Assorted links

by on October 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Stephen Cathers October 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm

You may wish to make the gelato link point to the actual post, not just the website:

2 Ray Lopez October 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Re #5 – Thatcher tried a variant of this–a ‘one time’ tax namely a poll tax–which I believe technically is unconstitutional in the USA–and the poor rioted, bringing in John Major. But I agree with the proposal for a ‘one time’ wealth tax on the rich, which, as the article says, will not distort incentives if it is deemed one time. Anyway, another study showed the super wealthy have inelastic demands for tax, meaning they enjoy working and will work just as hard even if you tax them more. So soak the rich, yes. Dearime, you with me?

3 Tarrou October 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

It is just precious when people assume ridiculous things like “the rich are happy to pay more, and are stupid to boot, so they won’t find out what we’re doing, and have no political influence either, so they won’t be able to gum up the works and shift finances overseas”. The reason these taxes don’t distort incentives is that anyone with an incentive to distort has dodged them.

4 Alexei Sadeski October 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The gelato link is down!! Can someone find a mirror?? I need this information.

5 T. Shaw October 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

5. ‘Cuz the government has permitted the 1% to accumulate obscenely large balances of its bearer debt securities, a.k.a. Federal Reserve Notes.

6 Alexei Sadeski October 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Re: Wealth Tax

Perhaps taxation should be regressive, the greater to incentivize beneficial economic activity?

7 Donald Pretari October 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I should have said this earlier, but you both did an excellent job on the Nobelists.

8 Bill Harshaw October 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Re: McArdle and ACA IT

I’ve wondered why the ACA designers didn’t populate their data base(s) with what the government already knows about uninsured people. Seems as if it would have saved a lot of time as potential customers tried to reenter their data and the government tried to check its validity.

9 Dan Weber October 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Because then everyone and his dog has access to potentially very sensitive information.

10 happyjuggler0 October 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

re 5: There are two major problems with this proposal, not counting normative biases.

First, as a practical matter there is no such thing as a “one time” tax; essentially everyone with an IQ larger than a turnip will assume it will recur.

Second, all modern governmental debt problems are a result of unsustainable spending, not too little taxation. You can’t fix an unsustainable spending problem with more taxation, it will just prolong the problem, worsen the economy through disincentives creating deadweight loss, and thus making things worse in the long run.

Government transfer spending needs to be slashed, everything else is simply misleading people to not see the real problem.

11 kiwi dave October 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm


A third problem is that just as the need to define “income” for purposes of the income tax has led to massive statutory and regulatory complexity (and entire industries of tax minimization), a similar mechanism would be needed to determine taxable net worth. Actually, it may be even greater (it would require a way to value every farm, house, business, work of art, piece of jewelery etc. etc.). Setting up such a mechanism would be so time-consuming and expensive, it’s hard to imagine it being worthwhile if the tax is one-off. And once it exists, it’s utterly unimagineable that it won’t be used again. The only other alternative would be to focus a wealth tax on certain types of easily-measurable and grabbable wealth (e.g. bank balances) in which case it would be hugely inefficient, damaging to the economy, and so easy to avoid that it probably wouldn’t yield much.

In any event, once the precedent of a wealth grab has been set, the genie can’t be put back in the bottle.

All in all, a truly feeble idea.

12 cpearce October 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm

On top of having to put a value on non-monetary assets, there’s a liquidity problem. If the tax is applied to real estate, for example, there are going to be cases where people have all their net worth in the form of an inherited property. If they had to pay, say, 5% of that value, they would either have to borrow against the property to pay the tax or liquidate the whole thing. The externalities that come with a one time tax on potentially extremely valuable real assets make the whole scheme impractical.

Of course you could means test the tax to make sure people have liquid assets to cover their illiquid ones, but that’s an absolute nightmare for the IRS.

13 Dr. D October 16, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Do you calculate your wealth before or after the stock market crash caused by taxpayers liquidating positions to pay the tax?

14 JP Lewicke October 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm
15 Bill Benzon October 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm

A different take on practice, but not necessarily contradictory to #1:

16 tt31 October 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I was going to post that too, but you beat me to it. It has been going around recently, and I second that it’s worth a look. Some other similarly interesting articles are available on the same site.

17 Andrew' October 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

4. It’s more than just the IT. Now I wonder if the IT is just a fall guy.

It’s the death spiral, dearest. And I think the fundamental problem is this: you can’t funnel cash from people trying to insure themselves directly to the chronically ill. That’s not what insurance is supposed to be, for one thing. But if natural law doesn’t interest you, it may simply not work. People who want to insure themselves are dealing with the uncertainty of illness. They don’t want to sign up for a known loss.

18 Sbard October 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Re: Gelato

Long story short, if the banana gelato is gray, it’s probably good, if it’s yellow, it probably isn’t.

19 Ray Lopez October 17, 2013 at 11:40 am

What about cheese? Does this test work with cheese? The free government type? If it has a blue-gray tinge on it, is that good? Is that healthy marbling in a blue cheese, or some sort of deadly mold?

20 Sigivald October 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Not a lot of meat on a Corgi, is there?

21 Dkr October 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

What does it signal that MR switched to links that open new windows vs how it was before where links would take you away from the site?

22 Dkr October 17, 2013 at 12:12 am

What does it signal that MR’s link now open a new window rather than leaving the MR site altogether?

23 Anon October 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Marginal Resolution?

24 mike October 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

RE: wealth tax

If you are thinking about a US federal wealth tax, don’t forget that it would need to be apportioned among the states according to population, as a direct tax. That’s a constitutional requirement. Thus, the rate would vary from state to state, with higher rates necessary in states with lower per capita wealth. Think that is likely to emerge from Congress?

25 JMC October 18, 2013 at 12:57 am

#2 Probably the most helpful thing you have posted 😉

26 kebko October 23, 2013 at 1:18 am

I don’t understand the notion that the economy would have been hurt by the government shutdown because of the foregone federal payrolls. In that respect, the shutdown resembled a highly effective one-time wealth tax on federal employees, until they approved back pay.

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