Economists themselves have been of no great help. My Twitter feed includes plenty of the world’s greatest (or at least best-known) economists. They love to debate Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a wealth tax, an idea that probably isn’t going to happen (just ask Mitch McConnell or, for that matter, any moderate Democratic senator). When it comes to designing a better incentive model for California power utilities — a concrete problem for which economics is remarkably well-suited — there has been close to complete silence.
Economists are just reflecting a more general failing in American political debate. The old saying that all politics is local has been turned on its head: All issues are now national in scope and partisan in nature. People are less interested in the day-to-day mechanics of actual governance, including at the state and local level. The comeuppance for those ideological obsessions is now upon us.
I wonder how much worse things will have to get before they become better.
The empirical case for limited government is that although human beings have something in common – human nature – they are different in capacities and aspirations. From this it follows, not logically but practically, that government cannot hope to provide happiness to all. The most it can reasonably expect to provide are the conditions under which happiness, as each defines it, can be pursued.
Back in 2016, I pushed back against the conventional wisdom that Americans were opposed to trade and that this explained the rise of Trump. Even then the polls didn’t show that. Of course I was viewed as naive—the zeitgeist was all about the China shock, deindustrialization in the Rust Belt, the rise of populism, etc. Didn’t I know that neoliberalism was passé, it had failed us? OK, so how do things look today?
So do you guys still believe that Trump’s views on trade (“trade wars are good, and easy to win”) represents the wave of the future? Am I just an old foggy who doesn’t understand how bad globalization has been for average people?
The estimates imply that trade with China increased U.S. consumer surplus by about $400,000 per displaced job, and that product categories catering to low-income consumers experienced larger price declines. [emphasis added]
I bolded the low income part, because if trade is good for efficiency then equity is the only issue at stake here.
PS. I notice that the current zeitgeist is all about “progressive” ideas like wealth taxes and fiscal stimulus. Unlike certain publications, I don’t swing with the political winds. Taxes on capital income always have been evil, and always will be. All taxes are consumption taxes. The only difference is that some consumption taxes tax future consumption at higher rates than current consumption. Those bad consumption taxes are called “income taxes”, “capital gains taxes”, “wealth taxes”, etc. Instead we should tax higher levels of consumption at higher rates. That’s a truly progressive agenda.
Stick to your principles when the rest of the world is losing its head. In the long run, they’ll come back to you. Stable NGDP growth, free markets, free speech, free trade, progressive consumption taxes, externality taxes. Those principles aren’t going to change.
"In 2017, the U.S. exported about 14.5 million metric tons of scrap recyclables to China, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, an industry trade group. That dropped to around 9.4 million metric tons in 2018. Since China implemented its new policy at the start of 2018, U.S. states and cities have felt the brunt of falling prices on certain recyclables. The average price for mixed paper in the U.S., for example, dropped from $67 in August 2017 to negative $2 in August 2019."
"municipalities have sent some recyclables to landfills and stopped accepting certain kinds of plastic or incinerated items."
"Maine could soon require package producers to support recycling programs and cover at least 80% of the cost of packaging materials sold in the state that aren’t easily recyclable."