Category Archives: Milton Friedman

Dan Mitchell article Most Disturbing Takeaway from Biden’s Budget Plan

The Most Disturbing Takeaway from Biden’s Budget Plan

There are many things to dislike about President Biden’s budget plan to expand the burden of government.

There will be ample opportunity to write about these issues in the coming weeks. For today, however, let’s identify and highlight the biggest problem.

Simply stated, Biden wants to permanently and significantly increase the burden of government spending. Here’s a chart, based on data from Table S.1 of the President’s budget, augmented by data from Table 1.3 of the Budget’s Historical Tables.

The budget had reached $4 trillion before the pandemic. It then skyrocketed for coronavirus-related spending.

But now that the emergency is receding, Biden is not going to let the burden of government fall back to prior levels. Instead, he’s proposing a $6 trillion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

And that’s just the starting point. He wants spending to then climb rapidly – at almost twice the rate of inflation – up to $8 trillion by 2031.

By the way, this horrifying data doesn’t tell the entire story.

Biden’s budget doesn’t include some of his new spending giveaways. Brian Riedl addressed this fiscal gimmickry in a column for today’s New York Post.

…this budget does not even include additional spending and debt proposals that are coming later. …They account only for the recently-enacted “stimulus,” a massive discretionary spending hike, and the trillions in (creatively-defined)“infrastructure” spending proposed by the President over the past two months. However, during last fall’s campaign, Biden also proposed trillions in new spending for health care, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, climate change, college aid, and other priorities. The White House has signaled that these new spending initiatives are still in the pipeline. Including these forthcoming proposals, the President would push spending and deficits far above any levels that have ever been sustained.

And don’t forget all this spending, both proposed and in the pipeline, is in addition to all the entitlement spending that is going to burden the economy over the next several decades.

Here’s one final point to underscore and emphasize the radical nature of Biden’s budget.

I’ve taken the previous chart and added a trendline showing what spending would be if Biden has simply followed the trajectory based on the actual spending levels of every President from Carter to Trump.

In other words, we’re looking at trillions of dollars of additional money being diverted from the productive sector of the economy and being put under the control of politicians and bureaucrats.

That does not bode well for American prosperity. Even the Congressional Budget Office recognizes this means lower living standards for our nation.

The bottom line is that if you adopt European-style fiscal policy, you get anemic European-style levels of income.

Are Tax Increases Popular?

Tax increases are bad fiscal policy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are politically unpopular.

Indeed, many voices in the establishment press are citing favorable polling data in hopes of creating an aura on inevitably for President Biden’s proposed tax hikes.

That’s a very worrisome prospect. If Biden succeeds, the United States could wind up toppling Canada for the dubious honor of having the world’s highest tax burden on saving and investment.

That would be bad news for American workers.

But are Biden’s media cheerleaders correct? Are tax increases popular?

According to a new scholarly working paper from the Federal Reserve (authored by Andrew C. Chang, Linda R. Cohen, Amihai Glazer, and Urbashee Paul), the answer is no.

At least if we judge politicians by what they do in election years. Here’s part of the study’s abstract.

We use new annual data on gasoline taxes and corporate income taxes from U.S.states to analyze whether politicians avoid tax increases in election years. These data contain 3 useful attributes: (1) when state politicians enact tax laws, (2) when state politicians implement tax laws on consumers and firms, and (3) the size of tax changes.Using a pre-analysis research plan that includes regressions of tax rate changes and tax enactment years on time-to-gubernatorial election year indicators, we find that elections decrease the probability of politicians enacting increases in taxes and reduce the size of implemented tax changes relative to non-election years. We find some evidence that politicians are most likely to enact tax increases right after an election. These election effects are stronger for gasoline taxes than for corporate income taxes and depend on no other political, demographic, or macroeconomic conditions.

For wonkier readers, Figure 7 has some of the major results of their statistical analysis. I’ve highlighted (in red) the most important conclusion of the research.

For regular readers, the main takeaway is that politicians almost always want more tax revenue. That’s what gives them the ability to distribute goodies and buy votes.

But notwithstanding their never-ending hunger to grab more money, they are very likely to reject tax increases in election years. They even reject higher corporate taxes, which are supposed to be popular (at least according to some in the establishment media).

Yet if tax increases were politically popular, we should see the opposite result.

I’ll close with the somewhat depressing observation that these results do not imply that voters want libertarian policy. It’s probably more accurate to say that people want goodies from the government, but they don’t want to pay for them. Politicians simply respond to those preferences (which brings to mind Garett Jones’ hypothesis that we have too much democracy).

Which is how Greece became a basket case. Which is why Italy is in the process of becoming a basket case. And it’s why the United States may not be that far behind (with states such as Illinois serving as early-warning signs).

P.S. The above-cited research should be a reminder of why a no-tax-hike pledge is important. Voters seem to be on the right side on the big-picture question of “Should taxes be higher?”, but if they think tax increases are going to happen, it’s quite likely that they will support the most economically damaging types of class-warfare levies.

Bob Chitester, RIP


Bob Chitester was managing a small public television station in Erie, PA, when he got the big idea to persuade Nobel laureate Milton Friedman to write and narrate a 10‐​part series on free markets for PBS. As unlikely as that prospect was, Bob made it happen. “Free to Choose” was broadcast on PBS beginning in January of 1980, and it made quite a splash just as Reagan and Thatcher were also starting to change the way people thought about markets and government. Milton and Rose Friedman wrote a book to accompany the series. But television helped take Friedman’s ideas from the pages of books to millions more people, and in the process Chitester made Friedman a bigger celebrity and a bigger influence than a mere Nobel Prize could accomplish.

Bob went on to create Free to Choose Media and produce hundreds of video products for public television, other networks, the internet, and home viewing. They included The Real Adam Smith, a two‐​hour series that gives particular attention to Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; the Stossel in the Classroom series, which put John Stossel’s television reports into high school classrooms; and A More or Less Perfect Union, a three‐​part series with Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.

He made Cato senior fellow Johan Norberg a familiar face on public television with documentaries such as “Free & Equal,” an update of “Free to Choose”; “Sweden: Lessons for America?”; “India Awakes”; and “Work and Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare.”

We at Cato were especially grateful that when our colleague Andrew Coulson died much too young before finishing his television project “School Inc.,” Bob and his Free to Choose team picked it up, finished the production, and got it on hundreds of public television stations in 2017.

For more than 40 years Bob Chitester focused like a laser to get free‐​market ideas on television in high‐​quality presentations. All of us who believe in the power of markets to liberate people are incredibly grateful and, frankly, astounded at his success in this.

Bob lost his seven‐​year battle with cancer this weekend. But his video projects can all be found on the web, and his Free to Choose team will continue his work with new documentaries and online programs.

Bob Chitester Discusses Milton Friedman and ‘Free to Choose’

Published on Jul 30, 2012 by

“There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people.”

That is how former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman. But it is not for his technical work in monetary economics that Friedman is best known. Like mathematician Jacob Bronowski and astronomer Carl Sagan, Friedman had a gift for communicating complex ideas to a general audience.

It was this gift that brought him to the attention of filmmaker Bob Chitester. At Chitester’s urging, Friedman agreed to make a 10 part documentary series explaining the power of economic freedom. It was called “Free to Choose,” and became one of the most watched documentaries in history.

The series not only reached audiences in liberal democracies, but was smuggled behind the iron curtain where it played, in secret, to large audiences. Reflecting on its impact, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has said: “For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.”

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, we’d like to share an interview with “Free to Choose” producer Bob Chitester. Like this interview, the entire series can now be viewed on-line at no cost at http://www.freetochoose.tv/, thanks to the incredible technological progress brought about by the economic freedom that Milton Friedman celebrated.

Produced by Andrew Coulson, Caleb O. Brown, Austin Bragg, and Lou Richards, with help from the Free to Choose Network

_______________

Celebrating Milton Friedman

by Andrew J. Coulson

Andrew Coulson directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and is the author of Market Education: The Unknown History.

Added to cato.org on July 31, 2012

This article appeared in Cato.org on July 31, 20

For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.

Those are the words of Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Both Friedman’s writings and his landmark 1980 documentary series “Free to Choose”were smuggled into totalitarian communist states, inspiring a generation of future scholars, activists, and politicians.

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, the Cato Institute has put together a video interview with Bob Chitester, producer of “Free to Choose,” recounting how it came to be, its impact, and what it was like working with Milton Friedman.

Aside from those who lived under communism, there is another group for whom Friedman was and is a colossal figure: advocates of educational freedom. At a time when state-run schooling had been the norm for nearly a century, and had long ceased to be questioned by America’s elites, Friedman offered a modest observation: there was no good reason for the government of a free society to actually run schools and many good reasons for it not to do so.

He made this case in his essay “On the Role of Government in Education,” first published in 1955. The idea had been floated by others, including Adam Smith and Thomas Paine, but Friedman eloquently and powerfully introduced it to the American policy debate. In so doing, he, more than any other individual, can be credited with giving rise to the modern school choice movement.

Not only did Friedman spark the creation of this movement, he helped to fan the flame of educational freedom, writing popular commentaries and book chapters, speaking with and encouraging activists, founding a leading school choice institution, and dedicating the entire sixth episode of “Free to Choose” to this subject.

I had the good fortune to speak and correspond with Milton occasionally, starting in the late 1990s, and what struck me most about him was his personal integrity. He once told me that he never said anything negative about a person in private that he would not be willing to say openly in that person’s presence. So far as I know, he never violated that principle. And while he staunchly defended his conclusions as long as he remained convinced of their correctness, he would amend them if the weight of evidence shifted.

Indeed the rigorous empiricism that Friedman applied in his scholarly work is generally regarded as one of his most influential contributions to the field of economics—for a long time controversial but eventually the norm, at least in principle. His view, published in the 1953 collection Essays in Positive Economics, was that

the ultimate test of the validity of a theory is… the ability to deduce facts that have not yet been observed, that are capable of being contradicted by observation, and that subsequent observation does not contradict. [p. 300]

Equally wise, though not yet as widely accepted, is the long time horizon against which Friedman measured policy outcomes. Economist and philosopher of science James R. Wible notes that Friedman’s greatest contribution “may be his constant reminder not to forget the long run consequences of short run policies.”

In the 1982 edition of his book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman observed that scholars cannot single-handedly bring about change. Their real role, he wrote, is to “keep the lights on”—to remind us which policies work and which do not, and to show us how to advance our understanding even further. His own unfailing empiricism and concern for the long term remain valuable beacons today, both for advocates of educational freedom and the broader policy community.

_____________

Related posts:

Quotes from Milton Friedman on his 100th birthday

Milton Friedman’s 100th: Exploring His Wisdom for the Ages (Part I: Worldview) by Robert Bradley Jr. July 31, 2012 [Ed. note: Milton Friedman’s views will be further explored in Part II on energy and Part III on political capitalism.] “Our central theme in public advocacy has been the promotion of human freedom … [It] underlies […]

Thomas Sowell remembers his former teacher Milton Friedman 100 years later

I was impacted in 1980 by the film series “Free to Choose” and I was very impressed by the performance by Thomas Sowell. Today he remembers his former teacher Milton Friedman.   Friedman could be a help today     By  Thomas Sowell Creators Syndicate Tuesday July 31, 2012 7:00 AM If Milton Friedman were alive […]

Milton Friedman destroys liberal student challenges

In the video above Milton Friedman takes on some liberal students with their challenges to capitalism.   Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld speaking at Tribute to Milton Friedman (transcript) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, White House, Washington, D.C., Thursday, May 09, 2002 Mr. President (George W. Bush), Rose and Milton […]

Every Friday you need to click on www.theDailyHatch.org for “Friedman Friday”

Every Friday you need to click on http://www.theDailyHatch.org if you would like to see a video clip of Milton Friedman as he shares his common sense conservative economic views. Many of his articles are posted too. I remember growing up and reading those great articles every week in Newsweek. They are just as relevant today as […]

Milton Friedman videos and transcripts Part 12

Milton Friedman videos and transcripts Part 12 On my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org I have an extensive list of posts that have both videos and transcripts of MiltonFriedman’s interviews and speeches. Here below is just small list of those and more can be accessed by clicking on “Milton Friedman” on the side of this page or searching […]

Chattanooga Times Free Press comments on 100th year since Milton Friedman’s birth

published Tuesday, July 31st, 2012  Chattanooga Times Free Press Milton Friedman at 100   Milton Friedman Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.   enlarge photo   One hundred years ago today, the most powerful defender of economic liberty in American history was born in Brooklyn to poor Jewish immigrants. Though he stood barely […]

Milton Friedman’s passion was to make a difference in the lives of young people

No one did more to advance the cause of school vouchers than Milton and Rose Friedman. Friedman made it clear in his film series “Free to Choose” how sad he was that young people who live in the inner cities did not have good education opportunities available to them. Remembering Milton Friedman’s School Choice Legacy […]

Milton Friedman remembered at 100 years from his birth (Part 5)

Testing Milton Friedman – Preview Uploaded by FreeToChooseNetwork on Feb 21, 2012 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth. His work and ideas continue to make the world a better place. As part of Milton Friedman’s Century, a revival of the ideas featured in the landmark television series Free To Choose are being […]

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 […]

MILTON FRIEDMAN: “I would rather have government spend one trillion dollars with a deficit of a half a trillion dollars than have government spend two trillion dollars with no deficit.” (article by Dan Mitchell)

The CRFB Fiscal Quiz

I’ve shared all sorts of online quizzes that supposedly can detect things such as whether you’re a pure libertarian.

Or even whether you’re a communist.

Today, courtesy of the folks at the Committee for a Responsible Budget, you can agree or disagree with 24 statements to determine your “budget personality.”

I have some quibbles about some of the wording (for instance, I couldn’t answer “neither” when asked to react to: “The government should spend more money on children than on seniors”).

But I can’t quibble with the results. Given the potential outcomes, I’m glad to be a “Minimalist” who is “in favor of smaller government.”

Though I’m disappointed that I apparently didn’t get a perfect score on “Size of Government.”

And I need to explain why I got a mediocre score on the topic of “Fiscal Responsibility.”

The budget geeks at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) have a well-deserved reputation for rigorous analysis. I regularly cite their numbers and appreciate the work that they do.

That being said, they mistakenly focus on deficits and debt when the real problem is too much government.

I agree with Milton Friedman, who wisely observed that ““I would rather have government spend one trillion dollars with a deficit of a half a trillion dollars than have government spend two trillion dollars with no deficit.”

The folks at CRFB would disagree.

Indeed, they are so fixated on red ink that they would welcome tax increases.

At the risk of understatement, that would be a very bad approach.

The evidence from Europe shows that higher taxes simply lead to higher spending. And more debt.

Indeed, Milton Friedman also commented on this issue, warning that, “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.”

The bottom line is that CRFB not only has the wrong definition of “Fiscal Responsibility,” but they also support policies that would make matters worse – even from their perspective!

EP 4 – From Cradle to Grave [6/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980)

March 1, 2021

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

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for taking time to have your office try and get a pulse on what is going on out here in the country. I wanted to let you know what I think about the minimum wage increase you have proposed for the whole country and I wanted to quote Milton Friedman who you are familiar with and you made it clear in July that you didn’t care for his views! Let me challenge you to take a closer look at what he had to say!

Four Progressive Minimum Wage Myths Debunked

Democrats are just making things up to advance their job-killing cause.

|

_____________

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

Comparing Rolling Stones’ Song HANG FIRE to the Way People in USA are reacting to President Biden increasing Unemployment Benefits!

Rolling Stones – Hang Fire LIVE East Rutherford, New Jersey ’81

Comparing Rolling Stones’ Song HANG FIRE to the Way People in USA are reacting to President Biden increasing Unemployment  Benefits!

https://youtu.be/3xbtlW16Gts

Dan Henninger also opined for the WSJ. Here’s some of what he wrote.

By making unemployment insurance competitive with market wage rates in a pandemic, the Biden Democrats may have done long-term damage to the American work ethic. …The welfare reforms of the 1990s were based on the realization that transfer payments undermined the work ethic. The Biden-Sanders Democrats are dropping that work requirement for recipients of cash payments.

https://youtu.be/o-u81UnQ16Q

Reminds me of a Rolling Stones song HANG FIRE in which peoples’ desires are to sit around and be lazy and dream about winning a lot at the casino! Check out these lyrics:

In the sweet old country where I come from
Nobody ever works
Yeah nothing gets done

We hang fire, we hang fire
You know marrying money is a full time job
I don’t need the aggravation
I’m a lazy slob

I hang fire, I hang fire
Hang fire, put it on the wire baby
Hang fire, hang fire put it on the wire baby, go ahead
Hang fire
We’ve got nothing to eat
We got nowhere to work
Nothing to drink
We just lost our shirts
I’m on the dole
We ain’t for hire
Say what the hell
Say what the hell, hang fire
Hang fire, hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire, baby
Hang fire, hang fire, hang fire, hang fire
Hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire, baby
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo, hang fire, hang fire, hang fire
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo, hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire, baby
Doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo
Yeah ten thousand dollars, go have some fun
Put it all on at a hundred to one

Hang fire, hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire, baby
Doo doo
Doo doo, hang fire, hang fire put it on the wire
Hang fire, hang fire, hang fire, hang fire
Put it on the wire, baby
Put it on the wire

 

Subsidized Unemployment and the Work Ethic

I wrote two days ago about subsidized unemployment, followed later in the day by this interview.

https://youtu.be/cXfXpgVAefE

This controversy raises a fundamental economic issue.

I explained in the interview that employers only hire people when they expect a new worker will generate at least enough revenue to cover the cost of employment.

There’s a similar calculation on the part of individuals, as shown by this satirical cartoon strip.

People decide to take jobs when they expect the additional after-tax income they earn will compensate them for the loss of leisure and/or the unpleasantness of working.

Which is why many people are now choosing not to work since the government has increased the subsidies for idleness (a bad policy that began under Trump).

The Wall Street Journal editorialized about this issue a couple of days ago.

White House economists say there’s no “measurable” evidence that the $300 federal unemployment bonus is discouraging unemployed people from seeking work. They were rebutted by Tuesday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jolts survey, which showed a record 8.1 million job openings in March.…But these jobs often pay less than what most workers could make on unemployment. That explains why the number of job openings in many industries increased more than the number of new hires in March. …The number of workers who quit their jobs also grew by 125,000. …some quitters may be leaving their jobs because they figure they can make more unemployed for the next six months after Democrats extended the bonus into September.

Dan Henninger also opined on the issue for the WSJ. Here’s some of what he wrote.

President Biden said, “People will come back to work if they’re paid a decent wage.” But what if he’s wrong? What if his $300 unemployment insurance bonus on top of the checks sent directly to millions of people (which began during the Trump presidency) turns out to be a big, long-term mistake? …Mr. Biden and the left expect these outlays effectively to raise the minimum wage by forcing employers to compete with Uncle Sam’s money. …Ideas have consequences. By making unemployment insurance competitive with market wage rates in a pandemic, the Biden Democrats may have done long-term damage to the American work ethic. …The welfare reforms of the 1990s were based on the realization that transfer payments undermined the work ethic. The Biden-Sanders Democrats are dropping that work requirement for recipients of cash payments.

Amen.

I made similar arguments about the erosion of the work ethic last year when discussing this issue.

And this concern applies to other forms of redistribution. Including, most notably, the foolish idea of big per-child handouts.

P.S. The WSJ editorial cited above mentioned the Labor Department’s JOLT data. Those numbers are also useful if you want proof that federal bureaucrats are overpaid, and you’ll also see that the same thing is true for state and local government employees.

The Upside-Down Morality and Economic Illiteracy of Class Warfare

My Eighth Theorem of Government is very simple.

If someone writes and talks about poverty, I generally assume that they care about poor people. They may have good ideas for helping the poor, or they may have bad ideas. But I usually don’t doubt their sincerity.

But when someone writes and talks about inequality, I worry that they don’t really care about the less fortunate and that they’re instead motivated by envy, resentment, and jealousy of rich people.

And this concern probably applies to a couple of law professors, Michael Heller of Columbia and James Salzman of UCLA. They recently wrote a column for the Washington Post on how the government should grab more money from the private sector when rich people die.

They seem particularly agitated that states such as South Dakota have strong asset-protection laws that limit the reach of the death tax.

Income inequality has widened. One…way to tackle the problem. Instead of focusing only on taxing wealth accumulation, we can address the hidden flip side — wealth transmission. …The place to start is South Dakota… The state has created…wealth-sheltering tools including the aptly named “dynasty trust.” …Congress can…plug holes in our leaky estate tax system. One step would be to tax trusts at the passage of each generation and limit generation-skipping tax-exempt trusts. A bigger step would be to ensure that appreciated stocks…are taxed… Better still, let’s start anew. Ditch the existing estate tax and replace it with an inheritance tax

There’s nothing remarkable in their proposals. Just a typical collection of tax-the-rich schemes one might expect from a couple of academics.

But I can’t resist commenting on their article because of two inadvertent admissions.

First, we have a passage that reveals a twisted sense of morality. They apparently think it’s a “heist” if people keep their own money.

America’s ultra-wealthy have pulled off a brilliantly designed heist, with a string of South Dakota governors as accomplices.

For all intents and purposes, the law professors are making an amazing claim that it’s stealing if you don’t meekly surrender your money to politicians.

Apparently they agree with Richard Murphy that all income belongs to the government and it’s akin to an entitlement program or “state aid” if politicians let you keep a slice.

Second, the law professors make the mistake of trying to be economists. They want readers to think the national economy suffers if money stays in the private sector.

Nearly no one in South Dakota complains, because the harm falls on the national economy… We all suffer high and hidden costs…getting less in government services. …South Dakota locks away resources that could spark entrepreneurial innovation.

According to their analysis, a nation such as Singapore must be very poor while a country such as Greece must be very rich.

Needless to say, the opposite is true. Larger burdens of government spending are associated with less prosperity and dynamism.

I’ll offer one final observation. Professors Heller and Salzman obviously want more and more taxes on the rich.

But I wonder what they would say if confronted with the data showing that the United States already collects a greater share of tax revenue from the rich than any other OECD country.

P.S. The reason the U.S. collects proportionately more taxes from the rich is that other developed countries have bigger welfare states, and that necessarily leads to much higher tax burdens on lower-income and middle-class taxpayers (as honest folks on the left acknowledge).


Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose – Ep.4 (1/7) – From Cradle to Grave

File:President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan in The East Room Congratulating Milton Friedman Receiving The Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg

January 21, 2021

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

Dear Mr. President,

With the national debt increasing faster than ever we must make the hard decisions to balance the budget now. If we wait another decade to balance the budget then we will surely risk our economic collapse.

The first step is to remove all welfare programs and replace them with the negative income tax program that Milton Friedman first suggested.

Milton Friedman points out that though many government welfare programs are well intentioned, they tend to have pernicious side effects. In Dr. Friedman’s view, perhaps the most serious shortcoming of governmental welfare activities is their tendency to strip away individual independence and dignity. This is because bureaucrats in welfare agencies are placed in positions of tremendous power over welfare recipients, exercising great influence over their lives. In addition, welfare programs tend to be self-perpetuating because they destroy work incentives. Dr. Friedman suggests a negative income tax as a way of helping the poor. The government would pay money to people falling below a certain income level. As they obtained jobs and earned money, they would continue to receive some payments from the government until their outside income reached a certain ceiling. This system would make people better off who sought work and earned income.

Here is a transcript of a portion of the “Free to Choose” program called “From Cradle to Grave” (program #4 in the 10 part series):

Transcript:
Friedman: After the 2nd World War, New York City authorities retained rent control supposedly to help their poorer citizens. The intentions were good. This in the Bronx was one result.
By the 50′s the same authorities were taxing their citizens. Including those who lived in the Bronx and other devastated areas beyond the East River to subsidize public housing. Another idea with good intentions yet poor people are paying for this, subsidized apartments for the well-to-do. When government at city or federal level spends our money to help us, strange things happen.
The idea that government had to protect us came to be accepted during the terrible years of the Depression. Capitalism was said to have failed. And politicians were looking for a new approach.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a candidate for the presidency. He was governor of New York State. At the governor’s mansion in Albany, he met repeatedly with friends and colleagues to try to find some way out of the Depression. The problems of the day were to be solved by government action and government spending. The measures that FDR and his associates discussed here derived from a long line of past experience. Some of the roots of these measures go back to Bismark’s Germany at the end of the 19th Century. The first modern state to institute old age pensions and other similar measures on the part of government. In the early 20th Century Great Britain followed suit under Lloyd George and Churchill. It too instituted old age pensions and similar plans.
These precursors of the modern welfare state had little effect on practice in the United States. But they did have a very great effect on the intellectuals on the campus like those who gathered here with FDR. The people who met here had little personal experience of the horrors of the Depression but they were confident that they had the solution. In their long discussions as they sat around this fireplace trying to design programs to meet the problems raised by the worst Depression in the history of the United States, they quite naturally drew upon the ideas that were prevalent at the time. The intellectual climate had become one in which it was taken for granted that government had to play a major role in solving the problems in providing what came later to be called Security from Cradle to Grave.
Roosevelt’s first priority after his election was to deal with massive unemployment. A Public Works program was started. The government financed projects to build highways, bridges and dams. The National Recovery Administration was set up to revitalize industry. Roosevelt wanted to see America move into a new era. The Social Security Act was passed and other measures followed. Unemployment benefits, welfare payments, distribution of surplus food. With these measures, of course, came rules, regulations and red tape as familiar today as they were novel then. The government bureaucracy began to grow and it’s been growing ever since.
This is just a small part of the Social Security empire today. Their headquarters in Baltimore has 16 rooms this size. All these people are dispensing our money with the best possible intentions. But at what cost?
In the 50 years since the Albany meetings, we have given government more and more control over our lives and our income. In New York State alone, these government buildings house 11,000 bureaucrats. Administering government programs that cost New York taxpayers 22 billion dollars. At the federal level, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare alone has a budget larger than any government in the world except only Russia and the United States.
Yet these government measures often do not help the people they are supposed to. Richard Brown’s daughter, Helema, needs constant medical attention. She has a throat defect and has to be connected to a breathing machine so that she’ll survive the nights. It’s expensive treatment and you might expect the family to qualify for a Medicaid grant.
Richard Brown: No, I don’t get it, cause I’m not eligible for it. I make a few dollars too much and the salary that I make I can’t afford to really live and to save anything is out of the question. And I mean, I live, we live from payday to payday. I mean literally from payday to payday.
Friedman: His struggle isn’t made any easier by the fact that Mr. Brown knows that if he gave up his job as an orderly at the Harlem Hospital, he would qualify for a government handout. And he’d be better off financially.
Hospital Worker: Mr. Brown, do me a favor please? There is a section patient.
Friedman: It’s a terrible pressure on him. But he is proud of the work that he does here and he’s strong enough to resist the pressure.
Richard Brown: I’m Mr. Brown. Your fully dilated and I’m here to take you to the delivery. Try not to push, please. We want to have a nice sterile delivery.
Friedman: Mr. Brown has found out the hard way that welfare programs destroy an individual’s independence.
Richard Brown: We’ve considered welfare. We went to see, to apply for welfare but, we were told that we were only eligible for $5.00 a month. And, to receive this $5.00 we would have to cash in our son’s savings bonds. And that’s not even worth it. I don’t believe in something for nothing anyway.
Mrs. Brown: I think a lot of people are capable of working and are willing to work, but it’s just the way it is set up. It, the mother and the children are better off if the husband isn’t working or if the husband isn’t there. And this breaks up so many poor families.
Friedman: One of the saddest things is that many of the children whose parents are on welfare will in their turn end up in the welfare trap when they grow up. In this public housing project in the Bronx, New York, 3/4′s of the families are now receiving welfare payments.
Well Mr. Brown wanted to keep away from this kind of thing for a very good reason. The people who get on welfare lose their human independence and feeling of dignity. They become subject to the dictates and whims of their welfare supervisor who can tell them whether they can live here or there, whether they may put in a telephone, what they may do with their lives. They are treated like children, not like responsible adults and they are trapped in the system. Maybe a job comes up which looks better than welfare but they are afraid to take it because if they lose it after a few months it maybe six months or nine months before they can get back onto welfare. And as a result, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle rather than simply a temporary state of affairs.
Things have gone even further elsewhere. This is a huge mistake. A public housing project in Manchester, England.
Well we’re 3,000 miles away from the Bronx here but you’d never know it just by looking around. It looks as if we are at the same place. It’s the same kind of flats, the same kind of massive housing units, decrepit even though they were only built 7 or 8 years ago. Vandalism, graffiti, the same feeling about the place. Of people who don’t have a great deal of drive and energy because somebody else is taking care of their day to day needs because the state has deprived them of an incentive to find jobs to become responsible people to be the real support for themselves and their families.
_______________

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

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Dan Mitchell points out “many voices in the establishment press are citing favorable polling data in hopes of creating an aura on inevitably for President Biden’s proposed tax hikes”

Are Tax Increases Popular?

Tax increases are bad fiscal policy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are politically unpopular.

Indeed, many voices in the establishment press are citing favorable polling data in hopes of creating an aura on inevitably for President Biden’s proposed tax hikes.

That’s a very worrisome prospect. If Biden succeeds, the United States could wind up toppling Canada for the dubious honor of having the world’s highest tax burden on saving and investment.

That would be bad news for American workers.

But are Biden’s media cheerleaders correct? Are tax increases popular?

According to a new scholarly working paper from the Federal Reserve (authored by Andrew C. Chang, Linda R. Cohen, Amihai Glazer, and Urbashee Paul), the answer is no.

At least if we judge politicians by what they do in election years. Here’s part of the study’s abstract.

We use new annual data on gasoline taxes and corporate income taxes from U.S.states to analyze whether politicians avoid tax increases in election years. These data contain 3 useful attributes: (1) when state politicians enact tax laws, (2) when state politicians implement tax laws on consumers and firms, and (3) the size of tax changes.Using a pre-analysis research plan that includes regressions of tax rate changes and tax enactment years on time-to-gubernatorial election year indicators, we find that elections decrease the probability of politicians enacting increases in taxes and reduce the size of implemented tax changes relative to non-election years. We find some evidence that politicians are most likely to enact tax increases right after an election. These election effects are stronger for gasoline taxes than for corporate income taxes and depend on no other political, demographic, or macroeconomic conditions.

For wonkier readers, Figure 7 has some of the major results of their statistical analysis. I’ve highlighted (in red) the most important conclusion of the research.

For regular readers, the main takeaway is that politicians almost always want more tax revenue. That’s what gives them the ability to distribute goodies and buy votes.

But notwithstanding their never-ending hunger to grab more money, they are very likely to reject tax increases in election years. They even reject higher corporate taxes, which are supposed to be popular (at least according to some in the establishment media).

Yet if tax increases were politically popular, we should see the opposite result.

I’ll close with the somewhat depressing observation that these results do not imply that voters want libertarian policy. It’s probably more accurate to say that people want goodies from the government, but they don’t want to pay for them. Politicians simply respond to those preferences (which brings to mind Garett Jones’ hypothesis that we have too much democracy).

Which is how Greece became a basket case. Which is why Italy is in the process of becoming a basket case. And it’s why the United States may not be that far behind (with states such as Illinois serving as early-warning signs).

P.S. The above-cited research should be a reminder of why a no-tax-hike pledge is important. Voters seem to be on the right side on the big-picture question of “Should taxes be higher?”, but if they think tax increases are going to happen, it’s quite likely that they will support the most economically damaging types of class-warfare levies.

Bob Chitester, RIP


Bob Chitester was managing a small public television station in Erie, PA, when he got the big idea to persuade Nobel laureate Milton Friedman to write and narrate a 10‐​part series on free markets for PBS. As unlikely as that prospect was, Bob made it happen. “Free to Choose” was broadcast on PBS beginning in January of 1980, and it made quite a splash just as Reagan and Thatcher were also starting to change the way people thought about markets and government. Milton and Rose Friedman wrote a book to accompany the series. But television helped take Friedman’s ideas from the pages of books to millions more people, and in the process Chitester made Friedman a bigger celebrity and a bigger influence than a mere Nobel Prize could accomplish.

Bob went on to create Free to Choose Media and produce hundreds of video products for public television, other networks, the internet, and home viewing. They included The Real Adam Smith, a two‐​hour series that gives particular attention to Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; the Stossel in the Classroom series, which put John Stossel’s television reports into high school classrooms; and A More or Less Perfect Union, a three‐​part series with Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.

He made Cato senior fellow Johan Norberg a familiar face on public television with documentaries such as “Free & Equal,” an update of “Free to Choose”; “Sweden: Lessons for America?”; “India Awakes”; and “Work and Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare.”

We at Cato were especially grateful that when our colleague Andrew Coulson died much too young before finishing his television project “School Inc.,” Bob and his Free to Choose team picked it up, finished the production, and got it on hundreds of public television stations in 2017.

For more than 40 years Bob Chitester focused like a laser to get free‐​market ideas on television in high‐​quality presentations. All of us who believe in the power of markets to liberate people are incredibly grateful and, frankly, astounded at his success in this.

Bob lost his seven‐​year battle with cancer this weekend. But his video projects can all be found on the web, and his Free to Choose team will continue his work with new documentaries and online programs.

Bob Chitester Discusses Milton Friedman and ‘Free to Choose’

Published on Jul 30, 2012 by

“There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people.”

That is how former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman. But it is not for his technical work in monetary economics that Friedman is best known. Like mathematician Jacob Bronowski and astronomer Carl Sagan, Friedman had a gift for communicating complex ideas to a general audience.

It was this gift that brought him to the attention of filmmaker Bob Chitester. At Chitester’s urging, Friedman agreed to make a 10 part documentary series explaining the power of economic freedom. It was called “Free to Choose,” and became one of the most watched documentaries in history.

The series not only reached audiences in liberal democracies, but was smuggled behind the iron curtain where it played, in secret, to large audiences. Reflecting on its impact, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has said: “For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.”

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, we’d like to share an interview with “Free to Choose” producer Bob Chitester. Like this interview, the entire series can now be viewed on-line at no cost at http://www.freetochoose.tv/, thanks to the incredible technological progress brought about by the economic freedom that Milton Friedman celebrated.

Produced by Andrew Coulson, Caleb O. Brown, Austin Bragg, and Lou Richards, with help from the Free to Choose Network

_______________

Celebrating Milton Friedman

by Andrew J. Coulson

Andrew Coulson directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and is the author of Market Education: The Unknown History.

Added to cato.org on July 31, 2012

This article appeared in Cato.org on July 31, 20

For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.

Those are the words of Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Both Friedman’s writings and his landmark 1980 documentary series “Free to Choose”were smuggled into totalitarian communist states, inspiring a generation of future scholars, activists, and politicians.

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, the Cato Institute has put together a video interview with Bob Chitester, producer of “Free to Choose,” recounting how it came to be, its impact, and what it was like working with Milton Friedman.

Aside from those who lived under communism, there is another group for whom Friedman was and is a colossal figure: advocates of educational freedom. At a time when state-run schooling had been the norm for nearly a century, and had long ceased to be questioned by America’s elites, Friedman offered a modest observation: there was no good reason for the government of a free society to actually run schools and many good reasons for it not to do so.

He made this case in his essay “On the Role of Government in Education,” first published in 1955. The idea had been floated by others, including Adam Smith and Thomas Paine, but Friedman eloquently and powerfully introduced it to the American policy debate. In so doing, he, more than any other individual, can be credited with giving rise to the modern school choice movement.

Not only did Friedman spark the creation of this movement, he helped to fan the flame of educational freedom, writing popular commentaries and book chapters, speaking with and encouraging activists, founding a leading school choice institution, and dedicating the entire sixth episode of “Free to Choose” to this subject.

I had the good fortune to speak and correspond with Milton occasionally, starting in the late 1990s, and what struck me most about him was his personal integrity. He once told me that he never said anything negative about a person in private that he would not be willing to say openly in that person’s presence. So far as I know, he never violated that principle. And while he staunchly defended his conclusions as long as he remained convinced of their correctness, he would amend them if the weight of evidence shifted.

Indeed the rigorous empiricism that Friedman applied in his scholarly work is generally regarded as one of his most influential contributions to the field of economics—for a long time controversial but eventually the norm, at least in principle. His view, published in the 1953 collection Essays in Positive Economics, was that

the ultimate test of the validity of a theory is… the ability to deduce facts that have not yet been observed, that are capable of being contradicted by observation, and that subsequent observation does not contradict. [p. 300]

Equally wise, though not yet as widely accepted, is the long time horizon against which Friedman measured policy outcomes. Economist and philosopher of science James R. Wible notes that Friedman’s greatest contribution “may be his constant reminder not to forget the long run consequences of short run policies.”

In the 1982 edition of his book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman observed that scholars cannot single-handedly bring about change. Their real role, he wrote, is to “keep the lights on”—to remind us which policies work and which do not, and to show us how to advance our understanding even further. His own unfailing empiricism and concern for the long term remain valuable beacons today, both for advocates of educational freedom and the broader policy community.

_____________

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Subsidized Unemployment and the Work Ethic by Daniel Mitchell

 

 

Subsidized Unemployment and the Work Ethic

I wrote two days ago about subsidized unemployment, followed later in the day by this interview.

https://youtu.be/cXfXpgVAefE

This controversy raises a fundamental economic issue.

I explained in the interview that employers only hire people when they expect a new worker will generate at least enough revenue to cover the cost of employment.

There’s a similar calculation on the part of individuals, as shown by this satirical cartoon strip.

People decide to take jobs when they expect the additional after-tax income they earn will compensate them for the loss of leisure and/or the unpleasantness of working.

Which is why many people are now choosing not to work since the government has increased the subsidies for idleness (a bad policy that began under Trump).

The Wall Street Journal editorialized about this issue a couple of days ago.

White House economists say there’s no “measurable” evidence that the $300 federal unemployment bonus is discouraging unemployed people from seeking work. They were rebutted by Tuesday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jolts survey, which showed a record 8.1 million job openings in March.…But these jobs often pay less than what most workers could make on unemployment. That explains why the number of job openings in many industries increased more than the number of new hires in March. …The number of workers who quit their jobs also grew by 125,000. …some quitters may be leaving their jobs because they figure they can make more unemployed for the next six months after Democrats extended the bonus into September.

Dan Henninger also opined on the issue for the WSJ. Here’s some of what he wrote.

President Biden said, “People will come back to work if they’re paid a decent wage.” But what if he’s wrong? What if his $300 unemployment insurance bonus on top of the checks sent directly to millions of people (which began during the Trump presidency) turns out to be a big, long-term mistake? …Mr. Biden and the left expect these outlays effectively to raise the minimum wage by forcing employers to compete with Uncle Sam’s money. …Ideas have consequences. By making unemployment insurance competitive with market wage rates in a pandemic, the Biden Democrats may have done long-term damage to the American work ethic. …The welfare reforms of the 1990s were based on the realization that transfer payments undermined the work ethic. The Biden-Sanders Democrats are dropping that work requirement for recipients of cash payments.

Amen.

I made similar arguments about the erosion of the work ethic last year when discussing this issue.

And this concern applies to other forms of redistribution. Including, most notably, the foolish idea of big per-child handouts.

P.S. The WSJ editorial cited above mentioned the Labor Department’s JOLT data. Those numbers are also useful if you want proof that federal bureaucrats are overpaid, and you’ll also see that the same thing is true for state and local government employees.

The Upside-Down Morality and Economic Illiteracy of Class Warfare

My Eighth Theorem of Government is very simple.

If someone writes and talks about poverty, I generally assume that they care about poor people. They may have good ideas for helping the poor, or they may have bad ideas. But I usually don’t doubt their sincerity.

But when someone writes and talks about inequality, I worry that they don’t really care about the less fortunate and that they’re instead motivated by envy, resentment, and jealousy of rich people.

And this concern probably applies to a couple of law professors, Michael Heller of Columbia and James Salzman of UCLA. They recently wrote a column for the Washington Post on how the government should grab more money from the private sector when rich people die.

They seem particularly agitated that states such as South Dakota have strong asset-protection laws that limit the reach of the death tax.

Income inequality has widened. One…way to tackle the problem. Instead of focusing only on taxing wealth accumulation, we can address the hidden flip side — wealth transmission. …The place to start is South Dakota… The state has created…wealth-sheltering tools including the aptly named “dynasty trust.” …Congress can…plug holes in our leaky estate tax system. One step would be to tax trusts at the passage of each generation and limit generation-skipping tax-exempt trusts. A bigger step would be to ensure that appreciated stocks…are taxed… Better still, let’s start anew. Ditch the existing estate tax and replace it with an inheritance tax

There’s nothing remarkable in their proposals. Just a typical collection of tax-the-rich schemes one might expect from a couple of academics.

But I can’t resist commenting on their article because of two inadvertent admissions.

First, we have a passage that reveals a twisted sense of morality. They apparently think it’s a “heist” if people keep their own money.

America’s ultra-wealthy have pulled off a brilliantly designed heist, with a string of South Dakota governors as accomplices.

For all intents and purposes, the law professors are making an amazing claim that it’s stealing if you don’t meekly surrender your money to politicians.

Apparently they agree with Richard Murphy that all income belongs to the government and it’s akin to an entitlement program or “state aid” if politicians let you keep a slice.

Second, the law professors make the mistake of trying to be economists. They want readers to think the national economy suffers if money stays in the private sector.

Nearly no one in South Dakota complains, because the harm falls on the national economy… We all suffer high and hidden costs…getting less in government services. …South Dakota locks away resources that could spark entrepreneurial innovation.

According to their analysis, a nation such as Singapore must be very poor while a country such as Greece must be very rich.

Needless to say, the opposite is true. Larger burdens of government spending are associated with less prosperity and dynamism.

I’ll offer one final observation. Professors Heller and Salzman obviously want more and more taxes on the rich.

But I wonder what they would say if confronted with the data showing that the United States already collects a greater share of tax revenue from the rich than any other OECD country.

P.S. The reason the U.S. collects proportionately more taxes from the rich is that other developed countries have bigger welfare states, and that necessarily leads to much higher tax burdens on lower-income and middle-class taxpayers (as honest folks on the left acknowledge).


Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose – Ep.4 (1/7) – From Cradle to Grave

File:President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan in The East Room Congratulating Milton Friedman Receiving The Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg

January 21, 2021

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

Dear Mr. President,

With the national debt increasing faster than ever we must make the hard decisions to balance the budget now. If we wait another decade to balance the budget then we will surely risk our economic collapse.

The first step is to remove all welfare programs and replace them with the negative income tax program that Milton Friedman first suggested.

Milton Friedman points out that though many government welfare programs are well intentioned, they tend to have pernicious side effects. In Dr. Friedman’s view, perhaps the most serious shortcoming of governmental welfare activities is their tendency to strip away individual independence and dignity. This is because bureaucrats in welfare agencies are placed in positions of tremendous power over welfare recipients, exercising great influence over their lives. In addition, welfare programs tend to be self-perpetuating because they destroy work incentives. Dr. Friedman suggests a negative income tax as a way of helping the poor. The government would pay money to people falling below a certain income level. As they obtained jobs and earned money, they would continue to receive some payments from the government until their outside income reached a certain ceiling. This system would make people better off who sought work and earned income.

Here is a transcript of a portion of the “Free to Choose” program called “From Cradle to Grave” (program #4 in the 10 part series):

Transcript:
Friedman: After the 2nd World War, New York City authorities retained rent control supposedly to help their poorer citizens. The intentions were good. This in the Bronx was one result.
By the 50′s the same authorities were taxing their citizens. Including those who lived in the Bronx and other devastated areas beyond the East River to subsidize public housing. Another idea with good intentions yet poor people are paying for this, subsidized apartments for the well-to-do. When government at city or federal level spends our money to help us, strange things happen.
The idea that government had to protect us came to be accepted during the terrible years of the Depression. Capitalism was said to have failed. And politicians were looking for a new approach.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a candidate for the presidency. He was governor of New York State. At the governor’s mansion in Albany, he met repeatedly with friends and colleagues to try to find some way out of the Depression. The problems of the day were to be solved by government action and government spending. The measures that FDR and his associates discussed here derived from a long line of past experience. Some of the roots of these measures go back to Bismark’s Germany at the end of the 19th Century. The first modern state to institute old age pensions and other similar measures on the part of government. In the early 20th Century Great Britain followed suit under Lloyd George and Churchill. It too instituted old age pensions and similar plans.
These precursors of the modern welfare state had little effect on practice in the United States. But they did have a very great effect on the intellectuals on the campus like those who gathered here with FDR. The people who met here had little personal experience of the horrors of the Depression but they were confident that they had the solution. In their long discussions as they sat around this fireplace trying to design programs to meet the problems raised by the worst Depression in the history of the United States, they quite naturally drew upon the ideas that were prevalent at the time. The intellectual climate had become one in which it was taken for granted that government had to play a major role in solving the problems in providing what came later to be called Security from Cradle to Grave.
Roosevelt’s first priority after his election was to deal with massive unemployment. A Public Works program was started. The government financed projects to build highways, bridges and dams. The National Recovery Administration was set up to revitalize industry. Roosevelt wanted to see America move into a new era. The Social Security Act was passed and other measures followed. Unemployment benefits, welfare payments, distribution of surplus food. With these measures, of course, came rules, regulations and red tape as familiar today as they were novel then. The government bureaucracy began to grow and it’s been growing ever since.
This is just a small part of the Social Security empire today. Their headquarters in Baltimore has 16 rooms this size. All these people are dispensing our money with the best possible intentions. But at what cost?
In the 50 years since the Albany meetings, we have given government more and more control over our lives and our income. In New York State alone, these government buildings house 11,000 bureaucrats. Administering government programs that cost New York taxpayers 22 billion dollars. At the federal level, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare alone has a budget larger than any government in the world except only Russia and the United States.
Yet these government measures often do not help the people they are supposed to. Richard Brown’s daughter, Helema, needs constant medical attention. She has a throat defect and has to be connected to a breathing machine so that she’ll survive the nights. It’s expensive treatment and you might expect the family to qualify for a Medicaid grant.
Richard Brown: No, I don’t get it, cause I’m not eligible for it. I make a few dollars too much and the salary that I make I can’t afford to really live and to save anything is out of the question. And I mean, I live, we live from payday to payday. I mean literally from payday to payday.
Friedman: His struggle isn’t made any easier by the fact that Mr. Brown knows that if he gave up his job as an orderly at the Harlem Hospital, he would qualify for a government handout. And he’d be better off financially.
Hospital Worker: Mr. Brown, do me a favor please? There is a section patient.
Friedman: It’s a terrible pressure on him. But he is proud of the work that he does here and he’s strong enough to resist the pressure.
Richard Brown: I’m Mr. Brown. Your fully dilated and I’m here to take you to the delivery. Try not to push, please. We want to have a nice sterile delivery.
Friedman: Mr. Brown has found out the hard way that welfare programs destroy an individual’s independence.
Richard Brown: We’ve considered welfare. We went to see, to apply for welfare but, we were told that we were only eligible for $5.00 a month. And, to receive this $5.00 we would have to cash in our son’s savings bonds. And that’s not even worth it. I don’t believe in something for nothing anyway.
Mrs. Brown: I think a lot of people are capable of working and are willing to work, but it’s just the way it is set up. It, the mother and the children are better off if the husband isn’t working or if the husband isn’t there. And this breaks up so many poor families.
Friedman: One of the saddest things is that many of the children whose parents are on welfare will in their turn end up in the welfare trap when they grow up. In this public housing project in the Bronx, New York, 3/4′s of the families are now receiving welfare payments.
Well Mr. Brown wanted to keep away from this kind of thing for a very good reason. The people who get on welfare lose their human independence and feeling of dignity. They become subject to the dictates and whims of their welfare supervisor who can tell them whether they can live here or there, whether they may put in a telephone, what they may do with their lives. They are treated like children, not like responsible adults and they are trapped in the system. Maybe a job comes up which looks better than welfare but they are afraid to take it because if they lose it after a few months it maybe six months or nine months before they can get back onto welfare. And as a result, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle rather than simply a temporary state of affairs.
Things have gone even further elsewhere. This is a huge mistake. A public housing project in Manchester, England.
Well we’re 3,000 miles away from the Bronx here but you’d never know it just by looking around. It looks as if we are at the same place. It’s the same kind of flats, the same kind of massive housing units, decrepit even though they were only built 7 or 8 years ago. Vandalism, graffiti, the same feeling about the place. Of people who don’t have a great deal of drive and energy because somebody else is taking care of their day to day needs because the state has deprived them of an incentive to find jobs to become responsible people to be the real support for themselves and their families.
_______________

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

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By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Arkansas Times, Cato Institute, Ernest Dumas, Taxes | Edit |

Bob Chitester, RIP The man who put together the film series FREE TO CHOOSE!


Bob Chitester was managing a small public television station in Erie, PA, when he got the big idea to persuade Nobel laureate Milton Friedman to write and narrate a 10‐​part series on free markets for PBS. As unlikely as that prospect was, Bob made it happen. “Free to Choose” was broadcast on PBS beginning in January of 1980, and it made quite a splash just as Reagan and Thatcher were also starting to change the way people thought about markets and government. Milton and Rose Friedman wrote a book to accompany the series. But television helped take Friedman’s ideas from the pages of books to millions more people, and in the process Chitester made Friedman a bigger celebrity and a bigger influence than a mere Nobel Prize could accomplish.

Bob went on to create Free to Choose Media and produce hundreds of video products for public television, other networks, the internet, and home viewing. They included The Real Adam Smith, a two‐​hour series that gives particular attention to Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; the Stossel in the Classroom series, which put John Stossel’s television reports into high school classrooms; and A More or Less Perfect Union, a three‐​part series with Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.

He made Cato senior fellow Johan Norberg a familiar face on public television with documentaries such as “Free & Equal,” an update of “Free to Choose”; “Sweden: Lessons for America?”; “India Awakes”; and “Work and Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare.”

We at Cato were especially grateful that when our colleague Andrew Coulson died much too young before finishing his television project “School Inc.,” Bob and his Free to Choose team picked it up, finished the production, and got it on hundreds of public television stations in 2017.

For more than 40 years Bob Chitester focused like a laser to get free‐​market ideas on television in high‐​quality presentations. All of us who believe in the power of markets to liberate people are incredibly grateful and, frankly, astounded at his success in this.

Bob lost his seven‐​year battle with cancer this weekend. But his video projects can all be found on the web, and his Free to Choose team will continue his work with new documentaries and online programs.

Bob Chitester Discusses Milton Friedman and ‘Free to Choose’

Published on Jul 30, 2012 by

“There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people.”

That is how former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman. But it is not for his technical work in monetary economics that Friedman is best known. Like mathematician Jacob Bronowski and astronomer Carl Sagan, Friedman had a gift for communicating complex ideas to a general audience.

It was this gift that brought him to the attention of filmmaker Bob Chitester. At Chitester’s urging, Friedman agreed to make a 10 part documentary series explaining the power of economic freedom. It was called “Free to Choose,” and became one of the most watched documentaries in history.

The series not only reached audiences in liberal democracies, but was smuggled behind the iron curtain where it played, in secret, to large audiences. Reflecting on its impact, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has said: “For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.”

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, we’d like to share an interview with “Free to Choose” producer Bob Chitester. Like this interview, the entire series can now be viewed on-line at no cost at http://www.freetochoose.tv/, thanks to the incredible technological progress brought about by the economic freedom that Milton Friedman celebrated.

Produced by Andrew Coulson, Caleb O. Brown, Austin Bragg, and Lou Richards, with help from the Free to Choose Network

_______________

Celebrating Milton Friedman

by Andrew J. Coulson

Andrew Coulson directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and is the author of Market Education: The Unknown History.

Added to cato.org on July 31, 2012

This article appeared in Cato.org on July 31, 20

For us, who lived in the communist world, Milton Friedman was the greatest champion of freedom, of limited and unobtrusive government and of free markets. Because of him I became a true believer in the unrestricted market economy.

Those are the words of Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Both Friedman’s writings and his landmark 1980 documentary series “Free to Choose”were smuggled into totalitarian communist states, inspiring a generation of future scholars, activists, and politicians.

July 31st, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Friedman’s birth. To commemorate that occasion, the Cato Institute has put together a video interview with Bob Chitester, producer of “Free to Choose,” recounting how it came to be, its impact, and what it was like working with Milton Friedman.

Aside from those who lived under communism, there is another group for whom Friedman was and is a colossal figure: advocates of educational freedom. At a time when state-run schooling had been the norm for nearly a century, and had long ceased to be questioned by America’s elites, Friedman offered a modest observation: there was no good reason for the government of a free society to actually run schools and many good reasons for it not to do so.

He made this case in his essay “On the Role of Government in Education,” first published in 1955. The idea had been floated by others, including Adam Smith and Thomas Paine, but Friedman eloquently and powerfully introduced it to the American policy debate. In so doing, he, more than any other individual, can be credited with giving rise to the modern school choice movement.

Not only did Friedman spark the creation of this movement, he helped to fan the flame of educational freedom, writing popular commentaries and book chapters, speaking with and encouraging activists, founding a leading school choice institution, and dedicating the entire sixth episode of “Free to Choose” to this subject.

I had the good fortune to speak and correspond with Milton occasionally, starting in the late 1990s, and what struck me most about him was his personal integrity. He once told me that he never said anything negative about a person in private that he would not be willing to say openly in that person’s presence. So far as I know, he never violated that principle. And while he staunchly defended his conclusions as long as he remained convinced of their correctness, he would amend them if the weight of evidence shifted.

Indeed the rigorous empiricism that Friedman applied in his scholarly work is generally regarded as one of his most influential contributions to the field of economics—for a long time controversial but eventually the norm, at least in principle. His view, published in the 1953 collection Essays in Positive Economics, was that

the ultimate test of the validity of a theory is… the ability to deduce facts that have not yet been observed, that are capable of being contradicted by observation, and that subsequent observation does not contradict. [p. 300]

Equally wise, though not yet as widely accepted, is the long time horizon against which Friedman measured policy outcomes. Economist and philosopher of science James R. Wible notes that Friedman’s greatest contribution “may be his constant reminder not to forget the long run consequences of short run policies.”

In the 1982 edition of his book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman observed that scholars cannot single-handedly bring about change. Their real role, he wrote, is to “keep the lights on”—to remind us which policies work and which do not, and to show us how to advance our understanding even further. His own unfailing empiricism and concern for the long term remain valuable beacons today, both for advocates of educational freedom and the broader policy community.

_____________

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Lessons about Trump and Trade by Dan Mitchell

Lessons about Trump and Trade

Like President Reagan, I believe in free trade rather than protectionism.

So you won’t be surprised that I agree with the message in this video

To elaborate, one of the big lessons of the Trump era is that he undermined his good policies – such as tax reform – by imposing higher taxes on global trade.

Sadly, he didn’t realize that a “trade deficit” is largely an irrelevant statistic. Indeed, it’s merely the flip side of having a capital surplus.

To state the obvious, it’s not a bad thing when foreigners decide they want to invest in the United States economy. Heck, it’s a good thing, a sign of economic strength.

Professor Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth made the same point, and many additional points, in a column for the Wall Street Journallate last year.

After four years, what have we learned? Many things, but especially that old economic truths still have value: Tariffs don’t reduce the trade deficit. …Economists have long pointed out that the trade deficit is driven by macroeconomic factors, particularly international capital flows. …The merchandise trade deficit was $864 billion in 2019, more than $100 billion higher than in 2016. …Tariffs are paid by consumers, destroy jobs and hurt the economy. Mr. Trump insisted that China would pay for the 15% to 25% duties that he imposed on $300 billion of its exports. In fact, the tariffs were passed on to American consumers, who paid more… Take steel. Higher prices might have saved some jobs in the steel industry, but..steel protection is a job-destroying policy. Economists at the Federal Reserve found that the steel and aluminum tariffs reduced overall employment in manufacturing by 75,000 workers.

But destroying jobs was just one negative effect of protectionism.

We also got more corruption, as the Wall Street Journal opined.

…it’s time to point out one unsightly effect of the Trump tariffs: expanding the D.C. swamp. …As Mr. Trump’s tariffs began to bite, Congress sent hundreds of letters to the USTR, supporting specific tariff exclusions. …Rep. Steny Hoyer signed a letter, “on behalf of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus,” asking for an exclusion on smoke alarms. North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis sought one for Honda’s lawn mower flywheels. For Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, it was BedJet’s “ultra-thin adjustable bed ‘device.’” For Congressman Doug Collins, Home Depot’s light fixtures. For Sen. Patty Murray, empty coffee K-cup pods. Some of these exclusions were granted, and many weren’t. It’s difficult to know if lobbying by Congress made a difference… One substantial downside is more political interference in the economy. Pretty swampy.

We saw something very similar when President Obama was granting waivers for Obamacare. That was just one of the ways insiders got rich lobbying politicians for special treatment under government-run healthcare.

Let’s wrap this up.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal in March, Senator Pat Toomey and former Senator Phil Gramm conclude Trump’s protectionism was a failure.

In his first two years as president, Mr. Trump lifted regulatory burdens and pushed through a major tax cut, which triggered a broad-based rise in income and employment. He then turned to his protectionist agenda, which reduced economic growth and failed to deliver Michigan, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin in the 2020 election. Protectionism failed both as economic policy and political strategy. …As Mr. Trump found when he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, the resulting increase in jobs in those industries was small. …Jobs gained in the steel and aluminum industries after the tariffs were dwarfed by jobs lost in industries that use steel and aluminum in their manufacturing process, not to mention the jobs lost due to foreign trade retaliation. …Innovation, technological development and the capacity of a market economy to adapt to change provide our only sure path to job creation and prosperity. This is a lesson all politicians, but especially Republicans, need to learn from the economic and political failure of protectionism in the Trump era.

Amen.

Protectionism didn’t work. It didn’t create jobs, and it didn’t even buy votes.

Which is why I hope this meme is the lesson that people remember from the Trump years (also the message we should have learned from the Hoover years).

The bottom line is that “Tariff Man” hurt himself and hurt the economy.

P.S. Sadly, Biden has not reversed many of Trump’s protectionist policies. But that’s not a surprise given his support for statism.

P.P.S. Though I hold out some hope that Biden will utilize the World Trade Organization as a tool to expand trade, thus reversing one of Trump’s mistakes.

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

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

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

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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 […]

Quadruple the Cost, 11 Years Late

It appears that only a fraction of the spending proposed in a new $3 trillion to $4 trillion bill would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure. Pictured: Engineers discuss the progress of an infrastructure construction project. (Photo: Sornranison Prakittrakoon/ Moment/Getty Images)

The media were flooded Monday with news that the Biden administration is working on a colossal new $3 trillion to $4 trillion spending plan.

While full details are not available yet, the plan appears to be another left-wing grab bag of big-government proposals. Rather than stimulating the economy, it would stimulate bigger government while funneling unprecedented amounts of power and money through the hands of politicians in Washington.

All this comes on the heels of President Joe Biden signing into law on March 11 a badly flawed $1.9 trillion legislative package that was originally marketed as a COVID-19 response, but which was more focused on left-wing pet causes, such as bailouts for union pension plans and unnecessary handouts for state governments.

Just a day later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a statement calling for bipartisan work on legislation that would focus on infrastructure. While there were good reasons to question how beneficial or “bipartisan” such legislation would be, there was at least a chance of finding some across-the-aisle support.

Want to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle? Want to know the most important stories of the day for conservatives? Need news you can trust? Subscribe to The Daily Signal’s email newsletter. Learn more >>

But the potential for bipartisanship was quickly scuttled by news of the latest multitrillion-dollar plan.

It would be bad enough if the latest plan was just a big-spending infrastructure package. However, it appears that only a fraction of the new spending would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure.

Instead, most of the new spending and tax subsidies would go toward expanding the welfare state, including “free” tuition for community colleges, “free” child care, and other handouts that lack right-of-center support.

This would likely be the largest expansion of the federal government since the “Great Society” of the 1960s, even eclipsing Obamacare in scope.

Reports indicate that Democrats might attempt to split the plan into two bills—one focused on social spending that passes narrowly along party lines, the other focused on actual infrastructure aimed at winning bipartisan support.

However, it’s clear that the $3 trillion-plus total price tag is already souring prospects for bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

House Republicans boycotted the annual Ways and Means Committee “Member’s Day” hearing on Tuesday in the wake of news reports on the plan, since they indicated that Democrats have already made up their minds to pursue as much spending as possible through the legislative procedure known as reconciliation.

Coincidentally, two respected nonpartisan groups released reports this week that show why Biden and Pelosi should pause their aggressive agenda.

First, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper demonstrating what would happen if a sustained increase in federal spending were coupled with big tax increases to pay for the spending.

While the analysis points to different long-term effects from different types of taxes, any tax-and-spend approach would lead to reductions in economic growth and personal income that are larger than the size of the tax hikes.

For example, the analysis found that having 10% more federal government would mean a 12% to 19% reduction in personal consumption.

And that’s a conservative estimate. Most estimates show tax hikes shrink the economy by two to three times more than the revenues they raise.

That doesn’t mean Congress could escape the consequences of a continued spending spree by simply adding to the national debt. The CBO paper cautions that that would not only impose significant costs and divert resources away from the private sector, but it also would be unsustainable and increase the risk of a devastating financial crisis.

Along the same lines, the Government Accountability Office released a sobering reporton the nation’s poor financial health.

Now that Congress has passed a combined total of $6 trillion in legislation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (more than $48,000 per household), it must quickly address the unsustainable growth of major benefit programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Even before the pandemic struck, these programs were on a path to bankruptcy. Addressing these shortfalls in a way that is fair to both current retirees and future generations who will have to foot the bill is one of the greatest policy challenges facing the nation.

Unfortunately, Washington is exacerbating the problem by adding excessively to the national debt and potentially stunting economic growth with higher taxes.

While the Biden administration has repeatedly claimed that it will only seek to raise taxes on the wealthy, a government of the size that it’s seeking would require amounts of money that can only be generated through steep across-the-board tax increases on middle-class Americans.

Regardless of whether those taxes are levied tomorrow or in a few years, they would be an inevitable part of expanding the size and scope of the federal government.

Rather than continuing down the path of centralized power and socialism, lawmakers should recognize the costs associated with endless federal spending and chart a course toward financial responsibility and prosperity.

If they don’t, it will be the public’s duty to hold them accountable.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we will consider publishing your remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature.

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 […]



APRIL 20, 2021 1:47PM

Quadruple the Cost, 11 Years Late

By Randal O’Toole


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The California high‐​speed rail project was originally projected to cost $25 billion and is now projected to cost $100 billion. It was originally expected to be complete by 2020; now they are saying some time in the 2030s. Since they don’t have the money to complete it, it may never get done, and the part that will be finished serves the least‐​populated part of the route.

Hawaii has its own rail debacle that sounds like California’s system on a smaller scale. Honolulu decided to build a rail transit line that was originally projected to cost less than $3 billion. The latest estimates are that it will cost $12 billion including finance charges. The line was supposed to open in 2020; now they are saying 2031. But that date may be irrelevant because the transit agency building the project is $3 billion short of what is needed to finish it, and the part that will be finished serves the least‐​populated part of the route.

These two examples are a little extreme, but rail transit projects on average cost about 50 percent more than their original projections and very few end up costing less than 20 percent more than projected. While it is too soon to tell for California or Honolulu rail, ridership projections also average 70 percent more than actual ridership. A planning process that systematically overestimates benefits and underestimates costs is effectively biased towards capital intensive, high‐​cost projects.

This makes it particularly frightening that the Biden infrastructure plan calls for spending $85 billion more on transit. Transit carries only 1 percent of passenger travel in the United States and zero percent of freight, yet under Biden’s plan it would get nearly as much money as highways, which carry more than 85 percent of passenger travel and nearly 40 percent of the nation’s freight.

Biden’s proposal specifically calls for bringing “rail service to communities and neighborhoods across the country.” But rail transit was rendered obsolete by buses nearly a century ago, which is why between 1920 and 1975 around a thousand cities replaced rail lines with buses. Only when the federal government agreed to pay part of the cost of building new rail lines did many transit agencies get interested in new rail transit construction. Since then, the number of cities with rail transit has quintupled.

This is just one way in which the Biden infrastructure plan will waste money. Another is a “fix‐​it first” provision associated with Biden’s proposed highway spending. Although highways nominally get a little more money than transit ($115 billion vs. $85 billion), the “fix it first” rule means that states will not be able to build new roads until all existing roads are considered to be in good condition. No such rule will be applied to transit.

In fact, America’s state highways and bridges are already in pretty good condition. The number of bridges rated to be in “poor” condition has declined from 124,000 in 1992to 45,000 in 2020. The average roughness of pavement has also declined, meaning fewer potholes. These improvements were made without a giant infrastructure bill.

Transit infrastructure, meanwhile, is in terrible shape and deteriorating faster than agencies are maintaining it. The latest estimate is that transit needs $174 billion to get into a state of good repair. (It would cost a lot less to convert most rail transit to buses, which could be done in most cities whose initials are not NYC without harming transit systems.) If a fix‐​it first rule should be applied to anything, it would be transit.

An even more fundamental flaw with the Biden plan is that it completely ignores recent events, namely the pandemic. Even after everyone is vaccinated, it is expected that more people will work at home, fewer jobs will be located in downtowns, and more households will move to lower density areas. All of these changes hurt transit ridership, which is not likely to recover to more than about 75 percent of its pre‐​pandemic levels. This is a bad time to increasing spending on transit infrastructure.

The federal government should stop giving cities incentives to build expensive rail transit lines they don’t need. If Congress really wants to help infrastructure, it should just give money to the states based on a formula that takes population, land area, and miles of passenger travel and freight shipping (or user fees) into account and let the states decide how to spend the money.

Trump Allies to Counter Left, Block Biden by Going to Court

Matthew Whitaker, former acting attorney general, is part of a new legal coalition that is pushing back on the left’s radical agenda. Pictured: Whitaker speaks Feb. 28, 2020, during the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

A group of former Trump administration officials have formed America First Legal to stop the Biden administration’s executive actions and counter the radical left’s plans to transform our country.

Led by Stephen Miller, former White House senior adviser and director of speechwriting, America First Legal promises to turn the tables on the left, which used the court system to stymie some of former President Donald Trump’s key initiatives.

“The only difference between what happened to the Trump administration and what we are going to do is we’re actually going to have the law and the Constitution on our side,” says Matthew Whitaker, acting U.S. attorney general under Trump and one of those involved in the new organization.

Whitaker joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to talk about America First Legal’s plans and some of the biggest issues, including illegal immigration and Second Amendment rights, to emerge so far from the Biden administration.

Want to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle? Want to know the most important stories of the day for conservatives? Need news you can trust? Subscribe to The Daily Signal’s email newsletter. Learn more >>

Also on today’s show, we read your letters to the editor and share a good news story about a father and daughter who created a YouTube channel to empower special needs children.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.

Rob Bluey: We are joined on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today by Matthew Whitaker. He’s the former acting U.S. attorney general and now working with the group America First Legal. Matthew, it’s great to have you on the show.

Matthew Whitaker: I am so glad to be with you today, Rob.

Bluey: Well, can you begin by telling us about America First Legal? What’s your mission and what do you want to accomplish?

Whitaker: Yeah. America First Legal was formed by several former Trump administration high-ranking officials—including myself, Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, and Russ Vought, and some others—to really advance and continue the policies through court action and legal proceedings of the Trump administration.

A lot of it’s going to be challenging the Biden administration’s administrative overreach and unconstitutional actions, whether they be in the areas of immigration, guns, D.C. statehood, and other things like that.

We’re going to be very active. It’s really going to be comparable to what you’ve seen during the Trump administration, the [American Civil Liberties Union] and other legal groups advancing.

Bluey: Your organization promises to use every legal tool at your disposal to defend our citizens from unconstitutional executive overreach. Well, in less than 100 days of the Biden administration, there’s certainly no shortage of examples. Where do you plan to begin?

Whitaker: Well, I think you’re going to see, in the next week, us jumping into several important areas of what the Biden administration is doing. I don’t want to hide the lead here, but I think you’re going to see some exciting efforts from our group.

You’re going to see us partnering with state attorneys general, other public interest litigation groups around the country to really challenge some of what the Biden administration is doing, but there’s so much more that they’re planning to do.

One of the things that happened during the Trump administration is the left was very effective in finding venues—whether it be in California or a couple other states like New York—to frustrate the president’s agenda. So I think you’re going to see us use similar tactics and means to get around the country.

The only difference between what happened to the Trump administration and what we are going to do is we’re actually going to have the law and the Constitution on our side and not just need a friendly venue.

So I think the long-term effects of our efforts are going to be great and they’re going to help maintain the republic, hopefully for another generation or two.

Bluey: I’d like to talk about some of those policy issues in just a moment, but you bring up an important point there. The left has regularly turned to the courts to get their way, particularly during the Trump administration, and you were right in the middle of many of those legal fights. What can conservatives learn from them and emulate?

Whitaker: I think some of the tactics that they employed were quite effective. I look at when they would have the similar lawsuits brought in three different jurisdictions, hoping to find the right judge that would give them a nationwide injunction. That was a very effective strategy.

And obviously, when one judge in one district in Southern California can put in a nationwide injunction, which I think is actually illegal under the federal rules of civil procedure, but nonetheless, they got those nationwide injunctions and obviously shut us down, and in many different fronts.

Like I said, we had litigation going on, especially, in California in the 9th Circuit—and it’s in the Northern District and Southern District of California—but we had a whole dedicated team to try to combat many of those lawsuits.

And while what we were doing has been verified, ultimately, by the Courts of Appeals or the Supreme Court as legitimate and legal, I think what you’re seeing [President Joe] Biden do is completely illegal and unconstitutional. And I think we’re going to have to be patient, pick our opportunities, and at the same time, be very aggressive in pursuing these cases.

Bluey: Some of those biggest legal fights came on the issue of immigration during the Trump administration. It’s certainly on the minds of many Americans today, given the border crisis that President Biden has created by dismantling so much of the Trump administration’s strategy. What can be done to restore the rule of law in that particular case?

Whitaker: Well, it’s a great question. Obviously, the immigration framework is broken. As I was right in the middle of it for almost two years, what I saw is just a patchwork of court opinions, consent decrees, and laws that intertwined to just make an absolute mess, where the effective and efficient administration of our immigration system was completely broken.

And I think what we bring at American First Legal is not only a keen understanding of how these things fit together—whether it be the public charge where you can’t, essentially, be on welfare and come into our country, you have to be able to support yourself; whether it be some of the stuff that’s happening with the children at the border; or whether it comes to border wall construction; all these areas—I think not only do we have an expertise, but we have a knowledge of the regulatory scheme that we advanced and the legality of it.

Obviously, a lot of our stuff was vetted thoroughly by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, and a lot of smart lawyers had already looked at it.

So I think this is where, again, we’re going to pick the right fights, but certainly, immigration is a place where this administration is doing things that are not only illegal, but are really, quite frankly, ham-handed and not very intelligent.

Bluey: Yeah. Certainly seems to lack a lot of common sense, particularly given the strategy that was in place seemed to be working quite effectively, and it’s just become such a problem now.

One of the other areas where I’ve seen Stephen Miller weigh in is the issue of Americans’ Second Amendment rights. We’ve seen the Biden administration make some noise about this early on. How can we ensure that Americans still enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms?

Whitaker: Well, this is probably the fight of our generation, in all seriousness. And I think this administration is going to try to regulate really everything about guns, whether that be just their appearance, whether they’re aggressive-looking and therefore assault weapons instead of rifles; or … magazine capacity; they’re going to regulate who can own them, how you can own them.

We’ve seen that the Supreme Court, I think, is fairly solid on Second Amendment issues. Every case that has finally made it to their desks, they’ve made sure that the Second Amendment is alive and well. But that isn’t going to prevent this administration from, ultimately, I think, just trying to grab Americans’ guns, especially AR-15s and AK-47s, and any other styled weapon that appears to be aggressive, even though, functionally, it’s the same as a hunting weapon.

Bluey: You mentioned that Russ Vought, President [Donald] Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, is involved with America First Legal. Of course, for us, as a Heritage [Foundation] alum, we are grateful for his work.

One of the things that he did in conjunction with President Trump was end critical race theory trainings throughout the federal government. Of course, President Biden made that one of his first actions, to reverse President Trump’s decision.

But what can federal employees do if they’re forced to participate in these programs? And is there anything that we as Americans can do to ensure that our tax dollars aren’t spent in this way?

Whitaker: Yeah, this is another area of the battlefield that we’re going to have to pursue because this critical race theory, you know, essentially, [is] something that says that certain races are superior to others.

I mean, it is inconsistent with American tradition and American law, and I think we have to continue to make sure that not only are federal employees not subjected to this type of training and indoctrination, but ultimately that taxpayers aren’t paying for it.

The federal government is big, inefficient, and the last thing we need is people wasting their time on academic theories that really are inconsistent with the human experience. So I think this is something that we’ll find an opportunity to insert in and make sure that the American people are fully represented in that.

Bluey: Your group, of course, uses the name America First Legal. “America First” is a term that President Trump, of course, spoke about frequently, and there are so many people who were involved in the Trump administration who are now trying to make sure they carry a lot of those policies forward.

How do you plan to work with others in the conservative movement to make sure you’re advancing and continuing to pursue those policies and strategies in a way that is effective?

Whitaker: Yeah, well, we have those relationships. There have been several groups that have also been set up—whether it’s Ben Carson’s group, whether it’s Brooke Rollins who ran the Domestic Policy Council, Russ obviously has his own group that’s going to do some important policy work—and obviously, we’re all familiar with each other, we have great relationships, and we’re going to talk about these kinds of things to see how we can advance that America First agenda.

I think President Trump really understood where the American people and most importantly, where the American worker could be benefited by better policies, whether they’re trade, whether they’re tax policies; whatever the area, the president was laser-focused on some of these key issues that really would set America up to be successful for the next generation.

And I think we need to protect those policies, to advance those policies, and to, at the same time, where we can, support politicians that share our view. So that’s, I think, one of the areas that this ecosystem that we’re all part of ultimately is going to need to be smart and tactical at the same time, but understand the long-term strategy.

Bluey: Well, thank you for the work you are doing.

Shifting gears a bit, you served as a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, before becoming chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then acting attorney general yourself. What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time in government?

Whitaker: You know, I think I have always tried to work hand-in-hand with state and local law enforcement, whether that’s the police or the sheriff’s deputies, to protect the most vulnerable.

I do believe that every child has a right to play in their front yard without fear of violence or violent crime affecting their lives, and so we need to continue to get the trigger pullers and the most violent, aggressive people off of our streets and put them behind bars for a long time. And I think I’m proud of that.

I’m proud of the work we did in the First Step Act. I think that was an important reset on some of our criminal justice efforts and incarceration policies.

I’m proud of, also, the way with which we were able to navigate some of these challenges at the border. The Department of Justice has all the immigration judges. We were able to change, in many cases, some of the law, so that some of this asylum fraud could be eliminated.

So there were so many, Rob. We could talk about all the accomplishments probably all day. There’s just so much we accomplished.

And at the Department of Justice, we were always at the front seat and [had] a clear view to that, but it was just an honor of a lifetime to serve in this administration. I have the upmost respect for my colleagues, and also, I just admire the president and what he was able to accomplish, and I want to continue that legacy.

Bluey: Well, certainly, we’ve talked a lot about the courts and the impact, and what you’re planning to do with America First Legal. One of President Trump’s most significant accomplishments was the number of judicial appointments he was able to make in his term in office.

How significant were they, in your opinion, and what will it mean for the next generation really when you have these legal battles going through district courts, appellate courts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court?

Whitaker: Yeah. I think it’s significant. Many of those folks that were appointed to judgeships I know personally because they were at the Department of Justice or at the White House, or otherwise I knew them through conservative legal circles.

One of the things that I can tell you is that now, in the 9th Circuit—which was the most difficult, you know, California, Washington, Oregon district circuit, which is the appellate court—you can now draw a majority conservative panel, which you never could up until Donald Trump appointed some judges.

I have at least one on the 9th Circuit that was on my staff that’s a really good conservative judge, and it’s exciting to know that we put over 300 judges in those seats.

I don’t think anybody can suggest that the three that were put on the Supreme Court weren’t rock-ribbed conservatives that are going to judge based on what the law is, not the political agenda that they’re trying to advance. So I’m excited about what we did at the Supreme Court as well.

Bluey: And finally, I have a sports question to ask you. You were an Academic All-American while playing tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes. It certainly was a different time in sports when you were involved; politics didn’t seem to dominate every conversation or you weren’t getting political alerts from ESPN. What do you think about the trend of athletes engaging in some of these highly charged political debates?

Whitaker: Well, I’m concerned. I think American people look at sports as their place where they can sort of put the world behind them and be entertained, and so it’s concerning.

I look at what LeBron James just did by posting a picture of a police officer and suggesting that that police officer is next; it seemed like, not a veiled threat, just a general threat.

We see athletes wanting to engage politically. I think, oftentimes, unfortunately, these athletes come off as highly uninformed. They don’t understand the political landscape in the United States of America. They don’t have the context for some of these highly charged issues.

And I think that’s what concerns me because, I mean, I do love sports, I love especially college football, and I just don’t want to have a toxic environment in sports where we’re immediately turned off by athletes and what they have to say.

I mean, I think it’s very dangerous, especially as a college athlete, to speak out when you have no life experience other than your unique experience. It’s a very small world and I think some maturity certainly would help. I know for me, it took some real education in politics, public policy, and the like that I didn’t have as a college athlete.

I think, at the same time, every American citizen has a First Amendment right to speak out. I just wish they were more informed and more knowledgeable on the issues before they did speak out.

Bluey: Well, I couldn’t agree more. I think that it’s so important for that to happen. And I think you made a great point there; that Americans often turn to sports as a way to focus on something else other than politics.

I think that’s why so many, I think, conservatives struggle with Major League Baseball’s decision to make a very political move of moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta and why you’re seeing, at least in public opinion polls, so many conservatives now saying that they’re either going to boycott or tune out Major League Baseball.

This move by corporations or big entities like that to bow to the pressure from the left, it’s certainly a concern, and I think it’s something that we all need to be aware of and push back on when we can.

Whitaker: I totally agree. Obviously, the situation with Major League Baseball has not aged well. By taking that significant amount of economic development out of the city of Atlanta and moving it to the city of Denver, really, there’s no doubt that it hurt minorities and it hurt people that would have benefited from that game there. And I think that, obviously, it politicized Major League Baseball when some of us just want to cheer for our home team.

Bluey: That’s absolutely right.

Well, Matthew, let’s leave it there. Again, the group is called America First Legal. Appreciate the work that you and Stephen Miller and the entire team are doing there. We look forward to keeping a close eye on it at The Daily Signal and wish you all the best.

Whitaker: Yep. Go to aflegal.org if you want to learn more. Thank you.

Ep. 4 – From Cradle to Grave [6/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980)

March 11, 2021

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

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for taking time to have your office try and get a pulse on what is going on out here in the country. I wanted to let you know what I think about the minimum wage increase you have proposed for the whole country and I wanted to quote Milton Friedman who you are familiar with and you made it clear in July that you didn’t care for his views! Let me challenge you to take a closer look at what he had to say!

_____________

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

PREVENTING FISCAL MELTDOWNS WITH A SPENDING CAP by Dan Mitchell

Preventing Fiscal Meltdowns with a Spending Cap

As part of my recent interview about European economic policy with Gunther Fehlinger, I pontificated on issues such as Convergence and Wagner’s Law.

I also explained why a Swiss-style spending cap could have saved Greece and Italy from fiscal crisis. Here’s that part of the discussion.

For those not familiar with spending caps, this six-minute videotells you everything you need to know.

Simply stated, this policy requires politicians to abide by fiscal policy’s Golden Rule, meaning that – on average – government spending grows slower than the private economy.

And that’s a very effective recipe for a lower burden of spending and falling levels of red ink.

One of the points I made in the video is that spending caps would prevented the fiscal mess in Greece and Italy.

To show what I mean, I went to the International Monetary Funds World Economic Outlook database and downloaded the historical budget data for those two nations. I then created charts showing actual spending starting in 1988 compared to how much spending would have grown if there was a requirement that the budget could only increase by 2 percent each year.

Here are the shocking numbers for Greece.

The obvious takeaway is that there never would have been a fiscal crisis if Greece had a spending cap.

That also would be true even if the spending cap allowed 3-percent budget increases starting in 1998.

And it would be true if the 2-percent spending cap didn’t start until 2000.

There are all sorts of ways of adjusting the numbers. The bottom line is that any reasonable level of spending restraint could have prevented the horrible misery Greece has suffered.

Here are the numbers for Italy.

As you can see, the government budget has not increased nearly as fast in Italy as it did in Greece, but the burden of spending nonetheless has become more onerous – particularly when compared to what would have happened if there was a 2-percent spending cap.

I’ve written many times (here, here, here, and here) about Italy’s looming fiscal crisis. As I said in the interview, I don’t know when the house of cards will collapse, but it won’t be pretty.

And tax reform, while very desirable, is not going to avert that crisis. At least not unless it is combined with very serious spending restraint.

P.S. For those who want information about real-world success stories, I shared three short video presentations back in 2015 about the spending caps in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Colorado.

P.P.S. It’s also worth noting that the United States would be in a much stronger position today if we had enacted a spending capa couple of decades ago.

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

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