When Dead Men Rule

G.K. Chesterton worried that our predecessors would have too little influence on our politics. But Gene Steuerle says that they have too much. [Credit: christiancompletely blog]

G.K. Chesterton worried that our ancestors would have too little influence on our society. But a new book by the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle says that they exert too much control over our politics. [Credit: christiancompletely blog]

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.”G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton fretted that modern democracies might show too little deference to past generations.  But according to the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle, the very opposite is true: in American democracy, dead men rule. Continue reading

Paul Krugman and the Inequality Deniers

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Centruy has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

There is growing concern among people on the Right and Left about income inequality. But you wouldn’t know that from reading Paul Krugman’s latest screed.

What stirred Krugman’s bile this week was criticism of economist Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, a work that has attained canonical status among the Left on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

Maximum Wage: Solution to Inequality?

The Swiss campaign to limit executive pay fell short, but are there good solutions to the problem of income inequality?

The Swiss campaign to limit executive pay fell short, but are there good solutions to the problem of income inequality?

We know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. … They experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend. … And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. .I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for President. It was at the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office.President Obama

Economic inequality is a politically potent issue.  Vanderbilt University professor Larry Bartels believes that it was a critical one in the 2012 Presidential race, adding 2 to 3 percentage points to President Obama’s share of the vote and 1 percent in battleground states.  The President’s advantage on this issue, Bartels says, was largely symbolic, having more to do with the perception that his opponent’s great wealth had detached him from the concerns of ordinary voters. People motivated to vote for the President because of this issue did so more because of who they believed Mitt Romney was than because of what the President proposed to do. Continue reading

Politics as the Art of Spurning Compromise

It may take a bigger gavel for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his Senate counterpart Patty Murray (D-WA) to hammer out a budget agreement.  (Credit: Swampland Times)

It may take a bigger gavel for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his Senate counterpart Patty Murray (D-WA) to hammer out a budget agreement. (Credit: Swampland Times)

Budget negotiators have struggled for nearly two months to find agreement on the outlines of a spending bill that would fund the government after January 15.  The target date for a deal is next Friday. They hope to meet it.

The agreement that continues to elude them, if it comes at all, would be a small one. Gone are aspirations for a “grand bargain” that would reform entitlements and the tax code and replace future across-the-board cuts with something less mindless. Changes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other “mandatory” spending programs, which together constitute 63 percent of non-interest government spending, are off the table.  So, too, are taxes. Continue reading

Could A Wealth Tax Solve the Problem of Government Debt?

A recent IMF report suggests that this man's enormous wealth might help resolve the government's debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

A recent IMF report suggests that this man’s enormous wealth might help resolve the government’s debt problem. [Credit: NY Post]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently reported that European governments could reduce their debt back to pre-Great Recession levels by confiscating 10 percent of the wealth held by their richest citizens. IMF isn’t recommending that, of course.

They’re just sayin’. Continue reading