PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts


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  1. The government isn’t a fungus? But public spending continues to mushroom?

    Comment by John Lemon — Thursday, May 29, 2003 @ 4:57 pm

  2. Ye hath a pointe.

    Comment by Steven — Thursday, May 29, 2003 @ 4:59 pm

  3. But lots not get to warm and fuzzy about the Reps here. In the words of Larry Elder “Democrats and Republicans…MAYBE a dime’s worth of difference”.

    They’re all politicians, and they’re all happy to spend your money to get themselves re-elected. Let me know the next time Bill Frist turns down a pork project for Tennessee.

    Comment by Nick — Thursday, May 29, 2003 @ 10:46 pm

  4. Yeah. Missing from the debate are the following questions:

    What does government do better than the private sector?

    How much does doing that cost?

    Is it worth it?

    I tell you what. If I am ever elected to office, I will cut a porkbarrel project that would benefit me politically (since I can always return to a tenured chair at my university). To start off, I’m all for cutting 90% of all NSF funding that goes to the social sciences.

    Comment by John Lemon — Friday, May 30, 2003 @ 1:18 am

  5. I’m a little puzzled by this post. I certainly didn’t say that tax rates are the only thing that affects tax receipts. In fact, I specifically noted that whenever receipts crept up to about 20%, tax cuts were enacted to get them back down.

    John: my post was directly related to your question. Government performs social welfare functions such as Social Security better than the private sector. The cost of SS is about 4% of GDP today, rising to 7%. Is it worth it? That’s the key question.

    Comment by Kevin Drum — Friday, May 30, 2003 @ 1:27 am

  6. Kevin:

    Actually, the private sector would handle social security quite well. The Chileans have been quite successful with privatized retirement. And is it a coincidence that the Congress relies on something other than social security to hand their retirements? Indeed, teacher retirement systems (which I plan to rely on far more than SS), are publically managed, but derive their income from private investment.

    And perhaps I overstated your position vis-a-vis tax receipts and federal receipts. However, the focus of your post was clearly oriented to the idea that over the long term that taxea would have to be increased, which is not necessarily the case. Indeed, if the economy gets out of the doldroms, tax receipts will increase to the treasury, even at reduced tax rates. And, really, some sort of adjustments to the welfare structures are going to be needed–SS being the best example.

    Comment by Steven — Friday, May 30, 2003 @ 8:46 am

  7. I wouldn’t count your Chilean eggs before they hatch. That system isn’t in such great shape at the moment….

    However, that’s not really the biggest issue. Regardless of what they do with the money, the government is collecting the dough and then disbursing it. That makes it a government program, and there’s no one else who can do this on a wide scale.

    And as for tax rates going up, unless you want to make program cuts there’s no choice. As a % of GDP, tax receipts just won’t go up without rate increases.

    Comment by Kevin Drum — Friday, May 30, 2003 @ 10:35 am

  8. Over the long-term the Chilean model was worked fairly well–certainly better than the previous model they employed.

    And there is an important distinction to be made here: I agree that we need to maintain some type of government managed system for retirement pensions. Indeed, one of the few parts of the government of the state of Alabama that works well is its teacher retirement program–which includes K-12 and higher ed. However, the revenue is generated not through a pay-as-you go system, which is essentially what SS has become–but rather through managed investment in primarily the private sector. For that matter, over the long run I would prefer a 401k program to SS.

    And, no: if GDP grows, tax receipts grow–even if tax rates remain steady.

    Comment by Steven — Friday, May 30, 2003 @ 10:54 am

  9. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 11:58 am

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