Sunday assorted links


#2...Corporate Taxes are not a useful way to fund the government, unless you're just hunting for places you can tax. I''m for a progressive income tax because it satisfies criteria I have that make it the most beneficial means of gaining revenue for government spending.

Corporate taxes are counter productive and hurt the economy, workers, customers and favor off shore companies.

Income taxes, especially progressive income taxes are oppressive and unfair. Too many people get a free ride or even a check instead of a tax bill and the rest pay for everyone; themselves and the freeloaders too.

A better and more fair tax system would be a value added tax on everything including food and medicine and with no government or charitable exemptions. Everyone pays. everything originating within this country would be taxed on the value added. That is if you or a company bought something and made improvements and changes to it and sold it at a profit you would be taxed on the profit because you would have paid the tax on the price you purchased it at. Everything originating from outside the country is taxed at it's full value.

Simple and fair.

"Corporations are people, my friend"

re #1 - see also:
Not nearly so shiny though

Say what what in the butt! Say what what in my butt!

If you watch the foil ball video, you'll see they start using abrasives to polish the ball.

4. Droughts just require the free market to solve them, right?

Generally it would help. California's droughts wouldn't matter at all if the government wasn't paying farmers to waste all the water growing almonds and alfalfa in the desert

As long as the rain and snow would just fall in the first place. It is pretty hard to efficiently distribute nothing, after all.

That's true of any natural resource be it water or oil, and just like oil there are plenty of ways to extract more of it for human use such as water desalination.

There is no effective way to irrigate a wheat crop using desalination.

I'm not sure if you're joking or you're not aware of the existence of underground aquifers, rivers, snowpack, etc.? If there was ever literally no fresh water we would be living on the surface of the sun so we would have bigger problems.

Considering that the alternative seems to be starving up to 12 million people in the Ukraine, I would say yes.

Well, the famine dead in Leningrad, easily over a million, could also be said to have died due to a lack of a free market too, if one is determined enough to see everything through such a lens.

"if one is determined enough to see everything through such a lens."

You literally are that person.

Indeed your starting comment is a perfect example of trying to fit every event into an ideological box. "4. Droughts just require the free market to solve them, right?"

Yeah, I still remember when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did it (yet, Clinton got flak over a dirty dress) . If only we had heard Arthur Laffer.

4. Hydroelectric power production in Uruguay, often help out as a poster child for “green” energy, in normal years provides for 80 percent of the country’s demand. The World Bank has to insure them against drought at a cost of $450 million:

Provides some perspective on the $500 million loss reported. Wonder if primary risk bearer Swiss Re’s costs are factored in.

Should provide the data in LCU besides "dollars" which could be converted using a variety of measures. BTW, it's hard to compare how "expensive" a natural disaster is due to differences in price structures between points in time and between countries.

"BTW, it’s hard to compare how “expensive” a natural disaster is due to differences in price structures between points in time and between countries."

And of course the value of a human life.

#3: Just wait until you find out what Isaac Newton was up to in his spare time.

I could be wrong. He gets partial credit for "inventing" calculus, right?

Also, in his spare time, at the request of the Bank of England in response to a financial crisis arising from the over-issue of bank notes, he invented the Gold Standard. Of course, mandarins/central planners and 21st century econ PhD's are so, so, so much smarter than Isaac Newton.

Well, they do Alchemy and Theology as well as he used to do.

They are the most effective alchemists in History. They turn magical paper and miraculous ink into unlimited volumes of gold substitutes. The happy insanity is that I can buy real value (a quart of whisky and a case of beer) with the worthless confetti.

The secret of their success is they've convinced everyone, e.g., econ PhD's, that they are "central planners" instead of what they actually are: alchemists.

I have no respect for the field. Theology is simply making up stuff about God.

And they are as good as Newton at making things up. At least, they can get away as well as he could and there is notjing Leibniz can do about it.

"The happy insanity is that I can buy real value (a quart of whisky and a case of beer) with the worthless confetti."

In other words, that "worthless confetti"...has value.

That, too!

But he was also obsessed with the book of Daniel, and predicted the apocalypse for 2060.

2. “Transfers billions of dollars to owners of capital at the expense of taxpayers.”

Um, no. It doesn’t transfer anything. It just means less is transferred away owners of capital, who, guess what? are taxpayers themselves. And at what expense to taxpayers? It is not as it though most taxpayers get anything back from the government in transfer payments as the pay into it.

However, a useful reminder that many universities are tax exempt, an outrageous situation that the Republicans need to address immediately. These professors would be a lot less sloppy in their pronouncements if they actually had skin in the game.

Transfers billions of dollars to owners of capital at the expense of taxpayers.”

Left pocket, meet right pocket.

re: California.
Just repeal the idiotic Prop 13.

Even better idea: just stop taxing (and spending) so much to render Prop. 13 unnecessary.

What do you mean? Prop 13 wasn’t enacted in the face of rising tax rates, but because of rising house prices (partly due to supply restrictions and partly due to 1970s inflation). Nominal property taxes were increasing, but that’s because the value of their assets and prices in general were increasing.

The source of the increased property tax revenue--be it higher rates or inflation--is secondary. The increased property tax revenue could easily have been rebated back to homeowners (as Gov. Reagan did), but greedy public officials generally dislike like giving taxpayers back their money.

Here's the problem:

I paid $300,000 for my 3/2 house 22 years ago in 94087.
The identical house across the street from me just sold for $2.6MM. Not worth that much money IMHO.

Just because some Facebook Millionaire decides to pay $2.6MM for a 1700 ft/sq house, does that mean I should suddenly be paying property taxes as if my house is worth $2.6MM? I don't want to pay over $30K/year in property taxes.

Under prop 13, my property tax can go up 2%/year. And is has been every year. Isn't that enough of an increase?

It's not fair to push people out of their homes with high property tax bills based on home "value" just because people want to pay too much money for houses.

Was there much doubt that Bach wasn't religious (i.e. devout Christian)?

I haven't researched his personal life to great lengths, but based on the content of his music my understanding was that he would have been extremely religious, particularly compared to the great Enlightenment composers (Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Mahler) whose music was quite humanistic/secular.

There was never any doubt that Bach was a devout Christian. Including composing works such as the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion, the Magnificat, and the Mass in B minor

Virtually everyone before the late 18th century was fanatically religious by modern standards.

Right, I wonder if that's what's behind the research claiming that he wasn't as religious as we think. By the standards of his day, he may've been less religious than he seemed at the time. By today's standards his music was hugely religious.

On the earthier side, this article's title accurately describes its content:

Bach was a Straussian, so composing religious works during a more devout era proves nothing.

3. (Bach was more religious than you might think) - I doubt it. ---- reading the article in the NY Times, one learns the following: Bach completely agreed on dozens (hundreds) of "Biblical" topics with a local (and now mostly forgotten) Lutheran commentator, and did not disagree even once with the 'venerable' local authority. As far as one can tell from the article, Bach showed no signs of wanting to understand why, for example, hundreds and thousands of saints who had lived and died before him were not the exact type of "Lutheran" he was. According to the article, he insulted people from other branches of Christianity on unexaminedly weak intellectual grounds (the article does not say if he considered himself a kinder less sinful person than the saints of earlier days).

So ... perhaps he was, like almost all people with extraordinary gifts, a little stunned at his own good luck and as a result much more of an ancestor worshiper (after all, it was his ancestors who bequeathed him so much of his gifts) than one should be, if one claims to be a Christian.

Maybe he was not, in fact, more "Christian" than we may have thought, but was merely more bigoted in the locally-accepted-by-the-mediocre version of Christianity that he was born into and that he made his living off of: sad! Despite what the title of the article might imply, the "less Christian" idea of Bach as a "progressive and liberal" for his day Christian believer would not necessarily describe a "less religious" person - remember, the type of ideas that were "progressive and liberal" were championed by people whom nobody would call less religious than Bach, such as Alphonsus Liguori and Samuel Johnson, just to name two names from a slightly later but more familiar generation. (Said otherwise, Liguori and Johnson were probably much more Christian than Bach, and also, for their day, more progressive. We always need to extrapolate when using judgmental words!) Well, I have nothing against Bach, anybody can name 10 or 20 people who are considered geniuses at that level and almost all the best known ones are bigoted when discussing matters not in their immediate wheelhouse.

I could name a few exceptions - I have been fortunate enough to have read widely and to have known people who understand the world, and, like I said, I could easily name a few exceptions - but, to be fair to Bach, the exceptions I could name are not as famous in the musical world as him. And Bach was of course right, his musical gift was a divine gift.

In the unlikely (impossible? ok, impossible, if you want) event Bach had asked my advice on Biblical commentaries, I would have suggested waiting around for Matthew Henry or Challoner. Matthew Henry (dissenting Presbyterian, I think) has a few stray bigoted observations but if you spend a few hours reading his observations on Bible verses that have touched your heart, as I have, for the record, you cannot help but love the way he explains things, and Challoner (some kind of Anglo-French student of the Doctors of the Church) often lacks sprezzatura, but he is the inheritor of a great tradition of great love for one's neighbor: well, the platonic ideal of a Biblical commentary will probably never be written: Christians with love in their heart don't need one, and the sort of person who could write one has better things to do.

takeaway - Bach may or may not have been a devout Christian, as he claimed to be, but he said vicious things, which shows he might have been just another gifted amateur with no real understanding in his heart of true art. Yes I meant that. You simply cannot be an actual gifted artist if you do not understand the world, you can be a phenomenon of some sort, but that is all. That is not enough, life is worthless if all you re is a successful artist with a selfish view of life. If you have listened to ten seconds of real music composed by real angels you are tempted to boycott music by the semi-spergerites who so often are treated as if they, and not Music itself, were what we would talk about when we talk about the gifts of melody and harmony and rhythm and style. Next time you listen to Bach try and imagine how much better it would be if the Angel Raphael, or the Angel Gabriel, or the Angel Michael, had composed the same piece of music, but in a better way. Feel free to pretend I do not know what I am talking about, but please spend a moment pretending I do know what I am saying. Maybe I am quoting a really good poem that you almost remember ...

I would like to take a second this Easter to thank Representative Bolsonaro for his presidential run and for showing new ways for the Brazilian people and its dreams. There is definitely nothing wrong with Brazil that can not be cured with what is right in Brazil.

I don't have time to do the research. Doing nothing takes forever.

In 100 words or less, what is right in Brazil? Aside from thong bikinis and firm buttocks.

So many things. It is the second biggest democracy in the world. It is the 8th biggest economy the world has ever seen. It is bigger than the Roman Empire at its height. It never fought a war of aggression. It has the biggest prorein producing company in the world. It has a complex economy and the biggest industrial system in the Southern Hemisphere. It sells airplanes, cars, meat, soy, iron, steel. Its niobium reserves are remarkable. While Americans fight over which lives matter, statues and religion, Brazil' society is harmonious. Brazil will soon peacefully and oficially become a Protestant-majority, Black-majority country. It never happened in Man's History.
While Americans fight over who must be locked up, Brazil has already jailed hundreds of top politicians, public servants and businessmen who were corrupt. Billions and billiins of dollars are returning to public coffers. One governor alone is giving back half a billion dollars.

Brazil is 65% Catholic and 8% black.

There are more Blacks in Brazil than in any ocountry but Nigeria. Under your Census Bureau rules, Brazil is half Black, half White.

As for Protestants,

Brazil will be a Protestant-majority country before 2030. It is biggest demographic shift of the last 50 years in the world. Until 1889, Catholicism was the official religion and temples of other Christian religions were banned

>...Brazil...65 % catholic
Actually, many are Catholic/Condomblé.

Brazil is 42% mixed race – a classification decidedly distinct from black. Blacks remain 8%. To say nothing of the subtly distinct racial categories recognized in Brazil. Only in perhaps California do we experience that level of racial obsession.

Forget Candomblé, Brazilian protestants are hardly abandoning the pope for mainline Protestantism, work ethic and all. "Protestant majority" is meaningless without qualification. A charismatic-majority country and Anglican-majority country are both "Protestant majority" but will have very different outcomes.

So which of the US or India is not a democracy?

What do you think?

Per Trading Economics, Brazil now ranks #3 (tied with Indonesia, behind Russia and Mexico) as the most corrupt country in the G20.

It is a lie. Most countries are much more corrupt than Brazil. Angola, China, North Korea, Afghanistan, Burundi, South Africa, Laos and many other ones.

Brazil never fought a war of aggression? the war of the triple alliance in 1864-1870 that pitted Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay against Paraguay, killing 70% of that last country's population wasn't a war of agression? and the Acre war in 1903 by which Brazil stole the state of Acre from Bolivia wasn't a war of aggression?

Paraguay attacked first when we were negotiating with them, not unlike Japan in 1941 against America. It was a surprise attack: hundreds of Paraguayans against 13 Brazilian soldiers. But I am not surprised you only know the aggressor's version...

"The official women's federation in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, has begun a series of courses for the'"new era' woman that include correct posture and home decoration, and make-up."

To be fair, those Mao suits were more flattering to women than to men. Mao looked ridiculous. Bush (visiting) looked like an idiot. Zhou Enlai looked OK.

From the people who brought you polished mud.

Re: Wolfers

Wolfers was careful to restrict his comments to the "corporate tax cuts". Cowen mistakenly conflates this with "the tax law". While the recent tax bill included "corporate tax cuts", as properly understood, the "tax law" consisted of much more than simply that as regards corporations (in this respect, Wolfers is also more precise than Alan Viard, whom he quotes as referring to "tax rate reduction" which does not necessarily imply a "tax cut").

Even so, Wolfer's analysis is also inadequate. He seems to suggest that, for example, if the net effect of the tax bill is to reduce the amount of tax a corporation would otherwise have paid by, say, $100 (the "tax cut"), that corporation has an additional $100 of "cash" with which the corporation is free to do something with. But, the recent tax bill is more complicated than that and a discussion of its effects demand a more sophisticated analysis. For example, one of the most important corporate tax features of the bill was to effectively *require* the repatriation of corporate earnings that had previously been unrepatriated for tax purposes and hence the use of which (for such things as investment in US property or share buybacks) was prohibited. Contrary to most reports in maintstream media, the bill did not "encourage" repatriation, nor do corporations "decide" to repatriate foreign earnings---the bill effectively *forced* repatriation by deeming dividends to be paid to US parents from the earnings of foreign corporations in which they own a 10 percent or greater interest (and forcing US tax to be paid on those deemed dividends, albeit at a reduced rate and over a period of years). Once a dividend is deemed to be paid, it is "repatriated" in the tax sense and there is nothing further restricting the use of that cash in the United States (for investments or buybacks or whatever). Professor Wolfers and journalists, please read IRC Section 965, as amended, and then read it again.

In this respect, the effect of the *tax law* on the use of "cash" was much more far-reaching than the dollar-for-dollar amount of the "tax cut". Its effect was to 1) take cash in the form of tax on previously un-repatriated earnings and 2) free up the remainder of that *existing* cash for uses in the United States which before the tax bill was effectively restricted due to the Hobson's choice of paying large amounts of US tax or holding cash the use of which was severely restricted. In other words, it had profound practical effects on the ability of corporations to freely allocate their existing capital. Investments aside, I can't imagine returning previously restricted cash to shareholders, if that is what is being done, doesn't have significant effects on the demand side.

Wolfers had this to say: "What can we learn from the recent surge in stock buybacks, in which companies buy back their own shares, effectively returning their spare cash to shareholders?"

Well, one thing we should have learned is that that "spare cash" didn't magically appear in the first three months of 2018 as a result of forward-looking "tax cuts". But, this is apparently lost on Wolfers whose discussion of the current and future effects of those "cuts" is muddled, to put it mildly.

Finally, I agree with edgar, supra, that the phrase “Transfers billions of dollars to owners of capital at the expense of taxpayers.” deserves to be challenged. In fact, perhaps more egregious than that was this phrase: "The tax cut showers cash on corporations indiscriminately..." No, it doesn't. It takes less cash than would heretofore have been the case from *profitable* corporations, which is hardly an indiscriminate shower. (suggestion: "showers" should be added to the list of bias-laden words such as "gutted". Ditto for "windfall" which he uses in the next sentence; but, I'll give him credit for not using "loophole".). And, finally, this: "In the short run, giving more money to corporations..."---- Alternative version: "In the short run, taking less money from corporations...". Dear Professor Wolfers, the "corporate tax cut" does not work like the earned income tax credit.

I like the “showers” point too. Too bad wolpert can’t play it straight and has to resort to tired adjectives to try to persuade. My take away from the article is we don’t know if the corporate tax cuts are an effective stimulus. The rest about buybacks, showers, windfall seem irrelevant.

Let's also agree to not use "jack up prices".

Great comment!

Tyler should link to it

5. "But this is still pretty small-bore. The really hardcore stuff is going to take another couple years to kick in. Expect Party authorities to start to grapple with how to tweak/incentive cadre evaluation systems to encourage births."

And yet China still has population control: having replaced its one child policy with a two child policy.

It is the problem with bureaucracy and by extension Statist parties on the Left - they cannot bear the idea that somewhere, someone is making a free decision based on their own desires that the bureaucracy does not control.

So these Chinese will go from being forced to have only one child to being forced to have two. And perhaps to having exactly 2.2. Who knows?

Still, though, it's Chinese people, 1.379 billion, Chinese river dolphin, zero. That should greatly outweigh the threat of charm school and give progressives reason to celebrate, yes?

Dear California, stop with the Rube Goldberg property nonsense and get rid of the urban growth boundary!

The only cure for this problem is to eliminate the urban growth boundary or whatever it is California calls it. The San Francisco Bay area is only 18% developed, yet there is no additional land for development. This means of the 4.5 million acres, 800 thousand are developed, and all but 300 thousand acres are tied up in the non-developable land. There are 300 thousand acres which could be developed, but the environmentalists use lawfare to keep that from happening.

The real cure is for Millennials to leave the area, they are being sacrificed for their parents and grandparents financial gain. Why they stay is unfathomable. The Millennials are the ultimate sheeple generation. I am waiting for them to awaken politically, but that seems not to be happening ...

Mark Sherman

You would have the country become one massive Blade Runner landscape?

Oregon is 3.5% developed. Yet the entire state has an urban growth boundary. Explain how Oregon will ever become "Blade Runner?"

The San Francisco area is 18% developled (800 thousand acres) with all but 300 thousand additional acres permanently off limites to development. Explain how San Francisco's development of an additional 300 thousand acres could ever become "Blade Runner."

The United States is not populating fast enough for any area to become "Blade Runner." If you believe otherwise please provide some data, I know of none.

You live in a fantasy land of Unicorn dreams if you think the US could become "Blade Runner" outside of the progressives achieving total power and forcing everyone onto a tiny area which might then be known as "Blade Runner."

Mark Sherman

In the 1960s, there were plans to landfill about 400 squares mile of SF Bay by 2020

You may had seen this NIMBY group poster on BART bragging about it, usually with some homeless sleep in front of it. Imagine how much less homelessness if we have that 400 square miles to built on now?

Trump should just use federal prememption to get around CEQA and implement the plan. In the mean time, allow camping in GGNRA/Treasure Island. The modern day Arkies/Orkies would vote Nancy Pelosi out of office in gratitude.

I agree that California should allow more building, but millennials are not sheeple for wanting to live there. Life is not all about money, and the weather and culture in the Bay Area are far superior to almost everywhere else in the United States—the exorbitant prices there are maintained both by the limited supply and very high demand.

California has the highest PPP poverty rate in the country and the interior of the state is pretty close to a desert. It's bifurcating into a state of wealthy vs poor. Meanwhile, the state spends $70 billion on a high speed rail project that will never be economical and the public pension funds are in dire straights. Furthermore, policy driven high energy costs, high cost to building/development & high cost to employment ensure that manufacturing (and growth in general) will be significantly constrained.

California isn't a basket case, but the fundamentals are heading in the wrong direction.

1. Pretty sure I did better over the course of a lunch period back in middle school

1. “Japanese Are Polishing Foil Balls To Perfection, And The Result Is Too Satisfying.”

Packing sphere, it is in our blood.

4. The most expensive weather disaster of 2018?

We are still competing.

2. Justin Wolfers is correct about the tax law and buybacks (NYT).
From the article, first line:
'Corporate tax cuts will put billions of dollars back in the hands of businesses this year. '

He has already bait and switched. Corporations got the tax cut, at the expense of non corporate business. There is much evidence that corporations are the more efficient allocators. There is also evidence that the stock market structure encourage lemming behavior.

All the rest is about the mathematics of aggregation models, economists explaining first path principles, in general. All of the arguments in this debate seemed to be about the theory of models, a fine debate, not central to the main hypothesis.

#6 anything but letting people subdivide and build.

To be fair, that's specifically what SB 827 is designed to address, though the transit corridor qualification limits its impact.

#5 (12) the county cited by the BBC report, (in Chinese)

According to a survey conducted by Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, there are currently 0.72 children per child in childbearing age (women) in Yichang (county), indicating that Yichang has entered an ultra-low fertility level. The survey also showed that (in) Yichang made it clear that 35.69% of the women had (wanted) a second child; it clearly stated that they would not account for 50.16% of the two children (did not want a second child), and 14.15% would not have thought (had no opinion).
Zheng Zhengzheng (!), a demographer of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, once conducted a five-year follow-up survey in Jiangsu Province and found that when he made it clear that no two children were born, he clearly stated that only two children were born with two children. The final birth of two children is only about one-third of the policy-compliant populationa.
(none of those against it and only one-third of those who wanted it (i.e. ~12% childbearing age women) had a second child. That might push the fertility rate in Yichang to 0.80)

A drought that has cost $3.9 bn in a world where GDP is multiple trillions doesn't seem very serious to me. And even the author says it is having almost no impact on prices. The author predicts very much more significant impacts in the future due "climate change" but given the world has been in this warming trend since the 1950s and global food supplies have done nothing but increase in that time why does he think that?

To me, it serves as a pointed reminder of just how devastating Hurricane Maria was last year, with an estimated $91.6 billion in damages. It'll probably take ten years for Puerto Rico to really get back to normal; this drought is a blip in comparison.

Do we even want Puerto Rico back to normal?

That would be far better than what's in PR now, yes.

#1 There's a whole Japanese tradition of making polished dirt balls:

#6. A similar situation here in Ann Arbor, though Michigan's Headlee and Prop A amendments don't distort as much as Prop 13 (property tax rates not limited to 1% and the rate of individual home tax increases are limited to the lesser of inflation or 5%, not 2%). Still, we've been in our place long enough to have about a 30% property tax 'discount'. Combine that with a 2% tax and 6% commission we'd incur on a sale (which, together would equal about 6 years worth of property taxes), and it's likely we won't be going anywhere until we're ready to be wheeled out (or decide to leave the area entirely).

Re: the most expensive weather disaster, how many of us have heard about it, you ask? Not sure but some of us predicted it!

You could just increase the housing supply. When values start to fall, people will sell.

çok iyi analiz. iyi bir fikir.

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