Re: Robert Frank and the Real Median Wage

2007-04-18 Thread AdmrlLocke
I have mentioned two factors in response to your earlier emails and got no 
response, so perhaps my message didn't go through.   One factor regards the 
question of what they're measuring--money wage versus total employee 
  The non-wage component of total employee compensation has risen 
substantially over the past decade or two, primarily in the form of increasing 
value of 
medical insurance.   The other factor regards the deflator they're using--CPI-U 
versus CPI-X or perhaps even GDP deflator.   

Of course we might wonder why real median income per capita has risen even 
using the CPI-U as a deflator but real median wages have not.   I'd start with 
total employee compensation to answer that question.

In a message dated 4/17/07 11:54:34 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 In that NY Times article, Frank said that the median hourly wage adjusted 
 for inflation was lower in 2005 than it was in 1980. I looked for data on the 
 median hourly wage over time at the BLS and could not find a series going 
 back to 1980. One person who works there told me they did keep track of it.
  I did find data on the median real income over time at the Census Bureau 
 website. Here is a link to the data I used in my analysis below
  From 1974 to 1982, the real median income for males fell 7.7%. From 1982 
 (maybe the first year Reagonomics may have had an effect) to 1990, they went 
 8.8%. For females, in the earlier period, it increased 6.8%. In the latter 
 period, it increased 27.9%.
  Frank seemed to be saying that trickle down or Reagonomics did not work. 
 These numbers seem to show that it worked well or at least did not do poorly.
  From BLS data, it appears that the mean real hourly wage from 1980-2005 did 
 not change much. This Census Bureau site shows the real median income for 
 both males and females being higher in the latter year. Anyone know why the 
 discrpeancy? Has the proportion of income earners who are paid by the hour 
 changed? The increase for both men and women means things have gotten 
 better. Anyone know if there is anything wrong with the census data?
 Cyril Morong, Ph. D.
 Associate Professor of Economics
 San Antonio College

 See what's free at

If real median wages have fallen

2007-04-13 Thread AdmrlLocke
Journalists and Democrats blame Republican policies, but I don't know which 
policies and I suspect neither do the journalists or Democrats.

Xenophobes blame Mexican immigrants, foreign competition, and outsourcing of 
phone jobs to people in other countries.

Referring to the same claim made by journalists and Democrats about the 
1980s, The Heritage Foundation noted that the usual deflator, CPI-U, overstates 
inflation.   When they used CPI-X, carefully crafted to overcome at least some 
the overstatement, they found that real wages had risen in the 1980s.   I 
think someone on the list already mentioned the choice of deflator in a 
way, and once again using CPI-U might be the culprit. I tend to regard any CPI 
as too narrow, and would recommend using a broader measure like the GDP 
Implicit Price Deflator.

Another problem might come from the particular wage series on which someone 
is basing the claim that real wages haven't risen.   The someone might be 
using money wages instead of total compensation. The tax-free status of fringe 
benefits, especially health insurance, has led the non-money component of total 
employee compensation to rise significantly in recent decades.

In a message dated 4/12/07 6:00:17 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 If real median wages have fallen, especially over a long time, why would 
 that be?

 See what's free at

Re: How to Stop the PlaySation Violence

2006-11-24 Thread AdmrlLocke
I was watching the local news last night   as they covered Thanksgiving night 
shopping stories in the DC metro area. Apparently some stores opened last 
night to start off the Christmas shopping season and hundreds of people lined 
at one store for six hours or more.   About 50 people showed up right before 
the store opened and tried to form their own line to go in ahead of the 
hundreds already there.   The store manager had to come out with employees and 
the new people to get into the existing line.   It got   ugly and they called 
the police, although apparently the people in the longer line managed to 
intimidate the newcomers into getting into the original line, so that by the 
the cops got there things had settled down.   Then the store opened and 
only a few people at a time.   As I watched I thought, Why are there lines? 
Because the prices are too low.

When I lived back in Iowa I ventered out one Thanksgiving night to a store 
and did some electronics shopping, but there were no Iowans in the store--just 
me and the employees, all immigrants from India.   I guess that means their 
prices were too high. :-)

Re: Drivers give helmeted cyclists less room?

2006-09-13 Thread AdmrlLocke
This suggests that people might include the safety of others in their utility functions.  An alternative explanation might suggest that people include a calcuation of the damages they'll have to pay if they injure someone else.  

Giving women even more space than non-helmeted men raises some interesting questions. Do drivers on average assume that women ride less skillfully and thus have a greater likelihood of falling over into the path of a car as it goes by? Or do drivers on average care more about injuring women than about injuring men?

Re: Average State Age

2006-04-27 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Tom,

Thank you very much for the links. It seems I can find median age, but not mean age. Perhaps nobody calculates the means.

In a message dated 4/27/06 6:07:33 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

U.S. Census Bureau is likely to be the best source.  Here’s a link to a table from that shows median age by state:|US-9S-_lang=en
 You can probably find average ages as well if you dig around a little; possibly using the same search tool I just used to generate the table above:

 From: ArmChair List [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:34 AM
Subject: Average State Age

 Does anyone know where I can find data on the average ages of US state populations?  Also, would anyone know offhand a good scholarly article that discusses the correlation between age and crime rates? Thanks.

David Levenstam

Average State Age

2006-04-26 Thread AdmrlLocke
Does anyone know where I can find data on the average ages of US state populations?  Also, would anyone know offhand a good scholarly article that discusses the correlation between age and crime rates? Thanks.

David Levenstam

Re: Real Wages

2005-11-29 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 11/29/05 11:47:15 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

In the inside cover of the principles book by Tollison, Ekelund and Ressler, they show average hourly earnings in 1964 at $11.88. For 2004, they have $15.64. I think they are using 2002 as the base year, but it is not clear (perhaps 2004). This shows about a 31% increase in the real hourly wage.
 But using the following sites
 The nominal wage was $2.53 in 1964 and $15.67 in 2004. The 2004 figure was 6.19 times has high as the 1964 figure.
 For the CPI, it went from 31.2 in December of 1964 to 190.3 in December of 2004. The 2004 figure is about 6.1 times the 1964 figure.
 This all seems to suggest just about no increase in real wages. Anyone know why this book shows an increase? The sources listed in the book are The Statistical Abstract of the United States and The Economic Report of the President.
 Cyril Morong

I don't know for sure, but it might depend on whether the consumer index uses CPI or CPIx.  The old CPI substantially overstated the rate of decline in the value of the dollar--which it wasn't originally designed to measure anyway--and the CPIx makes a herculean effort to correct for the various problems in the CPI.  As I recall using CPI showed real wages growing through 1973 and then grinding to a halt until the 1980s, when they crept up again.  Using CPIx to deflate the wages showed a substantial slowing of wages starting in 1973 and moderate growth in real wages starting in the 1980s.  I'd thought that I'd seen real wages continue to rise throughout much of the 1990s as well, using CPIx. I'm rather surprised, however, that even with the old CPI you get no growth in real wages at all--that would mean with CPI real wages must have declined in the 1990s.

Re: Katrina and the Evacuation of the Poor and Infirm: Market Failure?

2005-09-06 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 9/6/05 8:50:04 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I'm not sure the premise is entirely correct.  About 30% of the
(former?) population of New Orleans is below the federal poverty line,
yet 80-90%

The federal poverty line is just a politically-determined level at one time useful to liberal Democrats for beating middle-income Americans into a state of guilt in which the liberal Democrats could more easily consfiscate more of their income and give it to people who vote for liberal Democrats.  The American poverty line today is someone around the (real) median income of Americans in 1950.

Re: Szasz prize

2005-08-24 Thread AdmrlLocke
Woo-hoo! Congratulations Bryan!

Does this award come with pecunitary compensation? :-D


In a message dated 8/24/05 3:15:24 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I must gleefully report that I am one of the winners of the 2005 Thomas
S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil
Liberties, largely for my article "The Economics of Szasz: Preferences,
Constraints, and Mental Illness." The other prize-winner is
individualist feminist Joan Kennedy Taylor.

There will be an award ceremony at the Cato Institute on September 21,
6:00-7:30 P.M. The event is open to the public, and a lot of my friends
will be coming - probably including some of your favorite bloggers. If
you live in the D.C. area, it would be great chance to meet in person.

Hope to see you there!

Re: Interest rates and housing

2005-08-18 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/16/05 10:24:56 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The last real estate bottom was in 1990, so if this
is another 18-year cycle, the next depression would be
around 2008.  So far, the economy is tracking the
cycle right on schedule.  In my judgment, the economy
is entering the plateau stage.

Heh, Fred, I guess you are the only armchair economist left.  

If government  has causes a real estate price bubble by artificially loweringn interest rates, how can it have an 18-year cycle, and why would it be the same under the federal serve system as it was under free banking or the period from the Civil War to the establishment of the Fed?  Why does the money go into residential real estate and not into stocks or automobiles or other assets? 



Re: Interest rates and housing

2005-08-18 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/18/05 11:28:53 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

--- Technotranscendence [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 there are political cycles too, such as the
Presidential cycle.  Yet this doesn't line up with

Yes, there several cycles going on at the same time.
There are also random shocks.  The 2001 downturn was
not caused by real estate, for example.

But some have more impact than others, and my analysis
of historic cycles indicates that the real estate
cycle is the most economically significant one.

Fred Foldvary


If the real estate cycle is based on government expansion of money, why does it have an 18-year cycle, any why has it been the same under three or four different monetary systems?


Re: Interest rates and housing

2005-08-18 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/18/05 11:40:59 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 If government has caused a real estate price
 bubble by artificially
 lowering interest rates, how can it have an 18-year

Because real estate construction takes years, and
recovery from a downturn takes years.
An exception is an inflationary boom that is not a
real  economic recovery, such as the stagflation of
the 1970s. That's why there was a real estate peak in

  Why does the money go
 into residential real estate and not into stocks or
 automobiles or other assets?

The money goes into all real estate, not just
residential.  Of course it also goes into stocks, as
with the tech boom of the 1990s, followed by the
downturn of 2001, which was not caused by real estate.
  But the real-estate boom prevented the 2001
recession from becoming major.  The big depressions
have all followed real estate booms.


I don't follow you. Are you saying that there's a real cycle of real estate that takes 18 years from (from peak to peak or from peak to trough?)?  That seems different from your initial contention that the current bubble has been caused by monetary growth.  Are you saying both things? If so, then do you predict a collapse of real estate prices based on monetary or real factors, or both?


Interest rates and housing

2005-08-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
Are there any armchair economists left? If so, what do you think of the following article?


David Levenstam
George Mason University

Interest rates and housing
Bruce Bartlett (archive)

August 16, 2005 | Print | Recommend to a friend

Last week the Federal Reserve again raised the federal funds interest rate, which now stands at 3.5 percent. When the Fed began tightening monetary policy in June 2004, this rate stood at just 1 percent.
  Thus far, there is little evidence that the Fed's actions have had any effect either on financial markets or the real economy. Market interest rates, especially for mortgages, remain low, and economic growth continues at a steady, if unspectacular, pace. Given the Fed's actions, economists would have expected interest rates to be higher and growth to be slower. The Fed calls the lack of impact a "conundrum."
  As a consequence, some analysts are saying that the Fed will have to raise the fed funds rate higher than it originally planned. A majority of forecasters in the Wall Street Journal's latest survey expect it to hit 4.5 percent before the Fed stops. Economists at Goldman Sachs are predicting five percent.
  The problem is that just because the Fed is raising rates gradually doesn't mean that the impact will be gradual. It could come quite abruptly. Think of a balloon. Whether you blow it up slowly or fast, at some point, it is still going to burst. The same thing oftentimes occurs with monetary policy. It may appear that nothing is going on for a long time and then, suddenly, something dramatic happens to show that monetary policy is working as expected.
  Another problem is that the Fed's policies always take time before they impact, and these lags vary. So it's very difficult to know precisely when the impact will be felt.
  Generally speaking, when the Fed tightens, the impact on the economy is symmetrical. That is, whatever sectors went up the most during the easing phase will fall the hardest when it tightens. Stocks went up most during the easing cycle from 1995 to 1998 and fell the most after the Fed tightened in 1999 and 2000.
  In the latest easing phase, which began in January 2001, the principal impact has been on housing. Over the last five years, housing prices nationally have risen by just over 50 percent. But in some areas, prices have risen much more. Those in California and the District of Columbia are up over 100 percent. Twelve other states have seen increases of over 60 percent. All except Nevada border either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
   However, much of the country has not seen significant housing price increases -- in 32 states they have risen less than the national average. In Utah, prices have gone up just 17.5 percent in the last five years -- little more than the 12.8 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index. Other laggards include Indiana (19.8 percent), Mississippi and Nebraska (both 21.8 percent). Almost all of the below average states are in the nation's heartland.
  In a recent speech, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco president Janet Yellen noted that the ratio of home prices to rents is about 25 percent above its long-term average. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, the ratio is 40 percent above normal. Experience shows that prices will either level off or fall when this is the case, bringing the ratio back to trend.
  One thing that may be different this time is that the abnormal price-to-rent ratio is being driven partially by falling rents, not just rising home prices. This is because investors are purchasing so many properties in hopes of rapid appreciation, increasing the supply of rental housing. And since much of this real estate has been purchased with interest-only or negative-amortization loans, investors don't need much rent to cover their payments.
  Negative-amortization loans are especially dangerous, both for borrowers and those making such loans. This type of loan is a bit like a credit card, where the full amount need not be paid every month. As long as a small minimum payment is made, the balance can be rolled over. In this case, the unpaid balance is added to the outstanding mortgage.
  This reduces one's cash flow expense, but also reduces one's profit at the back end when the property is sold. So unless prices rise fairly rapidly, one can easily get into a situation where the mortgage is greater than what one can clear at closing. Consequently, even if prices simply level off, a lot of investors may find themselves with mortgages they cannot pay back after a sale.
  Owning one's own home is still the best investment that anyone can make. And if you plan to stay put for a few years, you shouldn't worry about a bust in the housing market. But those buying investment properties on either coast should be very, very careful. It may take a lot longer than they think to make money and they should be sufficiently well capitalized to ride out a market dip.


Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-29 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/29/05 2:05:25 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

David ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) writes:

 It's funny, during the 1970s people commonly attributed the
 excellent rates of economic grown in Taiwan and Hong Kong to the
 "Confusion work ethic" while completely ignoring the poverty of the
 hundreds of millions of Chinese right next door in Communist China.

I usually heard this as an argument against communism -- as in,
"Chinese prosper everywhere int he world -- Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Singapore, Malaysia, America -- EXCEPT in Communist China.  So it's
obvious that the problem of poverty in China is with Communism, not
with anything inherent in the Chinese people."

Of course, there may be some selection bias involved in emigration,
but it's still a good point.

--Robert Book   

Indeed. And thanks also for the material on the luxury yachet (are there non-luxury yachets?) tax from the 1980s.  It's remarkable that a 10% rate nearly eliminated the US industry.  Imagine what would have happened had my failing memory been accurate, and Congress had indeed passed a 100% tax!

David Levenstam

Re: Dickens on the Laffer Curve

2005-04-23 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/23/05 4:42:26 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Peter C. McCluskey wrote:

 Mancur Olson claims in his book Power and Prosperity that the
 marginal income tax rate was effectively zero. The effective taxes
 were near 100% of what a typical worker in any given position could
 produce, but workers producing more than expected kept all the
 unexpected wealth. That created stronger incentives on each person to
 work hard than in the west, strong incentives to prevent others from
 working hard, and some incentives for each industry to deceive the
 system about what a typical worker can produce. There were few
 problems with the total amount of economic activity under Stalin. The
 problems were with the goals which that activity satisfied.

Much as I admire Olson, this is crazy.  Collectivization didn't just
costlessly move resources from agriculture to industry/military
production.  There was an enormous deadweight cost in reduced production
*per farmer*.  Not to mention massive destruction of human capital -
i.e. death.  He has a slightly better case for industry - Stalin did
firmly back unequal pay.  But a 0% marginal tax rate cuts against
everything I've ever read about Soviet economics under Stalin.

I'd been wondering how to express the very same thoughts--I do admire Oslon a great deal, and I do find the idea crazy.  Is it possible he was employing irony?

Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-22 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/22/05 9:55:30 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:


istribution.   The real question, according to
 McCloskey, is not why does Germany have only 75% of US per capital
 GDP, but why
 does Bangledesh have only 5% of US per capital GDP.   People in the countries
 with the top 10 or 15 per capita incomes in the world are fabulously
 wealthy even

I believe that the reasons the Bangledeshi have been looted is explained largely by this image: compared to half a century ago, to say nothing about compared to before 1700.
   People living in the poorest parts of the world, by contrast, are still

 poor by pre-1700 standards.
Sadly, as suggested in Carrol Quigley's epic history tome, Tragedy and Hope: The History of Our World, despotism has persisted in China for nearly 5000 years, though strains of free market are enriching a select few today. Perhaps those on the subcontinent will see the light?

The Beetle Bailey cartoon offers a surprisingly good insight. I've never heard any refer to China as a subcontinent, only India.  It's funny, during the 1970s people commonly attributed the excellent rates of economic grown in Taiwan and Hong Kong to the "Confusion work ethic" while completely ignoring the poverty of the hundreds of millions of Chinese right next door in Communist China.  I've worried about the fate of Hong Kong ever since Britain gave it to the communists.  One of my brothers, the Director or International Taxation for Cisco Systems, assures me that Hong Kong has been doing just fine and that the communists have pretty much kept their hands of off the goose that lays the golden eggs.  [Metaphor mine, not his.]

The Chinese communists seemed to have taken seriously some lessons from their own early experiment with political liberalization in the late 1970s and the Soviet example.  In the Chinese case, people who could speak out but not engage in generalized economic activity spent much of their energy simply speaking out against the communists.  In the case of the Soviets, people who could speak out and vote but not engage in liberalized economic activity spoke out against the communists and then voted the communists out of power.  The Chinese communists in the 1990s seemed to take care to allow some economic liberalization but not political liberalization, with the result that people turned their energies on enriching themselves rather than criticizing the communists.  (It's also possible that the Chinese communists took a lesson from the early Soviet Union's NEP, characterized by Bukharin's famous admonition to "enrich yourself," which resurrected the Russian economy after war and War Communism killed it.)

I doubt that we'll see free markets in China, since we don't really see free markets anywhere in the world today.  I've heard though that in the late 1990s the Chinese communists started reneging on the 99-year farm leases, so I don't know if they'll be able to resist the temptation to use their power to try to control everything.  Still, the last I heard, the Chinese economy was still experiencing growth in real per capital GDP exclusive of military spending, so maybe the of Soviet collapse still provides a sufficiently strong lesson in what not to do if you want to stay in power.


Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-21 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/21/05 1:37:25 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:


 By one measure, there is a big difference,  in per capita GDP taking into account purchasing power parity. From the OECD site, in 1999 the U.S. had a per capita GDP of $33,836. Germany, France, UK, Italy were all between $22,000 and $24,000.


Yes, the PPP per capital GDP figures for the last 15 years or so have shown a substantial gap between US and western European incomes. For that matter last I saw Canadian per capital GDP it was above European GDPs, and as I understand it, Hong Kong per capital GDP had pushed past Canadian per capital GDP into second place after American by the time the British handed the whole colony (both the leased and the non-leased portions) over to the Chinese communists.  

As McCloskey likes to point out, however, the gap between any of the countries the top ten or 15, for instance, shrinks into insignificance by comparison between the top 10 or 15 and the bottom 10 or 15, or even middle third of the world's per capita income distribution.  The real question, according to McCloskey, is not why does Germany have only 75% of US per capital GDP, but why does Bangledesh have only 5% of US per capital GDP.  People in the countries with the top 10 or 15 per capita incomes in the world are fabulously wealthy even compared to half a century ago, to say nothing about compared to before 1700.  People living in the poorest parts of the world, by contrast, are still poor by pre-1700 standards.

Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-21 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/21/05 1:38:10 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

And I have a sneaking suspicion that more equitable distributions of
income lead to less social conflict and rent seeking and lead to higher
growth. Unlike you I can point to some theoretical and empirical
studies that back my suspicion up (though I wouldn't bet my life on it
being true).  My point is that any of us can have sneaking suspicions.
Dueling sneaking suspicions aren't going to bring us any closer to

You're raising the bar on me.  I was just trying to meet your earlier

But there is no reasonable argument (at least none that I've seen)
that tax increases in any range we've seen in this country don't raise

Disagree or not, I think my argument about long-term damage to
entrepreneurship and the work ethic is a reasonable one.

The Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury for the early 1920s show that higher marginal tax rates did at first raise revenue, and then in succeeding years cause revenue to fall in the brackets to which the higher rates applied.  People couldn't immediately adjust their much of their activities to avoid the higher rates, but over time did just that.

Congress imposed something like a 100% tax on luxury boats (as I recall, as part of the tax hike of 1990), and found that they collected zero revenue from the tax.

So we do have empirical evidence that higher marginal tax rates can produce less revenue.

We also know that as marginal rates rise, people have more incentive to lobby for special provisions to exclude themselves or their particular activities from the the higher rates, which in turn generates hostility among people with similar incomes from non-excluded activities, generating further lobbying for expansion of the list of excluded activites.  Higher marginal rates in general also raise the ire of  people who see themselves as getting punished for working harder, giving more incentive to people with high incomes to work less and spend more time in leisure.  Thus we had the phenomenon of doctors playing golf more often than seeing patients, etc., before Congress made large cuts in marginal tax rates during the 1980s.

Re: Dickens on the Laffer Curve

2005-04-21 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/21/05 12:26:02 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 And I have a sneaking suspicion that more equitable distributions of
 income lead to less social conflict and rent seeking and lead to higher

I wonder what the Laffer Curve would have to say about the "tax" rates and
"equitable distributions of income" and "lesser or greater social conflict"
and "higher or lower growth" etc, that led to and constituted the socialist
Wholecaust (of which the Holocaust was a part): 62 million killed in the
former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; 35 million in the Peoples'
Republic of China; 21 million in the National Socialist German Workers'
Party.   The poverty, misery, famine and
slaughter were so enormous that Holocaust Museums can quadruple in size and
scope as Wholecaust Museums.

Taking the example of Stalin's war on the peasantry in general and the Ukraine in particular, we see that massive confiscations of income at marginal rates well in excess of 100% certainly detered economic activity, to put it rather mildly.

Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-19 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/19/05 12:43:11 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 For what it's worth, I recall a Treasury study in the late 1980s that
 concluded that the tax cut of 1984 was 95% self-financing.


Do you have a citation for that study (or a copy)?

If "95% self-financing" means what it seems to mean, that would mean
tax revenues actually declined, right?

--Robert Book

No (thus the "I seem to recall"--actually I read about it on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal) and yes (tax revenues from the affected items fell, but I don't know over what period).


Re: Laffer Curve

2005-04-18 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 4/18/05 3:21:40 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I've been reading about Laffer's idea that there is a tendency for
revenues to increase with increased taxation up to a point where revenue
is maximized.  As one of the class notes on Caplan's site indicates, you
can derive revenue as a function of the tax rate and assuming that the
slopes of the supply and demand curves are constants not equal to zero,
you can show that the Laffer effect exists.

For example, from

    Pd = price paid by buyer
    Ps = price received by seller
    t = tax per unit = Pd - Ps.
    R = revenue = tQ
    Supply curve: Qs = a + bPs
    Demand curve: Qd = c - dPd

You can derive

    R = t(bc + da - bdt)/(b + d)

Still, a lot of people have said that the Laffer curve is bunk.  Are
there any Laffer detractors here?  If so, what must the supply and
demand curves for labor look like for R(t) to be an always increasing
(or at least never decreasing) function?


For what it's worth, I recall a Treasury study in the late 1980s that concluded that the tax cut of 1984 was 95% self-financing.


Re: Arthur Laffer

2005-02-07 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/7/05 11:46:21 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

There's an interesting (to me, anyway) interview with Arthur Laffer


Oh, thank goodness! When I saw the subject line I thought you were goign to tell us that he'd died.  I see the basis of his optimism, but still I feel pessimistic.  Marginal federal income tax rates have fallen (although they fell lower than they are now and rose again, and actually rise about the statutory 35% Laffer mentions) and we've had little inflation, but the federal register continues to grow by leaps and bounds, federal spending grows faster than at any time since the 1960s, and Bush gave us our first new entitlement since the 1960s, while the old entitlements continue to grow out of control.

Re: Arthur Laffer

2005-02-07 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/8/05 1:13:22 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 In a message dated 2/7/05 11:46:21 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  There's an interesting (to me, anyway) interview with Arthur Laffer

 Oh, thank goodness! When I saw the subject line I thought you were goign to
 tell us that he'd died.

Gosh, I didn't even think of that!  Sorry, didn't mean to scare

 I see the basis of his optimism, but still I feel
 pessimistic.   Marginal federal income tax rates have fallen (although they fell
 lower than they are now and rose again, and actually rise about the statutory
 35% Laffer mentions) and we've had little inflation, but the federal register
 continues to grow by leaps and bounds, federal spending grows faster than at
 any time since the 1960s, and Bush gave us our first new entitlement since the
 1960s, while the old entitlements continue to grow out of control.

Didn't the 1996 welfare reform act get rid of the AFDC entitlement?

So they aren't ALL growing

Also, lots of industries have been deregulated since (say) 1970.
Airlines, some types of telecommunications, trucking, etc.

I know, we've got a long way to go, but let's not pretend that the
past was some unregulated Eden, either.


Ah well, it's probably just me so far as the fear of bad news goes--just my natural pessimism. I always  have the same response when my mother sends me an email with just a name in the subject: if it's a particular brother I think he's had another heart attack; if it's my dad I run through a litany of possible ailments that turned fatal. :-)

I thought that AFDC still exists and that the welfare reform act of 96 merely limited the time one can spend getting certain federal benefits--which might include AFDC. In toto spending on entitlements has certainly increased, even setting aside the new Medicare prescription drug entitlement, and I  understand that Medicaid especially has been growing at double-digit rates and will, even if the Republicans have th stomach to pass the Bush administration's current proposal, still grow at 7% per year.

Just how deregulated are the deregulated industries?  The federal government might not exercise direct regulation of prices in oil, gas, and transportation, but that doesn't preclude an ever-growing raft of regulation of these and other industries, regulation which indirectly changes the prices underlying literally millions if not billions of transactions.  In transportation, furthermore, the federal govenment never degregulated the basic infrastucture--the airports--and with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security they took a step backwards by socializing airport security, which might not be much better at ferreting out terrorists but has taken an impressive leap upwards in its ability to delay and harass l law-abiding travelers.  And what about the people thrown in prison for cleaning up junkyards that occasionally flood (supposedly violating the "wetlands regulations" promulgated under the Inland Waterways Act, which actually has nothing to do with wetlands at all), or whose businesses the federal government shuts down for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, or the local officials imprisoned for refusing to quintuple local taxes to meet federal environmental regulations or other unfunded mandates?

I'm not saying that nothing good has happened, but it seems like a case of one step forward, two-hundred steps back.


Re: senior discounts

2005-02-07 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/8/05 2:24:37 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Robert A. Book wrote:
 First, for off-peak movies and the like, the idea is to fill
 the seats that would otherwise go empty; in other words, convince
 the seniors to see movies int he afternoon, so seats are available
 for full-price customers at night. . . .

So why do movie theaters have *both* an off-peak discount,
available to all comers, and a senior discount at all times?

I'd guess the standard reason for price discrimination--differing price elasticities of demand and difficulty arbitraging among them.  You can't buy a ticket for a matinee and then resell it to someone wanting to go to an evening show.  You could use your senior discount to buy a cheaper ticket to whatever show and resell it for a price between yours and the full price, but the physical environment would tend to limit such arbitrage. How many elderly people want to stand around waiting to catch someone who's willing to buy tickets from a stranger for a couple of bucks less than full price right under the watchful eye of theater personel?  My father (age 81) can't stand in wait in line for anything! And as frugal as he is, and as much time as he has to spend on medical care (starting with dialysis for hours each of three times per week) he's not going to spend much of that time standing around trying to earn a couple of bucks reselling movie tickets.  He's rather just stay home and watch tv or read a book.


Re: the answer is...

2004-12-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/16/04 4:12:28 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The correlation between per-capita state income and Kerry vote
percentage is +.70.  That makes Bill by far the most accurate of our
guessers.  If you do a bivariate regression, every +$1000 of per cap
income is associated with +1.48 percentage points of Kerry share.

I didn't think of placing a specific number on it until after I read Bill's
estimate of .40.  Then I couldn't decide between .25 and .50 and had to run to
the vet.  If we take my expected value as .25*.5 + .5*.5 we get .375--so Bill
remains closer.  :-)


Re: the answer is...

2004-12-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/16/04 6:52:22 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

More rural states
vote Republican more and have lower income, education and test scores.
- Bill Dickens

Iowa might be an outlier, but as I  understand it they're above the national
average in per capita income, have one of the best public school systems in
the country, and typically test at or near the top on standardized tests.

David Levenstam

Re: guess the correlation

2004-12-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/16/04 2:21:38 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I've calculated the correlation coefficient between per-capita state
income and the percent of the vote Kerry got.  Guesses?  I'll post the
answer in an hour.
 Prof. Bryan Caplan

I'd guess a positive coeficient--the higher the state's per capita income,
the higher the percentage Kerry won.

David Levenstam

Re: personal finances survey

2004-11-12 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 11/12/04 1:42:43 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

What's up with question 32?  52% male and 52% female?

Well maybe 4 percent of them were hermaphrodites.  I see that at the
university where I'm teaching (NOT GMU) they're having a seminar on people who 
100% male or female.

Re: Now Bush to win 1.5:1

2004-11-03 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 11/3/04 6:54:43 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

In the end the important question is comparative - are there any other
institutions that on average do better?  So far direction comparisons
between markets and other institutions in the field have favored
markets.  And real and play money have come out about the same.  But the
jury is still out.


In this case, were the markets closer than the polls taken right before the
election? Were they closer than the exit polls?  The exit polls seemed to
systematically inflate the numbers for Kerry, and it looks like the markets'
optimism about Kerry early in the day reflected the exit polls.  I'm not sure what
if anything that says about markets vs. other institutions in this case, but
I'd be interested to know what you think.


Re: lotteries and elections

2004-09-01 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Michael,

I laughed out loud at your concluding sentence.  Well said!  I've had almost
the identical response from one of my undergraduate students, except, being
only 18 or thereabout, she exercised the adolescent eye-roll instead.

In a message dated 9/1/04 12:30:02 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED]

By far, the most common response I get when I mention that one's
individual vote does not effect the outcome of an election, is
astonished indignation. I am assured that regardless of the (lack of)
effect of my individual vote, voting is an obligation born out of the
principle of reciprocity. We, as individuals, should vote, because if
everybody didn't vote there would be no electoral process. Voting is
thus one of many necessary things we should do in order to be a
respectable member of the community.

By the way, do not attempt to discuss this subject at a cocktail party
with drunken public elementary school teachers. Before you know it,
you'll be personally responsible for, not only decline of western
civilization, but all various and sundry despotic regimes throughout the
world. It will end with you promising to vote Green in the next, and all
future elections, just to stop the crying.

Michael Giesbrecht

Re: lotteries and elections

2004-08-31 Thread AdmrlLocke
I've been discussing with my undergradute students the rationality of voting.
People might get other benefits from voting besides thinking that their one
vote can influence the outcome.  Some people feel a civic pride in voting.
Others vote to prevent others from telling them they don't have a right to
complain, a comment complaint lobbed at people who don't vote.  I like the
excitement of going to the polls and seeing everyone else all keyed up about the
election.  Some people pick a candidate and then cheer for him or her, and then
feel good about that candidate winning the election the way they would a race
horse or a sports team.  For some people voting might serve as a social
outlet--something to do around other people instead of just staying home.  What other
reasons might people vote besides believing they can influence the outcome?

David Levenstam

In a message dated 8/31/04 12:31:37 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Does anyone know if there is a correlation between a person's
willingness to buy lottery tickets, and his willingness to vote in large
elections (where the chances of any vote being pivotal is tiny)?

A simple explanation for both of these phenomena, where people choose
to do things with apparently negative expected payoff, is misunderstanding
or miscalculation of probabilities. This theory would predict a positive
correlation. I'm curious if anyone has done a survey or experiment to test

Re: lotteries and elections

2004-08-31 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 8/31/04 8:36:29 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

A problem with many of these reasons is that they do partly rely on the

illusion that their vote does matter! Expressive voting is not a

completely separate issue. Why feel pride in participating in an irrational

system? Why not express your political views in a more efficient way than

voting? etc.

It's irrational only if the cost exceeds the benefit.  If someone gains a
benefit from voting that exceeds their opportunity cost, then it's not irrational
for them to vote.  As far as other means, they mostly have  much higher
opportunity costs and might not actually have much more likelihood of affecting the

Re: Private urban green space

2004-08-01 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 8/1/04 3:45:57 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Economists are not hostile to public goods.

Still, knowledge of economics tends to make you more receptive to the
idea of the invisible hand and the possibilities of private economic
organization. Hence, it makes you more libertarian. And libertarians are
sure hostile to the public goods scene, because there the emphasis is on
things that *need* to be solved publicly.

While studying economics might tend to make a person more libertarian than
he'd be otherwise, studying economics doesn't necessarily make the person
libertarian.  The old Keynesians tended to have a fair fondness for government
intervention, as summarized by Paul Samuelson's Two cheers, but not three, for
markets.  A Post-Keynesian instructor of mine back in 1990 told me that
Post-Keynesians would say One cheer for markets.

Re: insanity vs. irrationality

2004-03-24 Thread AdmrlLocke
What about the person, like an alcoholic or schizophrenic, who hates his
extreme preferences, as they destroy his life?  Setting aside the issue of
involuntary treatment for the benefit of others, as we really talking only about a
case of extreme preference?

David Levenstam

In a message dated 3/24/04 12:22:13 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 On Mar 24, 2004, at 8:33 AM, Wei Dai wrote
  The paper makes the point that what psychology views as mental
  diseases in many cases can be interpreted simply as extreme or
  unusual preferences, and in those cases involuntary psychiatric
  treatment can not be justified as a benefit for the patient.

Stephen Miller:
 It seems to me that a clear exception may be where there's an extreme
 preference to harm others.

Depends on where you put the emphasis in Wei's last sentence.  This
might be an exception to the can not be justified part, but not an
exception to the as a benefit for the patient part.

In other words, in the case of a preference to harm others,
involuntary treatment might be justified as a benefit to others even
if it is not a benefit (i.e., is a cost) to the patient.

One thing I think is missing from all this is a discussion of how
these extreme preference -- or indeed, any preferences -- arise.
Normally in economics we tend to take preferences as given and view
the formation of preferences as outside the scope of economics.  But
we also normally assume preferences to be stable, when clearly they
can change.

Why is this relevant?  Well, many psychiatric illnesses appear in
previously normal people.  If we are going to interpret psychiatric
illnesses as extreme or unusual preferences then the onset of the
illness has to be interpreted as a change in preferences.  So we
are necessarily dropping the usual assumption of stable preferences,
and it's worth thinking about why these preferences change radically
and suddenly.  Likewise, for some of these illnesses there are
treatments -- in other words, drugs or something that change
preferences back to normal, or at least appear to move them back to
normal range.  Again, it is worth thinking about why these preferences


Re: Women Don't Ask

2004-01-28 Thread AdmrlLocke
Um, who says the male libido decreases over the 20s and 30s? :-D

David Levenstam
In a message dated 1/28/04 3:05:00 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Following the analogy of price control, any evidence that the group

aggressive relationship bargining are the same ones who would generally

by such a policy?  On a related note, do the strength of male/female

positions in a long term relationship change as male libido decreases over

20's and 30's and female libido peaks around 35-38?  (Think Battle of

Sexes over several periods...)  Wild conjectures welcomed.

-- John Morrow

Re: spamonomics

2004-01-22 Thread AdmrlLocke
Wow, I was going to respond that I've almost never gotten an email for
insurance, and then decided not to clutter up the list.  When I checked my new mail
again,  however, I found an ad for insurance!  That reminded me that in fact I
have gotten many emails, mostly for cheap health insurance.

In a message dated 1/22/04 11:34:07 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Christopher Auld wrote:
 . . .  Merchants who think
 I might be keen to see Paris Hilton perform intimate acts are third on
 list.  Followed closely by offers from extremely respectable officials
 Nigeria . . . .

For me these days, smut comes after services for insurance brokers.

Re: spamonomics

2004-01-21 Thread AdmrlLocke
I've seen almost exactly the same distribution.  As a first impression, I
wonder if the Nigeria scam doesn't employ the same anonymity (from the other
side) that recipients of the first three types of emails value.  Tracking down a
scam online might well prove more difficult than doing so over the phone,
especially in these days of caller ID.  The ease of mass mailings might also make
email a more effective means of perpetrating a scam.

I wonder too if people don't tend to believe what they read over the Internet
a bit more than they do other forms of communication.  When radio and films
were relatively new, people tended to believe what they heard and saw.  There
seems to have been something of a learning curve for large populations which
took them from blind faith in the 1930s to intense skepticism in the 1990s.
Perhaps the same sort of thing will happen with the Internet.  I know that people
often pass along without any sort of verification myriad emails claiming such
things as Bill Gates will pay you if you test some software or website, Bill
gates will bill you if you use some software or website, Mel Gibson grew up
disfigured and in poverty, people will steal your kidneys and leave you in a
bathtub full of ice, etc.  Perhaps oarge groups of internet users will climb up
the learning curve and we'll see a reduction in Nigerian scams.


Re: spamonomics

2004-01-21 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 1/21/04 3:34:42 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I was so ignorant, until last month I thought Paris Hilton was a
hotel in France


Paris Hilton is both a hotel in France AND desert topping! (from an old
Saturday Night Live skit it's both a floor wax AND a desert topping!)

Seriously though, I had no idea who she was when I first started getting
emails offering to let me see her private activities.  Not until I caught an
episode of that reality how called (I think) The Simple Life featuring Paris
and her buddy, Nichole Richie (Lionel Richie's daughter) did I know who she was.
 At least when they used to send emails offering Pamela Anderson's sex video
I knew who she was.


Re: spamonomics

2004-01-20 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 1/20/04 7:10:03 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

AdmrlLocke wrote:

People who engage in more sexual activity and
alternative sexual lifestyles might feel less
embarassed about admitting to auto-erotica than
others, so the results might contain a great deal of

But should we think that an obvious possible bias
would not be accounted for?

I would. It happens all the time.

Re: Three Fed tools, which increases money supply over time?

2004-01-14 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 1/14/04 11:16:54 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

In my view, there's nothing like real numbers to get your brain juices
flowing. Note the $20-30 million that the Fed pays to the US Treasury
each year. Exercise for the reader: why does it make that payment?


The Depression-era changes to the Federal Reserve Act allow the Fed to keep
half the money the Treasury pays to it in interest on the Treasury debt the Fed
holds, and pay the other half back to the Treasury. Under the original act
the Fed had to pay back all the interest.


Re: How do I convince New Agers that not everybody should get the same wage?

2004-01-13 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 1/13/04 4:08:31 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

What would you suggest?  How can I demonstrate, in a
relatively short period of time, that imposing equal
wages isn't the best way to organize the world?

I used to do this all the time with my students in history classes at Iowa.
I'd ask them if they really thought a ditch digger without a high school
diploma should make as much as a doctor, a veterinarian, a lawyer, or someone else
with at least two degrees, or I'd  just ask them if they thought that after
they graduate and get a job with their degree if they thought they should get
paid as little as a ditch digger.  I've yet to hear students say yes to either
of those propositions.

David Levenstam

Re: Oscar Political Business Cycle

2004-01-02 Thread AdmrlLocke
Speaking of December 2003 and January 2004, in the spirit of all the
predictions made each year at this time by media talking heads I'd like to make the
following equally insightful predictions:

In 2004, the world will experience an earthquake, a flood, and some sunny
days.  The US Post Office will lose somebody's mail.  Somebody will make a bold
peace plan which the media will hail, and which will accomplish nothing.  Some
people will kill other people.  The US will hold a presidential election, and
the victor will be either a Republican or a Democrat.  Fundamentalist Muslims
will hate America, nearly as much as the French and the Democrats do.  Iowans
will support free markets and demand ethanol subsidies.  The Dow Jones
Industrial Average will rise, or fall, or both.  The news media will find something,
somewhere to blame on Ronald Reagan.

Happy Old Year,

David Levenstam

Re: Why is a dollar today worth more than a dollar tomorrow?

2003-12-07 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/7/03 4:03:55 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

So the question is, why at the zero rate was there not greater demand to
borrow?  The answer may well be that the expected future inflation and
interest rates were highly uncertain, and the transaction costs of getting
and exiting from a loan were high, and there was a high level of risk
aversion.  What counts is not just the cost of borrowing but also the
expected return on the borrowings, and if business conditions are bad,
the demand for loanable funds may be low because of uncertain earnings
asset appreciation.  The inflation part of the nominal interest has to
paid in actual dollars, and so high rates of inflation may well deter
demand.  A low real rate of interest induces more borrowing, other things
equal, but with higher inflation and greater business uncertatainty, other
things may not be equal.

In other words, a person won't borrow even at a 0% rate of interest if he
expects a negative rate of return were he to invest any funds he borrowed?


Re: why aren't we smarter?

2003-12-07 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/7/03 12:40:04 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Your story does have a certain plausibility.  But you'd need to argue that
the huge increase in IQ that has been documented during this last century
isn't really an increase in intelligence.  And doing that makes it harder
to take Jewish IQ as relevant data.

American Jews tested below average on Army intelligence tests conducted
around the turn of the last century (1900), and a century later American Jews test
substantially above the average.  Were the Jews who fled the Nazis so much
smarter than the Jews who came before that their small numbers could raise our
average from below to well above the national average?  Or has the national
average fallen because of the crumbling public education system or the influx of
(name the disfavored immigrant group of your choice).

I do wonder about the meaning of IQ tests. I test out in the top 1% of the IQ
distribution but have been singularly unsuccessful.  Although it's anedotal,
I know many other unsuccesful high IQ people as well.  Clearly high IQ and
success don't automatically go hand in hand.

David Levenstam

Re: Real wages constant since 1964?!

2003-12-03 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/3/03 1:53:31 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 This is completely wrong. The CPI-u is, and the CPI-x was, adjusted
 quality changes (see ). The CPI-X
 doesn't exist anymore.

So what price statistic wasn't adjusted for quality changes?

They all are. No one (who knew what he was talking about) has ever
claimed that they are not adjusted. The common claim is that the
adjustments (which are quite complex and differ across different types
of goods) are inadequate. - - Bill

In fairness I was just summarizing the arguments of Professor Richard B.
MacKenzie at U of Cal Irvine, published back in 1994.  If his arguments have been
superseded, I stand corrected.  There's not need for ad hominem attacks,
generally a sign that the target has challenged one of the attacker's shibboleths.

Re: Real wages constant since 1964?!

2003-12-02 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 12/2/03 11:48:08 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

If you measure wages in desk calculators instead of dollars, I'm sure
they've gone up substantially!  ;-)


Yes, the BLS series uses CPI-u to deflate the nominal wage series. Since
CPI-u doesn't account for changes in the quality of goods or the market basket,
and overstates inflation more the higher the actual rate of inflation, for the
inflationary period from roughly 1968-1983 the BLS series understates real
wages.  Using a better deflator, CPI-x, which accounts for changes in the market
basket (though perhaps not for changes in quality) discloses that real wages
have indeed risen quite a bit since 1964.

If we measure the rise in real wages in terms of desktop computers, would the
increase by asymptotic to infinity?  ;-)

David Levenstam

Re: Why is local currency good or bad or neither?

2003-10-31 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 10/31/03 12:21:31 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

So why not just use federal paper dollars for that?

Because if you get caught, you'll pay for it. In case of local currency,
the tax authorities do not bother as easily because of the cost and the
trouble with drawing the line between mutual help and legally taxable
transactions. (From the econ standpoint, there's no such line. If we were
to be perfectly logical about it, tending to your children is a service
your spouse with a taxable value.)

People also often suffer from a confusion between income and money.  They
tend to think of the two as synonymous, that anything not received in money isn't
income and therefore isn't taxable.

Re: Cognitive dissonance

2003-10-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Fred,

I have a conservative Christian friend in Iowa who supports the laws against
drug use but will that they violate our God-given right to liberty.  He says
he's just not emotionally prepared to abandon his support for drug prohibition.
 That seems like a fairly clear cause of conscious cognitive dissonance.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 10/16/03 5:32:49 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

--- Stephen Miller [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
  do voters or people in general care if their
 political beliefs are logically inconsistent with each other or their
 non-political moral beliefs?

It seems to me that for most cog-dis, the person does not realize he is
holding contradictory propositions.
If the contradiction is pointed out and the person reacts by simply denying
it, that person may just not believe the accusation, and not want to
challenge his thoughts, but still believe they are not contradictory.

Does anyone have a clear example of persons who consciously hold
contradictory propositions, knowing that two propositions they believe
contradictory yet still believing both?

Cognitive dissidence may often be compartmentalization.  In one context,
one believes A=B, while in another context, one believes A=C, and one also
believes that B not = C.  That is because they don't move A,B,C to the
mental compartment where the contradiction would have to be confronted.

Fred Foldvary

Re: What's Wrong With Blood Feuds?

2003-09-25 Thread AdmrlLocke
People probably came to and went from Iceland much more frequently than we
might presuppose.  People traveled among Iceland and the continent (Norway
primarily), Greenland and Vineland quite a bit, according to the available sources,
until the Little Ice Age set in during the Middle Ages.  Under Icelandic law
if the Althing ruled against you in a case between you and a complaintant
suing you, you could either submit to its judgement or be declared utlaw
(outlaw), at which point you had 6 months to clear out of Iceland before you no
longer could count on the legal system to protect you and anyone could come after
you, your goods, and your henchment to enforce the Althing's judgement against
you.  Anyone siding with you became utlaw too.  Eirikr the Red, father of Leif
the Lucky who founded the Vinland colony, fled Iceland after being declared
utlaw and founded the Greenland colony.  People sailed back and forth over what
at the time were much warmer seas.

In a message dated 9/25/03 1:56:51 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I've also just been reading about modern Gypsies; it turns out that
some gypsy communities (the ones mentioned were in England and
Finland) use blood feud. The authors of the chapter seem to think the
level of actual violence is pretty low. Their conjecture is that
blood feud was abandoned in gypsy communities that for some reason
became sedentary--that a migratory lifestyle made it more workable,
because if things got too unpleasant one party could leave. That
doesn't fit the Icelandic case--but the Icelandic system was much
more developed, with explicit laws and courts, than the gypsy system.

Re: immigration's effect on per capita GDP

2003-09-05 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 9/4/03 11:03:22 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

No, this is a very serious point.  Republican administrations are by
objective measure MORE socialist.  Fundamentally, conservatives in this
country do not believe more in individual freedom than liberals.  They
repeatedly seek market interventions where they disagree with market
outcomes.  The only difference is a superficial anti-communism, which was
really an ignorant fear that a Soviet state could out-produce western market
economies.  Conservatives love socialism, they just call it family values
or national security.

here I have to disagree with you Steve.  :)  The Republican party's ideology
runs from classical liberal to national socialist, while the Democratic
party's ideology runs from national socialist to international socialist.  The
Republican party may not be very good at implementing the classical liberal
ideology of some of it's members, but the Democratic party has no such ideology to
implement. Most of the family values, incidently, don't involve government
action so much as simply trying to turn back the tide of anti-Christian sentiment
which rolls off the television night after night, consistently portraying
serious Christians as evil oppressors.   I was sitting next to Dan Quayle one might
back in Iowa when a social conservative who fits your profile tried to get
Quayle to support government censorship of the entertainment media and Quayle
very firmly opposed government censorship or content regulation of any sort.

Re: immigration's effect on per capita GDP

2003-09-05 Thread AdmrlLocke
Yes, an consciously so.  While I think it's clear that Republicans generally
push for much less government than Democrats do, I also think you're
disinclined to accept what seems manifest to me, and since as you know I haven't slept
much for the past 10 days, I don't have the energy to write a lengthy
discourse full of evidence that might actually persuade you.  :)  Maybe if I ever
manage to fall asleep again.  :)


In a message dated 9/5/03 3:49:52 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

That still avoids my distinction between rhetoric and policy.

on 9/5/03 3:45 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] at [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

 In a message dated 9/4/03 11:03:22 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 here I have to disagree with you Steve.  :)  The Republican party's
 runs from classical liberal to national socialist, while the Democratic
 party's ideology runs from national socialist to international socialist.
 Republican party may not be very good at implementing the classical liberal
 ideology of some of it's members, but the Democratic party has no such
 ideology to
 implement. Most of the family values, incidently, don't involve government
 action so much as simply trying to turn back the tide of anti-Christian
 which rolls off the television night after night, consistently portraying
 serious Christians as evil oppressors.   I was sitting next to Dan Quayle
 back in Iowa when a social conservative who fits your profile tried to
 Quayle to support government censorship of the entertainment media and
 very firmly opposed government censorship or content regulation of any

Re: immigration's effect on per capita GDP

2003-09-04 Thread AdmrlLocke
In a message dated 9/4/03 8:38:09 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Illegals knowingly break federal law. Many libertarians say they only break
laws that shouldn't exist anyway. But this made me wonder. The overwhelming
majority of illegal immigrants do not have libertarians views (to put it
mildly). Are they also more inclined to break other laws?

A tangentially related question: does a proliferation of laws that people
generally don't obey cause people to generally break other laws more easily?

Re: Editors and Media Bias

2003-09-03 Thread AdmrlLocke
Or, to quote Hayek, as socialists of all parties.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 9/3/03 3:57:29 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

And with the budget under the Bush Administration outsocializing the

socialist Clinton by triple and growing (in social spending alone) it isn't

clear that there is any value in knowing whether media people are republican

socialists or democratic socialists.  Thanks(?) to our current President

Hillary the democratic socilalists look as conservative as their so-called

alternative.  Perhaps they should be referred to only as republican

socialists or democratic socialists, or simply all as socialists.

Re: Levitt article

2003-08-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/4/03 9:41:08 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The article discusses Levitt's research style: his tendency to ask odd
interesting questions and be clever enough to be able to test the
hypotheses with publically available data. It also has some discussions
his career path and a little about his personal life. Fabio

Thanks, Fabio.  So what's so bad about that?


Re: What Do You Think?

2003-08-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 8/6/03 8:02:24 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Was it not the maker of fortune cookies at cheap chinese take-out's?



LOL. Okay, fair enough. Now what was HER name?  ;)


What Do You Think?

2003-08-14 Thread AdmrlLocke
I get these ads through email all the time. Usually I just ignore tham but as 
I'm getting poorer by the second I thought I'd take a look.  Do you think 
this is just a gimmick to get the fees and maybe some free postage, or could it 
be legit?


No Newspaper Ads   No Magazine AdsNo Bulletin Board Ads ...   No Handing
Out ...

Congratulations Friend,
We have selected you to be one of our new catalog circular mailers. You can 
earn from $550.00 to $3,000.00 and your paycheck is mailed to you promptly 
every Wednesday. If you accept our offer today and follow our instructions your 
first paycheck will be in your hands in approximately ten days time, following 
our instructions!
Our printing and publishing company is in the process of hiring home workers. 
We desperately need home workers each week to stuff and mail out our special 
advertising circulars. We have so much on hand that we are paying home workers 
$10.00 for EACH letter stuffed and returned to us as per our instructions.
There is no limit to the number of letters that you can stuff and mail for 
our company.
If we receive 55 letters stuffed and mailed out by you will be paid $550.00

75 letters$750.00
95 letters$950.00
300 letters..$3,000.00
And so on...

The More Letters you Stuff and Mail the MORE MONEY You Can Make!

* You must be able to read and write simple English.
* Have the ability to fold loose page circulars.
* Stuff and seal circulars in an envelope.
* Apply postage and mail them with the address labels we provide to you.
If you pay attention to circulars that you receive from other companies you 
will notice how all of them are very vague about what your package will contain 
in addition they dont tell you if they are the ones that are going to send 
you the envelopes and circulars to stuff. They say all envelopes will come to 
you already stamped and addressed. That simply means that YOU will have to 
advertise to get people to send you self-addressed stamped envelopes.

We send you the envelopes, address labels and letters to be stuffed.
We pay you for the work you do as per our instructions.
Your only job is to place our special advertising circulars into envelopes 
and then mail them out. For this you will receive payment of $10.00 per envelope 
from US!
Your initial postage cost is reimbursable. That means its free! So keep this 
in mind when you select an income group. No advertising in newspapers, 
magazines or bulletin boards. We do not deduct taxes from your paycheck, so youll 
get the full amount. We will send a form 1099 at the end of the year when 
youre ready to file your taxes.
You will not be stuffing or mailing anything that is pornographic or illegal. 
All literature that well send you meets the requirements of the regulatory 
agencies, so you have nothing to worry about.
For your convenience, we have established 5 different groups. You can choose 
the group that you want to work under. Each group carries different earnings 
potential and a different number of starting supplies.
The Earning Potential of

Group #1 is $550.00 Weekly
Group #2 is $750.00 Weekly
Group #3 is $950.00 Weekly
Group #4 is $3000.00 Weekly!  This is the Most Popular Group.
Group #5 is for established mailers who start in Group #4 and get promoted 
after receiving their first $3000.00 in pay.
Once youre in Group #5 you have the potential to earn $5000.00 but you must 
start in Group #4 if you want to be promoted to Group #5. We will leave it up 
to you to choose your own starting group.
For example, if you start in Group #3, we will send you a large priority 
package containing 95 envelopes, letters and customer mailing labels along with 
our easy to follow instructions. If you choose Group #4, we send you 300 
envelopes, letters and customer mailing labels.
When you are promoted to Group #5, we will send you a large package 
containing 500 of each item to be stuffed and mailed for payment.

First, the number of people who respond to our special letters, once they are 
mailed out, is very high. Second, they like what we offer and are willing to 
pay for the opportunities that we offer. These two facts allow us to easily 
afford to pay $10.00 per letter stuffed and mailed. Also, we want you to be 
happy with your new income level so youll continue to work for us which will 
allow us to continue making money.
We need home workers for a year round opportunity. Once you sign up with us, 
you can stuff and mail for us as long as you want. Take a vacation or just 
stop and start again whenever you want. Just let us know when you are going to 
take time off.

Your job is to fold our special advertising circulars that we send you, 
insert them in the envelopes we send you, apply one customer label and stick one 
postage stamp. When you complete the batch of circulars just mail them out and 
your check will be 

Re: What Do You Think?

2003-08-06 Thread AdmrlLocke
Yes alas I'm sure you're right, and others have written to me to suggest the 
very same thing.  Indeed, it seemed too good to be true to me as well, which 
is why I solicited learned opinions rather than desperately grasping at it.

Incidentally, does anyone know the origin of if something sounds too good to 
be true - it 
probably is?  While I'm sure that at many points one wise man or another has 
said it, I wonder who said it first--and whether it might not have been a 
wise woman.  :)

Thanks Jacob.


In a message dated 8/6/03 4:14:36 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

A wise man once said: if something sounds too good to be true - it 

probably is

- I am sure they are just after the $150 fee - they won't even bother 

going after the free postage

Re: Free State Project

2003-07-31 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/31/03 2:29:47 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The problem with the free state project is that so much of the architecture

of the corporate state is centered on the federal government.  But there's
lot of stuff that could be done within the control of a state government.

The real problem with the free state project is implementing it.

Re: Senators Denounce Policy Analysis Markets

2003-07-29 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/29/03 4:05:03 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to
monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment.

This is typical of the statist-liberal news media--starting a news article 
with an ad homenim attack.


Re: California Recall

2003-07-28 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/28/03 9:10:55 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Ok - let's put game theory to the test: what is the normal form of
declaring your candidcay for California governer-game? What's the
predicted outcome? And what would Robin Hanson wager on the answer?


If I weren't so broke that I just got a power disconnection notice, I'd wager 
$10 that Davis will be recalled--and then win reelection.  I try never to 
underestimate the ability of the GOP, especially the CA GOP, to snatch defeat 
from the jaws of victory.


Re: Family Businesses and Licensing

2003-07-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/14/03 1:40:05 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

As a sidelight, I've noticed several father/daughter teams amoung
lawyers, and the hardware retailer 88 Lumber is run by a
father/daughter team (and it's not because the father doesn't have
sons; he does).

And speaking of famous father/daughter teams there are the Hefners.  :)


Re: Family Businesses and Licensing

2003-07-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/14/03 9:16:31 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 There are zero licensing requirements for farming.

Are there no federal permits and grandfathering in agriculture?

Fred Foldvary

The federal government imposes a host of rules and regulations on farming, 
everything from wetlands regulations to grandfathered agricultural payment in 
kind programs.

Re: fertility and government

2003-07-14 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 7/14/03 6:45:42 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

1. Why is fertility higher in dictatorships? Do dictators like bigger
populations, and democrats like smaller populations? Does population
growth influence choice of government? Or is there a third factor that
affects both fertility and form of government?

It may be that oppressed people turn to sex (and alcohol, etc.) more as a way 
of easing the pain of oppression.

Re: Kolko 40 Years Later -- homelessness data?

2003-06-20 Thread AdmrlLocke
In all fairness, I didn't claim that welfare does increase homelessness, 
though I suspect that it does, but merely pointed out that the statement seemed to 
presume--or that in any case people supporting welfare often presume--that it 
decreases homelessness.

As for emprical research, I second Tom's call.  I do seem to recall that the 
issue of welfare dependence briefly loomed large during the 1980s, and that 
one statist-liberal think-tank (I believe it was Brookings, and perhaps Bill 
Wickens recalls) published a study that concluded that welfare did not cause 
welfare dependence.  I also recall The Wall Street Journal editorial page and 
others ripping to shreds that study.  I don't recall if the study addressed 
homelessness per se.


In a message dated 6/20/03 11:07:14 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:


  The main good it provides is a negative one, that of keeping

  homelessness and starvation to a low enough level to prevent

  political instability.


  This of course presumes that the welfare state reduces homelessness

  and starvation rather than encouraging it.

In politics the appearance is usually more important than the reality.


Anton Sherwood,


While I, too, fully agree (statements and inuendos) ... I'd like to challenge
the Armchair list for objective data showing the welfare state reducing
homelessness, or increasing it, or not.

I don't think there are any good studies with good conclusions.

Tom Grey

Re: Kolko 40 Years Later

2003-06-19 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 6/19/03 6:28:26 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

The main good it provides is a negative one, that of keeping homelessness

and starvation to a low enough level to prevent political instability.

This of course presumes that the welfare state reduces homelessness and 
starvation rather than encouraging it.

Re: Kolko 40 Years Later

2003-06-19 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 6/19/03 10:28:48 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:


In a message dated 6/19/03 6:28:26 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 The main good it provides is a negative one, that of keeping 
 and starvation to a low enough level to prevent political instability.
This of course presumes that the welfare state reduces homelessness and
starvation rather than encouraging it.

Of course.  But what it's proponents intend and what it actually does may
two different things.  Then too, although non-statist alternatives might

reduce destitution, they might also carry unacceptable costs to the ruling

class.  What's efficient from the perspective of the general welfare may
quite inefficient for those currently benefitting from the state.

Tolstoy had a little parable along these lines that beautifully describes

the mindset of the corporate liberal:  a humane farmer took extraordinary

measures to make life more comfortable for his cattle.  He had his hired

hands take them out of the pen for walks; he played music for them; he

bought better food, etc.  He was asked, But wouldn't it be a lot less

complicated, if their welfare is your main goal, to just knock down the

fence?  The farmer replied:  But then I couldn't milk them.

An apt and amusing metaphor, Kevin!


Re: Kolko 40 Years Later

2003-06-19 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 6/19/03 9:40:04 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  The main good it provides is a negative one, that of keeping
  homelessness and starvation to a low enough level to prevent
  political instability.

  This of course presumes that the welfare state reduces homelessness
  and starvation rather than encouraging it.

In politics the appearance is usually more important than the reality.

Anton Sherwood,

I couldn't agree more.  Well said!


Re: socialism historical?

2003-06-18 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 6/18/03 2:03:39 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

But does not the practice of the subordination of the individual to the
collective go back to ancient times, indeed to pre-historical tribal
practice and belief?
Fred Foldvar

in the ancient world we clearly have a good deal of subordination of the 
individual to the strongest individual or to the priest-king (the strongest 
individual?) but I'm not so clear about subordination of the individual to the 
collective.  It became an article of faith in the 19th-century that pre-historic 
humans practiced primitive communism, but I'm not sure there's much evidence to 
support that faith.  We do know that when Americans came to some of the 
pacific islands that theory said should be practicing primitive communism that they 
actually had a complex system of private property, and that Americans imposed 
primitive communism on them to force them into the right stage of history.


Re: Wage-Price Controls Under Nixon

2003-06-18 Thread AdmrlLocke
Post-modern liberalism didn't spring full-blown into being like Athena from 
the forehead of Zeus.  It evolved rather over time from classical liberalism 
through several fairly-distinct phases.

In the earliest stages of progressivism people still by and large believed 
in free markets and private property, but believed that left entirely to 
themselves, free markets produced monopolies which had to be broken by antitrust 
action.  These early antitrust progressive are sometimes known as Brandeisians, 
and we see their imprint heavily upon Wilson's New Freedom platform.  The next 
stage of progressivism invovled allowing the big businesses to remain 
unbroken, but regulating them with the federal government, a few we find heavily 
influencing TR's New Nationalism platform of 1912.  New Nationalism contained no 
explicit calls for cartelization, but it evolved into Hoover's New 
Individualism (a rather contradicatory name for what it described) in which government 
would, mostly informally, support the cartelization agreements of Big Business.  
Hoover's voluntary cartelization finally, by the New Deal, evolved into 
outright calls for goverment-forced cartelization that heavily animated the NIRA of 
1933.  It's worth note that the Brandeisians fought the NIRA bitterly, and 
their influence on the Supreme Court got it declared unConstitutional.  
Cartelization remained anathema to old Progressives right through the New Deal.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 6/18/03 12:24:15 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Actually, they support state capitalism under the name of progressivism
putting people first or some equally inane goo-goo slogan.  Just about

every part of the Progressive/New Deal agenda reflected the interests of
business in cartelizing and stabilizing the corporate economy;  it was
sold to the public as a progressive restraint on big business.

Please bear in mind that what was called socialism by democratic 
socialists in the 1920s would not have been recognized as such by most
the classical socialists of the nineteenth century.  The difference reflects

the New Class takeover of the working class movement, by Leninists and

Fabians, at the turn of the century.

Revisionist historians like Gabriel Kolko and James Weinstein called the

phenomenon political capitalism or corporate liberalism.  Murray 
Rothbard agreed with their analysis.  Whatever you call it, it is organized

capital acting through the state.  The court intellectuals of corporate

liberalism (Art Schlesinger) like to depict the movement as an idealistic

attempt to set countervailing power against the giant corporations. 
And a 
lot of big business propagandists like to howl about how anti-business

forces have won consistently.   But in fact, it is a case of Brer Rabbit

hollering Please don't fling me in that briar patch!

Re: Wage-Price Controls Under Nixon

2003-06-17 Thread AdmrlLocke
I would agree that not every government infringement of liberty warrants the 
label socialist, although on a larger level a rose by any other name still 
has thorns.  It's ironic, however, that Tom chose pension reform as an 
example to illustrate the point that not all government infringement of liberty is 
socialism, both because our Social Security system represents a massive 
transfer of income from poor young minority workers to idle, elderly white 
women--surely one of the vilest forms of socialism--and because German Marxists in 
league with Bismark out-maneuvered German (classical) liberals to produce pension 
reform as their first socialist success.

Most polls, incidentally, demonstrate that most Americans under the age of 40 
do not believe that Social Security will be around to take care of them.  
Whether or not people need to be forced to save for themselves represents a 
value-judgement, not some sort of postulate of economics.  I think we all agree 
that no poor person 
needs to forced to save for a wealthy person.


In a message dated 6/17/03 4:25:06 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 --- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:

  Americans don't like to support something called socialism, but

  they often support socialism by some other name.



 All but a very few Americans, including economists, are in favor of

 socialized money.  That is the most pervasive socialist 

 program in the USA.

It's a mistake to confuse the word socialist by refering to gov't 

money as socialist money.  Most folks, I'm sure, would state that

socialist money means the gov't gives more money to those who

need it, taking from those who have it.  E.g. gov't socialist 


I don't even know why you want to call the monopoly legal tender laws 

socialized money -- but now I'm not certain this is what you mean.

There has long been a freedom-security trade off.  People want both,

but will usually choose more real/ felt security in return for small

amounts of (unrecognized?) freedom.

Social security is widely supported because of the certainty element,

folks are sure that they'll be taken care of by the SS program.  

Since one of the main costs of inflation is the greater uncertainty,

a reduced inflation/ uncertainty is worth quite a lot of freedom to

many people.

One conclusion I draw is support for mandatory savings programs,

including, in Slovakia, a 3-pillar pension reform where the first

pillar is a minimum poverty amount, pay-as-you-go from the budget;

the second pillar is a required savings amount, which becomes your

own inheritable property; the third is a tax-advantaged optional

savings amount.

Generally the irresponsible folk need to be forced to save more 

for themselves, to reduce the number of needy in the future.

Tom Grey

Re: Wage-Price Controls Under Nixon

2003-06-17 Thread AdmrlLocke
Thanks for the clarification Tom.  I do agree that government money, as it 
predates socialism, probably doesn't rightly fall under the category of 
socialism.  I wonder though if most folks would agree that social security is 
socialism.  Americans don't like to admit that they like socialism. and FDR sold 
social security by giving it its own devoted tax and claim that the tax is a 
retirement contribution.  Millions of Americans view Social Security benefits as 
their right, not because they see the benefits as socialist redistribution, but 
rather because they view the benefits as socialist redistribution but rather 
as the result of their own contirbutions.  It's no wonder that the primary 
beneficiaries of Social Security oppose means-testing.


In a message dated 6/17/03 10:27:09 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Sorry, David, you misunderstood me (or at least what I 

thought I meant).

I first tried to point out that gov't money was one thing,

not so much socialism.  But SS is something else -- I guess

I should have said most folks would agree that social

security is a form of socialism, but would add that it's 

pretty good.  I certainly meant that SS is prolly the

most recognized socialism/ socialist policy in the US.

One of the ways to save SS is the, so far unpopular,

means testing.  The huge drugs bills should all include

means testing.  I certainly oppose forcing the poor to

save or subsidize the rich!


Re: Charity

2003-06-05 Thread AdmrlLocke
This reminds me of an old Monty Python sketch that had a line in which the 
game-show host offered the contestant a choice:

Would you like the nice gift package, or a hit on the head?

To which the game-show contestant replied:

Ah, I'll take the hit on the head!  (or I'll take the 'it on the 'ead!)

David G

In a message dated 6/4/03 3:01:57 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Eric has me as being nicer than I actually am.  I would give up a leg to

cure AIDS.  For SARS I would take a kick in the leg.


Re: The Vote-Cost of Scandal

2003-06-04 Thread AdmrlLocke
Hart went on a boat with Donna Rice and two other friends.  The media never 
had any more evidence than that that he had an affair, but they crucified him 
for having an affair just the same.  The same news media for months pretended 
that they didn't beieve that Clinton was having sex with Monica, and played 
it up as a plot of the evil Religious Right.

Last time around it took years to find Saddam's hidden WMD.  This time in a 
matter of weeks we've found protective gear, vaccines, shell for delivering 
chemical/biological agents, Iraqis who worked on the WMD, and 18 buried mobile 
biological warefare labs.  I'm not clear why anyone still thinks we haven't 
found WMD.  Are we waiting until American soldiers come down with anthrax?

You'll also recall that Mush II cited Iraqi support for Al Queda as a reason 
to go to war.  Nobody seems to recall that anymore, but we have found Al Queda 
agents in Iraqi--and of course the Al Queda training camp up in the north of 

In a message dated 6/3/03 9:59:02 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I don't believe Gary Hart was ruined by scandal, per se.

First, he supported a very unpopular, but I think kinda OK,

50 cent/gal tax on gasoline.  When gas about $1/ gal (including

taxes).  This made the unsure very unsure.

Only second did he publicly claim something like he

would never cheat/ have an affair ... and reporters are welcome

to follow him ... and then he did have an affair and it was

seen by the reporters who followed him.

It wasn't even so much hypocrisy, like Bennett's critics of his 

(because his gambling) moralizing -- it was Hart's public lie.

I am honest, no affairs, you can follow me ... what a joke.

I actually think this was most like George I read my lips ... 

followed by a tax increase, and a total loss of credibility.

And as I write this, the flap about WMDs is because Bush II, and Blair,

essentially guaranteed that Iraq had them.  Not finding them becomes

a threat to their ability to guarantee anything; no trust, no vote.

Clinton's scandal(s) did not materially affect his supporter's trust

in him on the issues.

Tom Grey

Re: The Vote-Cost of Scandal

2003-06-03 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 6/3/03 12:32:32 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Steve Miller wrote:

 Maybe what angers voters is not the scandal, but hypocrisy.  Someone
who is
 perceived as liberal on social issues is less of a hypocrite for having
 affair than is someone who runs on a family values platform.

Gary Hart was a liberal in good standing, but he is the textbook case of
a politician ruined by a scandal.  Clinton is probably a bigger
hypocrite given his effort to co-opt the family values stuff.

In all fairness Gary Hart was a pro-gun, pro-free-trade Democrat from 
Colorado (where I lived at the time) and thus was not a libera in good standing.  
Leaders of the liberal East Coast and Midwestern Democratic Party bitterly 
resented Hart's positions on the issues and their allies in the news media took Hart 
apart over his perceived infidelties even as they apologized later for 

Which brings up another theory on why some politicians resign over scandals 
and some don't: that the mainstream news media has a heavy influence on public 
opinion, and that the same news media tend to favor liberals over 
conservatives, such that someone perceived by people in the media as conservative gets 
roasted while someone perceived as liberal gets cover sympathetically.  LIkewise 
Bobby Byrd, kind of Democatic party pork-barrel, gets a total pass on having 
actually belongs to the KKK, while Trent Lott gets roasted for making one 
complimentary comment about Strom Thurmond's presidential bid made before most of 
the current population was even born.

David Levenstam

Re: Cost benefit analysis

2003-02-12 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/12/03 10:00:59 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Depends on what you mean by used in making policy. As far as I know
there are no decisions which are based solely on cost-benefit analysis.
Budgeting is done by legislatures so if CBA plays any role there it is
in influencing the decisions of legislators. CBA is most commonly used
in making regulatory decisions. Even there it is seldom the only
criteria, but it is common for regulators and those contesting NPRMs
(notice of proposed rule making) to present CBAs.
- - Bill Dickens

I vaguely recall that some version of a federal environmental law--perhaps 
the Clean Air Act renewal under Bush I--specifically contained a provision 
forbidding the EPA from applying CBA in determining whether to impose a new 
regulation under the law.


Re: Lott

2003-02-05 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/5/03 12:01:23 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Indeed, the main finding from the surveys is not the brandishment result
but the fact that guns are used defensively several million times a year
(according to Kleck's survey and several others.)

Which is highly suspect. It is computed by projecting the fraction of people
in a relatively small sample who say they used firearms defensively to
the whole population. Anyone who has ever worked with survey data knows
that error rates of a couple of percent (at least) on all sorts of questions
are common. Both coding errors and reporting errors substantially increase
(in percentage terms) the fraction of respondents giving positive responses
to questions with very low fractions of positive responses. Think also
about how people treat surveys (for example the number of people who say
they have been abducted by aliens).  I would bet any money that the true
fraction of people who use firearms in self-defense (brandishment or ot
is a whole heck of a lot lower (an order of m

While she was Attorney General, Janet Reno commissioned a study to try to 
prove that private firearms ownership does not deter crime.  The commission 
concluded nonetheless that Americans use firearms .5 to 1.5 million times a 
year to deter crimes.  Given the obvious bias of the study, this conclusion 
makes the Lott/Kleck numbers quite credible.


Re: Lott

2003-02-05 Thread AdmrlLocke
It's my understanding that Kleck uses FBI crime statistics in his 

Those are estimates of the active use of firearms to deter crimes.  It 
appears that the ownership of firearms also passively discourages crimes:  
while the US has a hire rate of public crime than in Europe, the Europeans 
have higher rates of home breakins and so forth.  In Europe a criminal knows 
that people won't be armed at home; in America a criminal has a much higher 
chance of finding unarmed people in public than in homes.

I understand that every state that's adopted general concealled carry has 
seen significant drops in public crime rates; Florida saw its homicide rate 
go from 50% above the national average to just below it in the year after 
adopting general concealled carry.  

I understand also that since the big Australian and British gun confiscations 
of the 1990s that both countries have been beset by large increases in crime 
while crime rates in America (and indeed often the actual number of crimes) 
has continued to decline.


Re: Advise to Journalists: keep it real!

2003-02-03 Thread AdmrlLocke

Re: Economic anamolies and Kuhn

2003-02-01 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 2/1/03 1:42:44 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  I've also heard that the New Keynesians accept a good deal
  of what the old Keyneisans and neo-Keynesians rejected,

Alypius Skinner wrote:
  What's the difference between a new Keynesian and a neo-Keynesian?

Perhaps a school goes from new to neo- when it becomes `Established'?

When I first took economics back in 1978 the reigning school appeared to have 
switched from using the unmodified label Keynesian to neo-Keynesian, 
which mostly seemed to mean that they were trying to use cost-push 
inflation theory resucitate Keynesian theory from its obvious failure to 
allow for stagflation.  In my PhD Macro class last semester the professor and 
Snowden's book used the term New Keynesians to refer to the current 
inheritors of Keyenes.  Snowden also uses the term post-Keynesians to 
describe a somewhat different group.  I also recall now that when I took 
master's level econometrics back in 1990 my instructor, a PhD candidate, 
called himself a post-Keynesian.  He described the difference between a 
neo-Keynesian this way:  where Paul Samuelson had written two cheers, but 
not three, for free markets in the econ text book I'd used in 1978, the 
post-Keynesians say, one cheer for free markets.


Re: Bubblemania

2003-01-30 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/30/03 8:30:04 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Thanks for the accurate data. Elsewhere,  I have  read that the pre-war

bust began in the mid-1920's--before the great depression--and so could

have been entirely a result of the difficult times of the '30's.  If it

isn't too much trouble, can you either confirm or disconfirm this


Historical Statistics contains fertility and birth rates going back only to 
1940.  Looking at live births (the data on which go back to 1909), the number 
seems to have risen more or less steadily from about 2.7 million in 1909 to 3 
million in 1914 and then stayed around 3 million through about 1926, when it 
began to tail off to about 2.6 million in 1929 and finally down to 2.3 
million in 1933.  The number stayed around 2.3-2.4 million through 1937, and 
then around 2.5 million through 1940.  It rose for the following three years: 
2.7, 3.0 and 3.1.  For 1944 the number fell back to around 2.9, and then rose 
to 3.4 in 1946, the first (and lowest) year of the Baby Boom.  The number 
rose to over 4 million for the years 1955 through 1964, and even in 1965-1970 
(the last year of the data in the Bicentenial edition of Historical 
Statistics) always remained about 3.5 million.


Re: are real estate markets competitive?

2003-01-27 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/24/03 10:32:20 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 real estate markets aren't competitive, in the
 economic sense of the word?

In the sense of rivalry, there is plenty of competition in cities.
Maybe not in some rural areas.

Fred Foldvary
Having just moved from  Iowa I got to see rural real estate markets in 
operation.  Federal, state and local land regulations often discourage the 
conversion of currently-farmed land for other purposes, like indstrial or 
high-density residential use.  The number of people engaged in full-time 
farming has continued to decline, and virtually nobody not already engaged in 
farming or from a farming family enters farming.  There's thus little 
additional demand for farming land, making the real estate market in rural 
areas.  When real estate developers can get county boards of supervisors to 
rezone rural land, it quickly enters the thick and competitive market for all 
other types of land.


Re: are real estate markets competitive?

2003-01-26 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/25/03 3:54:04 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

--- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
I'm also reminded that, like one friend of mine,
people who work in small towns often buy an old farm
house and live in it, while contracting out to some
neighbor or farming friend to do a little bit of
farming on the land the buyer doesn't use for
residential purposes.

Is that what they call gentleman farming?

Well my friend generally acted like a gentleman, but he also spends most of 
his time on the verge of bankruptcy, so he probably doesn't qualify as a 
gentleman farmer.  Sam Donaldson, on the other hand, who often acts in an 
ungentlemanly manner, collects substantial federal mohair subsidies, and 
therefore might be considered a gentleman farmer.


Re: are real estate markets competitive?

2003-01-26 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/25/03 9:20:45 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

--- [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
  Federal, state and local land regulations often discourage
 the conversion of currently-farmed land for other purposes, like
indstrial or high-density residential use.  The number of people engaged
full-time farming has continued to decline, and virtually nobody not
 engaged in farming or from a farming family enters farming.  There's
little additional demand for farming land,

But don't the billions of dollars of farm subsidies benefit some farmers,
making their land more valuable?
When farmers are grandfathered into price supports, does this run with
land or with the farmer?

Fred Foldvary

It was my understanding that grain price supports were to be phased out by 
last year or the year before.  Since I stopped following such matters for the 
most part around 2000, I'm not sure whether Congress allowed the phase out to 
complete.  I do recall both Tom Harkin (Democratic US Senator from Iowa) and 
Jim Nussle (Republican US Represenative from the next district over in Iowa) 
rushing to Newt Gingrich a few years back to try to stave off the full phase 
out, but as I recall they did not succeed.  I'm not familiar with any 
grandfathering to avoid the phase out; the subsidies before the phase out 
went with the crop, not the farmer or the land (although the PIK program paid 
the farmer not to plant a crop, and I think there the benefits probably went 
with the land).  If the phase out does have some grandfather clause to 
prevent or slow the phase out, I suppose it might have gonen with either the 
land or the farmer.  I seem to recall that the ag subsidies had a per person 
limit and that farmers often evaded the limits by putting parcels of land in 
the name of wives, daughters, sons, cousins, in-laws, outlaws, etc.

I'm sure that if the subsidies go with a parcel of land that they tend to 
raise the value of the land, but maybe only if someone actually grows the 
crop on the land.


Re: Bubblemania

2003-01-26 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/26/03 8:02:08 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

(demographically, the boom began in 1943)

The fertility rate (measured per 1000 women) in 1943 barely exceeded that of 
1942 (2,718 v. 2,628), follwed by declines in 1944 (2,568) and 1945 (2,491), 
only a bit higher than the rates of 1941 (2,301) and 1940 (2,301).

In 1946, however, the rate rose to 2,943 and thereafter remained above 3,000 
through 1964 (3,208) and then again in 1965 (2,928), 1966 (2,736), 1967 
(2,573), 1968 (2,477), and 1969 (2,465).  I've generally heard demographers 
to include the years 1946-1964 in the Baby Boom, although one might arguably 
include 1965 or exclude 1946.  

The Baby Boom stands out even more starkly if one uses live birth rates per 
1,000 women: the number doesn't exceed 100 until 1946, and then does so every 
year through 1964, after which it again falls below 100.  (Source: Historical 
Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Part I, pp. 51-53.)


Re: Neutral taxation? with respect to what?

2003-01-17 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Tom,

By neutral I actually thought you mean one that wouldn't prejudice people's 
economic behavior.  Opponents of the income tax often accuse it of 
discouraging work, saving, and investment and encouraging consumption.  I 
thus thought that a neutral tax by comparison would be one that didn't 
favor consumption over saving, or saving over consumption, or one sort of 
consumption/saving over another.  By that definition I can't imagine any 
neutral tax.

Do you regard gasoline taxes as less evil than income taxes because gas taxes 
tax consumption instead of saving, or becaue gas taxes in theory at least 
attempt to match the tax to a funded benefit, in this case highways.  (I say, 
in theory because in reality the federal gas tax trust fund has no more 
substance the social security trust fund; both are accounting fictions.)  
I've never been persuaded that government should intervene in individuals' 
free-market choices between consumption and saving, and while it may do so 
through the income tax, I don't believe that government should turn around 
and do the same thing in the opposite direction by replacing the income tax 
with a national sales tax (not that I believe, as Susan pointed out, that 
such a wholesale replacement has any chance of success).  

Some years ago I discovered that one major think-tank had come to the same 
conclusion, and thus proposed a federal tax system funded in part by a 15% 
flat tax and in part by a 15% national sales tax.  While I find the attempt 
to avoid intervening in individuals' choices between saving and consumption, 
I also fear that both taxes would ultimately grow in complexity and that 
Congress would raise the rates under both, and that furthermore a national 
sales tax might easily devolve into what seems to me the most pernicious of 
all taxes: the value-added tax.

While I enjoy discussing what tax system may or may not be less undesireable 
in theory, I see little evidence that there's any chance for even substantial 
change in the current system at the moment, much less a fundamental 
restructing.  It seems on the contrary that the US and perhaps even most of 
the world seem to continue to drift in an increasingly statist direction.  
Does anyone seen evidence to the contrary?


In a message dated 1/17/03 4:58:20 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Fred, ( Susan)

 even more than direct/indirect, you need to specify what is neutral.

You have not yet adequately done so.

As I try to do this, I realize that neutral must apply to some other 
like a car's neutral color, or a car in neutral (gear).

So, a policy change can be revenue neutral, clearly meaning total revenue
is the same before, and after, the policy change.

Thus, increasing a land tax and decreasing other local taxes can be revenue
neutral, (and I would support such a change) but insofar as it will encourage
some behavior and discourage other (eg idle land will cost more), it is
NOT incentive neutral.  

Reducing dividend taxation will encourage more companies to pay out 
and more capital investment (stock price increases) in those companies
that do pay more out (often not tech companies).

I must say I favor ALL tax reduction proposals that mean less total gov't
revenue, despite relative favoring of some less evil taxes (gas tax) as
compared to more evil (income tax).

Tom Grey

Re: May not be combined with other offers

2003-01-17 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/17/03 1:15:57 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

--- Bob Steinke [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
 However, giving cash in our society is gauche. 
It is in dominant WASP culture, but not in some subcultures.  My parents, for 
instance, give me cash each year, and this year my brother chose cash too.   
The cash is particularly nice since as a poor grad student living in a very 
expensive area (and too abrasive to have roommates other than a cat) I can 
really use the cash over some tie or something.


Re: Neutral taxation?

2003-01-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
I have to agree with Susan.  Health clubs are voluntary organizations which, 
unlike governments, lack the ability to legitimately threaten or employ force 
to get me to join.  

I have seen, furthermore, members of my old health club in Iowa complain 
bitterly at the provision or increase of services they didn't want, or the 
cutting of or failure to provide or increase services they didn't want.  I 
know that I didn't want them to raise my rate in order to refurbish the men's 
locker room, which seemed just fine to me as it was.  Some people complained 
bitterly about the club renting out the pool, tennis courts or other areas 
for parties and thus cutting down the hours during which general members 
could use the pool or tennis courts, etc.

In a message dated 1/16/03 3:30:34 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 I suppose there *could* be a neutral tax, but what would be the point?
 It would be something like taking five dollars from everyone and giving
 them back five dollars worth of 'services'.

The whole point is to provide collective services.
If you join a club and pay dues to get some services, do you then
that you paid money and got services?

SH:  Of course not. How does that apply to governments and taxation, though?

Susan Hogarth 
Triangle Beagle Rescue of NC [EMAIL PROTECTED] 

Re: Neutral taxation?

2003-01-16 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/16/03 3:31:01 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  Given democracy, one (adult) person, one vote, a strong case can be made
 for a neutral poll tax.  
 Tom Grey

Fred writes:  The poll tax is what got Maggie Thatcher thrown out of office 
in the UK.

The problem is that different people benefit differently from government
services, and so the poll tax is not well correlated with benefits.

The poll tax also amounts to forced labor.  The poll tax is how the
colonial governments in Africa got the natives to work in the fields.

So the poll tax is not really neutral:
1) it is not related to benefits, hence it subsidizes some and penalizes
2) it forces workers to work extra to pay the tax in order to get some
amount of net income.

Fred Foldvary 

It seems to me that we have a problem with the meaning of neutrality here.  
Tom seems to see it as meaning that we each pay the same amount regardless of 
circumstances, while Fred seems to see it as meaning that people in different 
circumstances should  not pay the same amount.  If I've come close with the 
apparent definitions here, it seems to me that Fred's meaning contains a 
value taken from Progressive thinking, which I find rather surprising.

In colonial and early republican America, some colonies/states imposed poll 
taxes, and some made paying the poll tax a requirement for voting.  I'm not 
sure what, if any, other penalties the states had for failure to pay the poll 
tax.  Even though I've been relatively poor (by American standards) most of 
my adult life and yet have always voted, I find some appeal in the notion of 
having to pay some small poll tax in order to vote.  If every adult had to 
pay a quarterly federal poll tax of merely $25, (an assuming for the sake of 
argument that most of them paid), the federal government would raise roughly 
$15 billion dollars.  While that's only a percent of annual federal spending, 
it's still a sizable chunk of change (which I'd be happy to take if everybody 
else thinks it's too small).  I couldn't replace the income tax of course, 
but it could be the keystone to a different, lighter federal tax system.  
Frankly I don't want to see the federal government take a third of the 
nation's income by any method.

I do like the idea, however, that to vote for who runs the legal system you 
have to contribute at least something to the running of the system.  I'm not 
sure that such a small tax would actually discourage net beneficiaries of 
government benefits from voting themselves more of other peoples' incomes, 
but it might discourage some of the core supports of socialist programs not 
to bother voting at all.  It would also allow the libertarians (and 
independents) who don't want to vote to op out of paying for at least a share 
of the system they don't support (assuming no other penalty for non-payment 
besides not being able to vote).

As I understand it, Thatcher allowed the local governments in the UK to 
impose the poll tax in the ways that they saw fit, and with Labour stronger 
in many of the local governments, they ensured that the poll tax got imposed 
in the nastiest possible way in order to discredit Thatcher.  I do think, 
however, that the notion of poll taxes at least used to have a powerful 
negative connotation in American politics so that it might easily be a loser 
politically here, and of course if a Republican proposed it no doubt the 
Democrats and their allies in the news media would castigate it as another 
attempt to tax and disenfranchise the poor, etc.  I think though that decades 
of liberal-dominated public education has so vitiated the historical 
education of most American students that by now almost nobody under the age 
of 40 even knows what a poll tax is, much less that, for instance, Southern 
racists once used it to disenfranchise blacks, so it might not receive as 
chilly a reception as it would have 20 or 25 years ago.

Still, as an intellectual participating in a discussion with other 
intellectual I have some expectation that someone will bash me for saying I 
find some merit the idea of poll taxes; as a politician running for office 
I'd avoid it like the plague.  :)

David B. Levenstam

Re: Neutral taxation?/was Re: questions about dividend tax cut

2003-01-16 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Tom,

I hope I got your definition of neutral right in the last post.  As I 
indicated, I'd support a poll tax (so long as I'm an armchair intellectual 
and not running for office, which with my abrasive personality would be a 
joke anyway).  I also support a flatter income tax. In fact  I'd like to see 
something along the lines of the Forbes flat tax with a single rate above the 
exemption.  I've got a master's degree in taxation and used to work as a tax 
practioner, and so saw first-hand some of the heavy cost of complying with 
the complex income tax.  A simpler system would reduce the compliance costs.

I don't really want to replace all the tax revenue generated by the current 
income tax; personally I'd like to see the federal government spend a fifth 
to a fourth of what it does now.  I agree that much of the problem comes on 
the benefit side, with almost everyone (except Democratic politicians in the 
federal government--I wonder why they lost the Senate?) supporting some sort 
of tax cuts but nobody wanting their own benefits cut.  I'd love to hear some 
good (or even some mediocre) suggestions on how to overcome the problem.

Under Gramm-Rudman, which lasted basically covered Reagan's second term, 
discretionary federal non-defense spending grew at its slowest rate since the 
1920s, so it may be that the threat of automatic across-the-board cuts have 
the most success by forcing competing interests to fight with each other 
rather than cooperate to raise federal spending in the aggregate.  It didn't 
last very long and only happened under the threat of huge deficits and indeed 
broke down when the automatic cuts got large, so I'm not actually too 
optimistic about the success of such things.


In a message dated 1/16/03 5:20:18 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:


even more than direct/indirect, you need to specify what is neutral.

Given democracy, one (adult) person, one vote, a strong case can be made

for a neutral poll tax.  

Of course it is not progressive like most income taxes.  Flat rate

taxes, sales/VAT taxes, even land taxes, affect some more than others.

My own preferences are more towards a flat(er) tax, with a large (poverty

level) deduction, and rates tending down (to zero?); a land tax, split

between local, state, and federal (1/3 each? 50-25-25?); and ever increasing

taxes on pollution.  I am constantly annoyed at the greens wanting huge

regulation but unwilling to support higher pollution taxes.  

Um, to get rid of the last 5% of income taxes, I'd even support deficit

printing money (inflation, another fairly neutral tax, 

of about 2-3% per year).

But of the course the MAIN problem is on the benfit side -- so many voters

want, claim, demand, and only-vote-for those politicos who offer their

favorite benefits.  The demand for benefits drives the demand for tax


And the coming (2020) Social Security baby boomer elephant-sized funding

is gonna be a HUGE increase in benefit demand.  

Europe is even more vulnerable than the US or the UK.

Sigh.  What is to be done?  (someone said that... I know, what's is name

the commie!)  

Tom Grey

Re: Neutral taxation?/was Re: questions about dividend tax cut

2003-01-16 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/16/03 11:57:03 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

AdmrlLocke wrote:

 The farmer felt no compunction at all about complaining that while 

under the income tax system he pays no tax, under a sales tax he'd pay

a hefty tax.  He pays nothing and he thinks he's entitled to pay 

nothing while everyone else pays something.)

This kind of rhetoric never seizes to amaze me. Why do people get away

with it?

I'm tempted to say that it's because America is dominated by WASP culture, 
and WASP culture promotes polite and confict-aversion over confrontational 
truth.  I don't really think, however, that that fully explains why such 
people don't get confronted more, although it might explain much of that 
particular story, since I was sitting in a WASPy country club in small-town 
Iowa.  :)

I think that in America certain groups of people have gotten benefits 
because, deservedly so or not, many other Americans believed that the 
beneficiaries deserved the benefits.  Much of the Great Society--occasional 
liberal protestations to the contrary notwithstanding--appealed to 
urban/suburban Northern white middle-income guilt over the treatment of 
blacks in America, particularly (but not exclusively) during slavery.  These 
voters believed (rightfully so) that blacks had been oppressed (slavery, Jim 
Crow, etc.) and that therefore someone should pay them, or their descendants, 
something (a rather tenuous conclusion, I'll admit, and the one behind the 
'reparations' movement these days).  These voters also saw having the 
government make these payments as an easy, cost-free way (a decidedly false 
assumption) to expiate their guilt for evils perpetrated by other people.  
Until the Great Society's heavy costs (inflation, welfare-dependence, 
destruction of black neighborhoods and families) started to appear clearly in 
the 1970s, very few of these voters felt any desire to criticize the 
programs, or the recipients who developed an entitlement mentality, or feared 
to express such criticizms for fear of being branded racist, as the 
Democrats routinely do and have done since the 1960s.

In the farmer's case, there's a centuries'-long American love-affair with 
rurality and the famer.  We start with the early colonial stories of America 
as a great garden, the Jeffersonian ideal of the sturdy yeoman farming his 
land, the American notion of the farmer as the salt of the earth, the 
non-economic notion that the farmer feeds us (as though out of the goodness 
of his heart for us poor, starving urban dwellers).  Indeed a hostility 
toward the sick, polluted, direct city and preference for the clean, growing 
countryside goes back to pre-colonial English (and Continental) roots.  
Farmers in America tried for decades starting in the late 19th century to get 
various types of government benefits, but only when their relative numbers 
had declined to less than half the population could they actually manage to 
start squeezing out some small benefits in the 1920s.  Now that less than 
half of a percent of the US population engages in full-time farming, 
taxpayers can afford to exempt farmers entirely from federal income taxation, 
pay then individually tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, 
and yet barely notice.  For decades it hardly seemed worth the effort to 
debunk the noble farming myth in order to cut agricultural price subsidies, 
although in the mid-1990s the Democrats' allies in the media made cutting ag 
subsidies the key test of whether Republians were really serious about 
cutting entitlements.  (Note: Republicans did phase out the notorious ag 
price supports [though not all federal ag subsidies] but got not credit from 
the news media, whose members conveniently forgot they'd set up ag subsidies 
as the key test).

Civil War veterans, however, stand out as the first group to create a sense 
among the voters that they deserved to feed at the federal trough, and for 
the next half-century or so got increasingly large and wide benefits.  
Eventually Congress passed what some have called a Sneeze Clause or 
something like that:  if a Civil War veteran ever sneezed in your direction 
you got veteran benefits.  I understand that veterans today still get 
substantial, wide-ranging federal benefits, thought I'm not at all sure that 
having a separate, completely-socialized medical system doesn't hurt them 
much more than it helps.

Here in Denmark, we often hear similar rhetoric on welfare benefits. If

someone in the media is advocating a reduction (or more likely, 

advocating a lower increase) in welfare benefits, the interviewer will

gladly turn to someone, who will say: “I actually receive welfare 

benefits, and I think they are too low”. That’s it – end of 


The general feeling is: “Well, this guy actually receives benefits, so

he’s gotta be the expert, right?” – “on the other hand, the idiot who 

proposed the cut (lower increase) doesn’t receive

Re: National sales tax (was: Re: Neutral taxation?)

2003-01-16 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/16/03 8:47:15 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

This brings to mind an historical point which has been tugging at me -
perhaps someone here will know the answer offhand. Has there *ever* been
an instance where one type of tax has entirely replaced another, or even
replaced in some 'revenue-neutral' fashion for even a few years, the tax
it is proposed to 'replace'?

Well I won't say never, but I know of no such case in American history.  
Typically Congress passes some new tax or taxes during a war, then sometimes 
the new taxes persisted after the orginal justification for them had passed.  
During the Civil War Congress raised tarrifs drastically, and imposed an 
income tax and an inheritance tax.  After the war it let the income and 
inheritance taxes lapse, but kept the higher tariffs.  The new tax regime was 
weighted much more heavily toward tariffs than the previous system, which 
relied proportionately more on internal excises, but Congress had used both 
types to a fair degree before, and tariffs did not replace excises.  

Likewise during World War I the income tax of 1913, which had raised little 
revenue at its inception, replaced tariffs as the single largest source of 
federal revenue, but it didn't replace tariffs, and indeed, during the 1920s 
shrunk back below 50% of federal revenue.  While the income tax burst onto 
the scene rather suddenly as a major source of revenue (as it had during the 
Civil War) it just didn't replace another source of revenue entirely. Even 
today the federal government still collects revenue from tariffs (and 

So Susan raises an excellent historical point I hadn't really considered in 
discussing alternatives to the income tax: there's never been a sudden 
wholesale replacement of one major source of federal revenue for another.  
I've always thought it was an unlikely prospect anyway, and now I'm clearer 
as to why.


Re: Taxes direct and indirect

2003-01-15 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/15/03 9:34:26 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 Interestingly, when the US Supreme Court knocked down the federal income
tax in 1894 as violating the direct/indirect distinction, they referred to
Physiocratic doctrine.

Fred Foldvary 

Thank you for the interesting explanation of the earlier direct-indirect 
distinction.  It's been a while since I read Pollock, but I don't recall 
anything like what you're describing.  I do recall,  however, that the court 
mentioned a pass through doctrine In which they claimed the a direct tax 
was one that a person could not pass through to some ultimate customer and an 
indirect tax one they could.  Thus, supposedly, a tax on carriage wheels 
could be passed through to a person's customers while a tax on land could 
not.  It's been a couple of years since looked at Pollock, but here's what I 
wrote in my prospectus the last time I did:

According to Chief Justice Fuller, who wrote the majority opinion in Pollock
, the Founding Fathers believed that a business could pass through all of its 
taxes to the customer.  Fuller dismissed the underlying economic theory of 
pass-through as a fallacy of the eighteenth century (one which by 1894 had 
been dispelled by neoclassical economics; indeed, even earlier David Riccardo 
had demonstrated that where land is a fixed factor of production, a tax on 
the value of land cannot be passed through at all).  Fuller held nonetheless 
that as part of the original intent of the Founding Fathers, pass-through 
theory still governed the definition of direct taxes:  direct taxes include 
all taxes which the Founding Fathers thought could not be passed through; 
indirect taxes include only taxes which the Founding Fathers thought could be 
passed through.  If the Founding Fathers believed that a business could pass 
through all taxes the government imposed on it, and if they defined direct 
taxes as all taxes which a taxpayer cannot pass through, one might logically 
conclude under Fuller's argument that direct taxes would include only 
non-business taxes.  Using quotations from the Constitutional Convention, 
Fuller made a plausible case that the Founding Fathers may indeed have 
defined direct taxes to include all those which under pass-through theory the 
taxpayer cannot pass through to customers.  (Incidentally, I know people on 
the political right who still believe in pass-through theory; in political 
debates over raising taxes people on the left likewise regularly claim that a 
business will merely pass along any tax hike to the customer.)
Given the content of quotations Fuller used as evidence for the 
definition of direct taxes, however, he made a more persuasive case that the 
Founding Fathers held no common definition for direct taxes; even Founding 
Fathers who defined direct taxes with reference to pass-through theory 
demonstrated by their specific examples of direct taxes that they did not in 
practice define direct taxes to include only those which they thought a 
taxpayer cannot pass through.

David Levenstam

Re: Taxes direct and indirect

2003-01-15 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/15/03 7:35:14 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  It's been a while since I read Pollock, but I don't recall 
 anything like what you're describing.  
 David Levenstam


From Pollock v. Farmers':
All the acts passed levying direct taxes confined them practically to a
direct levy on land. True, in some of these acts a tax on slaves was
included, but this inclusion, as has been said by this court, was probably
based upon the theory that these were in some respects taxable along with
the land,... 

Fred Foldvary  

Yes, Pollock is a long decision, and I focused on the pass-through theory 
since that seems to be what the Court focused on itself in rendering its 
decision.  Given that the earlier direct taxes included (whether 
incidentally or not) slaves as well as land, it's not surprising that many 
of the Founding Fathers should include a tax on slaves in their own 
definition.  Thank you for the url.  I did contain one error--it omitted the 
fact that the Supreme Court in Hylton accepted a tax on slaves as a direct 
tax--but contained some information on the Lockean view which I don't recall.

It seems that you have an abiding interest in the history of income 
taxations, Fred.  As I'd planned to do my history dissertation on it, 
obviously I do too.  :)

David Levenstam

Re: Neutral taxation?/was Re: questions about dividend tax cut

2003-01-15 Thread AdmrlLocke
Dear Dan,

I actually do agree, which is part of why when my conservative friends would 
support a national sales tax instead of an income tax as though a national 
sales tax were a panacea I'd just shake my head and tell them, there's no 
such thing as an unburdensome tax.  There's no unburdensome way for the 
federal government to confiscate a third of national income.  Some taxes 
bear more heavily on some people than others, so shifting between them may 
change how much of the burden a particular individual shares.  People 
naturally tend (and I do say tend) to support moving to a sytem that shifts 
some of the burden they bear to somebody else, or on keeping the status quo 
if the current system rests relatively little burden on themselves.  (As a 
case in point, a farmer showed up to listent to Indiana Senator Dick Lugar, 
campaigning for president in Iowa, speak about replacing the income tax with 
a sales tax.  The farmer felt no compunction at all about complaining that 
while under the income tax system he pays no tax, under a sales tax he'd pay 
a hefty tax.  He pays nothing and he thinks he's entitled to pay nothing 
while everyone else pays something.)

I can't imagine any tax that would be neutral, but some might be less 
injurious to economic growth than others.  I'm not persuaded, however, that 
taxing consumption more heavily than income will discourage economic growth 
any less than taxing income more heavily than consumption, since the ultimate 
goal of producing income is to consume it anyway.

In a message dated 1/15/03 10:51:58 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 On Wednesday, January 15, 2003 7:11 PM Fred Foldvary [EMAIL PROTECTED]


 To achieve neutrality, unrealized gains should be

 taxed annually, and then we can forget about

 capital gains.

But this assumes that taxes can be neutral.  I would tend to agree with

Larry Sechrest here -- viz., there are no neutral taxes.  (Sechrest's

position is laid out in his Rand, Anarchy, and Taxes in _The Journal

of Ayn Rand Studies_ 1(2).)

Do any of you agree?



Re: Taxes direct and indirect

2003-01-14 Thread AdmrlLocke
Before the leftists drive me out of Iowa, I'd planned to do my dissertation 
in income tax history, and began to do preliminary research on what the 
Founding Fathers meant by direct taxes.  I read the The Debate on the 
Constitution and discovered that direct taxes seemed to be one of those 
phrases that everybody thought he understood, but that in fact nobody could 
actually define.  At one point during the debate over the limit on federal 
imposition of direct taxes, one of the delegates actually asked what is a 
direct tax? and the silence was deafening.

The only definitional reference to direct taxation came in one of the 
Federalist Papers, which historians attribute to Hamilton, in which the 
author said that direct taxes include the poll tax and taxes on real estate, 
slaves and the like.  In the Hylton case Hamilton  used the same language, 
except that he dropped and the like.

As near as I can tell the logic behind their definition of direct taxes was 
simply that direct taxes were taxes imposed on things that the delegates 
particularly valued: themselves (poll tax), their real estate (mostly land, 
but buildings too) and their slaves.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 1/13/03 12:53:58 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

  In the 1796 Hylton case the Supreme Court accepted Hamilton's view that
 the only direct taxes are the poll tax (a tax on heads, not on voting),
and taxes on real property and slaves constituted direct taxes.  Taxes on
other items were indirect.  (They didn't use the current distinction that
economists often use of direct taxes refering to taxes which the taxpayer
pays directly to the government.) 
 David Levensam

Hamilton was incorrect, as was the Supreme Court.
There is no logical reason why if a tax on a slave is direct, a tax on a
horse is not also direct.  If a tax on a house is direct, why not on a
carriage?  It seems to me that the Supreme Court reasoned illogically that
since the 1790s tax on carriages was not proportioned by population, it was
thus indirect.

I can see the 18th century argument that only a tax on land is direct, as
all other taxes ultimately get shifted to rent (cf. John Locke on
taxation).  But once a tax on slaves and on buildings is designed as
direct, then so too must be taxes on a horse and carriage or any other

Fred Foldvary  

Cutting Corporate Tax Instead of Tax on Dividends (Was Re: questions about dividend tax cut

2003-01-14 Thread AdmrlLocke
Originally the federal income tax law sought to tax income closest to the 
source, presumably because the farther from the source, the more easily 
income might escape detection and therefore taxation.  In the hearings over 
the 1913 income tax law one member of Congress suggested simply taxing each 
shareholder on his pro rata share of corporate income, but got shot down.

As far as eliminating the corporate income tax today, look at all the furor 
the advocates of punitive taxation (notice I didn't say the advocates of 
statism ) have raised over Bush's proposal to cut taxation of dividends.  
Can you imagine the holy hysteria they'd raise over cutting the corporate tax 
instead?  It seems likely that even more people would agree that such a cut 
in tax constituted a tax cut for the wealthy since in their minds it would 
be going to corporations instead of people.  

David Levenstam

In a message dated 1/13/03 7:50:22 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 On Mon, Jan 13, 2003 at 01:44:59PM -0800, Fred Foldvary wrote:
 There is also a supply-side effect from cutting the marginal tax rate, from
 less uncertainty about the company as it shifts to less debt and more
 equity, as well as more investor confidence when the profits are sent to
 the shareholders rather than retained by possibly theiving executives.

Any idea why the dividend tax, instead of the corporate income tax, is
being proposed for a cut? If we want to end double taxation of dividends,
it makes more sense to me to eliminate the corporate income tax instead of 
the dividend tax.

Cutting taxes on dividends while keeping taxes on capital gains seems to
provide a perverse incentive for companies to retain as little profits as
possible, leading to a higher rate of corporate bankruptcy in the future.
I predict we'll also see companies issue new stock and then immediately
distribute the capital as dividends in order to dilute their stock value - 
the opposite of the stock buy-back programs that companies undertake today 
to avoid paying dividends. 

Re: Grade inflation - an easy explanation?

2003-01-14 Thread AdmrlLocke
In the Rhetoric Department at Iowa instructors who tried to actually teach 
writing  and therefore generated many student complaints were offered out of 
their contracts--that is, forced out--because the chair and assistant chair 
didn't want to deal with student complaints.

In a message dated 1/14/03 2:17:30 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

Has anybody tested the hypothesis that professors assign easy grades
because it sucks up too much time?

Consider the costs of tough grading - spending more time correcting
papers, extra time spent arguing grades with students and the extra effort
it takes to design challenging tests and assignments. 


Re: Tax cuts and US citizen responses

2003-01-13 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/13/03 7:33:09 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 Can anyone explain why ordinary Americans are not objecting to tax cuts 
(such as dividend tax cuts) that will only favour the top percentiles of the 
wealthy ? 



In absolute terms, the tax cut would favor those with higher incomes (rather 
than the wealthy) because those with higher incomes pay much larger 
absolute amounts of actual taxes.  The top half of the income distribution in 
the US pays almost 100% of the taxes.  If the government cuts the amount by 
which it taxes everyone by the lesser of his or her actual tax and, say 
$1,000 to simplify, the people paying $1,000 and above will obviously get 
much larger tax cuts than those paying less than $1,000.  

Proprotionally, however, everyone playing $1,000 or less gets a larger 
percentage tax cut (100%) than everyone paying more than $1,000.  Someone 
paying $100,000 a year gets only a 1% tax cut.  With my low income--let's say 
I'd have to pay $200 in tax otherwise--I get a 100% tax cut, which pays for 
weeks of groceries for me, I don't care that someone who pays $100,000 in 
taxes get times as large a tax cut as I do.  Someone might say, hey, the 
rich got a tax cut five times as large as yours to try to get me angry, but 
meanwhile I get my100% tax cut and buy my groceries.  I'm reasonably happy.  
If I compare  myself at all with the person paying $99,000, I'm envious not 
of his or her 1% tax cut, but of his or her ability to earn so much income 
that he pays more in taxes than I earn in income.  As a CPA tax-professional 
at the now-imfamous Arthur Andersen back in the 1980s I often prepared tax 
returns for clients who paid more in taxes than I earned in salary.  :)

David Levenstam

Re: Dividend Tax cut

2003-01-11 Thread AdmrlLocke
I don't see how too much capital could cause a recession, or indeed how it's 
possible to have too much capital.  Do you mean too much credit, too much 
borrowed capital?  The notion of too much borrowed capital fits with both 
Austrian and monetarist theories of recession.

Since I first studied taxs as an undergraduate accounting major, I've opposed 
the double-taxation of dividends that the federal government imposes under 
the federal income tax.  I've never heard a good reason advanced for taxing 
someone's income twice, or, for that matter, even much of a bad reason.  

If you read the debates in Congress over passage of the first federal income 
tax law under the 16th Amendment (which incidentally wasn't the first 
constitutional federal income tax, contrary to popular view) you'll see that 
they planned to tax income closest to the source, which is why they imposed 
an income tax at the corporate level.  That also taxed the income regardless 
of whether the corporation actually paid it to the shareholders or not.  They 
didn't plan to tax dividends, and indeed under the first law they passed 
didn't they did not impose the normal income tax on dividends.  They did 
impose the high-income surtax on dividends, which might be regarded as 
double-taxation, but that's not how they saw it.  Rather, they placed the 
normal tax directly on the corporate income, and the surtax only on aggregate 
individual dividends above a very large exemption, which they saw essentially 
as simply a higher bracket on corporate income, but only for wealthier 
individuals (if I'm explaning it at all lucidly).

During World War I, however, Congress basically taxed everything in 
sight--and a good deal hidden from sight as well.  :)  Congress applied the 
normal tax to dividends during its taxing binge and, well, just never let go. 
 Since then dividends have suffered double-taxation in America.  Of course 
the majority of Americans didn't pay any income taxes until World War II, but 
a substantial fraction did pay throughout the 1920s.

David Levenstam

In a message dated 1/11/03 8:12:18 AM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

I was wondering what you all's opinions are on the elimination of the
dividend tax President Bush is endorsing.

In my opinion the recent recession has been caused by too much freely
available capital. Tech and growing companies have always argued that
because of double taxation it made more sense for a company to re-invest
its profits instead of giving them to share holders.  If there was no
dividend tax durining the 90's we probably would not have had as much
growth but we also would not have had such a sever recession either.

Is this reasonable? 

Re: News Coverage and bad economics

2003-01-10 Thread AdmrlLocke

In a message dated 1/9/03 9:49:18 PM, [EMAIL PROTECTED] writes:

 Hilarious!  I'd already killfiled AdmrlLocke, so I hadn't read his first
message.  Love your answer though. 

Wow, I had no idea that people on the list held me in such contempt, or 
indeed in contempt at all.  What sin or sins have I committed?I've 
learned a great deal form the list and had come to look forward to the 
intellectual challengs it poses, but given the contempt in which other list 
members apparently hold me, shall I just unsubscribe then?

David Levenstam

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