Fixing the leaky buckets of upward redistribution
Could we step up the push to put tax-preparers out of work?
Legislation to have the IRS calculate your taxes and send you the bill. You verify it, or don't, and send them a check, or don't.
HR Block and Turbotax have to find new jobs.
"The origin of American zoning is largely in efforts to uphold racial segregation."
You see this claim a lot in progressive circles and it (a) doesn't really make sense and (b) is wholly unsupported by the linked studies and historiography. The paper linked in this work examines the use of zoning to enforce Racial Segregation in Southern Cities in the early 1900s. The idea that zoning would be used to uphold a de jure system of segregation that already existed is more or less unremarkable, horrific though it may be.
But "the origin of American zoning" is not found at all in the largely rural South. The paper you link to admits this in the second paragraph (!) saying "Benjamin Marsh championed zoning in the early 1900s in an effort to combat urban congestion and thereby improve the quality of working-class neighborhoods." Not only does this progressive, urban origin of zoning happen to be true, it also makes way more sense that an idea that originated in European urban renewal movements would first present itself in large, Northern American cities as opposed to smaller Southern ones.
This claim is akin to the ludicrous 1619 project claim that capitalism was invented in America (wrong) as a way to more efficiently facilitate the trade of enslaved people (also wrong). I don't understand why people feel the need to lie about this stuff, when it seems bad enough to me that the United States spend two centuries using otherwise anodyne or progressive advancements (urban renewal, ledger books) to facilitate the bondage and disenfranchisement of human beings. That is already bad! You don't need to pretend that Central Park is Jim Crow! IMHO it devalues the entire argument to make demonstrably false claims like this.
I’m not a knee-jerk defender of the doctor’s lobby and usually disagree with my specialty organization. But US training really is much better than what exists in many other countries, and also American tourists in many countries are often told to go to “the good hospital” and don’t just visit a random rural hospital when they’re sick.
If we want to intelligently deregulate (which I agree should be a goal), we should follow the example set by other countries like New Zealand, which don’t require a full residency but still require a couple years of supervised practice and a licensing exam before doctors set out on their own. And I totally agree that expanding NP practice is good, although we also have a nursing shortage so we should probably just expand that pipeline in general
I like Supply-Side Matt.
If repeal of the Jones Act were on the list, this essay would be a winner.
Another way to promote growth is to add a lot more automation to seaports and freight rail. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit that automation would make more efficient. Of course that would mean fighting the unions.
You are correct that we should do more to expand the supply of healthcare services, but you kind of skipped over the reason why it’s so difficult to do. One reason why rent seeking is so common in medicine is because doctors are politically powerful. That’s not only because they are affluent and educated, but also because they are an extremely well trusted profession. If a doctor goes around telling their patients that some new healthcare rule is going to make it harder for them to give good care, then those patients will oppose the change, even if it’s a change that is beneficial for patients. If your doctor says something is bad and a politician says it’s good, most people will believe their doctor.
Almost any working age, non-disabled person has more to gain from growing the economy than further expanding the welfare state. Single parents of preschoolers are the biggest exception as the costs of child care swamp most younger peoples’ wages. Still, a solid 65% of adults do better by growing the economy than expanding benefits. This is the beating heart of center-right politics. The 35% who do better expanding benefits are numerically fewer and generally unproductive and often unsympathetic.
The main thing the welfare state can offer the median earner is security. I don’t trust an insurance company to take care of me if I get sick (I recall one claiming my wife’s cancer was a preexisting condition even though she’s had continuous coverage for years) and I sure as fuck don’t want my basic needs in old age to depend on the stock market.
Love this post. This is where my heart is in politics; where can libertarians and progressives agree? Let's do that stuff first then argue about the exact size of the welfare and regulatory state later. Insofar as dumb regulations are transferring wealth UPWARDS, let's get rid of them.
As far as "building shit in America" goes, I'm reminded of a previous post about "move the census bureau to Cleveland." I'm cool with the idea of "the government has to do this stuff ANYWAYS, may as well do it in areas that need jobs and population." Here's a half-baked idea. What if we did some Manhattan Project style endeavor for carbon removal technology and based it in (insert Rust Belt Town here)?
What are your thoughts about allowing employees of large corporations, eg. Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, to form unions? Currently employers can fire union supporters with impunity and retaliate in other ways. Do you believe that empowering workers to engage in collective bargaining would be a way to address income inequality without cost to government? (By the way "right to work" laws derive from white supremacy.)
Speaking of upward leaky buckets I’d love to see fixed, we should really be getting rid of tax deductions, and increasing the standard deduction. If something is important enough that it deserves subsidy, refundable tax credits are the way to go.
"There's certain type of economist who loves to dazzle people with examples of unintended consequences or.... "
It's worth being perfectly clear here, this certain kind of economist is always a conservative trying to stand athwart history yelling "Stop" because, as we know, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." It's classic Albert Hirschman in his book "The Rhetoric of Reaction." It's an unfalsifiable claim that begs the question in a certain way, because, obviously everything has unintended consequences, many of which can also be good, but we would never know unless we try. Of course these conservatives go on to then talk about "human nature" and minimize the potential intended consequences of collective action, and how it'll only ruin the incentives currently baked into the system that have gotten us where we are today.
There's a certain type of left winger that defaults to being very averse to any sort of major reduction in government regulation, and also averse to growth for fear of unintended side effects and externalities. It's articles like this that they need to read to understand how some of those restrictions cut against their ideological worldview.
Nice statement of what I think of as commonsense Liberalism.
I do, however think we should not overlook the elephant in the room: the federal deficit. A dollar borrowed comes mainly out of investment. A dollar taxed, even from high income people, comes somewhat out of consumption. Moreover there are ways to tax that have lower deadweight losses then the one we have.
Federal business taxes are riddled with exemptions and special treatment of one and another sector and activity that reduces the value of private investment. Taxation of income's only deadweight loss is reduced effort and entrepreneurship which is bad but I think really miniscule. So it would be a big deal to reduce business taxes and raise personal income taxes.
A capped wage tax for financing SS and even the uncapped wage tax financing Medicare fall somewhat on (reduce) savings. A VAT falls mainly on consumption, including consumption of high income and non-wage income earning people. A dollar for dollar shift would be growth promoting but of course at the shift point we could also raise revenue collections to match benefits, another contribution introducing the federal deficit.
Taxing capital gains at a preferential rate and rebasing gains on inheritance has an advantage of offsetting (more or less than) the gain coming from the inflation. We would be better off to just index the inflationary gain and tax it at the person's regular rate.
A tax "deduction" is worth more to a high marginal tax rate person that to a lower marginal tax rate person. To the extent that deductions are incentives for certain kinds of consumption (charitable giving, health care and insurance spending, owner occupied housing services) over others the incentive should be the same regardless of the consumer's tax bracket (or even greater for lower income people?) We should replace deductions with partial tax credits (which would also eliminate s lot of complicated caps and exclusions that exist to partly offset the inherently regressive nature of the deduction).
And although I'm sorry it not already popular, all right thinking elitists ought to be pushing for a revenue neutral tax on net CO2 emissions.
It’s not just the price of gasoline that’s a racial justice issue, much more important is the push to outlaw internal combustion (ICE) cars. New York and California have already banned the sale of ICE vehicles after 2035 and are phasing them out before that. I would be very surprised if other states, and perhaps the Federal government, didn’t follow suit soon. If you are upper middle class suburban dweller with a driveway and a garage, switching to a Tesla might be a bit more expensive but is definitely manageable. But if you live in a dense urban environment, in a multi family house, and park on the street, how is that going to work for you? And which racial groups are more likely to be in the second group?
One thing not noted but I think can be included in your post is reforming the requirements to receiving a college degree and a graduate degree. What I mean is that colleges (as you have noted) are essentially designed in their structure around a world and society that existed in the 19th century. In other words, they are designed to serve only the upper crust as it existed pre-20th century. As much as I loved my college experience, I would say a lot of the classes that I had to take to fulfill my requirements for graduation were probably unnecessary and resulted in me staying in school longer than is strictly necessary. At least with state schools there should be a push to eliminate "common core" requirements and allow students to concentrate on taking classes that are needed for their major. In addition, there should be a way for students to go directly into graduate level programs as soon as they are able to. My understanding is that in other parts of the world, you can go straight into an MBA program without undergraduate classes (this may be different from country to country and it's perhaps not right out of high school, but I think I'm on pretty firm ground saying the class requirements to go to grad school are a lot less stringent). For thinks like medicine, it seems like the necessary undergraduate requirements (classes like organic chemistry) should be included in medical schools. The time spent in medical school would be strictly speaking longer, but your overall number of years spent studying to be a doctor would be shorter.
Given the huge debt loads kids need to take to finance higher education (Kevin Drum had a good post noting that the gap between Millennial wealth and Boomer wealth at the same age can be explained primary by the burden of student debt), finding ways for kids to graduate with undergraduate and graduate degrees in a quicker timeframe seems a no-brainer to me.
I love all the ideas for change in this article, but the framing and motivations were a little off for me.
1) The article asserts without evidence or limitations that redistribution is good. This is a loser of a frame -- healthy, broad middle class, sure, but redistribution has communist vibes. I’d imagine there’s some efficiency point between where we are today and equal salaries for all. The truth is, low and middle class pay some of the lowest federal income taxes as a % of income in the developed world, so there’s already a fair bit of redistribution.
I’d like politicians to align increased taxes with new benefits for all (+ some deficit reduction). It’s in line with Matt’s abundance agenda, but let’s raise taxes on higher earners to pay for things we all use.
2) Countries all over the world use zoning. It’s an overstatement to say that zoning comes from racism. (There are certainly some examples, but there were/are many motivations.)
Also, major overstatement that zoning and regulations are what makes cities so expensive. Manhattan is an island, and it just costs more to build up vs single family homes in Florida or Texas.