From the American Enterprise Institute, 10 tax myths corrected by charts and graphs.
Donald Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek with a thoughtful and thought-provoking response to a question about whether women should receive equal pay for “equal work.”
24 September 2012
Ms. Annie M__________
Southwest High School
Dear Ms. M____________:
Thanks so much for your e-mail and kind words about Cafe Hayek. Russ Roberts and I are delighted that you and your family enjoy it.
Your teacher asks you to challenge me to give “one good reason why the law should not require that women be paid the same as men for the same work.” I’m happy to oblige. There are many good reasons, but I’ll here stick to one.
That one reason is that it’s practically impossible for government officials to determine when two jobs involve “the same work.” What might look like the same work to outside observers – to government officials, lawyers, or even the workers themselves – might well be very different work.
Is the worker Mr. Smith more experienced than the worker Ms. Jones? Is Mr. Smith less likely than is Ms. Jones to take time off of work to care for children or sick parents? Is Mr. Smith less likely than is Ms. Jones to quit in order to move with a spouse to another city? Is Mr. Smith a bit more helpful than is Ms. Jones with customers? Is Mr. Smith slightly more willing than is Ms. Jones to stay on the job a few extra minutes after the workday officially ends in order to help with important unfinished business?
These questions – and many others like them – are important. Yet in the real world no outside observer is in as good a position to answer them as is each individual employer. Not that every employer always gets it right, but every employer does have strong incentives to get it right. If an employer underpays a woman, some other firm can increase its profits by hiring her away at higher pay.
Suppose that the law your teacher endorses were applied to the market for women’s dresses. Would that be good? Your teacher – to be consistent – must answer “yes.” After all, why should one dress that keeps its wearer clothed sell for a different price as another dress that does the “same work” – namely, keeps its wearer clothed?
Ask your teacher if she supports equal prices for equal-sized dresses.
If she replies that not all dresses of the same size are equal in value to one another, ask her – politely, of course – how she knows this fact to be true. Ask her why market prices for dresses should be trusted as signals of the different qualities or ‘values’ of dresses, while market wages for human labor should not be trusted as signals of the different qualities or ‘values’ of workers.
Ask your teacher also if she would trust government officials to judge whether or not, say, a size 2 knee-length dress from Liz Claiborne provides services to its buyers that are “equal” to those supplied by a size 2 knee-length dress from Versace. If, as I suspect, she feels uneasy about bureaucrats making such a determination about the relative value of dresses, ask her why she trusts bureaucrats to make the same sort of determination about the relative value of human labor.
(If she likes the idea of bureaucrats sitting in judgment on the appropriate prices of dresses, write to me again. The conversation will then have to be much different.)
Good luck, Annie. Let me know what happens.
From the American Enterprise Institute, 10 tax myths corrected by charts and graphs. Here’s the second: The U.S. income tax is more progressive than it used to be.
SAT Scores were in the news today – evidently reading scores are at a 40 year low. Here’s a graph that shows the relationship between education spending and SAT scores. Maybe we should acknowledge that the system isn’t working and spend our time trying to come up with a new model rather than continue to throw money at the problem, hire teachers without thinking it through, and test kids until we’re overwhelmed with meaningless data.
From the American Enterprise Institute, 10 tax myths corrected by charts and graphs. Here’s the first: The U.S. Income Tax is very progressive (meaning higher incomes pay a higher rate of tax).
I love this play. I’ve seen it a number of times, and I have to admit I’ve viewed the news about an upcoming movie version of the musical play with not a little trepidation. Seeing this on YouTube has alleviated some of my worries. Now I’m looking forward to seeing the screen version!
I mean this is really bad news. A worldwide bacon shortage!
Maybe the Mayans saw this coming in their end of the world prophesies. Those who pray at the temple of bacon could see their world crumbling to bacon bits this winter.
A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is “now unavoidable,” a British industry group said in a press release.
Britain’s National Pig Association (NPA) says that pig herds in Europe are shrinking. As if that isn’t bad enough, this trend is “being mirrored around the world,” the group says in the release. Drought conditions, especially in the U.S. and Russia, have taken a toll on the price of the grain crops used for animal feed, and world food prices are expected to reach record highs in 2013.
The number of slaughtered pigs could drop by as much as 10 percent in the second half of next year, the NPA says. This would double the price of European pork and pork products.
The NPA is advising supermarkets to pay Britain’s pig farmers a fair price to counter the high price of feed or “risk empty spaces on their shelves next year,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.
In the United States, CBS Chicago reports that the price of pork belly has increased to $1.40 a pound in August, up from June’s price of 94 cents a pound.
From The Gateway Pundit:
Today Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax returns.
He paid $1.9 million in taxes — an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, the same as Obama.
This didn’t make all of the reports but the couple gave just over $4 million to charity – 30% of their income.
Many conservatives argue that we believe that compassion and charity are best done through private methods, and not through government and the coercive nature of taxation. There are many reasons for this belief, and I am one of those who think that.
It’s nice to see that Mitt Romney puts his considerable money where his mouth is. By the way, if you add the 30% he gave to others to the 14% he paid in income tax, that’s a total of 44% of his income that is not being used for his personal benefit. Those darn greedy “one percenters!” Somehow I doubt many of his critics can even come close to that level of giving.
From The Gateway Pundit:
Finally some truth about the hard realities of Medicare. And the guts to say it to AARP:
Today, our nation faces a political turning point. Government mismanagement and political cowardice are threatening both sides of LBJ’s pledge. Seniors are threatened by Obamacare, a law that would force steep cuts to real benefits in real time for real people. Meanwhile, younger Americans are burdened by an ever-growing national debt and a diminished future.
Here’s the good news: By embracing common-sense reforms now, we can get ahead of the problem and keep the promises people have organized their lives around. If we reform Medicare for my generation, we can protect it for those in or near retirement today.
The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds. It weakens Medicare for today’s seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation. First, it funnels $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. Second, it puts 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare’s future. Let’s talk about each in turn.
You should read the whole speech – here’s a link. One report said Mr. Ryan was booed at the beginning, but as he went on, the crowd got noticeably quieter. Truth hurts sometimes.