Saturday, April 30, 2005

This is something I find frustrating when dealing with the topic of trade, look at this headline:

Trade War Promises to Hurt U.S. Jobs

More importantly, trade wars hurt U.S. consumers, though, to be fair, at least they mentioned this at the end of the article:

Repeal supporters say it is needed because the Byrd amendment is encouraging more companies to file antidumping cases to get government payouts, thus driving up the cost of imports for U.S. consumers.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Free Banking

Here's a paper by Selgin and White about private banking, coinage, and currency.

Link via Division of Labour

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Day Worth Celebrating

Today (April 17) is Tax Freedom Day.

Link via Adam Smith Institute

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Our tax laws are so complicated even a logician has a hard time trying to figure out what they mean.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Estate Tax

The House just recently voted to repeal the estate tax. The best argument against the "death" tax is that it discourages savings. In the words of Stephen Moore:

"The death tax rewards the life of lavish and unproductive consumption it is intended to discourage. This tax says to the elderly: Live high on the hog. Wrap yourself in material comfort. Eat, drink, be merry. You can't take it with you, and you can't leave most of it to your kids. Your goal is to die broke -- the ultimate form of tax avoidance. Meanwhile the frugal men and women who scrimp and save and build a legacy to leave to their children are hit by a tax that allows the IRS to snatch more than half. Through the death tax, we reward vice and punish virtue."

Unfortunately, whether or not the Senate will vote to repeal the tax is unclear.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Think Tanks

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while knows that I love to cite from Think Tanks and why not? They're full of useful information and statistics. The Heartland Institute (another think tank) has posted a guide for various conservative/classical-liberal/libertarian think tanks (full pdf version here).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Milton Friedman on Social Security

Q: Do you believe that Social Security should be privatized, or no?

A: Yes, I believe that Social Security should be privatized. However there are also other things they can do with it.

Q: How do you believe the system should be fixed, and not just Social Security, but perhaps also Medicare, which seems to be a greater and more prevalent problem?

A: Well first of all, I don't believe there should be a Social Security system of our present kind. Our current Social Security system is a Ponzi which the young pay in to pay the current expenses of the old. It's also being misrepresented, as if it were a form of insurance, that when you pay Social Security taxes, you are paying money which is being put away for your own benefit. That is not the case. The money that you pay goes out immediately, either to pay pensions to current retirees or to pay other expenses of government. There are no real assets corresponding to it...

One of the interesting things is, everybody talks about the problems of Social Security as the fact that the number of workers are going up less rapidly than the number of retirees. Well if that's the problem, you would think it would also effect life insurance companies, and yet haven't heard any problems with the life insurance companies, have you?

The ideal situation would be that we abolish Social Security and let people save for their own retirement.

I think its disgraceful that, well, take the case that always seems to be the most extreme. You have a young man who has AIDS. He is seriously ill and dying at age 50 at the latest, and when he's 40, the government comes along and says we gotta take a sixth of your income and put it aside for your old age. How absurd can you be?

Social Security has become a kind of an icon, an untouchable, and yet it's basic premise is flawed.

Q: Knowing that it won't be abolished, how would you propose to save Social Security?

A: What I would do is link the benefits to the price index, not a wage index. I would do that the whole way down and not just with the upper incomes. That would solve a good part of the problem. I would raise the date of retirement, and I would go in for private accounts, but on a larger scale. I would allow workers to keep 6 percent of their taxes.

Q: If the federal government does move to private accounts, does the $3 trillion that President Bush says he would have to borrow to get that moving cause a greater stress on the American economy?

A: No, because we already have that obligation. What we are talking about is replacing an unfunded debt with funded debt. We already have an obligation to all the people like myself who are currently on Social Security. The difference is it is not written out as funded debt. So when you talk about borrowing, they are not really changing the total government debt, they are only changing how much they recognize, and what is open and above board and how much of it is hidden in other funding.

From Donald Luskin

Update: You can read the whole interview here.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Evil Alliance?

This could be scary. Can environmentalists and anti-immigration acivists become friends? I hope not.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Believe it or not there are people who believe that more choice is a bad thing. Barry Schwartz argues that in his book The Paradox of Choice. The Angry Economist criticizes Schwartz here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Cold War Protectionism

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko addressed Congress the other day. One of his requests was the repeal of Jackson-Vanik trade measure which barred the Soviet Union from gaining Most Favored Nation trade status because of restrictions on Jewish emigration. See more here.

Pork Spending

The CAGW has released its annual Pig Book and a record $27 billion was spent on wasteful projects. Some examples include:

· $10,000,000 for the International Fund for Ireland;

· $3,000,000 for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation;

· $1.7 million for the International Fertilizer Development Center;

· $1,430,000 for various Halls of Fame, including $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., and $70,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis.;

· $350,000 for the Inner Harmony Foundation and Wellness Center in Scranton, Penn.;

· $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation; and

· $100,000 for the Bach to School Program.

Friday, April 01, 2005

OSHA Kills!

Okay, maybe my title is a bit inflammatory, but still here's a study that concludes that some regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may have caused the deaths of firefighters. Here are some examples:

* Self-contained breathing devices and fire-retardant clothing adds at least 60 pounds of weight to firefighters, which contribute to the excessive physical stress and exhaustion that often precedes cardiac arrest.
* Firefighters regularly train to work under zero-visibility conditions by using their breathing devices, but fighting fire under those conditions exposes them to life-threatening disorientation created by denser smoke.
* Mandated protective gear has contributed to firefighters being more aggressive with interior fire operations; they also inhibit firefighters from using their ears as thermometers to sense when it is time to leave the building.