Putting your eggs in one basket

In the past, I’ve heard passionate opponents of privatizing Social Security argue that won’t do because it would expose people to the vagaries of the stock market.

Detroit may prove that counting on taxpayers to fund your retirement is not better than betting that folks will continue to buy Coke and McDonald’s hamburgers. Especially so if taxpayers disappear.

There may be $4 trillion in unfunded public pensions. Not sure why people trust public officials with their retirement.

Ask, how much? Part 2

In the same EconTalk podcast with Morris Fiorina that I wrote about in this post, Fiorini describes another ‘how much’ scenario:

…I saw a paper presented yesterday on taxes. And it was very interesting that the population according to these surveys does think we should have more taxes on the rich. But then when you ask them, what are the rich actually paying, they underestimate, of course, what the rich are currently paying. And, what’s interesting is they think the rich should be paying less than they actually are. But you ask them, what is the fair tax to pay for various income brackets? They come in at figures that are actually below what the rich, what people in those brackets are actually paying. So here’s a case of people being uninformed and mal-informed at the same time.

Jon Stewart’s view on taxes

While flipping channels tonight, I came across a segment of the Jon Stewart Show where Mr. Stewart claims John Boehner referring to taxation as theft showed a lack of understanding of the United States Constitution.

Here’s a link to the full clip.

I’d be open for Mr. Stewart, or the writer of that joke, to point me to the part of the Constitution he believes Mr. Boehner doesn’t understand.

Article I, Section 8 of the CoTUS gives Congress the power to ‘lay and collect’ taxes. However, it does not say that taxes are not theft.

I’ll give Mr. Stewart the benefit of the doubt that he is referring to meaning of theft as the unlawful taking of another person’s property without their permission. Since the Constitution makes taxing power lawful, then (I’m guessing) Stewart believes taxes are not theft.

However, some folks believe the more salient meaning of theft is the part where another person’s property is taken without their permission. In that view, many taxes are theft.

I’d rather have elected officials who see taxes the way Speaker Boehner sees them than the way Mr. Stewart sees them.

Stewart was miffed that Boehner’s (what he thought was a) “mistake” didn’t get media attention, while President Obama’s lack of understanding of Star Wars and Star Trek did.

Maybe others in the media were concerned that Mr. Boehner’s view on taxes would make sense to people, especially folks fresh off their 2% payroll tax holiday.

What is ‘modest’?

Bob Murphy makes a good point while responding to Elizabeth Warren’s discussion of a $22 minimum wage:

We’re not talking about a “modest” change that Krugman et al. hide behind when we free-marketeers go nuts on this stuff. (Even here, I’m still waiting for someone to show me why going from $7.25 to $9/hour–which is a 24 percent increase–is “modest.” If the government cut the deficit by 24 percent in a year, I doubt Krugman would dismiss it as “modest.”)

…or cut government spending by 24%, lowered tax rates by 24% or increased tax rates on the poor by 24%.

 

Heard on the radio

Here’s a couple (paraphrased) good points made by callers to a radio show that I heard on the way to work this week.

Caller 1 — About the sequester budget cuts:

They expected us all to take the hit to pay the extra 2% in payroll tax at the beginning of the year. Why shouldn’t we expect government to take a hit once in a while?

Caller 2 did a great job illustrating the silliness of false choices often presented by politicians facing budget cuts:

Let’s say I take home $1,000 a week in pay. The payroll tax increase kicks in and that costs me $20 a week. Who’s going to believe it when I say, “Now I won’t have lunch money for my kids and they won’t be able to eat lunch.” Nobody…they’ll ask me if there are other expenses I could cut first. Why not cut back on the beer or Starbucks? They’ll tell me that I can make lunch for my kids to take to school.

But, why, when politicians use this tactic do people accept it as if there are no other alternatives.