Category Archives: Unemployment

Science tells us this is all true

October 9, 2017

Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

On April 30, 1934, under pressure from Italian-American lobby groups, the United States Congress passed a law enshrining Columbus Day as a national holiday.

President Franklin Roosevelt quickly signed the bill into law, and the very first Columbus Day was celebrated in October of that year.

Undoubtedly people had a different view of the world back then… and a different set of values.

Few cared about the plight of the indigenous who were wiped out as a result of European conquest.

Even just a few decades ago when I was a kid in elementary school, I remember learning that ‘Columbus discovered America’. There was no discussion of genocide.

It wasn’t until I was a sophomore at West Point that I picked up Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States (and then Columbus’s own diaries) and started reading about the mass-extermination of entire tribes.

Columbus himself wrote about his first encounter with the extremely peaceful and welcoming Arawak Indians of the Bahama Islands:

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron…They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

And so he did.  

“I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

Columbus had already written back to his investors in Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, that the Caribbean islands possessed “great mines of gold.”

It was all lies. Columbus was desperately attempting to justify their investment.

In Haiti, Columbus ordered the natives to bring him all of their gold. But there was hardly an ounce of gold anywhere on the island. So Columbus had them slaughtered. Within two years, 250,000 were dead.

Now, this letter isn’t intended to rail against Columbus. Point is, I never learned any of this information in school. Decades ago, no one really did.

But today, people are starting to be aware of what Columbus did. And our values are vastly different today than they were in 1937. Or in 1492.

Decades ago… and certainly hundreds of years ago… the idea of a ‘superior race’ still prevailed, endowed by their creator with the right to subjugate all inferior races.

This readily-accepted belief was the pretext of slavery and genocide.  

Even as recently as the early 1900s, there were entire fields of ‘science’ devoted to studying the technical differences among various races and drawing data-driven conclusions about superiority.

Phrenologists, for example, would take precise measurements of people’s skulls– the circumference of the head, the ratio of forehead to eyebrow measurements, etc.– and deduce the intellectual capacity and character traits of entire races.

Jews could not be trusted. Blacks and Asians were inferior. These assertions were based on ‘scientific evidence’, even in nations like Sweden, the United Kingdom, and United States.

Today we’re obviously more advanced than our ancestors were. We know that their science was complete bullshit, and our values are totally different.

There are entire movements now (particularly among university students) to remove statues, rename buildings, and re-designate holidays.

Frankly this is a pretty slippery slope. If we judge everyone throughout history based on our values today, we’ll never stop tearing down monuments.

Even someone as forward-thinking as Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. And that’s a LOT of elementary schools to rename.

More importantly, there will come a time in the future when our own descendants judge us harshly for our short-sighted values.

Fortunately we no longer have faux-scientists today writing dissertations about racial superiority.

But we do have entire fields of ‘science’ that will truly bewilder future historians. Economics is one of them.

Our society awards some of its most distinguished prizes for intellectual achievement to economists who tell us that the path to prosperity is to print money, raise taxes, and go into debt.

Economists tell us that we can spend our way out of recession, borrow our way out of debt, and that there will never be any consequences from conjuring trillions of units of paper currency out of thin air.

They created a central banking system whereby an unelected committee of economists possesses nearly totalitarian control of the money supply… and hence the power to influence the price of EVERYTHING– food, fuel, housing, utilities, financial markets, etc.

Economists have managed to convince the world that inflation, i.e. rising prices, is actually a GOOD thing… and that prices quadrupling and quintupling during the average person’s lifespan is ‘normal’.

They’ve also succeeded in making policy-makers terrified of deflation (falling prices) even though just about any rational individual would naturally prefer falling (or at least stable) prices to rising prices.

Economists make the most ridiculous assertions, like “The debt doesn’t matter because we owe it to ourselves…” as if it’s perfectly acceptable for the US government to default on its citizens.

Or that the US economy is so strong because the American consumer spends so much money, i.e. consumption (and not production) drives prosperity.

The public believes all this nonsense because the ‘scientists’ say it’s true.

The scientists also come up with fuzzy mathematics to support their assertions. Last Friday, for example, the Labor Department reported that the US economy lost 33,000 jobs in September.

Yet miraculously the unemployment rate actually declined, i.e. fewer people are unemployed despite there being fewer jobs in the economy.

None of this makes any sense. Fewer jobs means lower unemployment. Spend more money. Print more money. Borrow more money. Debt is wealth. Consumption is prosperity.

All of this is based on ‘science’.

We may rightfully take umbrage with the values and ideas of our ancestors.

But it’s worth turning that mirror on ourselves and examining our own beliefs… for there will undoubtedly come a time when our own descendants wonder how we could have been so foolish.

Reposted from SovereignMan

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A Simple Question

 

Are those so eager to tear down various monuments willing to do so to the fullest and logical extent of your reasoning? Are you?

If indeed, historical monuments, erected decades or more ago, are so offensive due to their ties to slavery, segregation and all its vile wretchedness, then are those of you so willing to demand with equal fervor that every Democratic Party member who promoted or defended slavery, who refused to support desegregation, aided and abetted “separate but equal”, who had been members of the KKK, who resisted every legislative effort to literally remove the physical and political shackles from  people of color also have their names and likenesses removed from the sight of all?

Only one party literally has blood on its hand for the stain of bigotry and racism. One. It fought to keep slavery, segregation and institutionalized racism as a lawful right. That party used every means possible both legal and illegal, force and coercion, the courts and police, to take rights from people of color. That Party has a long and vivid history of legislators, jurists, congressman, senators and Presidents who, with vigorous conviction of the rightness of their view, denigrated people of color. But they would have us ignore that, vigorously pointing fingers in the direction of their political opposition whether it means distortion of facts, outright fabrications and vacuous verbal character assassination at any opportunity.

It is even said that the welfare state was designed to keep folks enslaved in the new plantation of the national state. One thing for sure, the Great Society of LBJ, not known for his racial fondness, was not put forth as scheme to bolster the lives of those he looked down upon (“they’re getting uppity”). One has only to look at the societal harm done by those legislative efforts. (See: https://goo.gl/yZEXfG)

For those so eager to denigrate a sitting President, who over his entire public life has denounced white supremacy (please understand this phrase to be as expansive as it need be to cover every possible iteration or group) in general as well as specifically, this outrageous display moral self-righteousness is utterly and distastefully repugnant.

Look at us! We are literally tearing at one another due to a misrepresentation of what someone said, over misrepresentation of the facts of events, due to either an unwillingness to hear the plain spoken words of an individual or the prejudice of mind that precludes the ability to listen without casting personal perceptions and feelings on them. How did we become such a hateful, spiteful and ruthlessly intolerant society? Neither white supremacists or Antifa are without blame. For that matter, how does a Governor and a Mayor come off so high and mighty when clearly they exacerbated events by their dereliction of duty regarding the appropriate implementation of law enforcement in the prevention of conflict.

And yet, all the uproar over what is not said? To quote someone far better than I, “Let he who has ears to hear, hear. Let he who has eyes to see, see.” The same person said, “If you would remove the thorn from your brother’s eye, you must first remove the beam from your own.”

How can we survive as a society when a news reporter is threatened for recounting events accurately? Even after she modified her report, she was still castigated (see: https://goo.gl/FXyxfD). How is this anything but mob rule and anarchy? Is this the kind of nation you wish to leave your children and grandchildren? I don’t.

The way out of this mess and bile, is first to step back and take a deep breath. Then to merely respect that we will all differ in our views on a whole host of subjects and issues. But to treat each other as idiots or less than human, then to resort to verbal and physical abuse on account of disagreement? Really? So much for a civilized society! So much for a lawful, much less, society! As for using law to compel others to get their minds right one need only look to Stalin, Mao, Che, PolPot and ISIS to appreciate where that leads. Even within our own recent history here, the FBI undercover testimony disclosed that the Weather Underground estimated that up to 25% of the population would have to be eliminated because at least many would not be “re-educated”. Is that what we really want?

We are at a crossroads, a watershed moment.

Will we embrace respect and deference when we disagree? Or will we devolve into mongrels and devour ourselves?

Why, when our nation was founded on the preeminent ideal of equality for all would we permit the desire, the pursuit and the means of potentially achieving it, cast it aside for the mob and despotism?

Robert Frost wrote: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.”

I for one choose the less traveled road of liberty and respect. You’re more than welcome to join me. Those who choose otherwise: leave those of us who love life and liberty, respect our fellow man, even when we disagree, who will not use force to compel another individual’s loss for their own benefit, but seek justice against those who would….those who prefer another way of life, leave us alone.

You may choose to grovel with the mongrels of the mob who would bite and snip at every difference natural and learned. What a pitiful lot. All the best to you. Just leave the rest of us alone and quit meddling in our lives.

 

Shame On Us

Shame On Us

Shame on us for believing it is somehow compassionate to take the hard-earned resources of one individual and giving it to another.

Shame on us that we’ve forgotten that the “Government” is us, that whatever monies it has is our friends, our neighbors and individuals we do not know.

Shame on us for permitting legislators to throw about our earnings like so much candy to buy votes, to curry favor and seduce us into supposedly good things, all the while doing little more than spend money that is not theirs without regard of the costs to us.

Shame on us for assuming that because we think it’s a good idea to do such-and-such that every should be compelled by law to support it, even if they disagree.

Shame on us for daring to believe that what is our neighbors is ours to direct and allocate under penalty of law.

Shame on us for permitting our own self interest to pervert law into the means by which we take from others to line our own pockets (subsidies, credits, socialized healthcare, etc.).

Shame on us for daring to blindly throw about the hard-earned monies of each other as though it were ours to control and not the ones who earned it.

Shame on us for eagerly endorsing law that amounts to little more than theft.

Shame on us for forgetting it is NOT government but us, WE the People, that are the solutions.

Shame on us for being suspicious of anyone suggesting something could be better accomplished without doing so through government.

Shame on us for distrusting each other so much as to bind each other in the chains of legislation blindly believing that coercion and forced re-allocation will some how redress inequities.

Shame on us for refusing to resist the temptation to use law to coerce others to doing only what we approve of; for criminalizing rudeness and offensive behavior.

Shame on us for lacking the will and determination to win hearts and minds by example and persuasion and deeming ourselves the moral conscience and judge of our neighbors when they disagree with our particular views.

Shame on us for decimating the rule of law in favor of the rule of the mob.

Shame on us for preferring chains over liberty; for what we leave the next generation.

Shame on us.

 

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The Systematic Errors of the Man (and Woman) of System

I found this article by Don Boudreaux on July 12, 2017

in Adam Smith, Health, Man of System

In my latest Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column I join Adam Smith in denouncing the man (and woman) “of system”‘s pretensions and as well as that arrogant person’s unflattering view of ordinary people.  A slice:

In short, the “man of system” forgets that ordinary people are active, reasoning, creative individuals. They generally do not need government prodding to take actions that improve their lives. When they are so prodded, it is almost always to press them to take actions they would prefer to avoid. Conflict thus arises between ordinary people and those men (and women) “of system” who arrogantly fancy that they’re entitled to order others about.

Consider today’s brouhaha over repealing parts of ObamaCare, whose fans treat the typical American as a mindless, inert blob. If this American loses government health-insurance funding, he’s believed to have no ability or wish to find private insurance. And private insurers are believed to be so uninterested in his business that they refuse to make him attractive offers. The “man of system,” therefore, concludes that all individuals removed from Medicaid rolls are doomed to live the rest of their days not only without health insurance, but without health care itself. It’s a short step from there to the accusation that those who wish to scale back government’s role in the health-care market are little better than homicidal maniacs.

Of course, real people are not mindless, inert chess pieces whose only principle of motion is government’s guiding hand — or, more accurately, kicking foot. The awful irony, alas, is that when government treats people like witless chess pieces, too many of them do eventually lose the ability to think and act for themselves.

Professor Boudreaux’ full Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Article

A Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith (free PDF)

It continues to amaze me, the abject arrogance of many today who consider thinkers of prior generation invalid for today’s issues on the premise they couldn’t understand modern society. Our gadgets today may vastly exceed what they may have imagined possible. However, when one reads paragraphs such as these written many years ago, it cannot but expose the modern arrogance of presumption they we are so much smarter that our predecessors.

“The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.” –Paul Johnson

In One Image, Everything You Need to Know about Health Insurance, Community Rating, and Pre-Existing Conditions

When discussing government involvement in the health sector, I usually focus on the budgetary implications. Which makes sense since I’m a fiscal wonk and programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare are diverting ever-larger amounts of money from the economy’s productive sector.

I also look at the tax side of the fiscal equation and complain about how the healthcare exclusion mucks up the tax code.

Though it’s important to understand that government involvement doesn’t just cause fiscal damage. All these programs and policies contribute to the “third-party payer” problem, which exists when people make purchases with other people’s money. Such a system is a recipe for inefficiency and rising prices since consumers generally don’t care about cost and providers have no incentive to be efficient. And since government figures show that nearly 90 percent of health care expenditures are financed by someone other than the consumer, this is a major problem. One that I’ve written about many, many times.

But there’s another economic problem caused by government – price controls on insurance – that is very important. Indeed, the fights over “community rating” and “pre-existing conditions are actually fights about whether politicians or competition should determine prices.

Simply stated, politicians want insurance companies to ignore risk when selling insurance. They want artificially low premiums for old people, so they restrict differences in premiums based on age (i.e., a community rating mandate), even though older people are statistically far more likely to incur health-related expenses. They also want artificially low premiums for sick people, so the crowd in Washington requires that they pay the same or similar premiums as healthy people (i.e., a pre-existing conditions mandate), even though they are statistically far more likely to incur health-related expenses.

Set aside that the entire purpose of insurance is to guard against risk. Instead, let’s focus on what happens when these types of price controls are imposed. For all intents and purposes, insurance companies are in a position where they have to over-charge young and healthy people in order to subsidize the premiums of old and sick people. That’s sounds great if you’re old and sick, but young and healthy people respond by choosing not to purchase insurance. And as fewer and fewer young and healthy people are in the system, that forces premiums ever higher. This is what is meant by a “death spiral.”

The pro-intervention crowd has a supposed solution to this problem. Just impose a mandate that requires the young and healthy people to buy insurance. Which is part of Obamacare, so there is a method to that bit of madness. But since the penalties are not sufficiently punitive (and also because the government simply isn’t very competent), the system hasn’t worked. And to make matters worse, Obamacare exacerbated the third-party payer problem, thus leading to higher costs, which ultimately leads to higher premiums, which further discourages people from buying health insurance.

So how do we solve this problem?

One of my colleagues at the Cato Institute, Michael Cannon, is a leading expert on these issues. And he’s also a leading pessimist. Here’s some of what he wrote a week ago as part of a column on the Senate bill to modify Obamacare.

ObamaCare’s “community rating” price controls are causing premiums to rise, coverage to get worse for the sick and insurance markets to collapse across the country. The Senate bill would modify those government price controls somewhat, allowing insurers to charge 64-year-olds five times what they charge 18-year-olds (as opposed to three times, under current law). But these price controls would continue to make a mess of markets and cause insurers to flee.

But he wasn’t enamored with the House proposal, either. Here are some excerpts from his analysis earlier this year of that proposal.

The House leadership bill retains the very ObamaCare regulations that are threatening to destroy health insurance markets and leave millions with no coverage at all. ObamaCare’s community-rating price controls literally penalize insurers who offer quality coverage to patients with expensive conditions, creating a race to the bottom in insurance quality. Even worse, they have sparked a death spiral that has caused insurers to flee ObamaCare’s Exchanges nationwide… The leadership bill would modify ObamaCare’s community-rating price controls by expanding the age-rating bands (from 3:1 to 5:1) and allowing insurers to charge enrollees who wait until they are sick to purchase coverage an extra 30 percent (but only for one year). It is because the House leadership would retain the community-rating price controls that they also end up retaining many other features of the law.

Though existing law also is terrible, largely because of Obamacare. Here are passages from Michael’s column in the Hill.

ObamaCare’s core provisions are the “community rating” price controls and other regulations that (supposedly) end discrimination against patients with preexisting conditions. How badly do these government price controls fail at that task? Community rating is the reason former president Bill Clinton called ObamaCare “the craziest thing in the world” where Americans “wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.” Community rating is why women age 55 to 64 have seen the highest premium increases under ObamaCare. It is the principal reason ObamaCare has caused overall premiums to double in just four years. …Why? Because community rating forces insurance companies to cover the sick below cost, which simply isn’t sustainable. The only solution ObamaCare supporters offer is to keep throwing more money at the problem — which also isn’t sustainable.

Anyone who wants to really understand this issue should read all of Michael’s work on health care issues.

But if you don’t have the time or energy for that, here’s an image that I found on Reddit‘s libertarian page. Using not-so-subtle sarcasm, it tells you everything you need to know about why price controls ultimately will kill health insurance.

P.S. None of this suggests we should feel sorry for health insurance companies. They got in bed with the previous administration and endorsed Obamacare, presumably because they figured a mandate (especially with all the subsidies) would create captive customers. Now that it’s clear that the mandate isn’t working very well and that increased Medicaid dependency accounts for almost all of the additional “insurance coverage,” they’re left with an increasingly dysfunctional system. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve to lose money. And I definitely don’t want them to get bailout money.

P.P.S. Republicans aren’t doing a very good job of unwinding the Obamacare price controls, but they deserve a bit of credit for being bolder about trying to undo the fiscal damage.

Addendum: A comment from Seb reminds me that I was so fixated on criticizing price controls that I never bothered to explain how to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions and therefore cannot get health insurance. I’m guessing the answer is “high-risk pools” where the focus of policy is directly subsidizing the relatively small slice of the population that has a problem (as opposed to price controls and other interventions that distort the market for everyone). But the main goal, from my perspective, is to have states handle the issue rather than Washington. A federalist approach, after all, is more likely to give us the innovation, diversity, and competition that produces the best approaches. States may discover, after all, that insurance doesn’t make sense and choose to directly subsidize the provision of health care for affected people. In the long run, part of the solution is to get rid of the health care exclusion in the internal revenue code as part of fundamental tax reform. If that happened, it’s less likely that health insurance would be tied to employment (and losing a job is one of the main ways people wind up without insurance).

Reposted from International Liberty

Tax Apologists Don’t Even Believe Their Own Rhetoric

Whenever I debate my left-wing friends on tax policy, they routinely assert that taxes don’t matter.

It’s unclear, though, whether they really believe their own rhetoric.

After all, if taxes don’t affect economic behavior, then why are folks on the left so terrified of tax havens? Why are they so opposed to tax competition?

And why are they so anxious to defend loopholes such as the deduction for state and local taxes?

Eliminating Estate Taxes

Perhaps most revealing, why do leftists sometimes cut taxes when they hold power? A story in the Wall Street Journal notes that there’s been a little-noticed wave of state tax cuts. Specifically reductions and/or eliminations of state death taxes. And many of these supply-side reforms are happening in left-wing states!

In the past three years, nine states have eliminated or lowered their estate taxes, mostly by raising exemptions. And more reductions are coming. Minnesota lawmakers recently raised the state’s estate-tax exemption to $2.1 million retroactive to January, and the exemption will rise to $2.4 million next year. Maryland will raise its $3 million exemption to $4 million next year. New Jersey’s exemption, which used to rank last at $675,000 a person, rose to $2 million a person this year. Next year, New Jersey is scheduled to eliminate its estate tax altogether, joining about a half-dozen others that have ended their estate taxes over the past decade.

This is good news for affected taxpayers, but it’s also good news for the economy.

Death taxes are not only a punitive tax on capital, but they also discourage investors, entrepreneurs, and other high-income people from earning income once they have accumulated a certain level of savings.

But let’s focus on politics rather than economics. Why are governors and state legislators finally doing something sensible? Why are they lowering tax burdens on “rich” taxpayers instead of playing their usual game of class warfare?

I’d like to claim that they’re reading Cato Institute research, or perhaps studies from other market-oriented organizations and scholars.

But it appears that tax competition deserves most of the credit.

Cutting Taxes Is Trendy

This tax-cutting trend has been fueled by competition between the states for affluent and wealthy taxpayers. Such residents owe income taxes every year, but some are willing to move out of state to avoid death duties that come only once. Since the federal estate-and-gift tax exemption jumped to $5 million in 2011, adjusted for inflation, state death duties have stood out.

I don’t fully agree with the above excerpt because there’s plenty of evidence that income taxes cause migration from high-tax states to zero-income-tax states.

But I agree that a state death tax can have a very large impact, particularly once a successful person has retired and has more flexibility.

Courtesy of the Tax Foundation, here are the states that still impose this destructive levy.

Though this map may soon have one less yellow state. As reported by the WSJ, politicians in the Bay State may be waking up.

In Massachusetts, some lawmakers are worried about losing residents to other states because of its estate tax, which brought in $400 million last year. They hope to raise the exemption to half the federal level and perhaps exclude the value of a residence as well. These measures stand a good chance of passage even as lawmakers are considering raising income taxes on millionaires, says Kenneth Brier, an estate lawyer with Brier & Ganz LLP in Needham, Mass., who tracks the issue for the Massachusetts Bar Association. State officials “are worried about a silent leak of people down to Florida, or even New Hampshire,” he adds.

I’m not sure the leak has been silent. There’s lots of data on the migration of productive people to lower-tax states.

But what matters is that tax competition is forcing the state legislature (which is overwhelmingly Democrat) to do the right thing, even though their normal instincts would be to squeeze upper-income taxpayers for more money.

As I’ve repeatedly written, tax competition also has a liberalizing impact on national tax policy.

Following the Reagan tax cuts and Thatcher tax cuts, politicians all over the world felt pressure to lower their tax rates on personal income. The same thing has happened with corporate tax rates, though Ireland deserves most of the credit for getting that process started.

I’ll close by recycling my video on tax competition. It focuses primarily on fiscal rivalry between nations, but the lessons equally apply to states.

P.S. For what it’s worth, South Dakota arguably is the state with the best tax policy. It’s more difficult to identify the state with the worst policy, though New Jersey, Illinois, New York, California, and Connecticut can all make a strong claim to be at the bottom.

P.P.S. Notwithstanding my snarky title, I don’t particularly care whether there are tax cuts for rich people. But I care a lot about not having tax policies that penalize the behaviors (work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship) that produce income, jobs, and opportunity for poor and middle-income people. And if that means reforms that allow upper-income people to keep more of their money, I’m okay with that since I’m not an envious person.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell


Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

By permission from International Liberty

The Federal Tax Code Shouldn’t Subsidize and Encourage Profligacy by State and Local Governments

The federal income tax is corrosive and destructive. It’s almost as if a group of malicious people decided to deliberately design a system that imposes maximum damage while also allowing the most corruption.

The economic damage is not only the result of high tax rates and pervasive double taxation, but also because of loopholes that exist to bribe people into making economically unwise decisions.

These include itemized deductions for mortgages and charitable contributions, as well as the fringe benefits exclusion and the exemption for municipal bond interest. And there are many other corrupt favors sprinkled through a metastasizing tax code.

But there’s a strong case to be made that the worst loophole is the deduction for state and local taxes. Why? For the simple reason that it encourages, enables, and subsidizes bad policy.

Here’s how it works. State and local lawmakers can increase income taxes or property taxes and be partially insulated from political blowback because their taxpayers can deduct those taxes on their federal return.

And it’s a back-door way of giving a special break to upper-income taxpayers because the deduction is more valuable to people in higher tax brackets.

Let’s look at an example that’s currently in the news. Democrats in the Illinois state legislature want a big increase in the personal income tax. If they succeed and boost taxes by an average of $1000, high-income taxpayers who take advantage of the deduction may only suffer a loss of as little as $600 since their federal tax bill may fall by almost $400.

For politicians, this is an ideal racket. They can promise various interest groups $1000 of goodies while reducing take-home pay by a lesser amount.

Let’s review some recent commentary on this topic.

The Wall Street Journal opined on the issue last weekend.

Chuck Schumer aspires to raise taxes on every rich person in America, save one protected class: coastal progressives. …Like many other Democrats, he’s apoplectic about a plan to end the state and local tax deduction. …One goal of tax reform is to reduce unproductive tax loopholes, and ending the state and local deduction would generate revenue to finance lower rates: The deduction is worth about $100 billion a year… About 88% of the benefits in 2014 flowed to taxpayers who earn more than $100,000, while 1% went to those who earn less than $50,000. California alone reaps nearly 20% of the benefit…and a mere six states get more than half. …The folks underwriting this windfall are in Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming and other places without a state income tax. …Eliminating the deduction would be a powerful incentive for Governors to cut state taxes on residents who are suddenly exposed to their full liability. …killing the state and local deduction would pay a double dividend: The first is creating a more equitable tax code with a broader base and lower rates. The second is spurring reform in states that are long overdue for a better tax climate.

Writing earlier this year for National Review, Kevin Williamson was characteristically blunt.

It’s time for…blue-state…tax increases that would fall most heavily on upper-income Americans in high-tax progressive states such as California and New York. …eliminate the deduction for state income taxes, a provision that takes some of the sting out of living in a high-tax jurisdiction such as New York City (which has both state and local income taxes) or California, home to the nation’s highest state-tax burden. Do not hold your breath waiting for the inequality warriors to congratulate Republicans for proposing these significant tax increases on the rich. …allowing for the deduction of state taxes against federal tax liabilities creates a subsidy and an incentive for higher state taxes. California in essence is able to capture money that would be federal revenue and use it for its own ends, an option that is not practically available to low-tax (and no-income-tax) states such as Nevada and Florida. It makes sense to allow the states to compete on taxes and services, but the federal tax code biases that competition in favor of high-tax jurisdictions.

And Bob McManus adds his two cents in an article for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

Voters in all heavy-tax, high-spending states have no one to blame for their situation save themselves. At a minimum, it seems clear that deductibility—by softening the impact of federal taxation—encourages outsize state and local spending. States that take advantage of deductibility—mostly in the Northeast and on the West Coast—are in effect subsidized by states that have kept tighter control on their spending. …New York’s top-of-the-charts spending puts the state at the pinnacle…with New Yorkers paying a national high of 12.7 percent of income in state and local levies. Local property taxes in New York are astronomical and not coming down any time soon. …deductibility has powerful friends—among them the public-employee unions… New York and the nation would benefit if deductibility was jettisoned. …end the incentive for the tax-and-spend practices that have been so economically corrosive to big-spending Blue states.

Let’s close with the should-be-obvious point that the goal isn’t to repeal the state and local tax deduction in order to give politicians in Washington more money to spend. Instead, every penny of that revenue should be used to finance pro-growth tax reforms.

That creates a win-win situation of better tax policy in Washington, while also creating pressure for better tax policy at the state and local level.

For what it’s worth, both Trump and House Republicans are proposing to get rid of the deduction.

P.S. I mentioned at the start of this column that it would not be unreasonable to think that the tax code was deliberately designed to maximize economic damage. But even a curmudgeon like me doesn’t think that’s actually the case. Instead, our awful tax system is the result of 104 years of “public choice.”

P.P.S. Itemized deductions and other loopholes create distortions by allowing people to understate their income if they engage in approved behaviors. There are also provisions of the tax code – such as depreciation and worldwide taxation – that force taxpayers to overstate their income.

Reposted from International Liberty