Category Archives

Archive of posts published in the category: Economics

Venezuela Meets Hayek

But repression on the Venezuelan model is not extraneous to socialism — it is baked into the socialist cake. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro (and Castro!), Chàvez, Maduro, Honecker, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, the Kim dynasty, Shining Path: No ideology is that unlucky. “

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Internet Sales Tax Ruling

Many small businesses that ship online will be hurt by this ruling. Complying with the tax codes for 48 states that charge sales tax will be crippling for many of them.  There will be a need for a third party to manage the sales tax issue for thousands of small online businesses. This will likely serve to make Amazon and other large online retailers bigger and more powerful in the internet sales arena. 

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The Seduction of Hidden Costs

“There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.” Could the tax credits granted to the wealthy for historical renovation serve us better if it was used to provide health care for the poor? Could it be better served invested in a productive enterprise innovating new products, generating economic growth and dividends which will provide additional tax revenue instead of less?

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Handouts for the Wealthy

“The working classes get riled up when they see someone at the grocery store flipping out their food stamps to buy a T-bone. They have no idea that a nice family on the other side of town is walking away with $100,000 for flipping their house.”

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The Limits of the Meritocracy

The meritocracy sounds good but like all centralized policy is subject to overemphasize some objectives and disregard ingredients that have more influence than they realize.  Intelligence may be an important attribute but there are other character traits that may be  responsible for the outcome we attribute to intelligence. Steve Jobs was not the result of an IQ test.

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A Checklist of Priorities

Pragmatism is considered the antithesis of ideology but fails to recognize that it has become an ideology.  Ideological is not the same as dogmatic.  Ideology according to Goldberg is checklist of priorities. 

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My Political Priorities

But we can not blame Trump for the intolerance of free speech on our college campuses, the intolerance for diverse opinions in many corporations and in the media, and the stupidity of much of the resistance.

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Humble Capitalism- Observation on the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

Patience is a virtue and a vice for Americans.  We can be suckers for simplistic formulas, excess leverage, and delusions of certainty. Buffet and Munger avoid these traps.  Our obsession with finance distracts from the effective and efficient production of goods and services, engagement with the customer, and the patience and faith to adhere to sound principles.

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It’s the Entitlements, Stupid

“The long run budget problem has essentially nothing to do with the Trump tax cut. It has been brewing under Bush, Obama, and Trump. It fundamentally comes from growth in entitlements an order of magnitude larger. “

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Tax Math Reality

“A key principle here is that the overall marginal tax rate matters.  There is a tendency, especially on the left, to quote only the top Federal marginal rate of about 40%, and to say therefore that high income Americans pays less taxes than most of Europe. But that argument forgets we also pay state and sometimes local taxes.”

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The Borking of Kevin Williamson

The left has become so illiberal that they not only reject ideas, but they reject the rights of free expression to those who hold those ideas. Their strategy to win an argument is to deny that the argument even exists. By demonizing the opposition as racists, misogynists, bigots or hate-speech, they can dismiss them as unworthy of debate and deny them any platform for expression. The accusations do not have to be true to be effective.

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Bastiat and Trump

When Mnuchin claims that the steel and aluminum tariffs will only add a few cents to a beer can or a few dollars to an auto he displays as much ignorance as Nancy Pelosi who contends that a raise of only $20 a week is crumbs.  It is the classic broken window fallacy of Bastiat, the inability to understand and acknowledge what is unseen.

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Trade Factions

What DT is risking is not just some political points in the rust belt and trade promises. When this trade war ends like all the rest do, and the economy takes a hit- it will not be his stupid trade polices that are blamed, it will be his ‘stupid’ tax cuts.

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Trump Builds only Half a Bridge

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has expressed approval for a weaker dollar.  Trump is promising higher tariffs.  These moves threaten to undo the benefits of his work on tax cuts and regulations.

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Health Care is an Economic, not a Political Problem

The health care problem, like so many others, is the result of making an economic problem a political problem. Our elected officials make promises in exchange for votes and power without paying for them. They hide the cost in cross subsidies, mandates, regulation, demonization, and wishful thinking.

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Correlation is Still Useful

The problem in political policy is that once a decision is reached, a policy enacted, and a bureaucracy created we get married to the solution and refuse to correct previous analysis and assumptions. Tools that are successful in analyzing are often not so successful in predicting. The problem with government analysis is not their imperfection but their resistance to correction.

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Capitalizing the Great Recession

“The extraordinary postcrash prosperity of the precrash superrich is altogether new in our history. Near-zero interest rates are a godsend to the wealthy, inflating their real estate, stock portfolios, bond portfolios, private equity holdings, and art collections. Middle-class and blue-collar Americans, meanwhile, haven’t made much progress, and many are worse off. Inequality has increased.”

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Immigration Reality Check

The tax cut and the realignment of our tax policy for international business, including the repatriation of overseas earning, is quickly resulting in domestic investment and capital spending. There is also a willingness to support a weaker dollar and impose tariffs on competitive imports, which could stimulate more production short term.  This is a lot of stimulus at once at a time when unemployment is at a record low. This could impede the productivity growth that should be a priority. We need productive immigrants even more.

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The Great Equalizer Surprise

from The Wall Street Journal by Gregory Clark
“As a bizarre consequence of this pattern, African-Americans, who have low levels of net worth on average, are the social group for which inherited wealth represents the largest share of their net worth. Another odd implication is that inheritances tend to make overall wealth-holding more equal. Were inherited wealth to be completely abolished, the wealth of the poor would decline more than that of the rich. Inherited wealth is the great equalizer. Who knew?”

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Leveraging the Free Minds of the World

America’s success is a combination of constitutional liberty, heterogeneous culture that has a healthy disrespect for authority, solid protection of property rights, a respect for the common man and a classless society, and willingness to risk and fail. There are certainly hundreds of other attributes, but the combination is uniquely American.  Government’s function is to foster and protect the elements of our productive society. 

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