Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tax Rebate Smackdown III

In his ongoing tax rebate smackdown with Jason Furman in the LA Times, Economist Steven Landsburg poses this interesting question: "Why weren't last year's unemployed worth helping?"

People lose their jobs all the time. An above-average number might have lost their jobs in December, but plenty of others lost their jobs in November, or October, or a year ago. Why should people who endured this trauma last year — and others who will endure it a year from now — be taxed to help those who happen to be enduring it today?

It seems fundamentally unfair to say that we'll help you out with an expensive stimulus package if you lost your job this month, but we'll foot you with the bill for that package if you lost your job a year ago and then found your way back into the workforce. Not only is it unfair, but if the package doesn't work, it's unwise to boot.

The economy does not need to be stimulated so much as people need to find new ways to be useful. If you're good at building houses and too many houses have been built, then sooner or later you're going to have to become good at doing something else. It is a false favor to delay that process.

4 Comments:

At 2/02/2008 11:51 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I always like arguments that use the word “fair.” They are so easy to pick apart.

If it’s fair to give me my own taxes back, then, it is safe to say it was unfair to take them in the first place. In that case, why not actually solve that problem by permanently lowering my tax rate?

Let’s have some enduring fairness instead of fleeting fairness.

 
At 2/02/2008 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a transfer from savers, mostly foreign buyer of our treasury debt to spenders. For every dollar stimulated another dollar has to be borrowed it can be no other way. Money is being moved from one pocket to the other. A good hard recession is what this county needs but that is politically unacceptable and thus the package, this will lead to more problems down the line but politicians don't look past the next election and a a highly indebted populace still accepts inflation as the answer. As for those receiving the benefits from this they just happened to be in the right place at the right time and government give aways are never ever going to be fair.

 
At 2/02/2008 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Second that sentiment, Anon. 11:57

We should be looking at the long term consequences. Why should the largest economy in the world be running up a deficit when there are nations (not all are oil producing nations) that are building sovereign wealth funds?

We get the government that we deserve. Unless we require a level of fiduciary responsibility and the setting of priorities & objectives, politicians will continue to offer payola to every demographic a marketer can delineate.

Taxing non-profit organizations would be an excellent way to whittle down the number of special interest groups and ensure a greater degree of financial accountability. Some of these groups are largely focused on political presssure activism as a means of achieving their purposes rather than running for office allowing the voters to decide on the merits of their ideas/priorities.

 
At 2/02/2008 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole thing is nothing but a scam to bail out the banks which got us into this mess in the first place.

 

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