Chocolate and Gold Coins

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lunch with Alex and Bryan

Today, I had the honor of eating lunch with two great economics bloggers: Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution and Bryan Caplan of Econlog. Alex Tabarrok invited me to lunch during the time that I posted Academic Imperialism (Part I and Part II). What did we talk about?

We started by talking about Bryan’s blogging partner, Arnold Kling. Things like, “Do you know the story about Arnold Kling.” I knew he started a company and sold it for a nice profit. Bryan said that the money did not seem to buy happiness in Arnold case. I explained that money does not solve all of you problems, it solves one of your problems. But there are many things to worry about in life. I think one reason why I tend to be happy is that I do not worry enough, but I just don’t see any reason too. My wife worries enough for both of us.

We talked a bit about children. I mentioned that my son hates losing in games. I told them my philosophy that I did not want to contrive to lose games to my son just to make him feel better. Bryan pointed out that maybe I did not like to lose myself. There is no doubt about that. But I will say it gives me the greatest joy to see my son beat me, which happens occasionally in chess because I spot him a rook. I wouldn’t get much satisfaction if I purposefully lost.

Alex was surprised to find out that Marginal Revolution was really big in India. I explained that I read a lot of Indian blogs and notice that MR and Café Hayek is either blogrolled or linked to in many of these blogs. I explained that many Indians have reacted to the many years of socialism and corrupt government by going for the other extreme of anarchic libertarianism. I told them you could not compare India with Finland, although both have mixed economies. I mentioned India Uncut and the fact that I have been writing to Amit Varma since he started blogging. I told them this story about Prakash Karat.

We talked a lot about graduate school in Minnesota. I told them about Nobel Laureate Ed Prescott. They wondered what subject areas he was interested in when I was there. I mentioned his lottery technology and the story that goes with it.

We talked about Alex’s current research into why real estate commissions seem immune to market forces. I thought that maybe it was an example of a Bertrand Price competition. No one wants to start a price war. But that story would be more believable if there were only a few players.

I noticed something interesting when we went back to Bryan’s car: Bryan takes a seat cushion to the restaurant so that he won’t have to sit on a hard chair (we ate outside).

Alex and Bryan were both very nice and unassuming. I would say that it was a nice meal and pleasant conversation.


  • Good that I followed most of the links in this post. Steven Levitt responded and I found his blog. Good good!

    I think Economics will have to take a holistic approach. Looking at situations in isolation was always inadequate. In the case of epidemiology and economists, it is a matter of different perspectives and I think both groups have a place.

    About the Prakash Karat/Bhattarai brouhaha. The pedantic question as to why he did not deny that he never met Bhattarai was silly. Of course, it came to my notice only now. I think Bhattarai did his college in Delhi. I am not completely sure though. So I guess they must have met, like ideological fellow-travellers tend to do (especially activists). The Nepalese have a choice between turd and shit. I feel sad for them as politically every form of leadership has failed that country. India does play a role in Nepal.

    Somehow a small group of people have taken over the Indian blogosphere so to speak. Newbies, tend to buy their politics wholesale. Perhaps it is their naivete, lack of knowlege or the need for recognition. Moreover, libertarianism is the easiest political philosophy to grasp. But in general, I think Indians is still socialist. I have had the chance to meet a lot of people from the Indian lower middle-class and the upwardly mobile - the ones who are moving from villages to a middle class in the smaller towns. They believe in a strong role for the government. I think you are getting a distorted picture from a bunch of westernised people, most of whom are based in the bigger cities.

    Errr, this turned out to be long...I must go.

    yum yum

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:22 PM  

  • Um, Michael, I know only one blogger (Yazad) who's an anarcho-libertarian among the Indian bloggers I know, so it isn't exactly true that we've all gone to the other extreme. Most of the libertarian bloggers I know are minarchists.

    Yum Yum, before commenting on Karat and Bhattarai meeting it would have helped if you'd actually read what the controversy was about. We're not talking college here, but a specific meeting set up by the Indian intelligence. Your comments on libertarianism and India show a similar ignorance.

    By Blogger amit varma, at 4:42 PM  

  • Amit, I have only visited your blog once and it is not worth my while. So I don't know what you have posted. If you want comments, open your comment section ;)

    I was only commenting on Mr Higgins' words:
    "He could have just said, “I never met with Bhattarai.” He didn’t say this. Weasel word alert!"

    They could have met long back. So how can he say he "never" met?

    As for the rest, Indian bloggers are low on facts, poor in variety in perspectives, sore losers and extremely vindictive with a mobbing tendency. Of course, they are taking advantage of the lax implementation of laws in India which makes them confident that no one will sue them for their comments. Irony is that they lament this lax implementation.

    yum yum

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:17 PM  

  • Yum Yum, I didn't ask for comments, especially from the likes of you, so the last sentence of your first para is unwarranted, and a non sequitur. I merely pointed out that if you wish to comment on something, be it on Michael's blog or elsewhere, at least be aware of the context of what you are commenting on. Even if you're anonymous, surely you want to avoid making a fool of yourself.

    But wait, why should I stop you from doing that?

    Ok, go right ahead.

    By Blogger amit varma, at 7:47 AM  

  • Aah well. I don't think Michael knows about my blog's existence. It's called AnarCapLib

    I'm on a bit of a blog-holiday, but feel free to browse the archives.

    And I wonder why Alex was surprised about MR being popular in India. I met Tyler Cowen last year in Bombay and we did talk a bit on the popularity of MR /Cafe Hayek/ Econlog etc in India.

    By Blogger Yazad Jal, at 8:30 AM  

  • Hi Amit, Yum Yum, Yazad
    Amit: I actually had minarchist originally and ms word changed it automatically to monarchist, so I changed to anarchist because I saw no point in getting into an argument with my word processor.

    Anyway, I didn't want to give the impression that Indian bloggers are impractical ideologs. I think the free market approach is extremely practical, and socialism is impractical dreaming.

    Yum Yum: If you don't like the Indian blogosphere - change it. Have your own blog and tell the world what you think.

    Also, if you don't think India Uncut is worth reading, I cannot see why you would bother reading my humble blog. There a lot of good stuff at IU.

    Yazad: I have read your blog whenever Amit points to it. That's interesting that you met Tyler. I wish I had but he was out of town. Maybe some other day.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 8:33 AM  

  • Blah blah blah!

    You don't know how the geopolitics works. I did not say Mr Karat did not meet Bhattarai. I don't know. It is possible. There is a reason. Can you spell C-H-I-N-A?

    No blog-post or newspaper report is going to stop things like that in the future. At least the Indian media knows when to stop ;)

    Please keep up your inconsequential high-strung posts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 AM  

  • Whether something is worth reading or not is my judgement. If you don't like my comments, you are welcome to delete them. My comments have been selectively or completely deleted by Indian bloggers (I have never been on Mr Varma's blog and he is not one of them).

    My previous post was directed at Mr Varma.

    I don't blog because I don't have the time or inclination to come up with new topics. I certainly don't want to become a blogger who hyperlinks to ten other blogs with "read the rest here" strewn all over.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:44 AM  

  • yumyum, you say you don't have time to blog, but the comments you write are always longer than the original post. maybe the real reason you dont blog is that you are scared of being exposed in your own eyes. what if, you start your own blog, and no one cares to read it? your ego wont survive that. it is easier to piggyback ride on other bloggers to make your opinion known.

    By Blogger Gaurav, at 10:36 AM  

  • Michael, the comment I was originally going to make but somehow didn't was that I am so jealous. Of you, because you got to meet such fine bloggers, and of them because they got to meet you. Sadly the world hasn't shrunk enough, or I'd try and join you next time.

    By Blogger amit varma, at 11:07 AM  

  • Hi Amit
    It was a treat. But meeting you would be even more interesting, I am sure.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 11:53 AM  

  • Gaurav, that is certainly one of the reasons. But I have told you my reasons before. I just don't have the creativity or discipline for a conceptual blog. I am not comfortable with blogging. Simple as that. I cut my teeth in messageboards. Btw, I am not 'skb'. I just wanted to tell you because Ravikiran has started banning my comments. 'skb' is wittier and older than me. I don't become abusive either. You can check that in the old posts. 'skb' did use my nick in yazad's blog.

    In Mr. Higgin's blog I get some info about topics from economics and they are not too heavy like in Bradford DeLong's blog.

    Mr Higgins, I apologise for turning this thread into this manner. Thanks for being patient with me. Now I will stop posting in this thread.

    yum yum

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM  

  • yumyum-skb, How long are you going to keep up this schizo charade?

    your behaviour on this thread has been classic yumyum though. First you took a dig at other bloggers. Then you said Amit's blog is "not worth your while". Hijacked this comment thread into something that has nothing to do with the actual post, but your own ego issues of not having the fortitude, logical means, or the knowledge (not to mention 'creativity' and 'discipline') to counter Libertarian bloggers with your own blog.

    I can almost predict what will happen next. For every post of Michael's that you won't agree with you will write long winding comments pretending to be polite. When Michael disagrees with you, you will get increasingly frustrated. then you will grandiosely announce "I am not posting on this thread any more", but continue to do so nevertheless. Then you'll slip into your abusive "skb" persona to draw even more attention, something you hunger after. The same thing happened on my blog, and on Ravi's blog.

    You will keep moving from blog-to-blog in search of someone who endorses your views in totality. Just give it up an start a blog!

    Whenever I attempt to sing, my brutally honest friends joke that I should be on the radio. not because I am good at singing, but so that at least they can turn the radio off.

    In the same way, I wish you had your own blog.

    By Blogger Gaurav, at 1:37 AM  

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