Economics and musing part two

Part two! I forgot to post this on Monday. Continued from the previous post.

-I’m not against taxes, especially targeted taxes, smart ones that make people act more intelligently or at least help us recover some of the money that the community loses as a result of unwise activities (eg cigarette taxes). And it seems to me that there should be some taxes, both to shape economic behaviour and to finance government programs. On the other hand, I certainly don’t think that all taxes are intrinsically good; in particular if taxes effectively discourage something that we should be encouraging, that’s a problem.

-I’m not against the government giving people money directly, although often there are certainly dangers or unintended consequences that need to be thought through in any particular version of the government distributing money to people. Still, whenever it’s possible and not completely unadvisable, I do find myself inclining toward the option of giving people money to spend or save, to stimulate the economy and reduce hardship.

-Somewhat related, I think giving people vouchers is probably a smart idea. Give people housing vouchers maybe to spend on rent or mortgage, or even better, food stamps that can be spent on fresh produce. I’m not sure why this isn’t done more. It seems like it could have a lot of benefits.

-I’m suspicious of people who always talk about the dangers of legitimate governments having too much power but who never worry about whether businesses can get too big or too powerful or too influential. Some businesses do some things better than some governments, and so as I’ve said I think a wise government will leverage the market as a powerful tool, but I’ve never seen any evidence that our problems will be solved by taking power away from legitimate governments and giving more authority and power to corporations and the wealthy.

-I think involuntary poverty is an evil thing and we should basically not rest until it is abolished, no matter the tradeoffs. Maybe that is too strongly stated. Perhaps there are hypothetical tradeoffs that wouldn’t be worth it. But in the real world, I find it hard to think of consequences of feeding the hungry that would be worse than leaving the hungry in their hunger.

Okay! There are still at least a couple more posts in this series to come. See you Friday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *