The first problem is that higher status for the wealthy can easily lead to crony capitalism. In public discourse social status judgments are often crude. Critical differences are lost, like the distinction between earning money through production for consumers, as Apple has done, and earning money through the manipulation of government, which heavily subsidized agribusinesses have done. The relevant question, in my view, is not about how much you have earned but about how you have earned it.

Turning the Dialogue From Wealth to Values
Great quote from Tyler Cowen.

This Generation’s Low-Hanging Fruit

Timothy B Lee challenges Tyler Cowen’s thesis. Lee argues that we are not in the middle of an economic stagnation but that we’ve gotten worse at measuring progress:

Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. If what you care about is government revenue, this point might not matter much—it’s hard to tax something if no one’s paying for it. But the real lesson here may not be that the American economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from the software industry.

From This Generation’s Low-Hanging Fruit

One problem I see with this is that it should free up resources for other goods and services. Maybe I’m missing something, but that should show up in our conventional metrics. 

Tie CO2 Tax to Temperature

John Tierney relays today what seems like a very sensible idea from economist Ross McKitrick, tie a carbon tax to the temperature.  If the temperature rises the tax goes up, if the temperature does not rise (as McKitrick, a climate change skeptic thinks) the tax will stay at a low level.  Temperature of the troposphere would be measured by satellite at the equator and averaged over a period of time…In theory, both climate change proponents and skeptics ought to agree to this proposal, but I predict the proponents will object.

From Tie CO2 Tax to Temperature


The limits of good vs. evil thinking

Take Climategate.  One response is: 1. “These people behaved dishonorably.  I will lower my trust in their opinions.”

Another response, not entirely out of the ballpark, is: 2. “These people behaved dishonorably.  They must have thought this issue was really important, worth risking their scientific reputations for.  I will revise upward my estimate of the seriousness of the problem.”

I am not saying that #2 is correct, I am only saying that #2 deserves more than p = 0.  Yet I have not seen anyone raise the possibility of #2.  It very much goes against the grain of good vs. evil thinking:  Who thinks in terms of: “They are evil, therefore they are more likely to be right.”


Once again, Tyler Cowen comes up with the most interesting out-of-the-box comment on a topic.