URLs du Jour

2019-11-26

  • This factoid tweeted by Andrew Yang as if it said something profound…

    … came in for some richly deserved scorn on a recent episode of the Charles C. W. Cooke/Kevin D. Williamson Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast.

    Hint, if you need one: it's based on this 2016 NBER paper; a Brookings article discussing the findings notes: "…the 1940 cohort may be unusual for many reasons, most notably the influence of World War II and the postwar economic boom."

    Ya think? And there's also the little matter of the Great Depression, barely over in 1940.

    Of course, we'd all like more prosperity. And it's not that the younger generation doesn't have real problems in that regard. But spouting deliberately misleading factoids is not becoming for a guy who depicts himself as pro-Math.


  • At the WaPo Megan McArdle does the math, and she declares: Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax might sound like nothing. But the numbers aren’t small..

    If we run those [hypothetical Warren-regime tax scenario] numbers for someone worth $10 billion, and earning the 8 percent historical average return for an S&P 500 index fund, we find that our hypothetical billionaire would have made about $800 million over the course of the year. They would then owe a wealth tax of roughly $600 million. But they would also have to pay taxes on their unrealized capital gains, and since those gains would be taxed as regular income, that means they’d owe about $300 million. On top of that, they’d have to make that Social Security contribution, which would add another $120 million in taxes. All in all, they’d end the year about $200 million poorer than they started.

    And so what, one might ask. They’d still be fabulously rich. And if compounding of the taxes over decades eventually reduced them to centimillionaires, aww, boo hoo, you have to scrape by on $1 billion.

    And perhaps that’s the whole point of the tax. But if so, you cannot then claim, as Warren does, that you’ll use this tax to fund significant new spending. In our hypothetical example, after five years of perfectly steady 8 percent returns, the billionaire tax base would have declined by 10 percent. No important program should depend on a revenue source that is — by design — going to shrink so quickly.

    Emphasis added, and it's an important and neglected point. Given that the wealth tax is so inherently unsustainable, it's impossible to claim its rationale is to fund desperately needed government largesse to the rest of us.

    It's just meant to hurt a few hundred people you're trying to demagogue voters into hating.


  • Don Boudreaux conveniently lists 'em: Twenty Crazy Beliefs on Economics and Politics. Some are pretty straightforward. Here's one that I haven't seen before:

    1. Why do so many American Progressives tout the alleged virtues of locally “sourced” foods and of locally produced goods while incessantly pushing for more and more power over individuals and locales to be exercised in far-away state capitals and in even farther away Washington, DC.?

    And here's one aimed at the other end of the spectrum:

    1. Why do so many American conservatives boast about the strength of America and the resilience and greatness of her people but insist also that to allow these same American people to freely purchase goods and services supplied by low-productivity (and, thus, low-wage) foreign workers paves a sure path to America’s impoverishment and demise?

    I'm reluctant to read all twenty in detail in fear I might recognize myself. But I hope you're braver than I.


  • I saw my first Mayor Mike ad on TV last night, unfortunately watching Jeopardy! in real time, without TiVo commercial skipping. At National Review the Indispensable One analyzes Bloomberg's Ad Blitzkrieg.

    Democrats complain a great deal about how terrible money in politics is, while secretly accepting the assistance of $140 million in “dark money” in the 2018 midterm elections. Bloomberg is going to be a great test of whether Democrats think and make decisions the way they want to believe that they do. On paper, Bloomberg is a terrible candidate. But if he gets traction in this race, it means Democratic primary voters are as easily persuaded by slick television ads as much as any other demographic. Note that Tom Steyer, a diminutive billionaire who is a walking vortex that no charisma can escape from, qualified for the last two debates and is at 2.5 percent in Iowa, 3 percent in New Hampshire, 3.5 percent in Nevada and 4 percent in South Carolina. But the most recent poll in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina all put Steyer at 5 percent. TV ads build name recognition.

    Bloomberg does not seem like the most natural choice for a party that is hell-bent on beating an incumbent president they see as an egomaniacal billionaire from New York with authoritarian impulses. You don’t have to be a conservative to recoil from Bloomberg (although it helps); you just have to dislike any smug billionaire who believes the rules don’t apply to him and that he knows what’s best for everyone.

    He bought elections by spending $183 per vote and pushed through the repeal of term limitsturned away food from the needy because he deemed it insufficiently nutritious, and referred to the New York Police Department as his “own army.” Bloomberg’s approach to critics was as combative as his recommended approach to young African-American men in high-crime neighborhoods, “throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” Bloomberg is the former pot-smoker who cracked down on marijuana users as mayor.

    Lordy, yes. I had forgotten about some of that.


  • [Amazon Link]
    And let's hear one more time from Deirdre McCloskey's new book, the source of Professor Boudreaux's Cafe Hayek Quotation of the Day....

    The danger is that each new generation will not realize how good for the poor the Bourgeois Deal has been, and will forget how bad the earlier deals have been – the Bolshevik Deal, for example, in which the government takes over the railways and the electric companies and the newsagents and the newspapers and your employment, and everything else. Or the Bridle Deal, in which excessive regulations work against “unbridled” commercially tested betterment. I ask innocently, when has it been a good idea to “bridle” a person like a horse? [Thomas] Piketty’s idea is to bridle most people so that some people will not become rich. It is a mistake.

    I gotta get that book somehow.


Last Modified 2019-11-26 2:29 PM EST