Category Archives: Economist Dan Mitchell

Dan Mitchell: “Milton Friedman noted History shows that over a long period of time government will spend whatever the tax system raises plus as much more as it can get away with” (with video from Milton Friedman)

Yes, Starve the Beast

As part of a recent discussion with Gene Tunny in Australia, I explained why I support “Starve the Beast,” which means keeping taxes as low as possible to help achieve the goal of spending restraint.

The premise of Starve the Beast is very simple.

Politicians like to spend money and they don’t particularly care whether that spending is financed by taxes or financed by borrowing (both bad options).

As Milton Friedman sagely observed, that means they will spend every penny they collect in taxes plus as much additional spending financed by borrowing that the political system will allow.

The IMF published a study on this issue about 10 years ago. The authors (Michael Kumhof, Douglas Laxton, and Daniel Leigh) assert that there’s no way of knowing whether Starve the Beast will lead to good or bad results.

…there is no consensus regarding the macroeconomic and welfare consequences of implementing a starve-the-beast approach, henceforth referred to as STB. …it could be beneficial in the ideal case in which it results in cuts in entirely wasteful government spending. In particular, lower spending frees up resources for private consumption, and the associated lower tax rates reduce distortions in the economy. On the other hand, …lower government spending may itself entail welfare losses…if it augments the productivity of private factors of production. …the paper examines whether the principal macroeconomic variables such as GDP and consumption, both in the United States and in the rest of the world, respond positively to this policy. …In addition, the paper assesses how the welfare effects depend on the degree to which government spending directly contributes to household welfare or to productivity.

The authors don’t really push any particular conclusion. Instead, they show various economic outcomes depending on with assumptions one adopts.

Since plenty of research shows that government spending is not a net plus for the economy (even IMF economists agree on that point), and because I think a less-punitive tax system is possible (and desirable) if there’s a smaller burden of government spending, I think the findings shown in Figure 4 make the most sense.

Now let’s shift from academic analysis to policy analysis.

In a piece for National Review back in July 2020, Jim Geraghty notes that Starve the Beast has an impact on government finances at the state level.

…we’re probably not going to see a massive expansion of government at the state level in the coming year or two. …Thanks to the pandemic lockdown bringing vast swaths of the economy to a halt, state tax revenues are plummeting.…So states will have much less tax revenue, constitutional balanced-budget requirements that are not easily repealed, and a limited amount of budgetary tricks to work around it. State governments could attempt to raise taxes, but that’s going to be unpopular and hurt state economies when they’re already struggling. Add it all up and it’s a tough set of circumstances for a dramatic expansion of government, no matter how ardently progressive the governor and state legislatures are.

For what it’s worth, Geraghty warned in the article that fiscal restraint by state governments wouldn’t happen if the federal government turned on the spending spigot.

And that, of course, is exactly what happened.

Now let’s look at the most unintentional endorsement of Stave the Beast.

A couple of years ago, Paul Krugman sort of admitted that cutting taxes was a potentially effective strategy for spending restraint.

…the same Republicans now wringing their hands over budget deficits…blew up that same deficit by enacting a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. …this has been the G.O.P.’s budget strategy for decades. First, cut taxes. Then, bemoan the deficit created by those tax cuts and demand cuts in social spending.Lather, rinse, repeat. This strategy, known as “starve the beast,” has been around since the 1970s, when Republican economists like Alan Greenspan and Milton Friedman began declaring that the role of tax cuts in worsening budget deficits was a feature, not a bug. As Greenspan openly put it in 1978, the goal was to rein in spending with tax cuts that reduce revenue, then “trust that there is a political limit to deficit spending.” …voters should realize that the threat to programs… Social Security and Medicare as we know them will be very much in danger.

In other words, Krugman doesn’t like Starve the Beast because he fears it is effective (just like he also acknowledges the Laffer Curve, even though he’s opposed to tax cuts).

Let’s close by looking at some very powerful real-world evidence. Over the past 50 years, there’s been a massive increase in the tax burden in Western Europe.

Did all that additional tax revenue lead to lower deficits and less debt?

Nope, the opposite happened. European politicians spent every penny of the new tax revenue (much of it from value-added taxes). And then they added even more spending financed by additional borrowing.

To be fair, one could argue that this was an argument for the view of “Don’t Feed the Beast” rather than “Starve the Beast,” but it nonetheless shows that more money in the hands of politicians simply means more spending. And more red ink.

P.S. I had a discussion last year with Gene Tunny about the issue of “state capacity libertarianism.”


Friedman & Sowell: Should Our School System Be Privatized?

Regular readers know that the two things that get me most excited are the Georgia Bulldogs and the fight against a bloated public sector that is ineffective in the best of circumstances and more often than not is a threat to our freedoms.

So you will not be surprised to know that I am delighted that former Georgia Bulldog star Fran Tarkenton (who also happened to play in the NFL) has a superb piece in the Wall Street Journal ripping apart the inherent inefficiency of government-run monopoly schools.

Here is the key passage.

Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. It’s about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he’s an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player’s been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct. Let’s face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt? No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn’t get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money. Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: “They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans.” The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn’t help.

This sounds absurd, of course, but Mr. Tarkenton goes on to explain that this is precisely how government schools operate.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real-life American public education system. Teachers’ salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn’t rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they’ve been teaching. That’s it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you’re demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation’s children. Inflation-adjusted spending per student in the United States has nearly tripled since 1970. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we spend more per student than any nation except Switzerland, with only middling results to show for it.

Actually, I will disagree with the last sentence of this excerpt. We’re not even getting “middling results.” Here’s a chart from an earlier post showing that we’ve gotten more bureaucracy and more spending but no improvement over the past 40 years.

So what’s the solution to this mess? Well, since government is the problem, it stands to reason that competition and markets are the answer.

Sweden, Chile, and the Netherlands are just some of the countries that have seen good results after breaking up state-run education monopolies.

Watch this video to get more details.

Economics 101: School Choice Example Shows Why Government Monopolies Are Bad

Related posts:

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE “The Tyranny of Control” Transcript and Video (60 Minutes)

Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE “The Tyranny of Control” Transcript and Video (60 Minutes) In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 7 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “I’m not pro business, I’m pro free enterprise, which is a very different thing, and the reason I’m pro free enterprise”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 6 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “We are the ones who promote freedom, and free enterprise, and individual initiative, And what do we do? We force puny little Hong Kong to impose limits, restrictions on its exports at tariffs, in order to protect our textile workers”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 5 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “There is no measure whatsoever that would do more to prevent private monopoly development than complete free trade”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 4 of 7 (Transcript and Video) ” What we need are constitutional restraints on the power of government to interfere with free markets in foreign exchange, in foreign trade, and in many other aspects of our lives.”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 3 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “When anyone complains about unfair competition, consumers beware, That is really a cry for special privilege always at the expense of the consumer”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 2 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “As always, economic freedom promotes human freedom”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “The Tyranny of Control” Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 1 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “Adam Smith’s… key idea was that self-interest could produce an orderly society benefiting everybody, It was as though there were an invisible hand at work”

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 654) “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 7 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “I’m not pro business, I’m pro free enterprise, which is a very different thing, and the reason I’m pro free enterprise”

Open letter to President Obama (Part 654) (Emailed to White House on July 22, 2013) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 650) “The Tyranny of Control” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 6 of 7 (Transcript and Video) “We are the ones who promote freedom, and free enterprise, and individual initiative, And what do we do? We force puny little Hong Kong to impose limits, restrictions on its exports at tariffs, in order to protect our textile workers”

Open letter to President Obama (Part 650) (Emailed to White House on July 22, 2013) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you […]

_________

Dan Mitchell: The failure of Obama’s stimulus should have been a learning moment for Washington politicians. But Joe Biden must have slept through that lesson because his first big move after taking office was to saddle the nation with a $1.9 trillion “stimulus” package!

Biden’s “Stimulus” Failure

At the risk of understatement, economists are not good forecasters.

And they are especially incompetent when they make forecasts based on bad policy, such as when the Obama White House projected that his so-called stimulus would quickly lead to falling unemployment.

In reality, the jobless rate immediately increased and then remained much higher than projected for the remainder of the five-year forecast.

The failure of Obama’s stimulus should have been a learning moment for Washington politicians.

But Joe Biden must have slept through that lesson because his first big move after taking office was to saddle the nation with a $1.9 trillion “stimulus” package.

The White House claimed this orgy of new spending would lead to four million additional jobs in 2021, on top of the six million new jobs that already were expected.

So what happened? Matt Weidinger of the American Enterprise Institute looked at the final numbers for 2021 and discovered that employment actually fell compared to pre-stimulus baseline projection.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected on February 1, 2021…a gain of 6.252 million jobs over…2021…we now know payroll employment in the fourth quarter of 2021 averaged 148.735 million — an increase of 6.116 million compared with the average of 142.619 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. That means the job growth the President praised this week has fallen 136,000 jobs short of what was expected under the policies he inherited. …President Biden and congressional Democrats promised their $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan would create millions of additional new jobs this year — on top of what White House economists called the “dire” baseline of 6.252 million new jobs reflected in CBO’s projection without that enormous legislation. …House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) repeated that claim, stating that “if we do not enact this package, the results could be catastrophic,” including “4 million fewer jobs.” Yet…not one of those four million additional jobs supposedly resulting from that $1.9 trillion spending plan has appeared, as job creation in 2021 did not even match CBO’s projection without that legislation.

Below you’ll see the chart that accompanied the article.

As you can see, the White House projected more than 10 million new jobs (right bar).

Yet we would up with 6.1 million new jobs (left bar), about 140,000 less than we were projected to get (center bar) without wasting $1.9 trillion.

If pressed, I’m sure the Biden Administration would use the same excuse that we got from the Obama White House (and from the Congressional Budget Office), which is that the initial forecast was wrong and that the so-called stimulus did create jobs.

In other words, the Biden economists now would say they should have projected 2 million new jobs, which means that the $1.9 trillion spending spree added 4 million jobs, for a net increase of 6 million.

You may think I’m joking, but that is exactly how the Keynesian economists tried to justify Obama’s stimulus failure.

The moral of the story is that the best way to really create jobs is to get government out of the way rather than adding new burdens.

 

 


Emailed to White House on 3-20-13.)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

Stimulus spending back in 2009 did not help at all.

Does Stimulus Spending Work?

After the housing bubble burst, the Bush and Obama administrations turned to stimulus in an effort to “create jobs.” Does such spending lead to economic improvement? Prof. Antony Davies examines the data to see how increases in federal spending relate to economic growth from 1955 to the present. The evidence shows that there is no connection between federal spending and economic improvement; instead, stimulus money only increases government debt. After three years of stimulus spending, the unemployment rate remains at 9 percent. “One thing that has changed,” Davies says, “is that our government is now $4.6 trillion further in debt than it was before the stimulus efforts.”

______________

We have tried it over and over and it never works!!!

People often ask why I put so much political humor on this site. The easy answer is that I like a good joke.

But I also find that some cartoons and jokes do a very good job of helping people understand economics. I’ve always liked this cartoon, for instance, because it cleverly illustrates the impact of government handouts on the labor market. And looking at that cartoon is a lot quicker than taking a class about labor economics.

Well, you can also skip the class about public finance. Here’s a cartoon that shows the economic burden of government “stimulus” spending.

Very funny and very intellectually sound. Indeed, the only thing that would have made the cartoon even better would have been showing that the jockey became bloated by eating the horse’s food. But I reckon it’s not easy making multiple points with one picture.

Anyhow, I’m disappointed that I didn’t notice it at Reason.com a couple of years ago when the debate on the faux stimulus was taking place. It probably would have helped more people understand that you don’t boost economic performance by draining resources from the productive sector of the economy to finance a larger government.

By the way, if you want to understand in greater detail why the cartoon is accurate, this video on Keynesian economics is helpful, as is this video explaining the failure of Obama’s $1 trillion boondoggle.

____________

___________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Musk invokes Milton Friedman in condemnation of Biden spending bill ‘trickery’ Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program”

______________________________________

Musk invokes Milton Friedman in condemnation of Biden spending bill ‘trickery’

Loading video

Tesla founder Elon Musk blasted the “trickery” of President Joe Biden’s spending bill, channeling preeminent free-market economist Milton Friedman.

Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, posted an analysis of the Democratic spending legislation that found that by 2050, the national debt would increase by nearly 25%and gross domestic product would fall by nearly 3% should the plan be implemented with certain temporary provisions made permanent.

“There is a lot of accounting trickery in this bill that isn’t being disclosed to the public,” Musk told his 66 million Twitter followers on Wednesday.

“Nothing is more permanent than a ‘temporary’ government program,” the billionaire added, which is an almost exact word-for-word quote from Friedman, who is known for being a major proponent of free-market capitalism and one of the leaders of the Chicago school of economics.

MUSK SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The Democratic bill, which many in the party claim is fully paid for, is chock-full of spending provisions that have early sunsets and drive down the headline price of the agenda, a tactic that Republicans and certain outside groups have characterized as gimmickry. Should the legislation pass, Democrats would likely seek to make those early sunsets permanent, thus increasing the bill’s actual cost by a large margin.

“In an alternative, illustrative scenario in which all temporary provisions in [the package] are made permanent, spending would instead total $4.6 trillion over the 10-year budget window,” the report reads. “In this scenario, by 2050 federal debt increase by 24.4 percent and GDP would fall by 2.9 percent relative to current law.”

This week, Musk also addressed the Democratic spending legislation during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Musk said he thinks it might be better if the legislation doesn’t end up getting passed and cited the ballooning federal deficit.

During the interview, Musk said he is not an “extreme libertarian” but does think that the United States should minimize the role of the government. Musk also bucked the notion of federal subsidies, even for the electric vehicles that his company is known for.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

“It does not make sense to take the job of capital allocation away from people who have demonstrated great skill at capital allocation and give it to an entity that has demonstrated very poor skill in capital allocation, which is the government,” Musk said, invoking libertarian ideals.

“The government is simply the biggest corporation, with a monopoly on violence, and where you have no recourse,” he said, referencing renowned sociologist Max Weber.

Milton Friedman On Charlie Rose (Part One)

The late Milton Friedman discusses economics and otherwise with Charlie Rose.

_________________________________________

Milton Friedman: Life and ideas – Part 01

Milton Friedman: Life and ideas

A brief biography of Milton Friedman

_____________________________________

Stossel – “Free to Choose” (Milton Friedman) 1/6

6-10-10. pt.1 of 6. Stossel discusses Milton Friedman’s 1980 book, “Free to Choose”, which was smuggled in and read widely in Eastern Europe during the Cold War by many countries under Soviet rule. Read and admired the world over by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, this book served as the inspiration for many of the Soviet sattellite countries’ economies once they achieved freedom after the fall of the Soviet Union.

_________________________________________

Milton Friedman on Medical Care [1/6]

Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan  were two of my heroes and I know that you can learn a great deal from their lives and their economic philosophies.  I suggest checking out these episodes of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market.

What’s the Half-Life of a “Temporary” Tax Increase?

July 1, 2013 by Dan Mitchell

Milton Friedman famously noted that, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program”and Ronald Reagan sagely observed that “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

Two great Americans

They’re both right, but they should have included the other half of the fiscal equation. Repealing a tax, even a “temporary tax,” is just as difficult as getting rid of wasteful spending.

Simply stated, once politicians get access to a source of additional revenue, it’s feeding time at the zoo and good luck getting them to give the money back. Here’s a sobering example from Philadelphia.

Skeptics say there’s no such thing as a “temporary” tax. Like the two-year property tax increase City Council passed in 2010 that, lo and behold, is still with us. Or another dreaded levy: the wage tax. It was passed in 1939 as a short-term fix for the city’s finances, but succeeding generations have nonetheless been forced to accept its bite in their paychecks. The latest tax under consideration for immortality is the 1 percent sales-tax increase the state allowed Philadelphia to impose in 2009 as a bridge through the recession.The increase – which raised the tax on most goods and services in Philadelphia from 7 percent to 8 percent – is slated to expire next June. City and state leaders are now talking about making the increase permanent, with the extra money being put toward one or both of the city’s greatest needs: the struggling School District and the vastly underfunded public employee pension fund.

The bulk of that excerpt is a straightforward recitation of how temporary tax hikes become permanent tax hikes, but I have to object to the final sentence. The “city’s greatest needs” are replacing the failed government education monopoly with school choice and reducing the excessive pensions for over-compensated government bureaucrats – such as the city’s former “managing director” (whatever that is), Camille Cates Barnett.

I also can’t resist commenting on the craven behavior of the city’s Chamber of Commerce. I though the national Chamber of Commerce was bad when it endorsed TARP and the faux stimulus, but the local Chamber may be even worse.

Joe Grace, director of public policy at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, said, “We have not seen any evidence that extending the 1 percent is going to have any negative impact on the local businesses.” The chamber is also backing a $2-a-pack cigarette tax dedicated to the schools. “Our belief is the School District needs resources,” Grace said. “We’re working, along with many others, to close the school-funding gap, really by any means necessary.”

So Mr. Grace thinks more funding for a failed education bureaucracy should be achieved by “any means necessary.” Well, I think a 100 percent tax rate on Mr. Grace should be at the top of the list.

Heck, if France can tax at 100 percent, then so can the City of Philadelphia, and Mr. Grace is a deserving recipient of such a levy.

But there are some opponents of the tax, though they’re not exactly libertarian heroes.

…members of the nearly all-Democratic Philadelphia delegation have raised concerns about using the 1 percent to help fund the schools because it lets the state off the hook for its share of education funding. Danilo Burgos, president of the Dominican Grocers Association, argued that giving sales-tax revenue to the schools was “a Band-Aid.” The state, which has control of the city’s schools, should be responsible for devising “a real solution for our schools.”

In other words, they want more money to waste, but they want to take it from people in the rest of the state.

Sort of reminds me of what the great Frederic Bastiat wrote more than 150 years ago, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

But if enough people act as if that fiction is reality, then you get too many people riding in the wagon and not enough people pulling the wagon. That’s a good description of what’s happening in places such as Philadelphia and Greece.

Related posts:Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” film transcripts and videos here on http://www.thedailyhatch.org

I have many posts on my blog that include both the transcript and videos of Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” and here are the episodes that I have posted.

_____________

Here are the posts and you can find the links in order below this.

The Power of the Market from 1990

The Failure of Socialism from 1990

The Anatomy of a Crisis from 1980

What is wrong with our schools?  from 1980

Created Equal from 1980

From Cradle to Grave from 1980

The Power of the Market 1980

Debate on Inflation from 1980

Milton Friedman is the short one!!!

Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980), episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 1

“The Power of the Market” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 5)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 5-5 How can we have personal freedom without economic freedom? That is why I don’t understand why socialists who value individual freedoms want to take away our economic freedoms.  I wanted to share this info below with you from Milton Friedman who has influenced me greatly over the […]

“The Power of the Market” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 4)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 4-5 How can we have personal freedom without economic freedom? That is why I don’t understand why socialists who value individual freedoms want to take away our economic freedoms.  I wanted to share this info below with you from Milton Friedman who has influenced me greatly over the […]

“The Power of the Market” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 3)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 3-5 How can we have personal freedom without economic freedom? That is why I don’t understand why socialists who value individual freedoms want to take away our economic freedoms.  I wanted to share this info below with you from Milton Friedman who has influenced me greatly over the […]

“The Power of the Market” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 2)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5 How can we have personal freedom without economic freedom? That is why I don’t understand why socialists who value individual freedoms want to take away our economic freedoms.  I wanted to share this info below with you from Milton Friedman who has influenced me greatly over the […]

“The Power of the Market” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 1)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 1-5 How can we have personal freedom without economic freedom? That is why I don’t understand why socialists who value individual freedoms want to take away our economic freedoms.  I wanted to share this info below with you from Milton Friedman who has influenced me greatly over the […]

Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980), episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 1

“Friedman Friday” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 5)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. Abstract: Ronald Reagan introduces this program, and traces a line from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of […]

“Friedman Friday” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 4)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. Abstract: Ronald Reagan introduces this program, and traces a line from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of […]

“Friedman Friday” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 3)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. Abstract: Ronald Reagan introduces this program, and traces a line from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of […]

“Friedman Friday” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 2)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. Abstract: Ronald Reagan introduces this program, and traces a line from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of […]

“Friedman Friday,” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 1)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. We must not head down the path of socialism like Greece has done. Abstract: Ronald Reagan […]

________________

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 7of 7)

TEMIN: We don’t think the big capital arose before the government did? VON HOFFMAN: Listen, what are we doing here? I mean __ defending big government is like defending death and taxes. When was the last time you met anybody that was in favor of big government? FRIEDMAN: Today, today I met Bob Lekachman, I […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 6of 7)

worked pretty well for a whole generation. Now anything that works well for a whole generation isn’t entirely bad. From the fact __ from that fact, and the undeniable fact that things are working poorly now, are we to conclude that the Keynesian sort of mixed regulation was wrong __ FRIEDMAN: Yes. LEKACHMAN: __ or […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 5 of 7)

MCKENZIE: Ah, well, that’s not on our agenda actually. (Laughter) VOICE OFF SCREEN: Why not? MCKENZIE: I boldly repeat the question, though, the expectation having been __ having been raised in the public mind, can you reverse this process where government is expected to produce the happy result? LEKACHMAN: Oh, no way. And it would […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 4 of 7)

The massive growth of central government that started after the depression has continued ever since. If anything, it has even speeded up in recent years. Each year there are more buildings in Washington occupied by more bureaucrats administering more laws. The Great Depression persuaded the public that private enterprise was a fundamentally unstable system. That […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 3 of 7)

Worse still, America’s depression was to become worldwide because of what lies behind these doors. This is the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Inside is the largest horde of gold in the world. Because the world was on a gold standard in 1929, these vaults, where the U.S. gold was stored, […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (Part 16) (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 2 of 7)

  George Eccles: Well, then we called all our employees together. And we told them to be at the bank at their place at 8:00 a.m. and just act as if nothing was happening, just have a smile on their face, if they could, and me too. And we have four savings windows and we […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 1of 7)

Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980), episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 1 FREE TO CHOOSE: Anatomy of Crisis Friedman Delancy Street in New York’s lower east side, hardly one of the city’s best known sites, yet what happened in this street nearly 50 years ago continues to effect all of us today. […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Edit | Comments (0)

____________________________

_____________


________________________________________________

_____________________________________________

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 6 of transcript and video)

Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 6 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: FRIEDMAN: But I personally think it’s a good thing. But I don’t see that any reason whatsoever why I shouldn’t have been required […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Vouchers | Edit | Comments (0)

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 5 of transcript and video)

Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 5 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: Are your voucher schools  going to accept these tough children? COONS: You bet they are. (Several talking at once.) COONS: May I answer […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Vouchers | Edit | Comments (0)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 4 of transcript and video)

Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 4 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: It seems to me that if one is truly interested in liberty, which I think is the ultimate value that Milton Friedman talks […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Vouchers | Edit | Comments (0)

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 3 of transcript and video)

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 3 of transcript and video) Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 3 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: If it […]

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 2 of transcript and video)

Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 2 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: Groups of concerned parents and teachers decided to do something about it. They used private funds to take over empty stores and they […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Vouchers | Edit | Comments (1)

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” (Part 1 of transcript and video)

Here is the video clip and transcript of the film series FREE TO CHOOSE episode “What is wrong with our schools?” Part 1 of 6.   Volume 6 – What’s Wrong with our Schools Transcript: Friedman: These youngsters are beginning another day at one of America’s public schools, Hyde Park High School in Boston. What happens when […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Vouchers | Tagged  | Edit | Comments (0)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 7 of transcript and video)

Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present.  This is a seven part series. Created Equal [7/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 6 of transcript and video)

Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present.  This is a seven part series. Created Equal [6/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose […]

“Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 5 of transcript and video)

Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present.  This is a seven part series. Created Equal [5/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 4 of transcript and video)

Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present.  This is a seven part series. Created Equal [4/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose […]

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video)

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video) Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 of transcript and video)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 of transcript and video) Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 1 of transcript and video)

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present.  This is a seven part series. […]

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

Milton Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 7 of 7)

I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen. TEMIN: We don’t think the big capital arose before the government did? VON HOFFMAN: Listen, what are we doing here? I mean __ defending big government is like defending death and taxes. […]

Milton Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 6 of 7)

I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen worked pretty well for a whole generation. Now anything that works well for a whole generation isn’t entirely bad. From the fact __ from that fact, and the undeniable fact that things […]

Milton Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 5 of 7)

 I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen. PART 5 of 7 MCKENZIE: Ah, well, that’s not on our agenda actually. (Laughter) VOICE OFF SCREEN: Why not? MCKENZIE: I boldly repeat the question, though, the expectation having been __ having […]

Milton Friedman Friday: (“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 4 of 7)

 I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen. PART 4 of 7 The massive growth of central government that started after the depression has continued ever since. If anything, it has even speeded up in recent years. Each year there […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Edit | Comments (0)

Milton Friedman Friday: (“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 3 of 7)

 I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen. PART 3 OF 7 Worse still, America’s depression was to become worldwide because of what lies behind these doors. This is the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Inside […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Edit | Comments (0)

Milton Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 2 of 7)

 I am currently going through his film series “Free to Choose” which is one the most powerful film series I have ever seen. For the past 7 years Maureen Ramsey has had to buy food and clothes for her family out of a government handout. For the whole of that time, her husband, Steve, hasn’t […]

Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 1 of 7)

Friedman Friday:(“Free to Choose” episode 4 – From Cradle to Grave, Part 1 of 7) Volume 4 – From Cradle to Grave Abstract: Since the Depression years of the 1930s, there has been almost continuous expansion of governmental efforts to provide for people’s welfare. First, there was a tremendous expansion of public works. The Social Security Act […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 7 of 7)

  Michael Harrington:  If you don’t have the expertise, the knowledge technology today, you’re out of the debate. And I think that we have to democratize information and government as well as the economy and society. FRIEDMAN: I am sorry to say Michael Harrington’s solution is not a solution to it. He wants minority rule, I […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 6 of 7)

PETERSON: Well, let me ask you how you would cope with this problem, Dr. Friedman. The people decided that they wanted cool air, and there was tremendous need, and so we built a huge industry, the air conditioning industry, hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous earnings opportunities and nearly all of us now have air […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 5 of 7)

Part 5 Milton Friedman: I do not believe it’s proper to put the situation in terms of industrialist versus government. On the contrary, one of the reasons why I am in favor of less government is because when you have more government industrialists take it over, and the two together form a coalition against the ordinary […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 4 of 7)

The fundamental principal of the free society is voluntary cooperation. The economic market, buying and selling, is one example. But it’s only one example. Voluntary cooperation is far broader than that. To take an example that at first sight seems about as far away as you can get __ the language we speak; the words […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 3 of 7)

  _________________________   Pt3  Nowadays there’s a considerable amount of traffic at this border. People cross a little more freely than they use to. Many people from Hong Kong trade in China and the market has helped bring the two countries closer together, but the barriers between them are still very real. On this side […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 2 of 7)

  Aside from its harbor, the only other important resource of Hong Kong is people __ over 4_ million of them. Like America a century ago, Hong Kong in the past few decades has been a haven for people who sought the freedom to make the most of their own abilities. Many of them are […]

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 1 – Power of the Market. part 1of 7)

“FREE TO CHOOSE” 1: The Power of the Market (Milton Friedman) Free to Choose ^ | 1980 | Milton Friedman Posted on Monday, July 17, 2006 4:20:46 PM by Choose Ye This Day FREE TO CHOOSE: The Power of the Market Friedman: Once all of this was a swamp, covered with forest. The Canarce Indians […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Current EventsMilton Friedman | Edit | Comments (0)

Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 1-5

Debate on Milton Friedman’s cure for inflation

If you would like to see the first three episodes on inflation in Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” then go to a previous post I did. Ep. 9 – How to Cure Inflation [4/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980) Uploaded by investbligurucom on Jun 16, 2010 While many people have a fairly […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Also posted in Current Events | Tagged  | Edit | Comments (0)

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman believed in liberty (Interview by Charlie Rose of Milton Friedman part 1)

Charlie Rose interview of Milton Friedman My favorite economist: Milton Friedman : A Great Champion of Liberty  by V. Sundaram   Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who advocated an unfettered free market and had the ear of three US Presidents – Nixon, Ford and Reagan – died last Thursday (16 November, 2006 ) in San Francisco […]

What were the main proposals of Milton Friedman?

Stearns Speaks on House Floor in Support of Balanced Budget Amendment Uploaded by RepCliffStearns on Nov 18, 2011 Speaking on House floor in support of Balanced Budget Resolution, 11/18/2011 ___________ Below are some of the main proposals of Milton Friedman. I highly respected his work. David J. Theroux said this about Milton Friedman’s view concerning […]

“Friedman Friday,” EPISODE “The Failure of Socialism” of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 1)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. We must not head down the path of socialism like Greece has done. Abstract: Ronald Reagan […]

Defending Milton Friedman

What a great defense of Milton Friedman!!!!   Defaming Milton Friedman by Johan Norberg This article appeared in Reason Online on September 26, 2008  PRINT PAGE  CITE THIS      Sans Serif      Serif Share with your friends: ShareThis In the future, if you tell a student or a journalist that you favor free markets and limited government, there is […]

Milton and Rose Friedman “Two Lucky People”

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 2 of 2 Uploaded by PenguinProseMedia on Oct 26, 2011 2nd half of 1994 interview. ________________ I have a lot of respect for the Friedmans.Two Lucky People by Milton and Rose Friedman reviewed by David Frum — October 1998. However, I liked this review below better. It […]

Video clip:Milton Friedman discusses his view of numerous political figures and policy issues in (Part 2)

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 1 of 2 Uploaded by PenguinProseMedia on Oct 25, 2011 Says Federal Reserve should be abolished, criticizes Keynes. One of Friedman’s best interviews, discussion spans Friedman’s career and his view of numerous political figures and public policy issues. ___________________ Here is a review of “Two Lucky People.” […]

Milton Friedman believed in liberty (Interview by Charlie Rose of Milton Friedman part 1)

Charlie Rose interview of Milton Friedman My favorite economist: Milton Friedman : A Great Champion of Liberty  by V. Sundaram   Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who advocated an unfettered free market and had the ear of three US Presidents – Nixon, Ford and Reagan – died last Thursday (16 November, 2006 ) in San Francisco […]

“The Failure of Socialism” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 1)

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. We must not head down the path of socialism like Greece has done. Abstract: Ronald Reagan […]

Volume 1: Power of the Market Volume 2: The Tyranny of Control
Volume 3: Anatomy of a Crisis 
Volume 4: From Cradle to Grave
Volume 5: Created Equal
Volume 6: What’s Wrong With Our Schools?
Volume 7: Who Protects the Consumer?
Volume 8: Who Protects the Worker?
Volume 9: How to Cure Inflation
Volume 10: How to Stay Free

Updated 1990 Series:
Volume 1: The Power of the Market
Volume 2: The Tyranny of Control
Volume 3: Freedom & Prosperity
Volume 4: The Failure of Socialism
Volume 5: Created Equal

 

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman – Power of Choice (Biography) Part 3

Milton Friedman – Power of Choice (Biography) Part 3 Published on May 21, 2012 by BasicEconomics Tribute to Milton Friedman English Pages, 8. 9. 2008 Dear colleagues, dear friends, (1) It is a great honor for me to be asked to say a few words to this distinguished and very knowledgeable audience about one of our greatest […]

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman – Power of Choice (Biography) Part 2

Milton Friedman – Power of Choice (Biography) Part 2 Published on May 21, 2012 by BasicEconomics My Tribute to Milton Friedman: The Little Giant of Free Market Economics By: admin- 11/17/2006 09:49 AM RESIZE: AAA  Milton Friedman, the intellectual architect of the free-market reforms of the post-World War II era, was a dear friend. I […]

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman – Power of Choice – Biography (Part 1)

Milton Friedman – Power of Choice – Biography (Part 1) Published on May 20, 2012 by BasicEconomics   David R. Henderson The Pursuit of Happiness ~ Milton Friedman: A Personal Tribute May 2007 • Volume: 57 • Issue: 4 David Henderson (davidrhenderson1950@gmail.com) is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at […]

Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys started the Chilean Miracle and it is still helping ordinary people today!!!

Milton Friedman and Chile – The Power of Choice Uploaded on May 13, 2011 In this excerpt from Free To Choose Network’s “The Power of Choice (2006)”, we set the record straight on Milton Friedman’s dealings with Chile — including training the Chicago Boys and his meeting with Augusto Pinochet. Was the tremendous prosperity unleashed […]

Margaret Thatcher admired Milton Friedman

RARE Friedman Footage – On Keys to Reagan and Thatcher’s Success Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman were two of my heroes. Thatcher praises Friedman, her freedom fighter By George Jones, Political Editor 12:01AM GMT 17 Nov 2006 A tireless champion of the free market Let’s not get misty eyed over the Friedman legacy Milton Friedman, […]

Milton Friedman and Chile an update

Milton Friedman was a great economist and a fine speaker. ___________________ I have written before about Milton Friedman’s influence on the economy of Chile. Now I saw this fine article below fromhttp://www.heritage.org  and below that article I have included an article from the Wall Street Journal that talks about Milton Friedman’s influence on Chile. I […]

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman explains negative income tax to William F. Buckley in 1968

December 06, 2011 03:54 PM Milton Friedman Explains The Negative Income Tax – 1968 0 comments By Gordonskene enlarge Milton Friedman and friends.DOWNLOADS: 36 PLAYS: 35 Embed   The age-old question of Taxes. In the early 1960′s Economist Milton Friedman adopted an idea hatched in England in the 1950′s regarding a Negative Income Tax, to […]

Milton Friedman admired Margaret Thatcher

RARE Friedman Footage – On Keys to Reagan and Thatcher’s Success Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman were two of my heroes. Milton Friedman on How Francois Mitterrand (and Failed Lefty Economics) Helped Re-elect Margaret Thatcher Matt Welch|Apr. 10, 2013 9:37 am Yesterday I wrote a column about how Margaret Thatcher liberated Western Europe from the […]

Milton Friedman had a solution to today’s welfare mentality!!!

  I have written about the tremendous increase in the food stamp program the last 9 years before and that means that both President Obama and Bush were guilty of not trying to slow down it’s growth. Furthermore, Republicans have been some of the biggest supporters of the food stamp program. Milton Friedman had a […]

“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman on “Firing Line” in 1968

Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan And William F. Buckley Jr. Peter Robinson, 12.12.08, 12:01 AM EST In a time of crisis, don’t forget what they had to say. As the federal deficit surpasses $1 trillion, Congress debates a bailout for the Detroit automakers and President-elect Barack Obama draws up plans for a vast new stimulus package, […]

Dan Mitchell: “I share this map from the Tax Foundation’s annual State Business Tax Climate Index, showing Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Florida with the best scores and Connecticut, California, New York, and New Jersey with the worst scores!”

The Best and Worst States for Tax Policy

Yesterday’s column included a map showing which states gained and lost the most population over the past year.

I speculated that some of America’s internal migration was driven by differences in tax policy.

So it’s appropriate today that I share this map from the Tax Foundation’s annual State Business Tax Climate Index, showing Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Florida with the best scores and Connecticut, California, New York, and New Jersey with the worst scores.

Comparing today’s map with yesterday’s map, I immediately noticed that two states losing a lot of people – New York and California – also are states that have very bad tax systems.

And if you examine other states, you’ll confirm that there’s a relationship between tax policy and people “voting with their feet.”

Does that mean taxes are the only thing that matters? Of course not.

But as Janelle Cammenga and Jared Walczak explain in their report, they definitely have an effect on where money gets invested and where jobs get created.

Taxation is inevitable, but the specifics of a state’s tax structure matter greatly. The measure of total taxes paid is relevant, but other elements of a state tax system can also enhance or harm the competitiveness of a state’s business environment. …all types of businesses, small and large,tending to locate where they have the greatest competitive advantage. The evidence shows that states with the best tax systems will be the most competitive at attracting new businesses and most effective at generating economic and employment growth. …State lawmakers are right to be concerned about how their states rank in the global competition for jobs and capital, but they need to be more concerned with companies moving from Detroit, Michigan, to Dayton, Ohio, than from Detroit to New Delhi, India. …Tax competition is an unpleasant reality for state revenue and budget officials, but it is an effective restraint on state and local taxes.

One of the more interesting parts of the report is that you get to see where states rank when considering different types of taxes.

Here’s Table 1, which has the overall ranking in the first column, followed by the rankings for the main revenue sources for states.

If you read the report’s methodology, you’ll notice that there are different weights.

The worst tax (assuming a state wants a competitive system) is the personal income tax, followed by the sales tax and corporate income tax.

No state ranks in the top 10 for all five categories, though Florida, North Carolina, and Utah have relatively good scores across the board.

P.S. One important caveat is that the report does not list energy severance taxes, which are major sources of revenue for states such as Alaska and Wyoming. To be sure, those taxes that largely are borne by out-of-state consumers, so there’s a reason for the omission. Nonetheless, those taxes enable excessive government spending, which is why I think South Dakota and Florida actually have the nation’s best fiscal systems.

Biden’s Boondoggle(s) and the Burden of Government Spending

First we got Biden’s $1.9 trillion so-called stimulus.

Then we got his $1 trillion-plus infrastructure boondoggle.

Now Congress may be on the verge of approving the President’s budget, which (if we use honest numbers) is a $5 trillion plan to expand the welfare state.

And…

So it’s hardly a surprise that recent changes will lead to a much-larger burden of government spending.

This is bad news for our economy, as measured by my recent study (with similar findings from a wide range of academics – as well as normally left-leaning bureaucracies such as the IMF, World Bank, and OECD).

For purposes of today’s column, let’s put America’s fiscal decline in global context.

Here are some excerpts from a very depressing article in the Economist, starting with some discussion of how Biden’s spending binge is similar to the mistakes made by other nations.

President Joe Biden is building on what started as emergency pandemic-related policy, expanding the child-tax credit, creating a universal federally funded child-care system, subsidising paid family leave and expanding Obamacare. America’s government spending remains somewhat below the developed-world average. But this change is not just a matter of catching up; the target is moving. Government spending as a share of gdp in the oecd as a whole has consistently inched higher in the six decades since the club was formed in 1961.

There’s then some discussion about how a few nations – most notably Sweden and New Zealand – enjoyed period of genuine spending restraint, but accompanied by depressing observations about how fiscal responsibility is very rare.

Examples of genuine state retrenchment in developed countries are few and far between. Sweden managed it in the 1980s. In the early 1990s Ruth Richardson, then New Zealand’s finance minister, cut the size of the state drastically. …State spending is now six percentage points lower as a share of gdp than it was in 1990. But this is a rare achievement, and perhaps one doomed to pass. …This is a sorry state of affairs if you believe that low taxes and small government are the right, and possibly the only, conditions for reliable, enduring economic growth. …an argument made by Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian philosopher, Milton Friedman, an American economist, and others in the mid-20th century.

There’s also some historical analysis showing how the burden of government used to be relatively minor.

From 1274 to 1691 the English government raised less than 2% of gdp in tax. …In the 1870s the governments of rich countries were spending about 10% of gdp. In 1920 it was nearer 20%. It has been growing ever since (see chart 2).

Here’s the aforementioned chart 2, and there are a lot of depressing numbers, though notice how Switzerland does better than other nations.

I’ve previously shared a version of this data, calling it the “world’s most depressing chart” – all of which was made possible by the imposition of income taxes.

But there is some good news. The ever-rising fiscal burden of government has been somewhat offset by reductions in other bad policies.

Governments have not grown more powerful by all measures. Bureaucrats no longer, as a rule, set wages or prices, nor impose strict currency controls, as many did in the 1960s or 1970s. In recent decades the public sector has raised hundreds of billions of dollars from privatisations of state assets such as mines and telecoms networks. If you find it faintly amusing to hear that, from 1948 to 1984, the British state ran its own chain of hotels, that is because the “neoliberal” outlook on the proper place of government has triumphed.

Last but not least, there’s some discussion of “public choice,” which explains why politicians and bureaucrats have incentives to expand the size and scope of government.

Governments and bureaucrats are at least partly self-interested: “public-choice theory” says that unrestrained bureaucracies will defend their turf and seek to expand it. …Politicians have their own incentives to expand the state. It is generally more rewarding for a politician to introduce a new programme than it is to close an old one down; costs are spread across all taxpayers while benefits tend to be concentrated, thus eliciting gratitude from interest groups

I’ll close by reiterating my warning that ever-rising spending burdens not only lead to less growth, but they also will lead to Greek-style fiscal crises.

Europe will get hit first, but it’s just a matter of time before the United States suffers a similar fate.

P.S. There is a simple solution to avoid such crises, and a specific policy to achieve that solution. But don’t hold your breath waiting for politicians to tie their own hands.

Biden’s Economic Alchemy: $3.5 Trillion = Zero

Last week, I wrote about a new study which estimates that Biden’s fiscal agenda of bigger government and higher taxeswould reduce economic output by about $3 trillion over the next decade.

Perhaps more relevant, that foregone economic growth would translate into more than $10,000 of lost compensation per job. And a lifetime drop in living standards of more than 4 percent for younger people.

And these numbers are based on research by the Congressional Budget Office, which is hardly a bastion of libertarian analysis.

The Biden White House has a different perspective.

How different? Well, the President actually claims that expanding the burden of government won’t cost anything.

I’m not joking. Here are some excerpts from an article in the Washington Post by Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm.

President Biden promised Friday that his sweeping domestic agenda package will cost “nothing” because Democrats will pay for it through tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations… The remarks were an attempt by Bidento assuage some of the cost concerns pointedly expressed by the moderate Democrats about the size of the legislation… The total spending outlined in the plan is $3.5 trillion… “It is zero price tag on the debt we’re paying. We’re going to pay for everything we spend,” Biden said in remarks from the State Dining Room at the White House.

Biden’s strange analysis has generated some amusing responses.

For instance, Gerard Baker opined in the Wall Street Journalabout Biden’s magical approach.

…this is a novel way of estimating the cost of something. That eye-wateringly expensive dinner you had last week didn’t really cost you anything because you paid for it. …You could have used the money to investin your children’s college fund. You could have paid off some of your credit card bill, the debt on which has quadrupled in the last year. But you chose instead to blow it on a few morsels of raw fish and a couple of bottles of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild. Don’t worry, It didn’t cost you anything.

Biden and his team definitely deserve to be mocked for their silly argument.

For all intents and purposes, they want us to believe that there’s no downside if you combine anti-growth spending increases with anti-growth tax increases – so long as there’s no increase in red ink.

But there’s actually a fiscal theory that sort of supports what the White House is saying.

  • Capital (saving and investment) is a key driver of productivity and long-run growth.
  • Budget deficits divert capital from the economy’s productive sector to government.
  • Budget deficits raise interest rates, reducing incentives for investment.
  • Therefore, budget deficits are bad for prosperity.

For what it’s worth, all four of those statements are correct.

But the theory is nonetheless wrong because it elevates one variable – fiscal balance – while ignoring other variables that have a much bigger impact on economic performance.

For instance, the Congressional Budget Office at one point embraced this approach – even though it led to absurd implications such as growth being maximized with tax rates of 100 percent.

For further background, here’s a table I prepared back in 2012.

The White House today is basically embracing the IMF’s “austerity” argument that deficits/surpluses are the variable that has the biggest impact on growth.

P.S. Folks on the left must get whiplash because some days they embrace the Keynesian argument that deficits are good for growth and other days they argue that a big expansion of government will have zero cost because there is no increase in the deficit.

P.P.S. The folks on the right who focus solely on tax cuts also are guilty of elevating one variable while ignoring others (humorously depicted in this cartoon strip).

Two (Humorous) Images to Understand Biden’s Fiscal Policy

Yesterday’s column was a completely serious look at five graphs and tables that show why Biden’s tax plan is misguided.

Today, we’re going to make the same point with satire. And we’ll only need two images.

First, here’s a look at what happens when politicians create never-ending handouts financed by ever-higher taxes on an ever-smaller group of rich taxpayers.

In the past, I’ve referred to this as “Greece-ification” and Biden’s fiscal plan definitely qualifies.

It’s also a different way of looking at the second cartoon from this depiction of how a welfare state evolves over time.

This Chuck Asay cartoon makes the same point.

Second, here’s a cartoon that nicely captures why I think Biden’s agenda will erode the nation’s societal capital.

The same theme as this excellent cartoon.

While amusing, there’s a very serious point to be made. Politicians already have created a system that rewards people for doing nothing while punishing them for creating wealth.

Those policies hinder American prosperity (as honest folks on the left acknowledge), but we can survive with slower growth. What really worries me is that we may eventually reach a tipping point of too many people riding in the wagon (and out-voting the people who pull the wagon).

Simply stated, we don’t want America to become another Greece.

I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control.

My Cato colleague, Mark Calabria, recently explained how the minimum wage destroys jobs, and I’ve written on several occasions why government-mandated wages can create unemployment by making it unprofitable to hire people with low work skills and/or poor work histories. And I’ve attacked Republicans for going along with these job-killing policies, and also pointed out the racist impact of such intervention.

But this cartoon may be a more effective argument for getting government out of the business of interfering with market forces. It’s simple, direct, and gets the point across. I’m not sure that always happens with my writing.

My former intern, Orphe Divougny, also did a very good job in explaining why politicians shouldn’t interfere with the right of workers and employers to enter into labor contracts.

Related posts:

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 2

Max Brantley is wrong about Tom Cotton’s accusation concerning the rise of welfare spending under President Obama. Actually welfare spending has been increasing for the last 12 years and Obama did nothing during his first four years to slow down the rate of increase of welfare spending. Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation has noted: […]

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 1

  I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. I think Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times Blog was right to point out on 2-6-13 that Hillary […]

Great cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on government moochers

I thought it was great when the Republican Congress and Bill Clinton put in welfare reform but now that has been done away with and no one has to work anymore it seems. In fact, over 40% of the USA is now on the government dole. What is going to happen when that figure gets over […]

Gun Control cartoon hits the internet

Again we have another shooting and the gun control bloggers are out again calling for more laws. I have written about this subject below  and on May 23, 2012, I even got a letter back from President Obama on the subject. Now some very interesting statistics below and a cartoon follows. (Since this just hit the […]

“You-Didn’t-Build-That” comment pictured in cartoons!!!

watch?v=llQUrko0Gqw] The federal government spends about 10% on roads and public goods but with the other money in the budget a lot of harm is done including excessive regulations on business. That makes Obama’s comment the other day look very silly. A Funny Look at Obama’s You-Didn’t-Build-That Comment July 28, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I made […]

Cartoons about Obama’s class warfare

I have written a lot about this in the past and sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh. Laughing at Obama’s Bumbling Class Warfare Agenda July 13, 2012 by Dan Mitchell We know that President Obama’s class-warfare agenda is bad economic policy. We know high tax rates undermine competitiveness. And we know tax increases […]

Cartoons on Obama’s budget math

Dan Mitchell Discussing Dishonest Budget Numbers with John Stossel Uploaded by danmitchellcato on Feb 11, 2012 No description available. ______________ Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has shown before how excessive spending at the federal level has increased in recent years. A Humorous Look at Obama’s Screwy Budget Math May 31, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I’ve […]

Funny cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on Greece

Sometimes it is so crazy that you just have to laugh a little. The European Mess, Captured by a Cartoon June 22, 2012 by Dan Mitchell The self-inflicted economic crisis in Europe has generated some good humor, as you can see from these cartoons by Michael Ramirez and Chuck Asay. But for pure laughter, I don’t […]

Obama on creating jobs!!!!(Funny Cartoon)

Another great cartoon on President Obama’s efforts to create jobs!!! A Simple Lesson about Job Creation for Barack Obama December 7, 2011 by Dan Mitchell Even though leftist economists such as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers have admitted that unemployment insurance benefits are a recipe for more joblessness, the White House is arguing that Congress should […]

Get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!!(great cartoon too)

Dan Mitchell hits the nail on the head and sometimes it gets so sad that you just have to laugh at it like Conan does. In order to correct this mess we got to get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!! Chuck Asay’s New Cartoon Nicely Captures Mentality […]

2 cartoons illustrate the fate of socialism from the Cato Institute

Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell is right about Greece and the fate of socialism: Two Pictures that Perfectly Capture the Rise and Fall of the Welfare State July 15, 2011 by Dan Mitchell In my speeches, especially when talking about the fiscal crisis in Europe (or the future fiscal crisis in America), I often warn that […]

Cartoon demonstrates that guns deter criminals

John Stossel report “Myth: Gun Control Reduces Crime Sheriff Tommy Robinson tried what he called “Robinson roulette” from 1980 to 1984 in Central Arkansas where he would put some of his men in some stores in the back room with guns and the number of robberies in stores sank. I got this from Dan Mitchell’s […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 2

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. Amusing Gun Control Picture – Circa 1999 April 3, 2010 by Dan Mitchell Dug this gem out […]

We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!!

  We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!! When Governments Cut Spending Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011 Do governments ever cut spending? According to Dr. Stephen Davies, there are historical examples of government spending cuts in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and America. In these cases, despite popular belief, the government spending […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 1

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. On 2-6-13 the Arkansas Times Blogger “Sound Policy” suggested,  “All churches that wish to allow concealed […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 3) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

Gun Free Zones???? Stalin and gun control On 1-31-13 ”Arkie” on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: “Remember that the biggest gun control advocate was Hitler and every other tyrant that every lived.” Except that under Hitler, Germany liberalized its gun control laws. __________ After reading the link  from Wikipedia that Arkie provided then I responded: […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 2) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

On 1-31-13 I posted on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: I like the poster of the lady holding the rifle and next to her are these words: I am compensating for being smaller and weaker than more violent criminals. __________ Then I gave a link to this poster below: On 1-31-13 also I posted […]

Longstanding Anti‐​Price Gouging Statutes Worsen Shortages 

By Ryan Bourne and Brad Subramaniam

Anti‐​price gouging laws prolonged shortages of certain goods that were in high demand early in the pandemic. Some analysis suggests these laws even worsened public health outcomes, because ongoing shortages of, say, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, led to consumers in states with these regulations searching for them more at physical retailers, actually increasing transmission of the virus.

But there’s an interesting question that’s often underexplored in regard to these laws: how does the expectation that these price controls will be triggered shape people’s beliefs about products’ availability and so customer search behavior?

That’s the topic of another fascinating new paper by economists Rik Chakraborti and Gavin Roberts. Using data for online searches for hand sanitizer and toilet paper across states, they harness the variation in when laws were introduced to research the question: is consumer search behaviour different in states with new anti‐​price gouging legislation introduced during the pandemic from states with pre‐​existing anti‐​price gouging laws?

Economic theory would suggest that any anti‐​price gouging legislation, whenever introduced, would lead to more consumer search for goods, due to the induced shortages. And, sure enough, after controlling for the effects of lockdowns, rising infections, and declines in travel which plagued the early stages of the pandemic, consumers in states with anti‐​price gouging laws were significantly more likely to search online for toilet paper and hand sanitizer than those in states without such laws.

More searching presumably reflects higher levels of hoarding and panic‐​buying creating the shortages—after all, having to resort to online shopping for goods that are commonly bought in stores means the local grocery or drug store has probably been emptied already.

But theory would also suggest that customers in states with past experience of anti‐​price gouging laws might search even more intensely, because people come to expect shortages again when crises hit. In other words, those who have experienced shortages before might be more likely to hoard and panic buy this time around, leading to even higher online search than in situations where new laws are introduced for the first time.

Again, Chakraborti and Roberts’ paper suggests economic theory is correct. States with anti‐​price gouging regulations on the books before the pandemic saw Google Shopping searches for hand sanitizer jump by 153 percent and toilet paper searches nearly double (a 99 percent increase) relative to states without anti‐​price gouging laws. This uplift was much larger than in states where the laws were introduced during the pandemic (100 percent and 46 percent, respectively).

The long and short is that consumers in states with pre‐​existing price controls searched most intensely online for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. This suggests customers learned from previous experience of these price regulations’ effects, with the higher search levels reflecting greater hoarding and panic buying in anticipation of shortages to come. As the authors state, this implies that longstanding anti‐​price gouging legislation is even worse for economic welfare than we might think. The anticipation of shortages actually compounds shortages as consumers become more “experienced,” with excessive and fruitless searching for products the wasteful result.

For more on the basics of anti‐​price gouging legislation in the pandemic, see my book Economics In One Virus. Other Cato pieces can be found here, here, and here.

 

Government, Markets, and the Supply Chain

Way back in 2009, I shared a meme that succinctly summarizes how Washington operates.

It’s basically a version of Mitchell’s Law. To elaborate, governments cause problems and politicians then use those problems as an excuse to make government even bigger.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I worry the same thing may be about to happen because of the current concern about “supply chain” issues, perhaps best illustrated by the backlog of ships at key ports, leading to shortages of key goods.

Some of this mess is fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s being exacerbated by bad policy.

In a column for Reason, J.D. Tuccille points out that government is the problem, not the solution.

…supply-chain issues…create shortages and push prices up around the world. …Lockdowns also changed people’s lives, closing offices and factories and confining people at home. That resulted in massive and unpredictable shifts in demand and unreliable supply. …”Market economies tend to be pretty good at getting food on the supermarket shelves and fuel in petrol stations, if left to themselves,” agrees Pilkington. “That last part is key: if left to themselves. Heavy-handed interference in market economies tends to produce the same pathologies we see in socialist economies, including shortages and inflation. That has been the unintended consequence of lockdown.” …The danger is that people see economic problems caused by earlier fiddling and then demand even more government intervention. …if the government were to further meddle in the market to allocate products made scarce by earlier actions, it’s hard to see how the result wouldn’t be anything other than increased supply chain chaos.

Allysia Finley opines for the Wall Street Journal about California’s role in the supply-chain mess.

The backup of container ships at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports has grown in recent weeks… The two Southern California ports handle only about 40% of containers entering the U.S., mostly from Asia. Yet ports in other states seem to be handling the surge better. Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that Florida’s seaports had open capacity.So what’s the matter with California? State labor and environmental policies. …business groups recently asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and suspend labor and environmental laws that are interfering with the movement of goods. …One barrier is a law known as AB5. …Trucking companies warned that the law could put small carriers out of business and cause drivers to leave the state. …there’s little doubt the law hinders efficiency and productivity. …State officials have also pressed localities to attach green mandates to permits for new warehouses, which can be poison pills. …This boatload of regulations is making it more expensive and difficult to store goods arriving at California ports.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised California is making things worse.

The state seems to have some of the nation’s worst politicians.

But let’s set that aside and close with some discussion about one of the differences between government and the private sector.

This may surprise some readers, but people and businesses in the private sector make mistakes all the time.

So part of the supply-chain mess presumably is a result of companies and entrepreneurs making bad guesses.

That being said, there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss.

So when mistakes are made, there’s a big incentive to quickly change.

With government, by contrast, there’s very little flexibility (as we saw during the pandemic). And when politicians and bureaucrats do act, they often respond to political incentives that lead them to make things worse.

 

Big-Government Republicans Enable Big-Government Democrats

I get asked why I frequently criticize Republicans.

My response is easy. I care about results rather than rhetoric. And while GOP politicians often pay lip service to the principles of limited government,they usually increase spending even faster than Democrats.

Indeed, Republicans are even worse than Democrats when measuring the growth of domestic spending!

This is bad news because it means the burden of government expands when Republicans are in charge.

And, as Gary Abernathy points out in a column for the Washington Post, Republicans then don’t have the moral authority to complain when Democrats engage in spending binges.

President Biden is proposing another $3 trillion in spending… There are objections, but none that can be taken seriously. …Republicans had lost their standing as the party of fiscal responsibility when most of them succumbed to the political virus of covid fever and rubber-stamped around $4 trillion in “covid relief,”… With Trump out and Biden in, Republicans suddenly pretended that their 2020 spending spree happened in some alternate universe.But the GOP’s united opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package won’t wash off the stench of the hypocrisy. …I noted a year ago that we had crossed the Rubicon, that our longtime flirtation with socialism had become a permanent relationship. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. The GOP won’t become irrelevant because of its association with Trump, as some predict. It will diminish because it is bizarrely opposing now that which it helped make palatable just last year. Fiscal responsibility is dead, and Republicans helped bury it. Put the shovels away, there’s no digging it up now.

For what it’s worth, I hope genuine fiscal responsibility isn’t dead.

Maybe it’s been hibernating ever since Reagan left office (like Pepperidge Farm, I’m old enough to remember those wonderful years).

Subsequent Republican presidents liked to copy Reagan’s rhetoric, but they definitely didn’t copy his policies.

  • Spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
  • Spending restraint also was hibernating during the presidency of George W. Bush.
  • And spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I’m not the only one to notice GOP hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2019 column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria.

In what Republicans used to call the core of their agenda — limited government — Trump has been profoundly unconservative. …Trump has now added more than $88 billion in taxes in the form of tariffs, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation. (Despite what the president says, tariffs are taxes on foreign goods paid by U.S. consumers.) This has had the effect of reducing gross domestic product and denting the wages of Americans.…For decades, conservatives including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached to the world the virtues of free trade. But perhaps even more, they believed in the idea that governments should not pick winners and losers in the economy… Yet the Trump administration…behaved like a Central Planning Agency, granting exemptions on tariffs to favored companies and industries, while refusing them to others. …In true Soviet style, lobbyists, lawyers and corporate executives now line up to petition government officials for these treasured waivers, which are granted in an opaque process… On the core issue that used to define the GOP — economics — the party’s agenda today is state planning and crony capitalism.

Zakaria is right about Republicans going along with most of Trump’s bad policies (as illustrated by this cartoon strip).*

The bottom line is that Republicans would be much more effective arguing against Biden’s spending orgy had they also argued for spending restraint when Trump was in the White House.

P.S. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Will the GOP be a small-government Reagan party or a big-government Trump party?

Or maybe it will go back to being a Nixon-type party, which would mean bigger government but without mean tweets. And there are plenty of options.

If they make the wrong choice (anything other than Reaganism), Margaret Thatcher has already warned us about the consequences.

*To be fair, Republicans also went along with Trump’s good policies. It’s just unfortunate that spending restraint wasn’t one of them.

—-

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

 

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

 

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

Related posts:

Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

  We got to act fast and get off this path of socialism. Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs Robert Rector and Amy Payne October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am It’s been a pretty big year for welfare—and a new report shows welfare is bigger than ever. The Obama Administration turned a giant spotlight […]

We need more brave souls that will vote against Washington welfare programs

We need to cut Food Stamp program and not extend it. However, it seems that people tell the taxpayers back home they are going to Washington and cut government spending but once they get up there they just fall in line with  everyone else that keeps spending our money. I am glad that at least […]

Welfare programs are not the answer for the poor

Government Must Cut Spending Uploaded by HeritageFoundation on Dec 2, 2010 The government can cut roughly $343 billion from the federal budget and they can do so immediately. __________ Liberals argue that the poor need more welfare programs, but I have always argued that these programs enslave the poor to the government. Food Stamps Growth […]

Private charities are best solution and not government welfare

Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax Published on May 11, 2012 by LibertyPen In this 1968 interview, Milton Friedman explained the negative income tax, a proposal that at minimum would save taxpayers the 72 percent of our current welfare budget spent on administration. http://www.LibertyPen.com Source: Firing Line with William F Buckley Jr. ________________ Milton […]

The book “After the Welfare State”

Dan Mitchell Commenting on Obama’s Failure to Propose a Fiscal Plan Published on Aug 16, 2012 by danmitchellcato No description available. ___________ After the Welfare State Posted by David Boaz Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer, who is lecturing about freedom in Slovenia and Tbilisi this week, asked me to post this announcement of his […]

President Obama responds to Heritage Foundation critics on welfare reform waivers

Is President Obama gutting the welfare reform that Bill Clinton signed into law? Morning Bell: Obama Denies Gutting Welfare Reform Amy Payne August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am The Obama Administration came out swinging against its critics on welfare reform yesterday, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the charge that the Administration gutted the successful […]

Welfare reform part 3

Thomas Sowell – Welfare Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. The Continuing Good News About Welfare Reform By Robert Rector and Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. February 6, 2003 Six years ago, President Bill Clinton signed legislation overhauling part of the nation’s welfare system. […]

Welfare reform part 2

Uploaded by ForaTv on May 29, 2009 Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/05/18/James_Bartholomew_The_Welfare_State_Were_In Author James Bartholomew argues that welfare benefits actually increase government handouts by ‘ruining’ ambition. He compares welfare to a humane mousetrap. —– Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. In the controversial […]

Why did Obama stop the Welfare Reform that Clinton put in?

Thomas Sowell If the welfare reform law was successful then why change it? Wasn’t Bill Clinton the president that signed into law? Obama Guts Welfare Reform Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley July 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare […]

“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response July 10,2012 on welfare, etc (part 14)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on July 10, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have […]

JOE BIDEN RUNS TO THE RESCUE!!! (Not Really, but he makes things worse) Dying Transit Industry Grasps for Solutions

Dying Transit Industry Grasps for Solutions


Your industry gets government subsidies equal to two‐​thirds of its operating costs and all of its capital costs, and still most people refuse to use your services. Do you:

a. Increase operating subsidies so you can give away your services for free?

b. Spend more on capital improvements that haven’t attracted more customers in the past?

c. Penalize American who aren’t using your services?

d. Redefine your mission so that you appear relevant even if almost no one uses your service?

How about e. All of the above? That appears to be the transit industry’s solution to the fact that, except in New York City, almost no one rides transit anymore. Data released by the Department of Transportation early this week, for example, reveals that October transit ridership was barely more than half of pre‐​pandemic levels even as driving has returned to nearly 100 percent, flying is 80 percent, and Amtrak is 72 percent. Even in New York, transit ridership remained less than 57 percent of pre‐​pandemic levels.

To get riders back, transit agencies are trying a variety of strategies:

Free fares: President Biden is going to Kansas City this week to promote free transit. Since taxpayers are already subsidizing so much of the cost of providing transit, why not just have them subsidize all of it? Kansas City adopted free fares last year and ridership increased a little bit. But Kansas City residents still travel by car more than 500 times as much as they ride transit, so what is the point of free fares?

Capital projects: Meanwhile, transit agencies all over the country are gleefully anticipating their share of the billions of dollars of transit funds in the recent infrastructure bill. Portland, whose last light‐​rail line cost $1.5 billion and yielded zero net new riders, wants to spend billions more on its next light‐​rail line. Denver’s Regional Transit District wants to build a rail line to Longmont even though its own analysis found that it would end up costing $65 per rider. St. Louis wants to build a new light‐​rail line even though its transit system carried fewer riders in 2019 than it did before it started building light rail in the early 1990s.

Penalize the competition: Automobiles are faster, more convenient, less expensive, and–in most urban areas–greener than transit. The obvious solution, if you are a transit agency official, is to make driving slower, less convenient, and more expensive.

“It’s too easy to drive in this city,” says Los Angeles Metro CEO Phil Washington, referring to the city that is often ranked as one of the most congested in the world. Washington’s solution to declining bus ridership is to convert many of the lanes on major streets to exclusive bus lanes, thus increasing congestion and, he hopes, forcing a few people out of their cars. Cities all over the country are proposing such “bus‐​rapid transit” projects, which sound good on paper until you realize that most of them will make congestion worse, not better. Other proposals call for reducing the amount of parking available to drivers, forcing them to ride transit instead.

Change the mission: Transit is sold to voters based on its ability to reduce congestion, save energy, and protect the environment, but it can’t do any of those things if hardly anyone rides it. A recent report published by the American Public Transportation Association urges transit agencies to “define success as more than just ridership.” “Think of transit less as a business and more as an essential service,” says the report, encouraging agencies to focus on “socially equitable transit access.” But essential and equitable for whom?

Supposedly, many “essential workers” during the pandemic had low incomes that made them dependent on transit. In fact, in 2019, only 5 percent of workers whose incomes were below $25,000 a year commuted to work by transit. During the pandemic, the percentage of all workers taking transit declined from 5 percent to 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, most of the subsidies to transit come from regressive taxes such as sales or property taxes. This means the 95 percent of low‐​income workers who don’t use transit are disproportionately paying for transit rides they aren’t taking. This is the very definition of inequity.

The one thing all of these strategies have in common is they increase subsidies to transit. That’s exactly the wrong prescription for an industry that is so obsolete that, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, people living in the nation’s 50 largest urban areas can reach more jobs on a bicycle than by transit in trips of 50 minutes or less.

The reality is that alternatives to transit are a lot less expensive and far more effective at solving the problems that transit no longer addresses. Improved traffic signal coordination, which most cities have failed to install partly because of anti‐​automobile mentality, will relieve more congestion than all of the light‐​rail lines in the world. Making automobiles just one percent more energy efficient will reduce greenhouse gases far more than spending tens of billions on transit. Helping the last few low‐​income families who don’t have cars obtain automobiles will help them out of poverty by giving them access to far more jobs than transit can reach.

Despite receiving more than $50 billion in subsidies per year, the transit industry was dying before the pandemic and the pandemic has just about killed it off. It’s time to stop subsidizing an obsolete transportation system.

Milton Friedman and Dan Mitchell on the Post Office!!!

Ep. 10 – How to Stay Free [3/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980)

Pat Brennan became something of a celebrity in 1978 because she was delivering mail in competition with the United States Post Office. With her husband she set up business in a basement in Rochester, NY. Soon it was thriving. They charged less than the post office and they guaranteed delivery the same day of parcels and letters in downtown Rochester. There is no doubt now that they were breaking the law as it stood. The post office took them to court. The case against them was simply that they should not be handling letters. The Brennan’s decided to fight and local businessmen provided the financial backing.
Pat Brennan: I think there’s going to be a quiet revolt and perhaps we’re the beginning of it. That you see people bucking the bureaucrats where years ago you wouldn’t dream of doing that because you’d be squelched. Now, with tax revolts and with what we’re doing, people are deciding that their fates are their own and not up to somebody in Washington who has no interest in them whatsoever. So, it’s not a question of anarchy, but it’s a questions of people rethinking the power of the bureaucrats and rejecting it.
Friedman: The Brennan customers were clear about one thing. After all, the Brennan’s service was cheaper than the regular mail.
Thomas O’Donaghue (storekeeper): We’re not sure that they have done anything illegal and I’d like to know more about this and I hope that this gets further into the courts than it has already. And someone will listen to their appeal because when we use the Brennan’s we know for a fact that same day delivery is going to be happening day after day after day, whereas with the other guy, you’re not sure and you’re sure what kind of shape it’s going to get there in. So I am behind the Brennan’s 100% and anything I can do to help them, I will.
Pat Brennan: Well, the questions of freedom comes up in any kind of a business. Whether you have the right to pursue it and the right to decide what you are going to do. There is also the question of the freedom of the consumers to utilize the service that they find is inexpensive and far superior. And according to the federal government and the body of laws called the Private Express Statutes, I don’t have a freedom to start a business and the consumer does not have the freedom to use it. Which seems very strange in a country like this that the entire context of the country is based on freedom and free enterprise.
Friedman: The post office won the case. It went all the way to the State Supreme Court and the Brennan’s were closed down. Put out of the business of delivering mail.
What we’ve been looking at is a natural human reaction to the attempt by other people to control your life when you think it’s none of their business. The first reaction is resentment. The second is to attempt to get around it. And finally there comes a decline in respect for law in general. There’s nothing especially American about this. It happens all over the world whenever some people try to control other people. For example, take a look at what’s happening to the British.
For most of the past century Britain was known throughout the world for the respect which its citizens gave to the law, but no longer. Graham Turner (Author “Business in Britain) Nothing is perfect that we have become in the course of the last ten or fifteen years, a nation of fiddlers. How do they do it? They do it in a colossal variety of ways. Lets take it right at the lowest level. Take a small grocer in a country area, say Devon. Very small turnover. How does he make money? He finds out that by buying through regular wholesalers he’s always got to use invoices. But if he goes to the cash and carry and buys his goods from there, and the profit margin on those goods can be untaxed because the tax inspector simply don’t know he’s had those goods. That’s the way he does it. Then if you take it to the top end, if you take a company director, well there’s all kinds of ways they can do it. They buy their food through the company, they have their holidays on the company, the put their wives as company directors even though they never visit the factory. They build their houses on the company by a very simple device of building a factory at the same time as a house, it goes absolutely right through the range from the ordinary person, the ordinary working class person, doing quite menial jobs right to the top end, businessmen, senior politicians, members of the Cabinet, members of the Shadow Cabinet, they all do it. I think almost everybody now feels the tax system is basically unfair. And, everybody who can tries to find a way around that tax system. Now, once that happens, once there is a consensus that the tax system is unfair, the country in effect becomes a kind of conspiracy. And everybody helps each other to fiddle. You’ve no difficulty fiddling in this country because other people actually want to help you. Now 15 years ago that would have been quite different. People would have said, hey, you know, this is not quite as it should be. So that’s the first reason. A very high level of taxation. But I think personally there’s another fact that comes into it. And that is that over the years we’ve had a huge growth in bureaucracy, government expenditure, cotton wool, if you like, to protect people from the slings and arrow of ordinary life, you know, health service, all kinds of benefits of one sort or another. And I think this comes into the consciousness of people almost a sort of new factor feeling that things don’t quite have the value that they did that money is not a thing of value, if your short you get it from some government body or other

Postal Service: Return to Sender

I don’t mind being polemical on occasion, but I generally don’t accuse my opponents of being “socialists.”

American leftists generally focus on redistribution and regulatory intervention andsocialism technically means that the government directly owns, operates, and controls various sectors of the economy (think, for example, of the difference between Obamacare and the U.K.’s system, where doctors are public employees and the government operates the hospitals).

But we do have a few islands of socialism in the United States. Education is probably the biggest sector of our economy that is dominated by government. The air traffic control system is another unfortunate example.

Today, though, let’s focus on the Postal Service.

I wrote about this topic a couple of years ago, but we now have lots of additional evidence on why we should replace this costly and inefficient government monopoly with a system based on real competition and no subsidies.

My colleague Chris Edwards explains that, from an economic and taxpayer perspective, the postal monopoly is a dumpster fire.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has lost more than $50 billion since 2007, even though it enjoys legal monopolies over letters, bulk mail, and access to mailboxes. The USPS has a unionized, bureaucratic, and overpaid workforce. And as a government entity, it pays no income or property taxes, allowing it to compete unfairly with private firms in the package and express delivery businesses. …the USPS needs a major overhaul. It should be privatized and opened to competition. But instead of reform, congressional Republicans are moving forward with legislation that tinkers around the edges. Their bill adjusts retiree health care, hikes stamp prices, and retains six-day delivery despite a 40 percent drop in letter volume since 2000. The bill would also create “new authority to offer non-postal products,” thus threatening to increase the tax-free entity’s unfair competition against private firms.

Amazingly, this is an area where European nations actually are more market-oriented than the United States.

Republican…timidity is particularly striking when you compare their no-reform bill to the dramatic postal reforms in Europe. …Since 2012 all EU countries have opened their postal industries to competition for all types of mail. A growing number of countries have privatized their postal systems, including Britain, Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands. …On-the-ground competition is small but growing in Europe. In a dozen countries, new competitors have carved out more than five percent of the letter market, and in a handful of countries the share is more than ten percent. …the Europeans are giving entrepreneurs a chance. In response to even the modest competition that has developed so far, major European postal companies have “increased their efficiency and restructured their operations to reduce costs,” according to the EU report.

Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center weighs in on the issue in a column forReason.

The Postal Service is a major business enterprise operated by the federal government. Thanks to Congress, it has something many business owners would love to have— protection from competition. Its monopoly on access to mailboxes and the delivery of first-class and standard mail means it doesn’t have to worry about someone offering a better service at a lower price. …unlike private businesses, the Postal Service has access to low-rate loans from the Department of the Treasury, effectively pays no income or property taxes, is exempt from local zoning rules and even has the power of eminent domain.

In addition to all these favors, the Postal Service is getting a huge indirect subsidy for it’s unfunded pension system.

Congress mandated that the Postal Service start making payments to fund the generous retirement health benefits it has promised workers. This was an important reform because the Postal Service has built up an unfunded liability for these benefits of nearly $100 billion. Ideally, postal workers should be paying for these benefits from payroll contributions rather than leaving the liabilities to federal taxpayers down the road. Sadly, Congress is too timid to take on special interests that benefit from the inefficient status quo, such as postal unions, and won’t support serious reforms… A few years ago, President Barack Obama called for a $30 billion bailout from the federal government, a five-day delivery schedule and an increase in the price of stamps. Unfortunately, that would be a bad solution from the perspective of customers and taxpayers. It also would perpetuate the blatantly unfair competition with companies such as FedEx and UPS.

Amazingly, some statists actually want to expand the Postal Service.

One bad idea that “reform” Postal Service supporters are pushing is to allow the government service to compete with private firms in other industries, such as banking. That would be hugely unfair to taxpaying private businesses, and do we really believe that such a bureaucratic agency as the U.S. Postal Service could out-compete private businesses in other areas if there were a level playing field?

The simple way to think about this issue is that an expanded Postal Service would be like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, only able to operate because of special privileges.

Shane Otten, writing for E21, has an “undeliverable” message for the Postal Service.

…the United States Postal Service (USPS)…an independent agency of the U.S. government, …has exclusive control over the postal system. Like every other government monopoly, it has lost money—$56.8 billion since 2007. The Postal Service is a smorgasbord of common government failures, including high labor costs due to unions (including the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association), congressional burdens restricting needed changes, unfunded pensions… Postal workers earn between 24 percent and 36 percent more than comparable workers in the private sector.  Because of this, labor costs represent approximately 80 percent of all expenses incurred by USPS. For comparison, private delivery service UPS’s labor costs only make up 62 percent of expenditures, even though UPS is unionized. And at union-free FedEx, labor costs come in at just 38 percent of total operating expenses.

Shane echoes Veronique’s argument about the Postal Service’s dodgy approach to pensions.

…the Post Office has not made a prefunding payment since fiscal year 2011. …the Postal Service pays nothing in federal, state, and local taxes on income, sales, property, and purchases. This saves the agency over $2 billion each year, giving it a major advantage over private competitors. The USPS is also immune from zoning regulations, tolls, vehicle registration, and parking tickets. …The Postal Service…can borrow money from the Treasury at a reduced interest rate. …borrowing at this artificially low rate is equivalent to a subsidy of almost $500 million.

By the way, I got castigated for saying it was a “bailout” when Congress said it was okay for the Postal Service to skip payments for employee pensions. I was basically correct, but should have referred to it as a “pre-bailout” or something like that.

The bottom line is that there’s no reason in a modern economy for a government to operate a business that delivers pieces of paper (and more than it would make sense to have government deliver pizzas). Indeed, this is such a slam-dunk issue that even the Washington Post is on the right side.

P.S. For what it’s worth, the Postal Service actually is constitutional. It’s one of thefederal government’s enumerated powers. But the fact that the federal government is allowed to maintain postal service doesn’t mean it’s obliged to do it.

P.P.S. Here’s my only example of Postal Service Humor.

P.P.P.S. Though if you have a very dark sense of humor, you may laugh at the “action” of this postal employee. I think he may deserve a retroactive promotion to the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.

Related posts:

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY More Great Moments in Federal Government Incompetence April 2, 2016 by Dan Mitchell (with video from Milton Friedman)

The War on Work Testing Milton Friedman: Government Control – Full Video More Great Moments in Federal Government Incompetence April 2, 2016 by Dan Mitchell I used to think the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the worst federal bureaucracy. After all, these are the pinheads who are infamous for bone-headed initiatives, such as: The EEOC making […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY The Left’s Inequality Fixation Is Economically Foolish and Politically Impotent April 22, 2015 by Dan Mitchell (with videos from Milton Friedman)

Dr. Walter Williams Highlights from – Testing Milton Friedman Milton Friedman PBS Free to Choose 1980 Vol 8 of 10 Who Protects the Worker The Left’s Inequality Fixation Is Economically Foolish and Politically Impotent April 22, 2015 by Dan Mitchell I don’t understand the left’s myopic fixation on income inequality. If they genuinely care about the […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Walter Williams, Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell (with videos featuring Walter Williams and Milton Friedman)

Dr. Walter Williams Highlights from – Testing Milton Friedman Milton Friedman PBS Free to Choose 1980 Vol 8 of 10 Who Protects the Worker Walter E Williams – A Discussion About Fairness & Redistribution Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity – Full Video Walter Williams, Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell I’ve been fortunate […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Three Cheers for Profits and Free Markets April 7, 2015 by Dan Mitchell (with input from Milton Friedman)

__ Milton Friedman – The Four Ways to Spend Money What establishments are you most unsatisfied with? Probably government organizations like Dept of Motor Vehicles or Public Schools because there is no profit motive and they are not careful in the way they spend our money. Three Cheers for Profits and Free Markets April 7, 2015 […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Dan Mitchell on Milton Friedman and Adam Smith’s perspective on spending other people’s money!!!

Dan Mitchell on Milton Friedman and Adam Smith’s perspective on spending other people’s money!!! Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, and Other People’s Money May 8, 2016 by Dan Mitchell From an economic perspective, too much government spending is harmful to economic performance because politicians and bureaucrats don’t have very good incentives to spend money wisely. More specifically, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY If Milton Friedman was here he would attack Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tax on Chinese products!

Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism If Milton Friedman was here he would attack Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tax on Chinese products! Dissecting Trumponomics March 22, 2016 by Dan Mitchell At this stage, it’s quite likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee. Conventional wisdom suggests that this means Democrats […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY While attacking TRUMP Larry Elder quotes Milton Friedman concerning Protectionism!!!!

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Donald Trump: Clueless about free trade Larry Elder rebuts candidate’s ‘they’re taking our jobs’ claim Published: 02/03/2016 at 6:39 PM One of Donald Trump’s talking points and biggest applause lines is how “they” – Japan, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman destroys Donald Trump on issue of PROTECTIONISM!!!

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Mark J. Perry@Mark_J_Perry March 5, 2016 9:26 pm | AEIdeas Some economic lessons about international trade for Donald Trump from Milton Friedman and Henry George Carpe Diem Trump vs Friedman – Trade Policy Debate In […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Free Market Conservatives like Dan Mitchell and Milton Friedman would destroy TRUMP and SANDERS in a debate on PROTECTIONISM Part 2

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Eight Questions for Protectionists September 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell When asked to pick my most frustrating issue, I could list things from my policy field such as class warfare or income redistribution. But based on […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Free Market Conservatives like Dan Mitchell and Milton Friedman would destroy TRUMP and SANDERS in a debate on PROTECTIONISM Part 1

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Trump, Sanders, and the Snake-Oil Economics of Protectionism March 19, 2016 by Dan Mitchell John Cowperthwaite deserves a lot of credit for Hong Kong’s prosperity. As a British appointee, he took a hands-off policy and allowed […]

____

Dan Mitchell article: Biden’s Boondoggle(s) and the Burden of Government Spending

Biden’s Boondoggle(s) and the Burden of Government Spending

First we got Biden’s $1.9 trillion so-called stimulus.

Then we got his $1 trillion-plus infrastructure boondoggle.

Now Congress may be on the verge of approving the President’s budget, which (if we use honest numbers) is a $5 trillion plan to expand the welfare state.

And…

So it’s hardly a surprise that recent changes will lead to a much-larger burden of government spending.

This is bad news for our economy, as measured by my recent study (with similar findings from a wide range of academics – as well as normally left-leaning bureaucracies such as the IMF, World Bank, and OECD).

For purposes of today’s column, let’s put America’s fiscal decline in global context.

Here are some excerpts from a very depressing article in the Economist, starting with some discussion of how Biden’s spending binge is similar to the mistakes made by other nations.

President Joe Biden is building on what started as emergency pandemic-related policy, expanding the child-tax credit, creating a universal federally funded child-care system, subsidising paid family leave and expanding Obamacare. America’s government spending remains somewhat below the developed-world average. But this change is not just a matter of catching up; the target is moving. Government spending as a share of gdp in the oecd as a whole has consistently inched higher in the six decades since the club was formed in 1961.

There’s then some discussion about how a few nations – most notably Sweden and New Zealand – enjoyed period of genuine spending restraint, but accompanied by depressing observations about how fiscal responsibility is very rare.

Examples of genuine state retrenchment in developed countries are few and far between. Sweden managed it in the 1980s. In the early 1990s Ruth Richardson, then New Zealand’s finance minister, cut the size of the state drastically. …State spending is now six percentage points lower as a share of gdp than it was in 1990. But this is a rare achievement, and perhaps one doomed to pass. …This is a sorry state of affairs if you believe that low taxes and small government are the right, and possibly the only, conditions for reliable, enduring economic growth. …an argument made by Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian philosopher, Milton Friedman, an American economist, and others in the mid-20th century.

There’s also some historical analysis showing how the burden of government used to be relatively minor.

From 1274 to 1691 the English government raised less than 2% of gdp in tax. …In the 1870s the governments of rich countries were spending about 10% of gdp. In 1920 it was nearer 20%. It has been growing ever since (see chart 2).

Here’s the aforementioned chart 2, and there are a lot of depressing numbers, though notice how Switzerland does better than other nations.

I’ve previously shared a version of this data, calling it the “world’s most depressing chart” – all of which was made possible by the imposition of income taxes.

But there is some good news. The ever-rising fiscal burden of government has been somewhat offset by reductions in other bad policies.

Governments have not grown more powerful by all measures. Bureaucrats no longer, as a rule, set wages or prices, nor impose strict currency controls, as many did in the 1960s or 1970s. In recent decades the public sector has raised hundreds of billions of dollars from privatisations of state assets such as mines and telecoms networks. If you find it faintly amusing to hear that, from 1948 to 1984, the British state ran its own chain of hotels, that is because the “neoliberal” outlook on the proper place of government has triumphed.

Last but not least, there’s some discussion of “public choice,” which explains why politicians and bureaucrats have incentives to expand the size and scope of government.

Governments and bureaucrats are at least partly self-interested: “public-choice theory” says that unrestrained bureaucracies will defend their turf and seek to expand it. …Politicians have their own incentives to expand the state. It is generally more rewarding for a politician to introduce a new programme than it is to close an old one down; costs are spread across all taxpayers while benefits tend to be concentrated, thus eliciting gratitude from interest groups

I’ll close by reiterating my warning that ever-rising spending burdens not only lead to less growth, but they also will lead to Greek-style fiscal crises.

Europe will get hit first, but it’s just a matter of time before the United States suffers a similar fate.

P.S. There is a simple solution to avoid such crises, and a specific policy to achieve that solution. But don’t hold your breath waiting for politicians to tie their own hands.

Biden’s Economic Alchemy: $3.5 Trillion = Zero

Last week, I wrote about a new study which estimates that Biden’s fiscal agenda of bigger government and higher taxeswould reduce economic output by about $3 trillion over the next decade.

Perhaps more relevant, that foregone economic growth would translate into more than $10,000 of lost compensation per job. And a lifetime drop in living standards of more than 4 percent for younger people.

And these numbers are based on research by the Congressional Budget Office, which is hardly a bastion of libertarian analysis.

The Biden White House has a different perspective.

How different? Well, the President actually claims that expanding the burden of government won’t cost anything.

I’m not joking. Here are some excerpts from an article in the Washington Post by Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm.

President Biden promised Friday that his sweeping domestic agenda package will cost “nothing” because Democrats will pay for it through tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations… The remarks were an attempt by Bidento assuage some of the cost concerns pointedly expressed by the moderate Democrats about the size of the legislation… The total spending outlined in the plan is $3.5 trillion… “It is zero price tag on the debt we’re paying. We’re going to pay for everything we spend,” Biden said in remarks from the State Dining Room at the White House.

Biden’s strange analysis has generated some amusing responses.

For instance, Gerard Baker opined in the Wall Street Journalabout Biden’s magical approach.

…this is a novel way of estimating the cost of something. That eye-wateringly expensive dinner you had last week didn’t really cost you anything because you paid for it. …You could have used the money to investin your children’s college fund. You could have paid off some of your credit card bill, the debt on which has quadrupled in the last year. But you chose instead to blow it on a few morsels of raw fish and a couple of bottles of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild. Don’t worry, It didn’t cost you anything.

Biden and his team definitely deserve to be mocked for their silly argument.

For all intents and purposes, they want us to believe that there’s no downside if you combine anti-growth spending increases with anti-growth tax increases – so long as there’s no increase in red ink.

But there’s actually a fiscal theory that sort of supports what the White House is saying.

  • Capital (saving and investment) is a key driver of productivity and long-run growth.
  • Budget deficits divert capital from the economy’s productive sector to government.
  • Budget deficits raise interest rates, reducing incentives for investment.
  • Therefore, budget deficits are bad for prosperity.

For what it’s worth, all four of those statements are correct.

But the theory is nonetheless wrong because it elevates one variable – fiscal balance – while ignoring other variables that have a much bigger impact on economic performance.

For instance, the Congressional Budget Office at one point embraced this approach – even though it led to absurd implications such as growth being maximized with tax rates of 100 percent.

For further background, here’s a table I prepared back in 2012.

The White House today is basically embracing the IMF’s “austerity” argument that deficits/surpluses are the variable that has the biggest impact on growth.

P.S. Folks on the left must get whiplash because some days they embrace the Keynesian argument that deficits are good for growth and other days they argue that a big expansion of government will have zero cost because there is no increase in the deficit.

P.P.S. The folks on the right who focus solely on tax cuts also are guilty of elevating one variable while ignoring others (humorously depicted in this cartoon strip).

Two (Humorous) Images to Understand Biden’s Fiscal Policy

Yesterday’s column was a completely serious look at five graphs and tables that show why Biden’s tax plan is misguided.

Today, we’re going to make the same point with satire. And we’ll only need two images.

First, here’s a look at what happens when politicians create never-ending handouts financed by ever-higher taxes on an ever-smaller group of rich taxpayers.

In the past, I’ve referred to this as “Greece-ification” and Biden’s fiscal plan definitely qualifies.

It’s also a different way of looking at the second cartoon from this depiction of how a welfare state evolves over time.

This Chuck Asay cartoon makes the same point.

Second, here’s a cartoon that nicely captures why I think Biden’s agenda will erode the nation’s societal capital.

The same theme as this excellent cartoon.

While amusing, there’s a very serious point to be made. Politicians already have created a system that rewards people for doing nothing while punishing them for creating wealth.

Those policies hinder American prosperity (as honest folks on the left acknowledge), but we can survive with slower growth. What really worries me is that we may eventually reach a tipping point of too many people riding in the wagon (and out-voting the people who pull the wagon).

Simply stated, we don’t want America to become another Greece.

I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control.

My Cato colleague, Mark Calabria, recently explained how the minimum wage destroys jobs, and I’ve written on several occasions why government-mandated wages can create unemployment by making it unprofitable to hire people with low work skills and/or poor work histories. And I’ve attacked Republicans for going along with these job-killing policies, and also pointed out the racist impact of such intervention.

But this cartoon may be a more effective argument for getting government out of the business of interfering with market forces. It’s simple, direct, and gets the point across. I’m not sure that always happens with my writing.

My former intern, Orphe Divougny, also did a very good job in explaining why politicians shouldn’t interfere with the right of workers and employers to enter into labor contracts.

Related posts:

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 2

Max Brantley is wrong about Tom Cotton’s accusation concerning the rise of welfare spending under President Obama. Actually welfare spending has been increasing for the last 12 years and Obama did nothing during his first four years to slow down the rate of increase of welfare spending. Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation has noted: […]

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 1

  I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. I think Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times Blog was right to point out on 2-6-13 that Hillary […]

Great cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on government moochers

I thought it was great when the Republican Congress and Bill Clinton put in welfare reform but now that has been done away with and no one has to work anymore it seems. In fact, over 40% of the USA is now on the government dole. What is going to happen when that figure gets over […]

Gun Control cartoon hits the internet

Again we have another shooting and the gun control bloggers are out again calling for more laws. I have written about this subject below  and on May 23, 2012, I even got a letter back from President Obama on the subject. Now some very interesting statistics below and a cartoon follows. (Since this just hit the […]

“You-Didn’t-Build-That” comment pictured in cartoons!!!

watch?v=llQUrko0Gqw] The federal government spends about 10% on roads and public goods but with the other money in the budget a lot of harm is done including excessive regulations on business. That makes Obama’s comment the other day look very silly. A Funny Look at Obama’s You-Didn’t-Build-That Comment July 28, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I made […]

Cartoons about Obama’s class warfare

I have written a lot about this in the past and sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh. Laughing at Obama’s Bumbling Class Warfare Agenda July 13, 2012 by Dan Mitchell We know that President Obama’s class-warfare agenda is bad economic policy. We know high tax rates undermine competitiveness. And we know tax increases […]

Cartoons on Obama’s budget math

Dan Mitchell Discussing Dishonest Budget Numbers with John Stossel Uploaded by danmitchellcato on Feb 11, 2012 No description available. ______________ Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has shown before how excessive spending at the federal level has increased in recent years. A Humorous Look at Obama’s Screwy Budget Math May 31, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I’ve […]

Funny cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on Greece

Sometimes it is so crazy that you just have to laugh a little. The European Mess, Captured by a Cartoon June 22, 2012 by Dan Mitchell The self-inflicted economic crisis in Europe has generated some good humor, as you can see from these cartoons by Michael Ramirez and Chuck Asay. But for pure laughter, I don’t […]

Obama on creating jobs!!!!(Funny Cartoon)

Another great cartoon on President Obama’s efforts to create jobs!!! A Simple Lesson about Job Creation for Barack Obama December 7, 2011 by Dan Mitchell Even though leftist economists such as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers have admitted that unemployment insurance benefits are a recipe for more joblessness, the White House is arguing that Congress should […]

Get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!!(great cartoon too)

Dan Mitchell hits the nail on the head and sometimes it gets so sad that you just have to laugh at it like Conan does. In order to correct this mess we got to get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!! Chuck Asay’s New Cartoon Nicely Captures Mentality […]

2 cartoons illustrate the fate of socialism from the Cato Institute

Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell is right about Greece and the fate of socialism: Two Pictures that Perfectly Capture the Rise and Fall of the Welfare State July 15, 2011 by Dan Mitchell In my speeches, especially when talking about the fiscal crisis in Europe (or the future fiscal crisis in America), I often warn that […]

Cartoon demonstrates that guns deter criminals

John Stossel report “Myth: Gun Control Reduces Crime Sheriff Tommy Robinson tried what he called “Robinson roulette” from 1980 to 1984 in Central Arkansas where he would put some of his men in some stores in the back room with guns and the number of robberies in stores sank. I got this from Dan Mitchell’s […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 2

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. Amusing Gun Control Picture – Circa 1999 April 3, 2010 by Dan Mitchell Dug this gem out […]

We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!!

  We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!! When Governments Cut Spending Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011 Do governments ever cut spending? According to Dr. Stephen Davies, there are historical examples of government spending cuts in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and America. In these cases, despite popular belief, the government spending […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 1

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. On 2-6-13 the Arkansas Times Blogger “Sound Policy” suggested,  “All churches that wish to allow concealed […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 3) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

Gun Free Zones???? Stalin and gun control On 1-31-13 ”Arkie” on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: “Remember that the biggest gun control advocate was Hitler and every other tyrant that every lived.” Except that under Hitler, Germany liberalized its gun control laws. __________ After reading the link  from Wikipedia that Arkie provided then I responded: […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 2) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

On 1-31-13 I posted on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: I like the poster of the lady holding the rifle and next to her are these words: I am compensating for being smaller and weaker than more violent criminals. __________ Then I gave a link to this poster below: On 1-31-13 also I posted […]

Dan Mitchell on Supply Chain Mess: “People and businesses in the private sector make mistakes…there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss!”

 

Government, Markets, and the Supply Chain

Way back in 2009, I shared a meme that succinctly summarizes how Washington operates.

It’s basically a version of Mitchell’s Law. To elaborate, governments cause problems and politicians then use those problems as an excuse to make government even bigger.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I worry the same thing may be about to happen because of the current concern about “supply chain” issues, perhaps best illustrated by the backlog of ships at key ports, leading to shortages of key goods.

Some of this mess is fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s being exacerbated by bad policy.

In a column for Reason, J.D. Tuccille points out that government is the problem, not the solution.

…supply-chain issues…create shortages and push prices up around the world. …Lockdowns also changed people’s lives, closing offices and factories and confining people at home. That resulted in massive and unpredictable shifts in demand and unreliable supply. …”Market economies tend to be pretty good at getting food on the supermarket shelves and fuel in petrol stations, if left to themselves,” agrees Pilkington. “That last part is key: if left to themselves. Heavy-handed interference in market economies tends to produce the same pathologies we see in socialist economies, including shortages and inflation. That has been the unintended consequence of lockdown.” …The danger is that people see economic problems caused by earlier fiddling and then demand even more government intervention. …if the government were to further meddle in the market to allocate products made scarce by earlier actions, it’s hard to see how the result wouldn’t be anything other than increased supply chain chaos.

Allysia Finley opines for the Wall Street Journal about California’s role in the supply-chain mess.

The backup of container ships at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports has grown in recent weeks… The two Southern California ports handle only about 40% of containers entering the U.S., mostly from Asia. Yet ports in other states seem to be handling the surge better. Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that Florida’s seaports had open capacity.So what’s the matter with California? State labor and environmental policies. …business groups recently asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency and suspend labor and environmental laws that are interfering with the movement of goods. …One barrier is a law known as AB5. …Trucking companies warned that the law could put small carriers out of business and cause drivers to leave the state. …there’s little doubt the law hinders efficiency and productivity. …State officials have also pressed localities to attach green mandates to permits for new warehouses, which can be poison pills. …This boatload of regulations is making it more expensive and difficult to store goods arriving at California ports.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised California is making things worse.

The state seems to have some of the nation’s worst politicians.

But let’s set that aside and close with some discussion about one of the differences between government and the private sector.

This may surprise some readers, but people and businesses in the private sector make mistakes all the time.

So part of the supply-chain mess presumably is a result of companies and entrepreneurs making bad guesses.

That being said, there’s a big feedback mechanism in the private sector. It’s called profit and loss.

So when mistakes are made, there’s a big incentive to quickly change.

With government, by contrast, there’s very little flexibility (as we saw during the pandemic). And when politicians and bureaucrats do act, they often respond to political incentives that lead them to make things worse.

 

 

Big-Government Republicans Enable Big-Government Democrats

I get asked why I frequently criticize Republicans.

My response is easy. I care about results rather than rhetoric. And while GOP politicians often pay lip service to the principles of limited government,they usually increase spending even faster than Democrats.

Indeed, Republicans are even worse than Democrats when measuring the growth of domestic spending!

This is bad news because it means the burden of government expands when Republicans are in charge.

And, as Gary Abernathy points out in a column for the Washington Post, Republicans then don’t have the moral authority to complain when Democrats engage in spending binges.

President Biden is proposing another $3 trillion in spending… There are objections, but none that can be taken seriously. …Republicans had lost their standing as the party of fiscal responsibility when most of them succumbed to the political virus of covid fever and rubber-stamped around $4 trillion in “covid relief,”… With Trump out and Biden in, Republicans suddenly pretended that their 2020 spending spree happened in some alternate universe.But the GOP’s united opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion package won’t wash off the stench of the hypocrisy. …I noted a year ago that we had crossed the Rubicon, that our longtime flirtation with socialism had become a permanent relationship. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. The GOP won’t become irrelevant because of its association with Trump, as some predict. It will diminish because it is bizarrely opposing now that which it helped make palatable just last year. Fiscal responsibility is dead, and Republicans helped bury it. Put the shovels away, there’s no digging it up now.

For what it’s worth, I hope genuine fiscal responsibility isn’t dead.

Maybe it’s been hibernating ever since Reagan left office (like Pepperidge Farm, I’m old enough to remember those wonderful years).

Subsequent Republican presidents liked to copy Reagan’s rhetoric, but they definitely didn’t copy his policies.

  • Spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
  • Spending restraint also was hibernating during the presidency of George W. Bush.
  • And spending restraint was hibernating during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I’m not the only one to notice GOP hypocrisy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2019 column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria.

In what Republicans used to call the core of their agenda — limited government — Trump has been profoundly unconservative. …Trump has now added more than $88 billion in taxes in the form of tariffs, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation. (Despite what the president says, tariffs are taxes on foreign goods paid by U.S. consumers.) This has had the effect of reducing gross domestic product and denting the wages of Americans.…For decades, conservatives including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached to the world the virtues of free trade. But perhaps even more, they believed in the idea that governments should not pick winners and losers in the economy… Yet the Trump administration…behaved like a Central Planning Agency, granting exemptions on tariffs to favored companies and industries, while refusing them to others. …In true Soviet style, lobbyists, lawyers and corporate executives now line up to petition government officials for these treasured waivers, which are granted in an opaque process… On the core issue that used to define the GOP — economics — the party’s agenda today is state planning and crony capitalism.

Zakaria is right about Republicans going along with most of Trump’s bad policies (as illustrated by this cartoon strip).*

The bottom line is that Republicans would be much more effective arguing against Biden’s spending orgy had they also argued for spending restraint when Trump was in the White House.

P.S. It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future. Will the GOP be a small-government Reagan party or a big-government Trump party?

Or maybe it will go back to being a Nixon-type party, which would mean bigger government but without mean tweets. And there are plenty of options.

If they make the wrong choice (anything other than Reaganism), Margaret Thatcher has already warned us about the consequences.

*To be fair, Republicans also went along with Trump’s good policies. It’s just unfortunate that spending restraint wasn’t one of them.

—-

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

 

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

 

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

Related posts:

Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs

  We got to act fast and get off this path of socialism. Morning Bell: Welfare Spending Shattering All-Time Highs Robert Rector and Amy Payne October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am It’s been a pretty big year for welfare—and a new report shows welfare is bigger than ever. The Obama Administration turned a giant spotlight […]

We need more brave souls that will vote against Washington welfare programs

We need to cut Food Stamp program and not extend it. However, it seems that people tell the taxpayers back home they are going to Washington and cut government spending but once they get up there they just fall in line with  everyone else that keeps spending our money. I am glad that at least […]

Welfare programs are not the answer for the poor

Government Must Cut Spending Uploaded by HeritageFoundation on Dec 2, 2010 The government can cut roughly $343 billion from the federal budget and they can do so immediately. __________ Liberals argue that the poor need more welfare programs, but I have always argued that these programs enslave the poor to the government. Food Stamps Growth […]

Private charities are best solution and not government welfare

Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax Published on May 11, 2012 by LibertyPen In this 1968 interview, Milton Friedman explained the negative income tax, a proposal that at minimum would save taxpayers the 72 percent of our current welfare budget spent on administration. http://www.LibertyPen.com Source: Firing Line with William F Buckley Jr. ________________ Milton […]

The book “After the Welfare State”

Dan Mitchell Commenting on Obama’s Failure to Propose a Fiscal Plan Published on Aug 16, 2012 by danmitchellcato No description available. ___________ After the Welfare State Posted by David Boaz Cato senior fellow Tom G. Palmer, who is lecturing about freedom in Slovenia and Tbilisi this week, asked me to post this announcement of his […]

President Obama responds to Heritage Foundation critics on welfare reform waivers

Is President Obama gutting the welfare reform that Bill Clinton signed into law? Morning Bell: Obama Denies Gutting Welfare Reform Amy Payne August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am The Obama Administration came out swinging against its critics on welfare reform yesterday, with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the charge that the Administration gutted the successful […]

Welfare reform part 3

Thomas Sowell – Welfare Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. The Continuing Good News About Welfare Reform By Robert Rector and Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. February 6, 2003 Six years ago, President Bill Clinton signed legislation overhauling part of the nation’s welfare system. […]

Welfare reform part 2

Uploaded by ForaTv on May 29, 2009 Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/05/18/James_Bartholomew_The_Welfare_State_Were_In Author James Bartholomew argues that welfare benefits actually increase government handouts by ‘ruining’ ambition. He compares welfare to a humane mousetrap. —– Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. In the controversial […]

Why did Obama stop the Welfare Reform that Clinton put in?

Thomas Sowell If the welfare reform law was successful then why change it? Wasn’t Bill Clinton the president that signed into law? Obama Guts Welfare Reform Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley July 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare […]

“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response July 10,2012 on welfare, etc (part 14)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on July 10, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have […]

Dan Mitchell: Demography + Entitlements = Fiscal Crisis

Demography + Entitlements = Fiscal Crisis

It’s impossible to predict when another pandemic will strike.

But there’s one future crisis that we already know about, and I recently spoke about that issue to the Liberty International World Conference in Medellin.

At first, I wasn’t planning to share this video, particularly since I covered much of the same material in a speech back in January.

But then I saw a story in Yahoo Finance that includes this very sobering chart about how the burden of government spendingwill climb in G-7 nations over the next four decades.

The main takeaway is that aging populations and poorly designed tax-and-transfer programs (entitlements) are a recipe for long-run fiscal crisis in almost all developed nations.

That includes the United States. The four-decade outlook for America isn’t as bad as it is in nations such as France and Japan, but government will grow more than the fiscal burdens in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

And here are some details from the story.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have bloated public debt…, but that’s nothing compared to the fiscal difficulties brewing in the coming decades, the OECD said. …states will face rising costs, particular from pensions and health care.To maintain public services and benefits while stabilizing debt in that environment, governments would have to raise revenues by nearly 8% of gross domestic product, the OECD said. In some countries, including France and Japan, the size of the challenge would amount to more than 10% of output, and the economists didn’t even account for new expenditures such as climate change adaptation.

If you want to dig into the details, you can click here to read the underlying report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation.

I think the following excerpts are particularly relevant. As you can see, the problem is demographics, which leads to more spending for entitlement programs such as health and pensions.

And, assuming politicians decide to address the issue with revenues, this implies massive tax increases.

Public health and long-term care expenditure is projected to increase by 2.2 percentage points of GDP in the median country between 2021 and 2060… These projections are based on a pre-pandemic spending baseline, so any permanent increase in health spending in response to experience with COVID-19…would come in addition.Public pension expenditure is projected to increase by 2.8 percentage points of GDP in the median country between 2021 and 2060… Other primary expenditures are projected to rise by 1½ percentage points of GDP… This projection excludes potential new sources of expenditure pressure, such as climate change adaptation. …OECD governments would need to raise taxes in this scenario to prevent gross government debt ratios from rising over time… The median country would need to increase structural primary revenue by nearly 8 percentage points of GDP between 2021 and 2060, but the effort would exceed 10 percentage points in 11 countries.

Most interesting, the two authors of the OECD study point out that are some major problems with the tax “solution.”

The results of this section do not imply that taxes will, or even should, rise in the future. The fiscal pressure indicator is simply a metric serving to quantify and illustrate the fiscal challenge facing OECD governments. Raising taxes is only one of many possible avenues to meet this challenge. …Pushing mainstream taxes on incomes or consumption further up, even by only a few percentage points of GDP, may be politically difficult and fiscally counter-productive if it means reaching the downward-sloping segment of the Laffer curve.

I’m especially impressed that they acknowledge the Laffer Curve(the nonlinear relationship between tax rates and tax revenuethat the Biden Administration wishes away).

P.S. The real solution is entitlement reform, and here’s the explanation for how to do it in the United States.

P.P.S. As I’ve regularly noted, the economists who work at the OECD often produce very solid analysis. The problem with that bureaucracy is that it has very statist leadership, which is why the OECD’s policy agenda includes anti-growth policies such as big tax increases and tax harmonization.

Two (Humorous) Images to Understand Biden’s Fiscal Policy

Yesterday’s column was a completely serious look at five graphs and tables that show why Biden’s tax plan is misguided.

Today, we’re going to make the same point with satire. And we’ll only need two images.

First, here’s a look at what happens when politicians create never-ending handouts financed by ever-higher taxes on an ever-smaller group of rich taxpayers.

In the past, I’ve referred to this as “Greece-ification” and Biden’s fiscal plan definitely qualifies.

It’s also a different way of looking at the second cartoon from this depiction of how a welfare state evolves over time.

This Chuck Asay cartoon makes the same point.

Second, here’s a cartoon that nicely captures why I think Biden’s agenda will erode the nation’s societal capital.

The same theme as this excellent cartoon.

While amusing, there’s a very serious point to be made. Politicians already have created a system that rewards people for doing nothing while punishing them for creating wealth.

Those policies hinder American prosperity (as honest folks on the left acknowledge), but we can survive with slower growth. What really worries me is that we may eventually reach a tipping point of too many people riding in the wagon (and out-voting the people who pull the wagon).

Simply stated, we don’t want America to become another Greece.

I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control.

My Cato colleague, Mark Calabria, recently explained how the minimum wage destroys jobs, and I’ve written on several occasions why government-mandated wages can create unemployment by making it unprofitable to hire people with low work skills and/or poor work histories. And I’ve attacked Republicans for going along with these job-killing policies, and also pointed out the racist impact of such intervention.

But this cartoon may be a more effective argument for getting government out of the business of interfering with market forces. It’s simple, direct, and gets the point across. I’m not sure that always happens with my writing.

My former intern, Orphe Divougny, also did a very good job in explaining why politicians shouldn’t interfere with the right of workers and employers to enter into labor contracts.

Related posts:

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 2

Max Brantley is wrong about Tom Cotton’s accusation concerning the rise of welfare spending under President Obama. Actually welfare spending has been increasing for the last 12 years and Obama did nothing during his first four years to slow down the rate of increase of welfare spending. Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation has noted: […]

Cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog that demonstrate what Obama is doing to our economy Part 1

  I have put up lots of cartoons from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. I think Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times Blog was right to point out on 2-6-13 that Hillary […]

Great cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on government moochers

I thought it was great when the Republican Congress and Bill Clinton put in welfare reform but now that has been done away with and no one has to work anymore it seems. In fact, over 40% of the USA is now on the government dole. What is going to happen when that figure gets over […]

Gun Control cartoon hits the internet

Again we have another shooting and the gun control bloggers are out again calling for more laws. I have written about this subject below  and on May 23, 2012, I even got a letter back from President Obama on the subject. Now some very interesting statistics below and a cartoon follows. (Since this just hit the […]

“You-Didn’t-Build-That” comment pictured in cartoons!!!

watch?v=llQUrko0Gqw] The federal government spends about 10% on roads and public goods but with the other money in the budget a lot of harm is done including excessive regulations on business. That makes Obama’s comment the other day look very silly. A Funny Look at Obama’s You-Didn’t-Build-That Comment July 28, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I made […]

Cartoons about Obama’s class warfare

I have written a lot about this in the past and sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh. Laughing at Obama’s Bumbling Class Warfare Agenda July 13, 2012 by Dan Mitchell We know that President Obama’s class-warfare agenda is bad economic policy. We know high tax rates undermine competitiveness. And we know tax increases […]

Cartoons on Obama’s budget math

Dan Mitchell Discussing Dishonest Budget Numbers with John Stossel Uploaded by danmitchellcato on Feb 11, 2012 No description available. ______________ Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has shown before how excessive spending at the federal level has increased in recent years. A Humorous Look at Obama’s Screwy Budget Math May 31, 2012 by Dan Mitchell I’ve […]

Funny cartoon from Dan Mitchell’s blog on Greece

Sometimes it is so crazy that you just have to laugh a little. The European Mess, Captured by a Cartoon June 22, 2012 by Dan Mitchell The self-inflicted economic crisis in Europe has generated some good humor, as you can see from these cartoons by Michael Ramirez and Chuck Asay. But for pure laughter, I don’t […]

Obama on creating jobs!!!!(Funny Cartoon)

Another great cartoon on President Obama’s efforts to create jobs!!! A Simple Lesson about Job Creation for Barack Obama December 7, 2011 by Dan Mitchell Even though leftist economists such as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers have admitted that unemployment insurance benefits are a recipe for more joblessness, the White House is arguing that Congress should […]

Get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!!(great cartoon too)

Dan Mitchell hits the nail on the head and sometimes it gets so sad that you just have to laugh at it like Conan does. In order to correct this mess we got to get people off of government support and get them in the private market place!!!! Chuck Asay’s New Cartoon Nicely Captures Mentality […]

2 cartoons illustrate the fate of socialism from the Cato Institute

Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell is right about Greece and the fate of socialism: Two Pictures that Perfectly Capture the Rise and Fall of the Welfare State July 15, 2011 by Dan Mitchell In my speeches, especially when talking about the fiscal crisis in Europe (or the future fiscal crisis in America), I often warn that […]

Cartoon demonstrates that guns deter criminals

John Stossel report “Myth: Gun Control Reduces Crime Sheriff Tommy Robinson tried what he called “Robinson roulette” from 1980 to 1984 in Central Arkansas where he would put some of his men in some stores in the back room with guns and the number of robberies in stores sank. I got this from Dan Mitchell’s […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 2

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. Amusing Gun Control Picture – Circa 1999 April 3, 2010 by Dan Mitchell Dug this gem out […]

We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!!

  We got to cut spending and stop raising the debt ceiling!!! When Governments Cut Spending Uploaded on Sep 28, 2011 Do governments ever cut spending? According to Dr. Stephen Davies, there are historical examples of government spending cuts in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and America. In these cases, despite popular belief, the government spending […]

Gun control posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog Part 1

I have put up lots of cartons and posters from Dan Mitchell’s blog before and they have got lots of hits before. Many of them have dealt with the economy, eternal unemployment benefits, socialism,  Greece,  welfare state or on gun control. On 2-6-13 the Arkansas Times Blogger “Sound Policy” suggested,  “All churches that wish to allow concealed […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 3) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

Gun Free Zones???? Stalin and gun control On 1-31-13 ”Arkie” on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: “Remember that the biggest gun control advocate was Hitler and every other tyrant that every lived.” Except that under Hitler, Germany liberalized its gun control laws. __________ After reading the link  from Wikipedia that Arkie provided then I responded: […]

Taking on Ark Times bloggers on the issue of “gun control” (Part 2) “Did Hitler advocate gun control?”

On 1-31-13 I posted on the Arkansas Times Blog the following: I like the poster of the lady holding the rifle and next to her are these words: I am compensating for being smaller and weaker than more violent criminals. __________ Then I gave a link to this poster below: On 1-31-13 also I posted […]

America in Debt Damage Zone 

OCTOBER 19, 2021 10:16AM

America in Debt Damage Zone


Federal government debt is rising rapidly. The government spent almost $1 trillion more than it raised in revenues in 2019, and the overspending gap widened to $3 trillion in 2020 and 2021. The excess spending was borrowed from domestic and foreign creditors, and it all represents costs pushed forward onto tomorrow’s taxpayers.

The United States is becoming one of the most indebted high‐​income nations in the world. Including state and local debt, our government debt totals 141 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which compares to an average of 100 percent of GDP for 32 high‐​income countries.

One likely effect of our high debt is slower economic growth. Economists have not nailed down precisely the mechanisms through which that happens, but many statistical studies find that higher debt correlates with slower economic growth.

Veronique de Rugy and Jack Salmon at the Mercatus Center summarized 24 cross‐​country studies that looked at government debt and growth, as summarized in the table below. Seventeen of the studies found a threshold above which rising debt is associated with reduced growth.

Government debt above 90 percent of GDP is correlated with slower economic growth, based on the average of 17 studies. That means America’s debt—at 141 percent and rising—is well into the debt damage zone and is likely undermining our prosperity already.

Salmon updated his debt and growth research in the Cato Journal. He found 36 studies that identified a statistically significant negative effect of government debt on growth.

s

Data note: for the 17‐​country average, I used the higher figure when a study found a range for the growth‐​slowdown threshold.


In their haste to pass massive spending bills and clobber the rich, the Democrats are floating some radical tax schemes. The latest far‐​out idea is to tax capital gains even before gains are realized. No other country in the OECD taxes capital gains in such an aggressive manner.

The Democrats are obsessed with raising taxes on capital. They’ve proposed raising the top capital gains tax rate, even though our federal‐​state rate of 29 percent is already higher than the 19.5 percentaverage in Europe. They’ve proposed raising the corporate tax rate, even though our federal‐​state rate of 27 percent is already higher than the 19 percent average in Europe. And some Democrats want to impose an annual wealth tax, even though nearly all European countries have eliminated those harmful levies.

Many high‐​income countries in Europe and elsewhere have heavier overall tax burdens than we do, but they make up the difference with high taxes on consumption, not capital. These countries recognize that taxes on consumption, such as value‐​added taxes (VATs), are less damaging than taxes on capital.

The Democrats are steering America to a worse place than Europe—a place where the private sector is undermined by expansive welfare programs, and where the programs are funded by taxes on capital rather than VATs. I am against a VAT for the United States because I favor smaller government, but I worry that the Democrats want to impose bigger government funded in an even more damaging manner than big European governments.

Let’s compare taxation in the United States and other high‐​income nations. In 2019, overall tax revenues were 24.5 percent of GDP in the United States and 33.8 percent in 35 OECD countries, on average. The charts below show the shares of overall tax revenues raised by taxes on goods and services or consumption (e.g. VATs and sales taxes) and taxes on income and profits (e.g. individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, and capital gains taxes). The charts are from here.

The United States raises a larger share of revenues from (more damaging) income and profits taxes and a smaller share from (less damaging) consumption taxes. Democratic proposals would worsen our reliance on the more damaging taxes. Instead, we should devolve government programs to the states and rely on state sales taxes to fund the needed activities.

s

Notes: The OECD tax shares appear to be based on 35 countries in 2019, but would include fewer countries in prior years. I calculate that U.S. taxes in 2019 were somewhat higher than the 24.5 percent reported by the OECD. I discuss unrealized capital gains here and here, and I examine taxes on capital income here and consumption taxes here.

Biden’s Befuddlement on Corporate Taxation

Let’s look today at the wonky issue of “book income” because it’s an opportunity to point out that there are three types of leftists.

  1. Honest leftists who understand economics and recognize tradeoffs (I think of them as “Okunites“).
  2. Dishonest leftists who understand economics but pretend that tradeoffs don’t exist (the “demagogues“).
  3. Leftists who have no idea what they’re saying or thinking (I think of them as, well, Joe Biden).

I’m being snarky about the President because of this recent tweet, which contains a couple of big, glaring mistakes.

What are the mistakes (I’m not calling them lies because I don’t think Biden has the slightest idea that he is wrong, much less why he’s wrong).

  • The first mistake is that corporations pay a lot of tax (payroll tax, property tax, etc) even if they are losing money and don’t owe any corporate income tax.
  • The second mistakes is that Biden is relying on a report about corporate income taxes that has been debunkedbecause it relied on book income rather than taxable income.
  • The third mistake is that the President implies that his plan force all big companies to pay the corporate tax when that’s obviously not true.

Regarding that third mistake, Kyle Pomerleau of the American Enterprise Institute explains why there will still be companies paying zero corporate income tax.

While the Biden administration’s proposals would increase the tax burden on corporations by about $2 trillion over the next decade, they would not change the basic structure of the corporate income tax. The Democrats’ proposal would not end corporations paying zero federal income tax in certain years.Corporations will still be able to carryforward losses, and credits will still be available for corporations to offset their tax liability. The administration has proposed a minimum tax to address these headlines by tying federal tax liability to book income. The minimum tax would require corporations with net income over $2 billion to pay the greater of their ordinary corporate tax liability or 15 percent of their book or financial statement income. Corporations would still be able to offset the book minimum tax with losses and general business credits.

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post tried to defend Biden’s tweet as part of his misnamed “Fact Checker.”

He had to acknowledge Biden was using a made-up number, but nonetheless concluded that the President’s assertion was “probably in the ballpark.”

This is one of Biden’s favorite statistics. …the president has used it in speeches or interviews 10 times since April. Normally he is careful to refer to “federal income taxes” so the tweet is little off by referring just to “taxes.” …Let’s dig into this statistic. It’s not necessarily wrong but there are some limitations. …The number comes from…the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). …Company tax returns generally are not made public, so ITEP’s numbers are the product of its own research and analysis of public filings. But it is an imperfect measure. …the information in the filings may not reflect what is in the tax returns. …Nevertheless, the notion that 10 to 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies do not pay federal income taxes is consistent with a 2020 report by the nonpartisan Joint Committee of Taxation. …This “55 corporations” number is probably in the ballpark.

For what it’s worth, I don’t care that Kessler gave Biden a pass for writing “taxes” instead of “federal income taxes.”

After all, that’s almost surely what he meant to write (just like Trump almost surely meant “highest corporate tax rate” when complaining about America being the “highest taxed nation”).

But I’m not in a forgiving mood about the rest of Biden’s tweet (or Kessler’s biased analysis) for the simple reason that there is zero recognition that companies occasionally don’t pay tax for the simple reason that they sometimes lose money.

I’ve made this point when writing about boring issues such as depreciation, carry forwards, and net operating losses.

At the risk of stating the obvious, companies shouldn’t pay any corporate income tax in years when they don’t have any corporate income.

P.S. I’m not mocking Biden’s tweet for partisan reasons. I was similarly critical of one of Trump’s tweets that was glaringly wrong on the issue of trade.

Corporate Taxes and the Laffer Curve

In a new documentary film, Race to the Bottom, I had an opportunity to pontificate briefly about corporate tax and the Laffer Curve.

Dan Mitchell on Corporate Tax Rates and the Laffer Curve

At the risk of understatement, I represented a minority viewpoint in the documentary. Most of the people interviewed had a negative view of tax competition, considering it to be (as suggested by the title) a “race to the bottom.”

By contrast, I view tax competition as a way of constraining the “stationary bandit” so that we don’t wind up with “goldfish government.”

For purposes of today’s column, though, I want to focus on the narrower issue of the relationship between corporate tax rates and corporate tax revenue.

In the above video, I asserted that lower rates did not result in lower revenue. Indeed, I even made the bold statement that revenues increased.

Is that correct?

Fortunately, I don’t need to do any elaborate calculations to prove my point. I’ll simply direct readers to the work of two left-leaning international bureaucracies.

Back in 2017, I cited an article form the International Monetary Fund that included a graph clearly illustrating that the drop in tax rates has not been accompanied by a drop in tax revenue.

This was a remarkable admission considering that the article argued in favor of higher tax burdens.

Likewise, last year I cited a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that also acknowledged that falling tax rates on companies did not translate into lower revenues.

Given that the OECD has a big project to increase business tax burdens, that also was a startling admission.

None of this means, by the way, that lower rates always lead to more revenue.

Indeed, most tax cuts cause revenue to decline (though not as much as predicted by static estimates).

The bottom line is that lower tax rates are good for economic performance and my friends on the left shouldn’t get too worried about disappearing tax revenue.

P.S. There’s also some 2017 OECD data and 2018 OECD dataabout business tax rates and business tax revenues.

P.P.S. Earlier this year, I cited OECD data that also included personal income tax rates and tax revenue.

—-

Emailed to White House on 1-3-13.)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

Class Warfare just don’t pay it seems. Why can’t we learn from other countries’ mistakes?

Back in mid-2010, I wrote that Portugal was going to exacerbate its fiscal problems by raising taxes.

Needless to say, I was right. Not that this required any special insight. After all, no nation has ever taxed its way to prosperity.

We’re now at the end of 2012 and Portugal is still saddled with a weak economy. And the higher taxes haven’t resulted in less red ink. Indeed, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, government debt has jumped from 93 percent of GDP in 2010 to 124 percent of GDP this year.

Why did higher taxes backfire in Portugal? For the same reasons that higher taxes have failed in Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and so many other nations.

  • Higher taxes undermine incentives for productive behavior, thus reducing an economy’s potential for growth. This means less economic output, which also means a smaller tax base. This Laffer Curve effect doesn’t necessarily mean less revenue, but it certainly means that tax increases rarely raise as much money as initially projected.
  • Higher taxes usually are a substitute for the real solution of spending restraint (i.e., Mitchell’s Golden Rule). Politicians oftentimes refuse to reduce the burden of government spending because of an expectation of additional tax revenue. Heck, in many cases, higher taxes trigger an increase in the size and scope of the public sector.

So did Portugal learn any lessons from this failed experiment in Obamanomics?

Hardly. Indeed, the government plans to double down on this approach – even though it’s increasingly apparent that higher tax burdens won’t translate into much – if any – additional tax revenue. Here are some excerpts from a report in the Financial Times.

Lisbon plans to lift income tax revenue by more than 30 per cent, raising the effective average rate by more than a third from 9.8 to 13.2 per cent. Anyone receiving more than the minimum wage of €485 a month, including pensioners, will also pay an extraordinary tax of 3.5 per cent on their income. …the steep tax increases facing many families have made the outlook for 2013 – the third consecutive year of austerity, recession and rising unemployment – the grimmest yet. Total tax revenue has fallen considerably below target this year, forcing the government to implement additional austerity measures… The coalition will be relying on increased state revenue to account for about 80 per cent of the fiscal adjustment required in 2013 – a reversal of the original bailout plan, in which consolidation was to be achieved mainly through spending cuts.

Amazing. The government imposes huge tax hikes, which don’t generate any positive results. Yet even though “tax revenue has fallen considerably below target,” confirming that there are significant Laffer Curve issues, the government chooses to repeat the snake-oil fiscal therapy of higher taxes.

Anybody want to guess what’s going to happen? The answer, of course, is that this will further dampen incentives to generate income and comply with the government’s fiscal demands.

The latest increases have stretched the tax system to the limit, says Carlos Loureiro, a tax partner at Deloitte. “The current model is exhausted. We need to do something different,” he says. “Any further increase in tax rates is unlikely to result in increased revenue.” Income from value added tax, the government’s biggest source of tax revenue representing about 36 per cent of the total, has been falling since 2008, despite a sharp increase in the rate – the main rate is now 23 per cent. Both the government and the European Commission have acknowledged the risks of depending on increased tax revenue, which is more growth sensitive, to meet fiscal targets and contingency spending cuts amounting to 0.5 per cent of national output have prepared in case of another tax shortfall.

I almost want to laugh at the part of the excerpt which notes that tax revenue “has been falling…despite a sharp increase in the rate.”

Maybe it’s time for these fiscal pyromaniacs to realize that revenues might be falling because rates are higher. In other words, Portugal not only isn’t at the ideal point on the Laffer Curve (collecting the amount of revenue needed to finance legitimate activities of government), it may even be past the revenue-maximizing part of the curve.

To be fair, there are lots of factors that determine economic performance, so higher tax burdens are just one possible explanation for why the tax base is shrinking or stagnant.

The one thing we can state with certainty, though, is that Portugal’s fiscal problem is too much government spending. The failure to address this problem then leads to very unpleasant symptoms, such as lots of red ink and self-destructive class-warfare tax policy.

If all that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also a description of what President Obama is proposing for the United States.

Ummm…shouldn’t they be targeting politicians?

P.S. I don’t want to imply that Portugal is a total basket case. True, I’m not optimistic about the country’s future, but at least some lawmakers now acknowledge that Keynesian spending was a big mistake. And there are even signs that Portuguese officials are beginning to realize that lower tax rates should be part of the solution. But good policy may be impossible since so many people now have a moocher mentality.

P.P.S. At the risk of bearing bad news to close the year, research from both the Bank for International Settlements and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the United States actually faces a bigger long-run fiscal challenge than Portugal.

The Laffer Curve – Explained

Uploaded by on Nov 14, 2011

This video explains the relationship between tax rates, taxable income, and tax revenue. The key lesson is that the Laffer Curve is not an all-or-nothing proposition, where we have to choose between the exaggerated claim that “all tax cuts pay for themselves” and the equally silly assumption that tax policy doesn’t effect the economy and there is never any revenue feedback. From http://www.freedomandprosperity.org 202-285-0244

__________________________________

__________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Related posts:

Open letter to President Obama (Part 201)Tea Party favorite Representative links article “Prescott and Ohanian: Taxes Are Much Higher Than You Think”

    (Emailed to White House on 12-21-12.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 200.2)Tea Party Republican Representative takes on the President concerning fiscal cliff

(Emailed to White House on 12-21-12.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 200.1)Tea Party favorite Representative shares link on facebook

(Emailed to White House on 12-21-12) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 199) Tea Party favorite takes on President

  The federal government has a spending problem and Milton Friedman came up with the negative income tax to help poor people get out of the welfare trap. It seems that the government screws up about everything. Then why is President Obama wanting more taxes? _______________ Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax Published on […]

Tea Party Heroes Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ),Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) have been punished by Boehner

I was sad to read that the Speaker John Boehner has been involved in punishing tea  party republicans. Actually I have written letters to several of these same tea party heroes telling them that I have emailed Boehner encouraging him to listen to them. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ),Justin Amash (R-MI), and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS). have been contacted […]

Some Tea Party heroes (Part 10)

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute in his article, “Hitting the Ceiling,” National Review Online, March 7, 2012 noted: After all, despite all the sturm und drang about spending cuts as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, federal spending not only increased from 2011 to 2012, it rose faster than inflation and population growth combined. […]

Some Tea Party heroes (Part 9)

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute in his article, “Hitting the Ceiling,” National Review Online, March 7, 2012 noted: After all, despite all the sturm und drang about spending cuts as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, federal spending not only increased from 2011 to 2012, it rose faster than inflation and population growth combined. […]

49 posts on Tea Party heroes of mine

Some of the heroes are Mo Brooks, Martha Roby, Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, Duncan Hunter, Tom Mcclintock, Devin Nunes, Scott Tipton, Bill Posey, Steve Southerland and those others below in the following posts. THEY VOTED AGAINST THE DEBT CEILING INCREASE IN 2011 AND WE NEED THAT TYPE OF LEADERSHIP NOW SINCE PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS BEEN […]

Some Tea Party Republicans win and some lose

I hated to see that Allen West may be on the way out. ABC News reported: Nov 7, 2012 7:20am What Happened to the Tea Party (and the Blue Dogs?) Some of the Republican Party‘s most controversial House members are clinging to narrow leads in races where only a few votes are left to count. […]

Some Tea Party heroes (Part 8)

Rep Himes and Rep Schweikert Discuss the Debt and Budget Deal Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute in his article, “Hitting the Ceiling,” National Review Online, March 7, 2012 noted: After all, despite all the sturm und drang about spending cuts as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, federal spending not only increased from 2011 […]