by Tyler Cowen
on April 16, 2017 at 12:42 pm
1. Toward a fiscal theory of not paying your taxes.
2. Nirvana’s Lithium played on a Korean gayageum. And legal scholar Max Stearns has started a blog.
3. Roger Cohen: “France in the End of Days” (NYT).
4. Interview with Robert Caro.
5. Katy Perry criticizes complacency. And The New York Post covers The Complacent Class.
6. Houston housing is also becoming pricey.
What does “extreme right” actually mean to you, or other people who use the term?
Do you ever describe Israel or Japan as “extreme right?”
How can an entire country be extreme right or extreme left? Left and right are relative terms, aren’t they?
I assume this is in reference to something at Max Stern’s blog (see http://tiny.cc/30wkky). He discusses various ways to extract a geometry of voter alignment. Certainly every data set has a center, and depending on how you dimensions you apply it has one or more extremes. There is a US center, and OCED center, a world center.
I don’t like single axis (left-right) systems because as Anti-Gnostic asks, who says should be out there on the furthest fringe? Perhaps the only way to find out is to let them self-identify. If there is someone who is so “left” that he calls everyone else left of center a rightist, he might be the leftmost.
Yeah, at the very least, left-right ought to be measured along two dimensions (economic and social). Even that’s too simplistic, but it’s a vast improvement over a single left-right axis.
One axis balances accuracy and parsimony in one way. Two axes would be more accurate at the expense of parsimony. See the Nolan Chart for two axes
If somebody says that Nazi Germany was an extreme right state and Soviet Russia was an extreme left one, you should know what that means.
The Nazis were a socialistic party – extreme left.
Modern pacifist Japan or brutal prewar Nanking-raping Japan?
People usually just apply their team’s sticker to what they like. Then we hold elections!
Should a country with a debt-to-GDPO ratio of well over 200% be considered “far right”? (Certainly some fiscal conservatives must get a fair hearing there …).
How about a country with universal health care? (Personally, I don’t see what’s “right wing” about bulldozing the houses of those who live under military occupation and constructing settlements under that same military occupation by use of public funds. Sounds more just like “wrong” or even “worthy of ideally peaceful resistance” to me. But if you insist on bringing together “wrong” and “right wing”, then OK …)
#5 Complacent Class…yawn
Monopoly (really oligopolistic) power creates all kinds of barriers to entry for the plucky entrepreneur that Cowen envisions as the catalyst to a really existing capitalism that doesn’t bear out his rather complacent analysis. In addition to the growth and entrenchment of monopoly power, staggering US debt levels lead to risk aversion. That is to say, real economic factors in the US social order exist to dissuade plucky entrepreneurism. What we get instead is an increasingly indebted precariat that works as independent contractors or temps (something Cowen has lauded through his shilling for Uber) and devoting a larger and larger share of net income to housing and other ‘fixed expenditures’ (read, rentier payments). Moreover, the prospect that ObamaCare’s mandate, will turn into TrumpCare’s continuous coverage, only exacerbates this risk aversion. In short, Cowen’s pop sociology–ever so flirting with free-market fundamentalism–as funded by the Kochs, doesn’t cut it.
In 2011, Cowen jumped on the stagnation bandwagon late. Dr. Josef Steindl’s pioneering work, Maturity and Stagnation in American Capitalism, appeared in 1952. Thereafter, stagnation was written about by Harvard economist Paul Sweezy, starting with his magnum opus in 1966, Monopoly Capital. Even then Sweezy linked stagnation in the real economy to a host of factors, one of which would be the ascendence of finance (‘fictious capital’ in the Marxian vernacular). Later, in 1985 Sweezy would write, Stagnation and the Financial Explosion.
It’s tiresome to see quite little of merit being offered by the likes of Cowen or Lawrence Summers, while the true powerhouses in economics are too often forgotten. Instead Cowen’s insipid symptom of US monopoly-finance capital, complacency, gets play, masquerading here as analysis in the ideological sphere that is 21st century political-economy.
Finally, a learned historian in the comments section! It’s lonely at the top, as only I am about the only intellectual here (Mark Thorson, ‘prior’ on occasion, and a few others round out the lot). But this statement of yours “In 2011, Cowen jumped on the stagnation bandwagon late. Dr. Josef Steindl’s pioneering work, Maturity and Stagnation in American Capitalism, appeared in 1952.” appears to be an example of improper historical ‘teleology’, meaning, at the time Dr. Steindl made the arguments TC is making, in 1952, there was no evidence of stagnation in US capitalism, to the contrary, it was the roaring post-WWII Eisenhower years. So quite simply Dr. Steindl was speculating, and, strictly speaking, he was wrong. Wall Street adage: being too early is the same as being wrong. Historians know what I’m talking about: it does not count if somebody ‘ahead of his time’ makes a prophecy that turns out, many generations later, to be true. We should not lionize this person as some sort of prophet. Sorry but that’s the way history should work (though it often does not, these people making early prophecies are lionized as some sort of forsaken pioneers by later readers, this being an example of improper historical ‘teleology’ from the Aristotelian use of the word).
Bonus trivia: history will prove me right that you can teach innovation and the current assumption that innovation is an inelastic good will be proven wrong. You mark my words, readers of the 22nd century!
Short Iduende: I don’t like neoliberalism, although I can’t define what that means to me.
Short Ray Lopez: I read a book recently that few other people have read, and I am educated.
Right on brother! I will add you to the intellectuals list.
Iduende affirms ” staggering US debt levels lead to risk aversion”.
It’s a poor assertion, in contrast it’s a great question: what are the effects of college debt on innovation? The hypothesis would be “college graduates just go for the job that pays debt. innovation may produce a good investment return in the medium-long term but it surely does not pay monthly invoices”. Does anyone knows research or data on this question?
But just because someone discussed stagnation 70 years ago does not mean it is not worthy of major reconsideration in an economy that could hardly have been imagined in that era.
You can download “The Invisible Boy” from the 1950s or the Jetson’s or Back to the Future for ideas on how they viewed the future. Considering how off the mark they all were (with some extremely uncanny exceptions in “The Invisible Boy”), I think it is extremely fair to acknowledge the need for a major revisiting of stagnation concerns as related to technological threshold barriers.
I think Katy Perry and Roger Cohen make the interesting pair.
“Such end-of-days gloom is puzzling. Near 10 percent unemployment and near invisible growth cannot explain it. French infrastructure is a rebuke to American decay. French universal health care works. Savoir-vivre, the art of living, is not a French phrase for nothing. From the United States to China, the French hold on the world’s imagination endures. It is a land of unique pleasures.
Yet this seems to offer scant comfort.”
Katy Perry said that? Glad to see she is using some of that pop-tart money to edumacate herself.
It starts with ‘I’ but is the word no one dare pronounce.
France has a general policy of not keeping official records based on race/religion.
Is France’s high unemployment rate merely a reflection of its growing Muslim population and growing racial inequality?
In the US, black teenagers have unemployment rates of 20%+ even while the official national unemployment rate is well below 5%. If something like that is happening with France’s Muslim underclass, it could be skewing the data.
I like the newspaper layout of #2b, but that “see .. tinyurl” thing is weird and disconcerting.
#1 So this would be the ‘underwater’ school of economics?
More like under 10,000 lakes school.
She didn’t write that paper about eliminating prisons, did she?
It’s rather common for busy professionals to not pay their taxes actually. I was talking to a doctor the other day who had not filed, because he was too busy, for the last three years (and he has an accountant, and he is not a tax scofflaw). This particular economist however seems to be not paying her taxes on purpose.
She spent thousands of dollars on liquor and is living in a hotel according to the article. Sounds like she has some other problems going on too.
What’s wrong with spending thousands on alcohol and living in a hotel?
She’s apparently a very weak “economist.”
They had to amend the Constitution to authorize the individual and corporate income taxes.
The IRS (American terrorists), and likely the states, place liens (which take priority over all other liens) on your assets without a court order or any input/defense on your part, except pay them ASAP. You do not have the same Constitutional rights in tax court.
I say, “weak” because the costs – interest, penalties, jail time – far outweigh any annual financial outlays; any time constraints/consumption to file and pay; any opinions on the “unfairness” of the tax Federal and state tax codes; any idea/opinion taxation is theft; etc.
Additional evidence for “weak” economist is the reported foreclosure of the $240,000 condo. So, there may be other factors contributing to this woman’s imminent untoward financial outlays and likely prison time.
She can’t claim stupidity, either, because ignorance of the tax code is not a defense.
In conclusion, this sordid case may provide evidence that one doesn’t need to be smart to be a professor of economics.
Not a defense, but certainly a valid excuse
I agree with Dick, but point out asset forfeiture to put the squeeze on somebody is not uncommon, the Feds use “RICO” law (originally intended for mobsters) to seize assets without a trial and a few decades ago the fine first tier firm of Kaye Scholer (now part of Arnold & Porter) was squeezed by the Feds by having their assets seized since they were representing some shady defendants the Feds wanted bad. The KS firm settled quick, since they had a cash flow problem, and the story was quickly swept off the news (I suppose you can find it in Google on page 15) since the parties settled (I suppose with the typical NDA that stipulates neither side talk about the settlement), and the Feds got their wrist slapped by a judge who felt they overreached, after the fact (I think the judge had to sign off on the settlement, which is a rubber stamp procedure but he did chide the government for its tactics), but it’s still ‘good law’ on the books. You can’t fight City Hall.
The real travesty in the article was the amount of money being paid to this babe to promote bogus economics to the undeveloped minds of the sons and daughters of midwest farmers in what’s essentially a part-time position.
6. This story doesn’t ring true. Expensive luxury apartments in a very small downtown mean downtown workers have to live 30 miles away? Why? There are still plenty of cheap places within 5 miles of downtown.
Likely this writer just wanted to write a copy cat story about national trends and ignored all the facts on the ground about Houston.
” “[Skyscrapers] can sprout up anywhere,” said Gattis. “They’re not forced into very specific districts.” Elsewhere in Houston, he says, “developers have torn down old houses and put three or four townhomes on the same lot.” From above, he pointed to large west-side pockets that were dominated by these newly built structures, including throughout Montrose and Rice Military. ”
Hey, wait a month and developers will find those cheap housing lots and tear them down to build expensive housing or commercial development serving the middle class to wealthy!
” “We have a certain vibrancy and authenticity, especially in the core,” says Gattis, “that is actually getting harder and harder to find in those big-name cities.”
He meant low taxes and regulations have helped Houston remain affordable, making it a place where foreign and domestic young people can move. Median home values here, according to Zillow, are only $144,900. In cities like New York and San Francisco, meanwhile, the direct and indirect costs of government have made life too expensive for many. Restrictive zoning regulations, in particular, have prevented the infill growth that goes up practically overnight in Houston. ”
Hey, low wage workers can easily afford $144,900, right?
Or is the Federalist a left wing media publication.
Keep in mind, cars are not free, or cheaper in Houston than in Kansas to buy. Oddly, car prices in a free market do not go down when a worker has less money to pay to buy than an upper income worker who is a cheapscape and refuses to pay thousands more for heated leather seats, moonroof, cool looking wheels to prove he’s rich, etc.
The story illustrates the problem faced by people with no car who must go to and from work at odd hours compared to upper middle class workers who can carpool with several of the hundreds of their peers in the building who follow the same schedule, leaving their car sitting at home in their garage.
How much time have you spent in Houston recently? I assure you there is plenty of cheap housing a few miles due east of downtown. There’s also a brand new rail line connecting this cheap area east of downtown to downtown. Sure, it will be gentrified eventually, but that’s still a decade or two away. This article completely ignores reality.
As far as people having to travel mostly by car in Houston: what is new about that? New developments have nothing to do with that. People are not getting pushed 30 miles from downtown Houston in order to find affordable housing. The author cherry-picked some people who, for whatever reason, choose to live in the ex-urbs. Maybe they did so because they wanted more real estate? Or because they are nearer family out there?
The governance sucks in Houston proper. Schools infrastructure and cops are all better in the exburbs. However, the have been building a lot of high rises downtown tax incentivized), so we’ll see if there is an appetite to live there.
I wouldn’t put it past an employer to be mistaken about why they cannot hold on to relatively experienced workers. However, reading the comments, it seems that there is no lack of cheap, transit accessible housing in Houston. Yet the article cites the Federal Reserve Board of Dallas, which points out that home prices in Texas have been growing faster than the U.S. average, that builders have been moving away from building “starter homes” and building higher priced homes, and that housing affordability has declined in Texas’ major metro areas. Houston First, the city’s tourism promotion arm, is beginning to worry that housing and transportation are becoming unaffordable for low wage service workers and that this lack of affordability will negatively impact restaurants and hotels in Houston. The Houston branch manager of Robert Half also notes that house prices in central Houston have been rising and pricing out some of their candidates. The president of a local union chapter notes that many of the members of their union are moving further away from downtown in search of affordable housing. Now, all of these people could be wrong. They are all in some way or another part of the local gentry, so they might have a blinkered view, just like the Washington elite thought it was a good idea to invade Iraq.
Also, relatively few people in Houston, whether white collar or otherwise, work downtown. Due to no-zoning, downtown is just one of many business districts. Shopping and restaurants barely exist downtown.
Why do you assume that a low wage worker would purchase a median priced home?
Wouldn’t a low wage worker live in something that is cheaper than the median?
OMG, the it’s not the SINGLE condo or building. It’s the general process.
If rent is more expensive in all central locations, workers have to live where they can afford rent.
Will it take 2 years or 25 years?
Solutions are easy, in particular to approve developments which ensure a decent mix of income profiles. For example, by approving building of buildings with fairly small apartments that can be afforded by at least some of the working class who work in central locations.
Norman Podhoretz’s Making It was a book about the Faustian bargain offered to smart young immigrant children like him. In exchange for worldly success and fame, all they had to do was reject their cultural background and values.
It looks like Katy Perry has decided to take the same offer. Of course she comes from a White Christian background so the distance from her family’s values to Hollywood acceptance is much further than for Podhoretz. But it seems she has decided she would rather be bi-Coastal and so sh!t all over her own.
She may regret that choice.
Happy Easter to you, too.
I don’t think she will regret it dude she’s making millions while you’re just another loser internet cuck
Clown nose on or clown nose off? I think off. It looks like you’re a secret Katy-fan and that got to you.
I sympathize. I mean who doesn’t tear up at “The One That Got Away”?
Christianity is a forgiving religion. So long as her own conscience doesn’t hold her betrayal against her, I think she could return to her church anytime and have no regrets. This is assuming she doesn’t belong to one of the orthodox, sacramental churches. Some would say that forgiveness isn’t so freely given in those churches.
Jesus was a socialist.
He did not support trying to ruin the lives, or in general harass and demean, vulnerable people who do not make the choices generally promoted by religious authorities. Instead, he endorsed reaching out to those people, and approaching them with an assumption of respectability, or at worse as highly redeemable.
He one not have supported the notion that there is only one pathway to redemption or that there is only a single ideal way of being after such redemption.
Perry may well be following closer to the footsteps of Christ in Hollywood than by the traditions she grew up with. Maybe not though. I just don’t know. But it sure applies to a whole lot of cases.
(Like, one of the main tenets of the religion is that he died for forgiveness for your sins, not that you should go around and try to ruin the lives of anyone you disagree with … a practice that Christians do not have a monopoly on.)
What we know of Jesus’ beliefs from the gospels doesn’t include him talking much about systems of government, with a side order of him not at all being interested in being turned into a secular king. The early Church was not at all interested in being a political movement, probably both for theological reasons (if you think the second coming is scheduled for any day now, there’s not much point in organizing into a political party and agitating for long-term change) and for practical ones (convincing the Roman authorities that your small, unpopular cult threatens their power is hazardous to your health).
It is true. He did not speak of governance system, for example by following schools of thought on these matters from Athens or Rome. (And DUH, place yourself in Roman Palestine, and tell me what the wise man says when asked he he intends to be king.)
But I think the lack of formal writings as a political scholar (which I think he was not) on the part of Jesus should not lead us to believe that we cannot determine, some how or another, that Jesus was pretty socialist. Like, his leanings, demonstrated through action and all the stories and stuff. More socialist than, say, free marketist, right?
The gospels don’t portray either the Romans or the Herodians in a flattering light. Herod’s attempt to kill male children so as to prevent the coming of the Messiah bears an obvious parallel to the most notorious villain in the Old Testament, Pharaoh.
Troll Me April 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm
Jesus was a socialist.
So why am I surprised that Christianity is yet another subject Nathan knows nothing about but still feels the need to lecture us about? Jesus never commented on the collective ownership of the means of production. He did not call for the government to take over the carpentry business. He made no demands for collective action at all. Not a socialist.
So we are agreed that Jesus was not a socialist. Given socialists do all these things. SJWs like you have just driven a student into suicide by unsubstantiated claims of sexual misconduct. He may have reached out to them but there was no assumption of their respectability. On the contrary Jesus said Go and sin no more. He did not deny the sin. He did not respect their alternative life style choices much less endorse them. He said stop doing wrong things. A Republican.
He one not have supported the notion that there is only one pathway to redemption or that there is only a single ideal way of being after such redemption.
Given Jesus specifically said there was only one pathway to redemption this is impressive.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Feel like making anything else up as you go along?
The Caro interview is astounding. Thank you, Professor Cowen. I read the New Yorker-published sections of the Moses book when they appeared, and I recently got hold of the first two volumes of the Johnson biography. Good timing! More motivation to charge into them.
Yes! The Caro interview was exceptional. His books are superb. The interview made clear why the writing is as good as it is. He puts effort into it, ad doesn’t just quickly write things down.
But they may take you a while to read. After a page or two you feel like putting down the book and THINK about what you just read.
They are well worth the time and effort involved.
A disclaimer. I have read the Robert Moses book. And the first two volumes of the Johnson series.
Prolix, verbose, biased, boring are some words that come to mind when I think of Caro.
Care to expound?
When you make a statement that flies in the face of the general accepted view of something, you should be prepared to back up your statement.
Troll is the word that comes to mind when I think of Ray Lopez.
#3 Describes Macron as a centrist…. This is the first proposed measure in his program: “Un plan d’investissement de 50 milliards d’euros sur cinq ans pour préparer l’avenir de la France et des Français, et relancer la croissance.” -A Five year Investment Plan. From a centrist.
I am not sure where the problem is. In the US, both Obama and Trump have favored such kind of “recovery” investment plans. Besides, 50 billions euros over 5 years is 0.5% of French GDP of that period, not really a big deal.
Yes, lot’s of communists and socialists have had Five Year Plans.
This does not mean that any plan which rolls out over a 5-year period will therefore share all criticizable properties of Five Year Plans.
Also, what alternative do you suggest to Five Year Plans? Will we get where we want to go with zero planning, while the wolves position themselves to devour us?
If the aversion to any planning in 5-year increments becomes too powerful, perhaps they can revert to planning in 4.99 or 5.01 year increments?
Yes, alternatives exist. Labor reforms and regulatory control similar to Germany, so people in Alsace and Lorraine do not emigrate to Germany for jobs, since this is the center of the European Union and such disparities between Europe’s two pillars should not exist. Also, liberalization for a country with crippling unemployment and capital flight seems a more centrist approach then stimulus on debt. But of course, all this is nonsense. France is not Germany. France was successful under the Franc and is not under the Euro. Nothing under Macron’s plan seems to address that simple fact, which is addressed by Le Pen even if it is not her main thrust. This is how the political Union of Europe will die: with educated managers advising 0.005 degrees change of course towards the iceberg. Perhaps a 34.6 hour work week?
#6 HCAD and my local ISD certainly think values are on the way up. But still, the increase remains muted. $400,000 to $670,000 in twenty years ain’t San Francisco. On the other hand, you probably can’t get 5,400 sq ft, 10′ – 12′ ceilings, pool, three car garage, barn, etc. on four acres less than a half hour from work in S.F. for $670k.
The only downside is that prices are so low that sometimes the riff raff gets a loan and moves in. Dealing with that problem is what the architectural control committees are for. “May I put a wishing well in my yard?” “No.” May I build a mother-in-law house out back?” “No.” “May my son raise pigs for his FFA project?” “No.” Etc. (Those are all real examples from my time on the committee).
Does it normally take the IRS 12 years to notice a university professor making $160K isn’t paying taxes? Is revenue just a sideline to their political action arm now?
It’s Minnesota Department of Revenue, not the IRS. If the IRS gets W-2s for you but doesn’t receive a return, you will surely hear about it through a robo-letter at least.
“Such end-of-days gloom is puzzling. Near 10 percent unemployment and near invisible growth cannot explain it. French infrastructure is a rebuke to American decay.” – LOL! Cohen doesn’t even get the irony of this. It’s another example of anthropomorphising of countries; France is not a person that has good and bad attributes, it is a collection of people. And having access to good infrastructure but no job is not a compromise that individuals would make. It’s as if someone pointed out the Rolls-Royces of your neighbour and mentioned that it must be great living in an area that has such great cars.
Also, the Armageddon is not a mere slowdown in the rate at which we can get more stuff we don’t need.
Inre to French decline, read Cowen’s favorite Deirdre McCloskey. All 3 volumes (long but easy read). France personified.
“New York — which at least has an extensive transit system that lets people skip the expense of a car altogether.”
Oh, yes, that makes NYC so affordable for the working class.
I don’t know a lot but one thing I do knows is, pay your taxes.
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