Tag: Economics
Knowledge Better Left Unknown

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. About certain things, however, any knowledge at all is dangerous and potentially fatal. One such piece of purported knowledge pertains to the size distribution of income and wealth. This knowledge serves no good purpose; it is wholly unnecessary for defensible government policy or action....
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Fred S. McChesney, Rest in Peace

I first met Fred S. McChesney (1948–2017) at the Federal Trade Commission in the early 1980s. Ronald Reagan had just been elected to the presidency and had appointed James C. Miller III as the FTC’s chairman. Robert D. Tollison had been confirmed as the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. I am not...
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Progressive Democracy Works for the 1%

The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in 2011 protested government policies that favored the 1%, the elite, over the 99%, the masses. Their protests were justified. The Wall Street fat cats who owned mortgage-backed securities were bailed out, but homeowners who had lost their jobs and couldn’t pay their mortgages were foreclosed. But...
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A Plea to My Male (and Female) Colleagues in Economics

In a recent blog post, Jeffrey R. Brown, a Professor of Business and Dean at the College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, published a “public plea” to his “male senior colleagues in economics.” In the post, he references the research of an undergraduate student who looked at the words used to...
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The Double Tax on Saving

In an earlier post I argued for expanding tax-deferred retirement accounts because they eliminate the double tax on saving that exists under the current tax system. Here is the basic idea. People earn income and pay income tax on that income. If they save it and then earn interest (or dividends, or capital gains,...
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Tax Reform V: Eliminate the Estate Tax

The estate tax amounts to a penalty on the heirs of those who have accumulated wealth over their lifetimes. It raises less than 1% of federal revenues, so it provides almost no benefit to anybody, but imposes a big cost on a few. There are many ways for the wealthy to avoid the estate...
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Tax Reform IV: Corporate Tax Reform

The United States has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world. While both the Obama administration and Trump administration have criticized American companies for moving operations off-shore, and considered a variety of policies for punishing them if they do, a better approach would be to design policies that make it...
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Tax Reform III: Tax Employer Health Care Benefits; Offer a Tax Credit to Health Insurance Purchasers

In an earlier blog post I suggested eliminating all personal tax deductions, with a possible exception related to health care. One of the well-publicized problems with the American health care system is that employer-provided health insurance is not taxed, pushing us to a system in which people get health insurance from their employers. A...
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Tax Reform II: Lower Rates; Eliminate Deductions

As Congress considers tax reform, the focus on the personal income tax should be to lower rates and eliminate all deductions except for a standard deduction that applies to everyone. Lower rates enough to offset the increased revenue from eliminating deductions, and set the standard deduction at a level that raises the same amount...
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Tax Reform I: Expand the IRA

As Congress turns its attention to tax reform, one desirable change would be to expand the availability of IRA accounts to more taxpayers, with higher limits, and for purposes other than retirement. I’ll follow up with more tax reform recommendations in later posts, and apologize for making my first suggestion a somewhat technical one....
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