December 31, 2015
- Economic growth is necessary to enable improved opportunity, reduced poverty, and lessened inequality.True! It is almost impossible to accomplish these without economic growth. We do need more economic growth.
- Economic growth alone is sufficient to accomplish all the above. False! Necessary, but not sufficient. We have had periods of maximum US growth across the last 30 years, and we only lost ground on these goals. Some form of redistribution is necessary, plus other government actions.
- Cutting taxes is the best way to stimulate better economic growth. False! Consider from The Atlantic: “In 1990, President George H. W. Bush raised taxes, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised the top marginal tax rate, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 2001 and 2003, President Bush cut taxes, and we faced a disappointing expansion followed by a Great Recession.”
- Republican candidates’ tax proposals offer excellent solutions to solve our economic problems. False! Consider from The Economist, a Conservative publication: “The Republicans have spent much of Barack Obama’s presidency denouncing debt and deficits. Yet their proposals to introduce unaffordable tax cuts for the rich would send both ballooning. So long as such schemes are a prerequisite for winning the Republican nomination, a party that prides itself on economic management will lack a credible policy…The plans would also greatly exacerbate inequality, which has increased in the 15 years since George W. Bush cut taxes for high earners.”
- The US tax system is broken. True! But it’s not because taxes are too high. There were periods of greater economic growth and greater equality and opportunity when taxes were much higher. While Republican proposals will only make things worse, we do need a massive simplication of over complex tax codes. Consider this example from the New York Times this week. Our tax codes are vulnerable to the ultra rich, their lawyers and lobbyists, none of which is available to the middle class.
- Muslims are a threat to our country and we have no choice but to treat them as a dangerous class. False! Only a tiny sliver of radical extremist Muslims are dangerous. The vast majority are just as trustworthy and contributory as any American. They represent a great world religion which brings much to us. There is danger in tiny slivers of extremist Christians as well.
- As Americans, it is our job to lead without others if they delay, in solving human rights abuses around the world. False! We are no longer the unilateral superpower of the world. It is time for us to share leadership, even if negotiation means delay in action. In most cases, what is gained by agreement of major world powers far outweighs the costs of delay. Plus, we can’t afford it and we never seem to resolve the problem, leaving a worse mess in many cases.
- Our focus on ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the various terrorists of the world should be concentrated on how to militarily destroy them. False! At this time we are forced to support military action in Syria, but our wars have only proven that deeper animosities are created, lasting generations. We must devote energy and resources to helping to create opportunity for the underprivileged, wherever they are in the world.
- Immigration is not a threat to our country– in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, and costs to the economy. True! From David Bier: “In a study by the Niskanen Center, I show that faster labor force growth is associated with greater income growth. From 1948 to 1980, the labor force expanded rapidly, increasing 76 percent, and real median income skyrocketed for wage and salary workers, rising over 80 percent for both men and women. From 1981 to 2013, real median income growth slowed to a meager 8 percent for men and 55 percent for women. Was greater labor competition to blame? No. In fact, the labor force grew at half the earlier rate, increasing just 43 percent. Relative to the size of the workforce, many fewer workers were competing for jobs during this period.”
- Inequality is not the problem. There is vast opportunity in our land, with examples every year of great success stories of people who started with nothing. Focusing on inequality will destroy motivation, which is the essence of the American system. False! From GeorgeCarlin of Scientific American: “By overemphasizing individual mobility, we ignore important social determinants of success like family inheritance, social connections, and structural discrimination. The three papers in Perspectives on Psychological Science indicate not only that economic inequality is much worse than we think, but also that social mobility is less than you’d imagine. Our unique brand of optimism prevents us from making any real changes.” See this infographic video on YouTube.
These are my choices as I end 2015! Thanks for reading my blog this year! I’ll keep trying–best wishes for a great 2016!