Thursday, December 21, 2006

Responses to 'Perspectives'

The next day, a few defenders of 20 million dollar bonuses and erstwhile students of neoclassical economics in college wrote:

"Let's talk facts...

People only care about equality when it it not their butt (or assets pun intended) on the line. Fact." - WALLSTREET

"[I]t may be modified neo-classical stuff, but if [a] poor young African could only take a trip around Asia and look at the rapidly expanding middle class and see a lot of billionares sitting on the top of the pile, even in places like China, what do you think he might say? How's this sound; "Hey man, bugger that African politician stuff, now I want to be a billionare, give my country a good dose of that neo stuff Petrus [a.k.a. Josephus] was talking about?" - From LRJones4

My response:

The economic systems of Japan, China, Korea, etc., are as accurately described as "modified neo-classical" as Islam is described as "modified Buddhism." Yes, when government bureaucracy directs the economy from above, or alongside, its players, you no longer are following the precepts of "modified" neo-classical economics, unless by "modified" you mean "damn near the exact opposite."

And to continue the point of "fact," it is only when one's assets are on the line that one no longer cares about equality. Which, if we were talking, say, about redistributing half of the world's wealth from the hands of the richest to the rest, would leave some 6.4 billion of us caring about equality.

Funny the ire the suggestion for a more progressive tax system draws - in the country whose tax system is one of the developed world's most regressive, no less. (Not to mention on the message board of a left-of-center website.) To those with a historical memory, it might call to mind the reaction of conservatives to FDR's economic reforms. Goes to show that screaming about the sky's immanent collapse never goes out of style, regardless of the fact that it didn't budge under FDR, and is not likely to fall under a similarly more progressive tax system. In fact, the US economy has never been so healthy as it was under 80% top-tier income tax rates, very strong unions, higher corporate tax rates, and reams of government regulation - in the 1950s.

But that is besides the point, isn't it? After all, if historical experience does not correspond to the elaborate equations and graphs put out by the finest economists in academia, then all the worse for historical experience, eh?

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