Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Defending The One Percent"

This paper (named with the title above) by Greg Mankiw was pretty interesting. A few thoughts that stood out to me...

Negative thought: It seems like bad framing when, after presenting the story of an equal society that became less equal in a way that benefited everyone, he says "How should the entrepreneurial disturbance in this formerly egalitarian outcome alter public policy? Should public policy remain the same, because the situation was initially acceptable and the entrepreneur improved it for everyone? Or should government policymakers deplore the resulting inequality and use their powers to tax and transfer to spread the gains more equally?". This ignores the more utilitarian answer. You can want to spread the gains through tax/transfer due to declining marginal utility, in which case it doesn't mean the new inequality is "deplored" but rather opens an opportunity to make yet another improvement to the overall situation.

Positive thought: He makes a good point when saying that, if the rising wealth of the top one percent is primarily due to rent-seeking, then it would be best to pursue policy that stops the rent-seeking rather than just try to redistribute the income after the fact.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Birth Control vs Abortion

I saw this on Vox today, which is just another data point that overwhelmingly shows that more teenage education/access to birth control reduces teen pregnancies, and therefore reduces abortions. Which is interesting for the generic social conservative who wants both an abstinence-only approach to teenage sex and believes abortion is murder. There is a trade-off between those two policy positions. If you believe abortion is murder, is it really worth pushing for abstinence-only policies which will lead to more abortions?

People are very good at believing what they want to believe. So is this trade-off ignored to keep reality as simple as they want it to be? Or do they not truly believe abortion is as bad as they say?