Saturday, September 6, 2008

Will the Fiscal Conservatives Please Step Forward?

We're at war. We're not paying for it. Will anyone have the cohones to say we might need to raise someone's taxes to pay for it? She won't. He won't.

Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain, Substance

Just wanted to go out there and say that through all the other stuff that some folks might criticize about Mac's speech, the one (maybe only) substantive idea in it that resonated with economic theory was his portion about trade, openness, and adjustment assistance. His proposal seemed to mirror what J. David Richardson of Syracuse has proposed - some wage assistance while you take a lower wage job in transition to sectors that are growing.

The rest of the speech seemed like all the others, from both conventions. That is to say, it was full of political fluff and rancor.

Bid Baby Bid

There's a lot of baloney out there about drilling. One group of dolts wants you to think it should be done at all costs because it will "crah-ate jawbs fir hurd-wurkin Amuhricans" and "rah-doos ahr dahpendens on furrin awl." Silliness. The other thinks it's being clever by pointing out that "drilling in these areas will harm the environment" and "have virtually no impact on prices." Highbrow silliness.

As Free Exchange and Tyler Cowen point out, the reason that drilling might be useful is that it generates a whole lotta money, and these fiduciary benefits may simply dwarf the costs - cost benefit, plain and simple. But really, they're missing the point too!

Drill baby drill is a silly oversimplification of what should be done. The government OWNS that land, and shouldn't simply write over the mineral rights to it to the oil companies; these rights should be sold, preferably by auction, and preferable for at least a couple hundred billion dollars (based on reserve estimates). That way, the excess benefits that can be anticipated can be captured, and redistributed towards environmental restoration, transfers, and debt reduction.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Menu Costs and Information

Are the costs of changing menus really the main barrier that makes restaurants not want to print caloric and nutritional information?

Selection Bias and the Truthfulness of Palin

Last night, Palin said Obama would raise "your" taxes. I take her at her word, assuming her words were intended only for those individuals in the halls of the convention. Chances are those convention attenders are mostly among the top 5% of Americans (those earning above $250,000) whose taxes would go up under the Obama plan. But out there in TV land, peoples' taxes would be HIGHER under MCCAINS plan. Check it out at the Tax Policy Center or play around at

Desks, like Lunch, is not Free

This is an interesting counterpoint to the Huckabee tear-jerking, flag-waving anecdote at the end of his speech. Publicly provided things (including the wars we fight) cost money. In the end you can't spend more and sustain tax cuts. The taxes needed to finance W's reckless spending will come, now or later. Pass it along and Bush might get the memo.