26 September 2011

Digest: 26 Sep 2011

Julian Sanchez | Living High and Letting Die

Good god this Blitzer/Paul thing keeps coming.

Pajamas Media | Zombie | Day of FAIL: Nationwide anti-capitalist revolution flops
In earlier times, the communists and the anarchists hated each other; they are natural enemies. But in recent decades they have formed an uneasy and deeply unstable alliance; since they both hate the status quo of American capitalism, they feel they ought to band together and smash the system as a unified front, and worry about how to pick up the pieces later.
Weird bedfellows. Of course, as Hoffer observed 60 years ago, disaffected radicals from opposite ends of the ideology-space have more in common with each other than they do with moderates who are theoretically their allies. Radicalism is a more important dimension than beliefs.

Lapham's Quarterly | Paul Collins | Trust Issues
As the trustees of an increasingly vast fund, Holdeen’s descendants would gradually control ever-larger swaths of currency. The Holdeen Trusts, he argued, would grow until “They would absolutely own the world.” [...]

More ominously, in 1958 the IRS had clashed with Holdeen, arguing in court that it had rightly demanded taxes off of what it considered an invalid tax shelter. The trusts, the IRS argued, would in any case wreck “the tax base of the nation, if not the world.”
I don't really understand how these "Methuselan" trusts are supposed to bankrupt the world though. Perhaps I'm not understanding this correctly. But they are invested in productive assets, right? The wealth of the nation should be growing right along with the trusts, right? If I socked some money away for a thousand years whoever got it at the end would be rich, but wouldn't that only be because the rest of the world is rich as well?  How could you possibly end up owning more than the society you live in?

If I was a fiction-writing man I would file this idea away for use in a story reminiscent of Anathem (but with monasteries full of capitalists rather than scientists).  Perhaps with something like Vinge'e Qeng Ho or Sterling's The Investors.

ProfessorBainbridge.com | Stephen Bainbridge | Do Millionaires really make more than secretaries?

He is actually asking if millionaires pay less in taxes than secretaries. (They do not.)

Of course it is important to ask how much millionaires make, since their wealth is what makes them millionaires, not their income.

Greg Mankiw's Blog | The Progressivity of the Tax System

Remember, there is no debate about whether the tax system should be progressive or not. That is a done deal. The debate is over how progressive it should be.

Reason: Hit & Run | Peter Suderman | Washington's Favorite Budget Gimmick

The Spectator | Alex Massie | Who Benefits from School Choice? The Poor.

Julian Sanchez | Why Yahoo’s “Occupy Wall Street” Block Actually Matters

This would also make for a good plot device.

The Economist: Democracy in America | W.W. | Bipartisan corporatism — Class war!
There is a class war in this country, a war between the subsidy barons, the regulatory arbitrageurs, the patent monopolists and the rest of us. Mr Obama is a class warrior. The trouble is he's on the wrong side.
Damn right that's where the battle lines are.

Marginal Revolution | David Henderson | Be Safe, Break the Law

Forget climate change. Politicians put the recommendations of their traffic cops over their civil engineers when they set speed limits is the sort of "anti-science" stuff I care about.

Search Engine Land | Danny Sullivan | Dear Bing & Yahoo: Pushing Deck Chairs Around Isn’t A Good Plan
Suffice to say, after witnessing the circus this week in Washington DC, seeing first hand how lawmakers have no idea what they’re supposed to be potentially regulating in an area I know extremely well, I’ve come to realize how deeply they probably screw up all those other areas that I don’t know well but still had some faith that they would have researched carefully. Sigh.
+1 for self-awareness of the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

L.A. Liberty | Arrests and Brutality during “Occupy Wall Street” Protests
The images of non-violent people being rounded up and brutalized are disturbing. To state-sympathizers, these events have been shocking; but to libertarians who have documented the long history of police brutality against peaceful people, it is not unexpected.

Here’s one point I hope the protesters don’t miss: they were not aggressed against by Wal-Mart managers, McDonald’s franchise owners, bank executives, wall street speculators, or corporate CEOs - they were aggressed against by agents of the state. [...]

Clamoring for a bigger role for the state to play in order to ostensibly “control capitalist greed” only gives the same greedy corporatists the very system and mechanisms they use to extract more wealth and protection for themselves.
Here's the thing with using politicians to control capitalists' greed: what are you going to do about the politicians' greed? And the bureaucrats? And the police? And the voters? Because greed isn't a thing capitalists have, it's a thing people have.

The Atlantic | Megan McArdle | Solyndra Was Just a Bad Bet From the Beginning

Related to the last item: if you took all the people at the Day of Rage Wall Street Thing, how many of them will look at this Solyndra debacle and support Obama more, and how many of them will support him less? I'd bet you'll be hard-pressed to find someone there who would criticize him for getting us into that mess.

Cafe Hayek | Don Boudreaux | A Quick Question

Talk is cheap.

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