Friday, May 30, 2014

Observations on current economic issues

1. Inequality-- currently reading Piketty book on Capital in the 21st Century ; his solutions aren't realistic, even if he's right.

 Also I'm not completely sold- I don't want to kill the "golden goose" to achieve greater equality. At least Piketty seems to recognize that Communism which had to be totalitarian in its implementation wasn't a good idea.

 However, other than taxation, he doesn't seemed to have another solution. Still have the issue of human nature. I just returned from China. Capitalist drive is apparent everywhere; even at the cost of social welfare and political freedom. Has real Communism worked anywhere?

 I understand how taxation reduces the high end after tax income and helps the bottom , but how does it raise middle class incomes?

Also Piketty admits that inequality on a global basis has actually been reduced. It's just a current problem in rich western economies. He seems to be less concerned about raising income taxes (although he would, but says it doesn't raises much money) . Rather he feels the way to go is a global wealth tax.

 Interesting letter to editor of NYT that under our current system everyone is living a better standard of living and the criticisms are essentially about complaining that some are making too much.Those who are doing the most complaining are to sort of rich about the very very rich.

 2. I've been concerned about this issue for quite some time but believe it's more about the widening gap between the "haves" and "have nots", as opposed to the 1% v. the 99%. Many people have prospered beyond the 1%, while many others have fallen farther behind.

 My solutions are to strengthen private sector unions and rein in executive compensation through shareholder action. However this leave the pure capitalist alone, which I believe is the best that can be done in a free society.

 Taxation of capital would reduce wealth, but the concern is whether it will reduce growth and hurt everyone. Inheritance taxes with generous exemptions for the less than ultra rich is also a way to reduce inequality on a  generational basis.

 3. Guaranteed Minimum Income. Helps the bottom, but does nothing for the middle. Still in a very wealthy nation like ours it sounds like a good idea. By eliminating the vast bureaucracy ( Q loss of jobs) and most current welfare programs, it might even be an economic wash.

Should be appealing to the Left and the Right.

 4. Global, but national corporation versus national governments. Latest example of France objecting to GE buying French high tech company. Also US drug company trying to buy UK company and change domicile to UK or Ireland to reduce corporate taxes. Nationalism, local jobs, taxation-- complex mix for global corporations and governments.