Saturday, November 24, 2012

Professional Seemers

Paul Krugman nails the Kloors, Piekes and Currys of our world

Finally, it’s true that there are some Republican intellectuals and pundits who seem to be truly open-minded about both economic and social issues. But I worded that carefully: they “seem to be” open-minded; indeed, they’re professional seemers. When it matters, they can always be counted on — after making a big show of stroking their chins and agonizing — to follow the party line, and reject anything that doesn’t go along with the preacher-plutocrat agenda. If they don’t deliver when it counts, they are excommunicated; see Frum, David.

Anyone who imagines that there is any real soul-searching going on is deluding himself or herself.
If Paul  didn't exist, Eli would have to invent him.



To the great credit of the Palaeocons, they were excommunicated by Frum a decade before the present debacle.

Still, these guys have to make a living.

david lewis said...

Frum is one of the deluded then, who believe there is some real soul-searching going on among Republican "intellectuals". One of the things he said when interviewed Nov 19 on Bloomberg Surveillance (search itunes for "author frum says business leaders are pressuring GOP") was:

"the American business community got a little apocalyptic over the past four years and convinced itself it was in the last few hours of the free enterprise system and exerted a lot of pressure on the Republican Party to do some things that don't look very sensible in the cold light of morning. I think you are hearing all over Washington and throughout the Republican world the sound of the ice cracking and new ideas beginning to flow".

I noticed that Norquist experimented with the idea that he could allow a carbon tax for about a day or so. Frum advocated a carbon tax in the Bloomberg interview.

Frum had been calling for a carbon tax prior to his excommunication in 2010, but once in exile his position changed to admit climate change is happening but oppose all policy. Returning to publicly advocating taxing carbon emissions is a change for him.

Eli may be correct if one takes him to mean nothing material will change in the "thinking" of the Republican "intellectuals", but it sure looks like there is something going on in their "minds" at the moment.

chek said...

PK is a treasure of the age, and it astounds me that Presidents and Ministers don't fall at his feet to alleviate whatever ails them. I need say no more.


The warm welcome neocons extend to rising CO2 may owe as much to origins north of the border as their pals in the oil patch.

Frum, Steyn and McLaughlin sidekick Mort Zucerman all started out as Neocans.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

Krugman's presents a false premise. The democrat's idea of compromise is for the Republicans to allow the Bush tax cuts for the top earners to expire, so that the government can spend more money. It is not as if the government is using income tax money to pay off the deficit, so the democrats are asking for more spending.

I understand Obama won, but this isn't a monarchy. You may think the Democrats have an ace card because they can let the Bush tax cuts expire...guarantee you the house republicans will simply refuse to pass any legislation unless they get the top rate extension. And I guarantee the democrats won't compromise on spending.

EliRabett said...

It only seems so to U Lumpy. Obama's position is for the house to pass the Senate bill maintaining the Bush tax cuts on everything below 250K$.

This means that the lucky duckys that earn more get the tax cuts up to the 250K$ level, not a bad chunk of change.

So why are you seeming lumpy?

Anonymous said...


"And I guarantee the democrats won't compromise on spending."

Wow! You gonna stand by that, Lumps? How do we collect if the Democrats docompromise?

Mal Adapted

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Were I a Dem in Congress, I would be as reasonable and accommodating as I could--up to but not including caving on tax rate increases. The Dems could get a grand bargain through the Senate with tax increases, spending cuts, even entitlement reform of some type. And then when it stalled in the House on, say, December 21, as it must, the Rethug leadership and Grover Norquist get to play Grinch for Christmas.

We're goin' over the cliff. It's just a matter of having someone under you to cushion the fall.


How could the Right Honorable Lumpus Spookytooth have been so derelict as to fail to run against Barney Frank in the last race for Congress?

With no spectrodont on the ballot, up-island republicans had to write in the name of the mechanical shark spotted in Menemsha in 1975.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

you guys keep talking about the fiscal cliff...this is where we disagree. I don't think the extra revenue is going to be used to pay into the deficit, I think they're gonnna spend it.

Anonymous said...

Those taxes on $250K and up earners will only add ~$80 billion in revenue.

You are still $1 trillion short of a balanced budget, while slamming small business owners with a tax hike.

Good luck with that plan.

EliRabett said...

You smoking the cool aid? How many "small" business owners net 250K/year?

Anonymous said...

George Haynes of Montana State University, who has conducted much research on small business using the SCF, took a look at the employment of small business owning households for me. In the 2007 SCF, his analysis showed that small business owning families earning more than $250,000 per year employ 93 percent of the people working in small businesses.

The message from these different data sources is clear: Letting the Bush tax cuts on households earning more than $250,000 per year won’t affect very many small business owners – just the ones who employ the vast majority of people working in small companies.

It is not a question of what percenatge of small businesses will be affected, it is which ones will be affected, as in the ones that provide the overwhelming majority of the jobs.

EliRabett said...

What that "study" is showing is that the small businesses owners earning more that 25oK$ are NOT owners of small businesses except by some stretched definition.

It's another version of what is the average income of a room with Bill Gates in it.

In other words, more bullshit about the poor downtrodden job creators.

Care to tell us

a) the distribution of how many employees a small business has


b) the gross and net income

Better yet, point us to some figures showing the distributions

Anonymous said...

You're a lost cause Eli.

You make some claims in your last post YOU prove them.

Your routine is tiring.

You also completely avoided the revenue generated compared to deficit and how its impact is minimal. The raise the taxes on $250k earners is a "feel good" for the wretched and envious of society as its actual impact will be near zero as far as deficits and debts go.

Meanwhile Obamacare has already raised taxes on the middle class for 2013. I'll give you a hint that you will ignore. Health Savings Account maximum contribution.

Stick with science at least you are good at that.

willard said...

Is this the Hayne report?

I'm sure auditors appreciate when a researcher does not provide the source of its main claim.

dhogaza said...

"small business owning families earning more than $250,000 per year employ 93 percent of the people working in small businesses."

If the marginal rate is raised 3%, which is what will happen if the Bush tax cuts expire, that's $7500 on $250K income.

Now how many people will the small business owner fire in order to make up that $7500? Hmmm?

I suppose none of these business owners were able to employ people back in the 1950s when the top marginal rate was 90%. I mean, we all know the 1950s were a time of deep depression and triple-digit unemployment, right?

dhogaza said...

"Meanwhile Obamacare has already raised taxes on the middle class for 2013. I'll give you a hint that you will ignore. Health Savings Account maximum contribution."

I won't ignore it.

"The maximum contributions that can be made to health savings accounts will increase slightly in 2013, the Internal Revenue Service said April 27.

Under IRS Revenue Procedure 2012-36, the maximum contribution that can be made to an HSA in 2013 will be $3,250 for employees with single coverage, up from $3,100 this year. The maximum HSA contribution for those with family coverage will be $6,450, up from $6,250.

The maximum out-of-pocket employee expense, including deductibles, will rise next year to $6,250 for single coverage, up from $6,050. For family coverage, it will increase to $12,500 from $12,100.

Increases in the HSA limits are tied to changes in the cost of living."

You were saying?

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Since Dr. Haynes works in the office right next to mine, I think I'll ask him about this. The commonly cited numbers for small businesses filing as individuals (ie. S-Corps) which make more than 250K is 3%, page say 4%.

What I suspect we are being sold here is that:

1) Owners of small businesses who, as individuals, make more than 250K do employ a large percentage of the people who are employed by "small business". AFAIK, the feds define "small business" as a business employing 500 or fewer employees.

2) Small business owners who own small businesses and make more than 250K are not necessarily filing the business income as individuals.

Certainly there are a variety of reasons that one would want to separate personal and business as legal entities makes a huge amount of sense. After all, I've worked for "small businesses" with several hundred employees and revenues of more than $100M/yr.

Anonymous said...

My bad, I meant the Flexible Savings Account not the Health Savings account.

Always going back to the 1950s without understanding the reams of deductions and shelters used back then which drove the effective rate down to near or less than today.. Additionally where else after WWII were you going to setup a business?

In the global economy of today a 90% tax rate would be death for startup businesses and innovation. They would just setup shop somewhere else.

How are you so naive, like Krugman the idiot?

Still have not heard about the other $1 trillion needed to balance an annual budget.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Thanks for digging that out Willard. It does appear as though he included all households filing regardless of the legal organization of the business.

willard said...

My pleasure, Rattus.

It would be interesting to audit that trillion dollars deficit. For instance, 20 billions seem to come from air conditioning:

Anonymous said...

That's right would not want the troops coming back from a patrol in 120 degree weather be able to cool off.

dhogaza said...

"How are you so naive, like Krugman the idiot?"

Ah, yes, the Nobel prize winner in economics vs. an anonymous troll in a discussion about economics.

Which of the two is most likely to know something about economics?

Lemme think real hard about this ...

dhogaza said...

"My bad, I meant the Flexible Savings Account not the Health Savings account."

Yes, there is now a limit. On the other hand, you can now use them (and HSAs) for expenses for dependent children until they reach their 27th birthday. I would think this lowers the probability that one would fail to use, and therefore be forced to forfeit, the money thay've put into an FSA.

dhogaza said...

"It does appear as though he included all households filing regardless of the legal organization of the business."

Yes, it does. And there's a surprising number of high-earners who own businesses which *gross* less than $200K, indicating it's a side-business augmenting the person's income. And a bunch of other confusing slices at the data that make it difficult to tease out what real effects might be seen.

Anonymous said...

It is not a question of foreit of the money in FSA it is only being allowed to deposit $2500 vs $5000 thus increasing one's taxable income by $2500.

My children learn to be self suffiecient. The 21 year old is already off mommy and daddys insurance and is learning how to ben an adult at the appropriate time.

Krugman is an idiot as he thinks raising the top rate to 90% would work today and he points to the 1950s to support that arguement. That is idiocy and it does not matter that you appeal to the authority of a Nobel Prize from the distant past.

You can be a Krugram lemming all you want.

dhogaza said...

Too bad your kids couldn't make it into a PhD program.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

You know, I've generally found that when you call someone with a Nobel Prize an idiot, it means you don't know what you are talking about. And I've known a few Nobel laureates.

Anonymous said...

"Too bad your kids couldn't make it into a PhD program."

Too soon to tell.

Hopefully you don't have kids. And if you do I prayer they can walk upright.

Anonymous said...

You know, I've generally found that when you refuse to apply critical thinking skills, because someone has an award or letters at the end of their name, you are a lemming and a bot.

Regardless of who states it, revertin g back to a 90% top tax rate in this global economy is idiocy.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

You are aware that Krugman is not advocating returning to the tax rates of the 50's, 60's and 70's. He is using those rates as a data point which supports the the hypothesis that top tax rates don't affect overall economic performance. A hypothesis which was supported by a recent Congressional Research Service report; a report which was, sadly, suppressed by the Republicans in Congress because they didn't like what it said.

EliRabett said...

Kerry Mullis

Anonymous said...

"the hypothesis that top tax rates don't affect overall economic performance. "

Then why raise them? Oh to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt. At best the rate increase will yield $80 billion in revenue, I am still waiting to hear how that balances a $1 trillion deficit and pays down the debt?

If you are for raising taxes to fix the deficit problem than propose the tax increases that will actually have some impact.

Meanwhile true spending cuts will never happen and in a few years you will all want to raise taxes again and again, and again.

It's a spending problem.

willard said...

Look, a trillion squirrels!

dhogaza said...

"Then why raise them? Oh to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt. At best the rate increase will yield $80 billion in revenue, I am still waiting to hear how that balances a $1 trillion deficit and pays down the debt?"

Silly argument. Applied repetitively one reaches the conclusion that no one should pay no taxes at all, because no individual slice of the revenue pie constitutes the whole.

dhogaza said...

"It's a spending problem."

No, it's a revenue vs. spending problem. Don't be stupid.

Anonymous said...

"Silly argument"

If you are for raising taxes to fix the deficit problem than propose the tax increases that will actually have some impact.

No it's a spending problem.

David B. Benson said...

I don't know why I bother to read these he said, she said comments.


J Bowers said...

I heard Eisenhower taxed top earners at 90%. I also heard Eisenhower was the last Republican POTUS who presided over a balanced budget. Dems since, including surpluses. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Ah J Bowers the misguided figure of MSNBC fact finding. lol.

If there was a surplus then how come the national debt increased every year? oops.

Also the current POTUS has added more then $5 trillion to the debt.

I see idiocy is rampant here.

Anonymous said...

Obama's proposal is a joke. Raise taxes, we can talk about spending cuts in the future, and expand the power of the executive branch more than Bush ever dreamed of.

Rodent Run lemmings coming out to support 100% in 3.2.1...

EliRabett said...

No look, a trillion loonies

ssully said...

Now, only four years since the greatest economic meltdown since the Depression, is a time to stimulate the economy, not eliminate the deficit. *That* is what Krugman has been saying all along, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Yes and Krugman is an idiot.

Please all just go look up the tax load today as % of GDP AND include state, local and payroll taxes all of which are signicantly larger then in the 1950s which has driven the % of GDP number past what it was in the 1950s.

Krugman's half truths about taxes only fool the lemmings who fawn over a Nobel for Global trade routes.

dhogaza said...

The NY Times just published an in-depth analysis of taxes paid today vs. after Reagan's 1986 tax reforms and demonstrates the obvious:

1. nearly everyone pays taxes at a lower rate than after the 1986 tax reforms were passed. This includes federal, state and local income, property, and sales taxes.

2. The 1986 changes under Reagan shifted the burden slightly from the better off to lower income workers, and that shift is even greater today.


"federal taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years. The Congressional Budget Officeestimated that federal taxes would consume just 14.8 percent of G.D.P. this year. The last year in which revenues were lower was 1950, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The postwar annual average is about 18.5 percent of G.D.P. Revenues averaged 18.2 percent of G.D.P. during Ronald Reagan‘s administration; the lowest percentage during that administration was 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984.

In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010."

Federal taxes as a percentage of GDP went up after 1950 because of the Korean War. Despite funding two wars began in the W administration, federal taxes as a percentage of GDP have been kept 20-25% lower than the average rate over the last 60+ years. Which is why we have such ballooning national debt, and which is why those who claim we have a "spending" problem vs. a revenue problem are just nuts with their puny little ostrich-brained heads buried in the sand.

Anonymous said...

You are once again ignoring state, local, and payroll taxes. They are taxes and they are paid.

Rattus Norvegicus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rattus Norvegicus said...


Can you even read? The NYT article includes aggregate figures as well as breakouts by category.

I think we are witnessing a prime example of what has been referred to as "epistemic closure".

David B. Benson said...

Still bickering, I see.

willard said...

A blast from my RSS reader, where Herbert Gintis reviews a book he described as "one sided, analytically confused, and driven by libertarian ideology":

> The "welfare state" that ruins our lives is the modern state that has virtually unlimited power to deliver goods and services outside the market framework, financed by the state's power of taxation. The book makes three major arguments. First, the state does not deliver services that are in the genral public interest, but rather supplies perks to special interest groups and places the burden of financing these perks on others, especially the general taxpayer. Second, taxpayers are not willing to fund these rent-seeking activities, so the state finances its expenditures by borrowing. Third, the build-up of burdensom levels of debt will eventually bankrupt the welfare state.

> The first two arguments are correct, **but are characteristics of the state in general**, not in particular the "welfare state." States, going back to the the thirteenth century, have always delivered perks to favored groups and forced others to foot the bill. And taxpayers have always resisted payment, forcing states to borrow to finance their follies.

> The third assertion is probably false. When debt reaches burdensom levels, states usually either inflate their currencies to devalue the debt, or they simply default. Both have negative effects of public welfare and economic growth.

Our emphasis.

Yes, Virginia, Herbert Gintis' Amazon reviews are so good they deserve to be tracked by your RSS reader.

EliRabett said...

Au contraire dear Willard,

The state delivers such things that are not in the public interest such as roads, bridges, health inspection of restaurants and in the last century, at least in the civilized world, retirement benefits and health care. Who would want that.

OTOH, the state, as a human thing is not perfect, and to get things to work there has to be some grease. States fail when there is too much grease.

Herbert Gintis's is your average scold who wants you to survive on a perfectly adequate diet of beans and rice (carrots being too good for the like of you). Most sensible folk would rather die

Anonymous said...

Eli how about Pennsylvania?

THe whole country continues to move towards the welfare state. And you applaud not even thinking what the are consequences?

Flakmeister said...


The welfare state you begrudge is a consequence of the kleptocracy of past 35 years that allowed senior management to pocket all of the productivity gains. So we now have a society where we have the ability to produce more than we can consume, the trick of financialization which allowed demand to be brought forward is at an end. A large segment of the population has been marginalized while a small minority has unduly prospered. That minority has choice, forego some of their earnings in the form of decent employment for the 99% or support them via a welfare state. It turns out that it is less costly to have a welfare state...