Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Incentive to Die?

I remember a humorous story from Parentonomics about a policy in
Australia (which had been facing unusually low population growth) that
awarded new parents a couple thousand bucks to have a kid during a
specified period (let's say ending June 30 because I can't remember the
exact dates). Well, the story went, there were an unusually large
number of births on during the last week of June that year, and
especially on June 30 (along with a correspondingly low number during
the first few days of July). There were lots of theories about this,
including: (1) fraud, getting doctors to put June 30 for a baby born on
July 1; and (2) inducements and/or cesarian sections scheduled before
the deadline.
Bush (W, not HW) put through a law that would
decrease and eliminate the estate tax by 2010, but with a rebound to
pre-Bush levels in 2011. How did no one accuse Bush of creating a death
panel?!? Wouldn't this promote some combination of fraud or worse,
euthanasia? Part of me says, "Let's leave it that way and see what
happens - it would be a neat experiment on the limits of tax
evasiveness," but that wouldn't be ethical. Instead, something needs to
be done to either make sure it is slowly phased back in, or not
reintroduced depending on your political fancy.

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