Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Unequal Equation

Someone let Megan McArdle near a calculator again. Let's document the atrocities.

Like my colleague Derek, I played with the New York Times deficit calculator, and this is what I came up with: allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire,

To starve the government, supposedly to eliminate the deficit even though it would be a very bad mistake for the government to stop spending while consumers have also stopped spending. How is the economy supposed to recover if nobody but the Super-rich can afford to spend money?

eliminating or modifying major tax subsidies like the employer health insurance deduction, and cutting all manner of subsidies.

We would love to see this happen, especially if McArdle's employer stops paying for her health insurance. No doubt she'd go without, as she did in the past. I hear having a baby while you are high-risk is very affordable!

I could have gone farther, but I deliberately left most military spending alone--not because I think it shouldn't be cut, but because I have absolutely no idea how many ships the US should have, or what the consequences would be of cutting their number.

Odd. Ignorance never stopped her before.

On the other hand, I'm relatively comfortable with my grasp of what would happen if we eliminated farm subsidies.

Your farmer relations would do away with you and bury you in the back pasture?

In fact, I generated too much in savings; we now have large surpluses in 2018 and 2030. Tax cut for everyone! Or, er, more public parks!

So funny! Because the rich need more tax cuts. How about increasing their taxes instead?

There's just one small problem, which is that this is completely politically infeasible--any politician who tried to enact my plan would be carried away by villagers waving pitchforks long before he'd finished reading off the list of tax increases and budget cuts.

It wouldn't be the villagers getting the tax cuts, it would be the aforementioned rich. And what about tax increases for the group of people whose taxes are at historical lows?

Heh, just foolin'. We know that if the Super-rich are forced to suffer the indignation of paying more for their services they will go Galt, depriving us of the benefits of their financial innovations and off-shore factories. It would be much better to eliminate the safety net instead, so we can finish our bat-out-of-hell race to third world status.


Anonymous said...

The point of the calculator was to show people, voters, that their leaders are lying to them about the choices we face. Megan grasps, finally, for a second that there are lots of ways to getting to a "balanced budget" or to surplus, if that is your goal, and that each part of that leads to better or worse outcomes for different people. That would be the beginning of wisdom: she'd actually have to choose up sides. Grandma or Paris Hilton? Ethanol or Eternal Warfare? And then she punts. And she punts to something outside her own ruling class "politically infeasible." This won't prevent her, next time around, from insisting that her party and her buddies who want the tax cuts damn the expense are thinking rightthink. She'll just throw up her hands and start muttering about how "the people" don't want to see their taxes go up and how social security is "in danger."


Susan of Texas said...

This libertarian gig is golden. You don't have to be consistent, have workable plans, consider consequences, or deal with real-world problems.

Batocchio said...

The NYTimes calculator is pretty cool (and some of the related articles are good), even though it doesn't allow you to really tax the rich their fair share. It does show, though, how little actually needs to be done to balance the budget and how crappy and dishonest most establishment proposals are (esp. the GOP ones). It's not surprising that almost all of McMegan's choices screw over the middle class and poor while sucking up to the plutocrats.