a pervasive free rider problem. See Olson 1965, Section IV. 3. …

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Abolitionists, Communists, and Jacobin magazine’s fake Jeff Davis quote

One of the stranger recent currents in historical discussions around slavery involves an increasingly common attempt by scholars and activists on the far left to enlist historical abolitionists as ideological ammunition to the causes of anti-capitalism or even socialism. A primary motivating factor appears to be the so-called “New History of Capitalism” (NHC) genre of …

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The Epistemic Toxins of False Historical Claims

Allegations of racism carry a substantial social stigma in today’s intellectual climate. Provided that the allegation is valid, this may be a desirable effect. Racism is insidiously unethical as it fundamentally devalues the targeted person. This may make it worthy of not only condemnation, but the ostracizing that often follows a racist action. Knowledge that …

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How John Rawls tried to put Democracy in Chains

I’ve spent the past week at the Hoover Institution, researching the early origins of James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock’s 1962 book¬†The Calculus of Consent. While working in the papers of W.H. Hutt, South African economist who spent 1966-67 as a visiting professor at Buchanan and Tullock’s research center at the University of Virginia, I …

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About MacLean and the matter of John C. Calhoun

Several months ago when I first entered the discussion about Nancy MacLean’s book¬†Democracy in Chains, I called attention to her misuse of historical evidence to write pro-slavery theorist John C. Calhoun into the intellectual lineage of economist James M. Buchanan. MacLean’s claim struck me as odd at the time, because Calhoun’s name does not appear …

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