Friday, April 29, 2016

Noah Smith, Bernard Sanders and Poverty in Japan

Noah Smith writes a pertinent article but seems to miss a big point:

The fact of growing poverty in Japan shows that poverty is not causing the things Democrats say are caused by it, but that a third factor is probably causing both relatively low income in the USA and the problems associated with the same.

Once again I will link to a story about he poorest country in the USA and point out that you see none of typical problems there.

And to this about a guy who lives in San Fransisco on $7,000/year  he evidently needs no living wage.

The Amish and Mennonites have low income too, without the problems associated.

These show that it is not about money or schooling, considering the groups above like to drop out of school early, though it might be about education (most of which occurs out of school).

I know some guys who so much more desired to sit home and drink or get high to working that more income would have negative social effects. I would like it if the country worked a little better for them but the solutions Democrats propose do not fit with that purpose.

I also know some people who manage to get along well on very little and so who do not get along very well on much more.

I have known folks on assistance who really needed it and benefited from it, so I am not all one way but let's not be naive.

The whole subject is fascinating to me.

BTW Bernie Sanders talks at lot about taking money from the rich and spending it on the middle-class and much less about spending it on the relatively poor, is that because he recognizes the above points? Maybe it is not just that they do not vote.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Robert Frank on Luck and Dilligence

Robert Frank on Luck and Diligence

I like Robert Frank and I want to agree with him and I like a progressive consumption tax but I think he is badly off on Education and infrastructure.

I just read that USA infrastructure is good, better than it has ever been.

AND middle of the pack for the industrialized countries. That matches with my experience also. How much does the U.S. spend on infrastructure compared to the rest of the world?
It's in the middle of the pack. Between 2001 and 2011, annual public investment averaged 3.3 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The average OECD nation spent 3 percent of GDP over the same period.
AND anyway transportation is only 3% of the federal budget doubling spending on it would not be that big a deal.

AND further more, roads should be paid for with the gasoline taxes and airport with usage fees to the airlines.
  Frank and I really disagree on education. I think school spending should be cut in half. Spending above 1965 levels seems to not have much effect.

Related excerpt:   
The achievement decline cannot be blamed on inadequate spending. Between 1960 and 1995, annual per pupil spending in the United States rose from $2,122 to $6,434 in inflation-adjusted 1995 dollars.3 By 1999, the United States was spending an average of $7,397 per K–12 student. Spending in other industrialized countries averaged $4,850. Only Switzerland, at $8,194 per pupil, spent more than the United States.4 In industrialized countries, student scores on the Third International Mathematics and Science Studies tests are uncorrelated with spending. Though per capita U.S. spending is high and the academic achievement of its fourth-graders is above average, its eighth-graders score in the middle of the pack, and twelfth-grade achievement is consistently among the lowest of the countries studied.
Even Franks example:
and if they do that and I don't do that, then my kid goes to the school with a metal detector out front.

That is bad students not bad schools. I went to schools with metal detectors and they were good schools with some bad students. You cannot get away from bad students! In the "bad school" that I went to teachers would bend over backwards to help any student who showed a little interest I think because so few students did.

Here is a related blog post by me.
Also I think we could get to a progressive consumption tax by removing the cap on the IRA and removing the penalties for early withdrawal and taxing people on any earnings not put in the IRA plus any withdrawals from the IRA.

Finally we USAers are a great and wild and diverse lot. We are not all northern Europeans and the northern European model does not even work so well in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. My mothers family is from Sicily and they brought with them a little of Sicilian attitudes and paranoia. Those attitudes seems to hang on through the generations. Those types of attitudes make the northern European model not work. As it seems to not even work so well for Arabs in Belgium and France.

I say considering the mix of people we have the USA does incredibly well. Much better than the Northern European model would work here. Continued immigration may eventually make it fail even in Northern Europe.