26
May
11

Clearing out some tabs, part the first

Things I wanted to blog about, but haven’t yet (in no particular order):

Stephen Gordon summarizes Statistics Canada’s data thus:

The sharp rise in the retirement-age population has already begun, and very little can change the demographic trajectory of the next 20 years.

If I’m gonna get fucked in the paycheque by Previous Generations, can I at least claim a jar of Vaseline as a tax deduction?

Speaking of “getting fucked in the paycheque by Previous Generations”, Megan McArdle buckles on her pauldrons and saddles up for another tilt at the windmill:

Regarding a well-publicized graph, she notes:

The CBPP gets its figure by taking present values of the Bush upper income tax cuts extended over 75 years, and comparing them to the present value of the Social Security shortfall.  For those who haven’t taken finance classes, present values are sort of like compound interest, in reverse.  Instead of adding up the future gains from interest rates, you discount future cash flows by a discount rate.

Much finance geekery follows.  Oh look, and another graph!

Folks, arguing about whether or not Social Security can/should be funded is sort of like arguing about whether a patient with metastatic leukemia should quit smoking.  This is not the demographically-fucked entitlement you’re looking for.  (Note also that the above graph appears to elide debt-service payments.  Perhaps this is ignorance on my part, and it’s all normalized somehow, but nonzero “total spending” slopes and zero “revenue” slopes make me acutely nervous.)

Says Wheedles the caricature of a Progressive: “But how can you possibly fail to care about disadvantaged people in great need?”  Well, I dunno, you caricature of a Progressive; why don’t you tell me?

The Institute for Justice, obviously a Koch Brothers-funded puppet organization supporting like Halliburton and banks and stuff, successfully defended the property rights of over 700 Californian homeowners from the egregiously unsupported “blight” designation — and subsequent seizure — put forth by their benevolent community-planning municipal-government overlords.

And while I’m needling Teh Lefts, I’ll just leave this right here:

Peer-reviewed and everything!  From the abstract:

[A] 90% confi dence interval for government jobs gained is between approximately zero and 900 thousand and the counterpart for private HELP services jobs lost is 160 to 1378 thousand.  In the goods-producing sector and the services not in our HELP subset, our point estimate jobs e ffects are, respectively, negligible and negative, and not statistically di fferent from zero. However, our estimates are precise enough to state that we fi nd no evidence of large positive private-sector
job eff ects. […] It appears that state and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to off set state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than directly boost private sector employment.

What, this?  This is my shocked face.  You like it?  Thanks!  I get lots of practice.

Remember those stimulus cheques, and how most people used ’em to pay off debt rather than to boost Aggregate Demand?  Turns out states did the same thing.  What?  No, this is the same shocked face as before.

Okay, let’s move on.  I guess we’ll sling things over to one of my favourite leftists, E.D. Kain:

It’s all about redistribution.  Not necessarily forcible redistribution, mind!  When I tip the beer nerd at my local liquor store because he finally got some obscure IPA in stock — because he knew I’d enjoy it — I’m “redistributing income” to correct a market failure (nobody’s paying him to look after his customers; well, at this liquor store that might not be true, but bear with me here).  Kain raises an interesting question, which is supremely ironic given his post’s focus on redistribution as a social good:

If libertarians are correct that government intervention tends to benefit the wealthy (I would largely agree) and that the government has entrenched and enriched many of the wealthy that the free market would “eat” if left alone, then isn’t much of the wealth accrued by corporations and the wealthy in this country in fact stolen wealth – wealth that would otherwise be much more evenly distributed?

Well, yes!  If thuh gummint wasn’t so dead-set on stealing money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to (cough)corporate(/cough) welfare queens, that wealth wouldn’t be taxed — it would go to deserving businesses through voluntary exchange and improve outcomes on both sides.  But nooo… we gotta have pro sports teams, and some banks — and car companies — are too big to fail!

Kain does win an internet with this gem, though:

I like a lot of what [Gary Chartier says about redistribution in the absence of government] but I think speaking in terms of order of operations is pretty crucial.

[…]

We may be able to do a lot of good by reducing interference by the state, freeing up markets, and so forth, but we should be really wary of trying to do these things at the same time as stripping back the welfare state. I guess one thing that has really turned me off to libertarianism is not libertarianism-in-theory, but libertarianism as a means of cutting (or ‘privatizing’) services for those who really need them. If a free market would actually lead to greater overall prosperity and agency across the board, let’s work on getting a free market before we start to take a pick-axe to the welfare state.

Um, see “Medicare and debt-service payment projections”, above, but I really appreciate the sentiment.  I think Kain speaks for a lot of not-libertarians, people who’re not unsympathetic to the idea of free markets (proper free markets, understand; not unfettered corporatist “free markets”) and cranking down on the security state but don’t like the talk of privatizing the fire department or voting against the Civil Rights Act.  We anarchocapitalists need to distinguish, for PR reasons if nothing else, what we’d like to see happen in the Glorious And Distant Future and what we’d like to see happen next election cycle.

Oops; hit my word count, gotta stop for the moment.  I’ll be back with the next exciting installment of “look what I found on teh intarwebz!

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