Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Could Be A Communist.....

According to Robert Rector in today's Wall Street Journal, "If converted to cash, current means-tested [anti-poverty] spending is five times to amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S." My attitude is, if this is true, then scrap the lot of it. Eliminate all federal housing subsidies, food stamps, etc. from root to branch, pool the revenue, and give every single American, from Bill gates on down, a refundable individual personal tax credit. We could gradually taper the refund based on income to avoid spikes in effective marginal tax rates.

Now, eliminating all of the support agencies which are the massive holes in this "leaky bucket" would undoubtedly crash the D.C. Metropolitan area housing market and help to end that region's insulation from the economic realities that affect everywhere else in America, but that is a good thing. A thriving, luxurious national capital that creates an insulated wealthy class feasting on government rent-seeking would have been anathema to the Founding Fathers. As far as I know, no American President, not even Ronald Reagan,  has left Washington with fewer Bloomingdales and the like than when he arrived. That needs to change.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Mark, I've often had this exact thought. With the enormous state apparatus it would seemingly be beneficial to just give people money. But, then where would the paternalism that marks government's daily actions come in?

I'm trying to imagine what the rebuttal to Rector is,

1. The government makes investments that help the future of our communities. On the other hand, people just make investments that help themselves and their families.

2. The government creates jobs but people would not create jobs by spending more money on items they would like.

3. A revised version of #2: Jobs might be created but they wouldn't be the *right* kinds of jobs.

Those are the three that came off the top of my head. I'm sure some people from the other side of the aisle will respond to Rector and we'll get to see their actual arguments. I dearly hope they are better than the ones I came up with off the top of my head.