The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

A Reverse Piven Strategy?

Posted on | January 30, 2011 | 5 Comments

by Smitty

Tyler Cowen’s little book, “The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better” is interesting, but I’m nonplussed by this notion:

Right-wing ideas, in their least viable forms, have become more popular in this political environment. From the American right, tax cuts are one way to raise incomes immediately, and so politicians market tax cuts to voters. Shortsighted voters usually favor tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts. So, in the short run, real incomes will be higher, but we’re just running up debt and postponing and indeed intensifying our dissatisfaction.

This is among the prime irritants of the Progressive Faith (not to accuse Prof. Cowen of adherence, mind you): a blind acceptance that the status quo is somehow proper, and a confinement of discussion to a small enough time frame to make it all seem ‘normal’.
The notion that tax cuts are merely a populist power ploy misses the point that the federal over-reach has been achieved by trampling the spirit of the Constitution in a systematic way over the last century. Sure, the ignorance of the people and the SCOTUS have been fig leaves for the problem. Also, one would be unsurprised to discover that the math involved in tax cutting has been dodgy.  Fine.  However, if intellectual (“It won’t work”)and historical (“We’re pissing on liberty”) appeals fail, then what should be done?
The tax cutting approach, possibly, will be viewed in retrospect as a “reverse Piven” strategy. Instead of establishing a guaranteed national income, break the input to the national income on the front end.
In the information age, liberty should abound, not be sacrificed to bureaucracy.


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