The Other McCain

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

Matt Yglesias: Solving Non-Problems

Posted on | January 3, 2014 | 88 Comments

Slate.com has become a journalistic ghetto, an “Amateur Online Webzine Specializing in Hit-Trolling and Outrage-Fishing,” as Ace calls it, and their “business and economics correspondent” (?) Matt Yglesias gets in the spirit with a 415-word item under this headline:

Why Taxing the Rich Is Great

Yglesias quotes one sentence from a New York Times article:

Matt Hlavin, an entrepreneur in Cleveland who owns seven businesses, mostly in manufacturing, bought three Mercedes last year: a $237,000 SLS AMG and a $165,000 S63 AMG for himself, and a $97,000 GL550 sport utility vehicle for his wife.

Yglesias then proceeds to argue — I’m sure you’re surprised — that it is a bad thing for Matt Hlavin to have three Mercedes.

That’s it. That’s all he’s got.

And when I say that Yglesias “argues” that it’s a bad thing for Hlavin to have three Mercedes, of course, I mean Yglesias just assumes this, and also assumes Slate.com’s readers share his contempt for Hlavin’s wealth and thus are eager to applaud Yglesias’s plan to expropriate and re-distribute Hlavin’s wealth:

[I]f you managed to give it to the truly needy in the United States, you’d create a huge surge in well-being. And of course if you were able to use it to reduce severe third-world poverty, the gains would be incredible. . . .
The kind of conspicuous consumption that drives people to buy a $165,000 S63 AMG is basically zero sum, whereas the kind of consumption that a family in the bottom half of the income distribution would finance with more money is not.

The assumptions embedded in Yglesias’s “argument” (which is not actually an argument at all) are enormous. He assumes, for example, that Hlavin and other wealthy people are fixed targets, whose economic behavior will not be modified by higher taxes. They’re supposed to keep earning at the same rate, no matter how steeply you increase the progressive taxes on their income. And, at a second degree of causation, Yglesias evidently never considers whether changes in the economic activity of the “rich” (however you define this) produced by higher taxation might also result in greater hardship for the poor.

The best anti-poverty program in the world is a job, after all, and if higher taxation of the rich results in less capital investment in business, there will be fewer jobs created. You can’t make capitalism work without capital, and Yglesias’s judgment that someone with three Mercedes has too much capital — too much wealth –requires a belief that excess wealth is an economic problem.

Why? Yglesias never adequately explains this. He simply assumes that Hlavin’s wealth is a problem and then proceeds to “solve” it, without any real consideration of obstacles to implementing his redistributionist policy, or the potential harms of such a policy:

 I’d say the taxation should focus on Hlavin’s consumption spending more than his income per se, and should be designed to especially hit activities with substantial environmental impacts. But the point is that taking the money Matt Hlavin is spending at the Mercedes dealership and giving it to other people is a huge winner.

Alternative proposal: If there were a tax on bullshit, Matt Yglesias could pay off the national debt by the end of the year.

 

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Comments

  • Rob Crawford

    You’re both echoing the loser “Robespierre”.

    The country is not done; its just in need of renewal.

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  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Yglesias has never been anything but a lying leftist tool. EVER.

    I used to be a big fan of NRO in the early days, but when the Short Pants Brigade over there kept telling me that the likes of Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Andrew Sullivan were “the new breed of intelligent, rational liberals with whom we can have an open and honest debate on the issues” I realized they were just a bunch of dumb kids.

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    The country is not done; its just in need of renewal.
    The country is not done; its just in need of renewal revolution.
    FTFY …

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    Next up at the guillotine … Monsieur Robespierre!

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    Slow (approved by Valerie Jarrett) news day …

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    One of the very reasons our founders put certain limitations on voting (sadly eliminated and sorely needed in my opinion!)

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    What would he think of my 15 year old Jaguar?

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    And costly.

  • http://deadrepublicanparty.wordpress.com/ rmnixondeceased

    The left suffers from endemic offendluenza.

  • Kevin O’Kelley

    RE: “Yglesias then proceeds to argue — I’m sure you’re surprised — that it is abad thing for Matt Hlavin to have three Mercedes.”
    Not if you’re a Mercedes salesman. Not if you’re a Mercedes mechanic. Not if you’re a mechanic that aspires to work at a Mercedes dealership. Not if you work in the automobile delivery business. …

    Those who do not learn from the lessons of history are just, well, stupid.

    Once upon a time we had a federal excise tax on luxury goods. It wasn’t very high, but we actually taxed high-priced automobiles, boats, and private planes. That way, the rich who invested their money or used their money to create businesses didn’t pay more, but those who bought expensive toys did pay more.

    We don’t have that tax anymore. It didn’t generate much — if any — revenue. If was high enough to prevent some people from buying expensive toys, and it was high enough to anger or discourage others. The result was that it hurt the luxury car market, drastically hurt the boat industry, and helped kill the private plane industry.

    And the people who really suffered, of course, were the not-so-rich people who built the boats and planes; along with the people who sold them, delivered them, and serviced them. I remember one lady that was interviewed by ABC who lost her job in a boat building company. She lost or sold her house, lost her savings, and was working two jobs to keep the family going. When the industry was expected to rebound when the tax was repealed, they offered to rehire her because she was a good worker. She was pleased, but she said, “My life has been ruined.”

  • PatDissent

    My idea (which I have been advocating for over two decades now) :

    ANYONE who advocates taking ANYTHING away from anyone else by force of government (be it wealth, health, or whatever) must immediately be arrested and taken to a hospital for immediate harvesting of organs.

    Why?

    My reasoning is sound and two-fold :

    1. We have many more people waiting on organ transplants lists than we have available organs.

    2. You have many built-in spares in your body, so by depriving someone else of the use of them, you are selfishly hoarding your surpluses.

    Therefore, otherwise healthy Liberals are selfishly depriving those in need of an otherwise healthy life. After all, if they have two perfectly functioning kidneys, but only need one, what else could that be but hoarding of a surplus?

    Funny thing is, EVERY Liberal I have confronted with this idea recoils in horror. I have no idea why, because it is the EXACT thing they wish to be forced on someone else. The only change is the medium of wealth; i.e. organs instead of monetary wealth.

    Damn fools. Every one of them deserves to be kicked in the nuts for being so damned stupid.

  • Finrod Felagund

    I will give NRO credit for this: they finally started swatting the trolls. Now it’s Daily Caller that’s the worst site about not doing anything about trolls.

  • DaveO

    I wonder how much profit Veep Joe Biden made renting his already paid-for (with taxpayer money) guesthouse to the Secret Service. Veep Joe uses the same argument as Scrooge when it comes to charity.
    How much have Barry and Michelle given to charity? Of their own money, I mean.

  • Todd Bridges

    The revolution you won’t see, that won’t happen.

  • Todd Bridges

    You are almost at the same result. Good night, sweet prince.

  • Todd Bridges

    Maybe go take a walk, or see the sunset one last time.

  • Todd Bridges

    Like a poll tax? Make sure that only the elites vote because they know what is best for us? Why don’t you run for office? Oh yeah……

  • Quartermaster

    Exactly! That’s why it’s done.

  • moses

    a 99.5% tax on earned interest to the tune of trillions isn’t enough?

  • moses

    1/3rd of the world is obese. There is no winning the war on poverty as long as it is defined as the bottom 1/6th. Upward mobility and amount of governance are inversely related.
    The governments in the first world are the largest: employers, consumers, lenders, borrowers, landlords, tenants and most human beings single largest dependent-they control the means to production. This is epic global fail socialism and there is no spinning out of it.

  • A Caveman

    Funny how the target is never Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or George Soros.
    .
    All of whom have more houses than this guy does cars.

  • Sally Smith

    Why should he have three toilets when many people in poor countries don’t even have one?

    Obama supporters will go hysterical over this well sourced list of 504 examples of his lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc. http://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/obama-252/

  • Sally Smith

    Why should he get to go to Harvard when there are other people who can’t even read? That’s not fair!!!!!

  • Todd Bridges

    There’s more economical vehicles out there, Mr. “I’ve Been Bankrupted.

  • Wombat_socho

    He was actually referring to the property requirement, you ignorant fool. LURK MOAR.

  • Todd Bridges

    That’s nice. But my comment was more about the second two sentences than the first two. A little rub between Paulie and I.

  • Wombat_socho

    The American Spectator is no prize either.

  • Wombat_socho

    The Left has learned not to bite the hand that feeds them.

  • Wombat_socho

    Take it somewhere else. I’m not amused, I doubt anyone else is either, and I haven’t banned anyone this week. Yet.

  • La Pucelle

    You smacked against Poe’s Law pretty hard there, monsieur.

    We’re discussing imbeciles who think 1984 is an instruction manual rather than a cautionary tale, for pity’s sake.

  • Wombat_socho

    …and you’re done here.

  • Todd Bridges

    How sweet. Conservatives are always the same.

    And I’ll be back :)

  • Cube

    The Libs are horrified that you expect them to personally pay the costs of the foolish ideas they advocate. The Ruling Class is too important to have to give up anything, don’t you know? Sacrifice is for the little people.

    Besides, they’re Smarter Than You (TM) and therefore know best who should be forced to surrender what they have.

  • PatDissent

    Ok, so now that we know the little hypocrite isn’t giving up HIS material wealth, ‘splain sumpin to me, Loozy :

    Why doesn’t every “Conservative” pundit with air-time, radio-time, or a column-inch incessantly HAMMER him until he parts with a substantial percentage of it? It’s not that hard. No matter what question you are asked, just respond with :

    “Go ask Matt Yglesias why he thinks everyone BUT him should give up their hard-earned material wealth. Get him to answer that, then I will be happy to answer YOUR question.”

    The crazy-assed Liberals think we are a cabal, so maybe we should start acting like one by presenting a unified front. We will answer questions when the MSM gets off their lazy asses and starts confronting the hypocrites in their own ranks.

    It serves two purposes :

    1. It takes away any ammunition the Liberals would get to beat you over the head with.

    2. It will drive Liberals even more bat-shit crazy than they already are.

    Do I need more of a reason than that last one?

  • Wombat_socho

    And I’ll ban you again until you figure out you’re not wanted here.

  • Patrick Carroll

    Is his wealth “hard-earned?”

    You know, the whole “don’t attribute to malice what can be ‘splained by cluelessness” thing.

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