Last Monday, Aaron Edlin and I published a cri de coeur op-ed in the New York Times calling for a Brandeis tax, an automatic tax that would put the brakes on income inequality. This is the third in a series of posts (the first and second posts are here and here) explaining more about our rationale and providing more details on how a Brandeis tax might be implemented. You can also listen to my hour-long interview on Connecticut Public Radio’s “Where we Live” here.
Of Lags and Caps: More Details About Possible Implementations of a Brandeis Tax
By Ian Ayres & Aaron Edlin
Remarkably of the hundreds of emails we received in reaction to our op-ed, almost no one questioned Brandeis’s idea that we can have great concentrations of wealth, or democracy but not both. People questioned other aspects of our proposal, asking questions like (1) how would it work in a world of income bunching; (2) would people still have the incentive to work hard; and (2) is it fair to have very high tax rates on the affluent.
On Monday, Aaron Edlin and I published a cri de coeur op-ed in the New York Times calling for a Brandeis tax, an automatic tax that would put the brakes on income inequality. In the next few days, Aaron and I will be publishing a series of posts explaining more about our rationale and providing more details on how a Brandeis tax might be implemented.
There Will Be Rich Always
By Ian Ayres & Aaron Edlin
The same is true of the rich. There will always be a top 1 percent of income earners. But what it takes to be rich can change drastically over the course of even a single generation. In 1980, you would have had to earn at least $158,000 to be a one-percenter; but by 2006 the qualifying amount had more than doubled to $332,000. (You can produce an estimate of your own household income percentile – albeit using a different definition of income that produces a much higher 1 percent cutoff – at this wsj.com site.) The rise is not due to inflation as both these numbers are expressed in inflation-adjusted, constant 2006 dollars. Read More »
Searching for the perfect gift for the health care reform junkie in your family? A new graphic novel by Jonathan Gruber (out on Dec. 20) may be just what you’ve been looking for. The book, Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, has been gestating for awhile, and aims to explain the complicated legislation. Here’s an excerpt from the Amazon book description:
You won’t have to worry about going broke if you get sick.We will start to bring the costs of health care under control.And we will do all this while reducing the federal deficit.
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Gruber served as an Obama advisor during the 2008 campaign and may not be the most unbiased of observers.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)
A new paper (PDF here) by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a Harvard Ph.D. economics student, attempts to measure whether “racial animus” cost Barack Obama votes in 2008. Using location-specific Google searches for racial epithets collected on Google Insights, and comparing Obama’s 2008 performance to John Kerry‘s in 2004, the study concludes that racism cost Obama 3 to 5 percentage points in the popular vote. Read More »
In a Time magazine Q&A, the actor gives a fascinating reply to the question “Are you disappointed in Obama”:
I get angry at people who don’t stand for him, actually. If this were a Republican president, Republicans would say, “We were losing 400,000 jobs a month. We stopped it. We saved the car industry.” You could go down the list. Democrats should talk to Hollywood about how to posture some of these things. Say you’re about to get into tax loopholes. Instead of “loopholes,” say “cheating.” And then on the floor of the Senate, get up and say, “We’re not going to raise your taxes, but we’re not for cheating. Are you?” I just think Democrats are bad at that.
A few points: I assume the “people” he gets angry at for not standing for Obama are Democrats? If not … well … hard to imagine someone like Clooney getting angry at Democrats who didn’t “stand for” Bush.
Great point re the job loss and car industry! Perhaps not nearly 100 percent accurate, but still, a great point re how those accomplishments haven’t been framed as successes. Read More »
Amid ongoing inquiries into the prudence of government loans to failed solar firm Solyndra, and a spate of other bad news on the green jobs front, there is growing concern that the green economy may not be the juggernaut President Obama promised when he vowed after his election to invest $150 billion to generate “five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.” To counter critics, the administration is greenwashing large swaths of the economy—defining “green jobs” down to the point that they are virtually indistinguishable from what we used to call “manufacturing jobs.”
Green jobs are central to arguments that new environmental regulations should be pursued even in a down economy. Supporters of the policies, like California’s carbon cap-and-trade system, claim that even if the cost of regulatory compliance causes job losses in the traditional economy, the regulations will create jobs in the green economy. And green jobs are better jobs, as the President says: high paying, reliably American, and yielding environmental benefits.
Success of the green economy supports the economic defense of environmental policy, which may explain why administration officials were on Capitol Hill last week defending the notion that millions of Americans, from bus drivers to car makers, are employed in “green jobs.” Read More »
Last Friday, our contributor and friend Justin Wolfers decided to have some end-of-the-week fun and run a caption contest for a pretty amusing picture he came across. The response was great: the post got 170 comments. As promised, we picked a winner based on the number of thumbs-up approvals given.
That lucky, and witty winner, is VB in NV, who posted the following less than 10 minutes after the post went live:
“I checked the vault Mr. President, and we’re down to a stack of twenties about this high.”
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 276 13
We’re going to give you some Freakonomics swag, VB, so watch out for an email from us. Thanks to everybody for participating!