Stand with Paul Ryan!

Paul Ryan is right: work builds self-esteem; idleness is a disgrace. Let’s hear it for the 100% estate tax!

I know many RBC readers dislike Paul Ryan, but when the man’s right, he’s right. The surest path to self-esteem is hard work, and people who have the opportunity to live on what other people have earned too often develop into lazy, worthless slobs.

That’s why I’m proud to support Ryan’s call for a 100% estate tax. How else can we teach teach the virtue of self-reliance to the idle sons of riches?

British and American economies: a rejoinder

Keith has turned off comments so I’ll reply to his thoughts on recent UK vs US economic performance by return of post.

If you want to compare the policies since 2008, the relevant data cover the whole period since 2008, not the last quarter of 2013 and an estimate for 2014.
Here’s the key chart, courtesy of Thomson Reuters:

It’s not a matter of debate but of fact that the British economy has underperformed the US one over the period by a substantial margin. The relative loss came to 6% of annual GDP by 2012, cumulatively around 15% of a year’s GDP. This contrasts with a slight British overperfomance previously (see the chart since 1999 on the same page), so the gap is very unlikely to have a structural explanation.

The Keynesian argument was and is that this shortfall represents a simple throwing away of at least $300 billion of potential work and output. That’s a rock-bottom minimum, as the benchmark US policy has hardly been aggressively Keynesian; for that you have to go to Australia or recent Japan. What has Britain gained from this? The bond vigilantes have been kept at bay; but then they have not appeared in either the USA or Japan, so the policy looks like elephant powder. The welfare state and local government have been trimmed, which the cynical suspect to have been the main point all along.

The austerian argument (made in good faith or not) has been that austerity forces neoliberal structural reforms that raise the long-term growth rate. So far, it’s a claim with singularly little evidence for it, far short of what would be needed to justify the widespread suffering the policy has directly caused. Germany has done better than the other eurozone countries, and had mild structural reforms in 2010. But Italy and France have suffered, and the Nordics prospered, without reforms; Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been forced to put on the hair-shirt, and Britain’s Coalition government freely chose one, in both cases to little benefit. The hair-shirt was made more bearable to élites by the fact that it was always to be worn conveniently by the poor, never by the financiers who triggered the crisis or the policymakers and pundits who enabled it.

You can trust The Economist on facts. Interpretation, not so much.

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

(Humbert Wolfe)

Update: I see Kevin Drum beat me to it. But only my post has Humbert Wolfe.

Employment and freedom

Kevin Drum, who had the nerve to suggest that leaded gasoline that  was bad for people (as though that mattered next to the admirable and meritorious fortunes it made for GM, DuPont and Standard Oil!) has finally posted a graphic even I can understand.

However, Kevin completely misses what’s before his eyes. See, the Republican/American private sector jobs (red, of course) are going up while the Democrat/Socialist jobs are going down.  When something goes up while something else is going down, you don’t need a stinkin’ PhD to understand the situation: as any fool can see — I can see! — the government jobs we’re finally clearing out are not just parasites, but the jackbooted regulatory oppressors with their feet on the throats of our job creators! Teachers making kids do boring homework, librarians saying “shush!”, cops writing speeding tickets, weights and measures guys telling Safeway they can’t call 14 oz a pound if they want to, EPA busybodies telling entrepreneurs what they can and can’t dump in the river and the air, ATF thugs after my personal machine gun.

Fortunes are being made selling  bottled water in West Virginia right now because those proud, independent mountain people kept the government from messing with Freedom Industries.

Fire ‘em all and we’ll be rich.

Also, Benghazi.