In October, 2017, the Washington Post published a very strange series of articles about the recipients of disability benefits in the United States. The entire series is worth reading for various reasons, but I want to direct your attention to one particular entry: After the check is gone. The principal character in the article, Donna Jean Dempsey, collects aluminum cans … [Read more...] about Means-testing and Appalachian roots
Baumol's cost disease is one of the simplest ideas in economic theory, but I experience it as a kind of brain worm: once you know about it, you see evidence of it virtually everywhere. You can read the Wikipedia page as well as I can, but this is how I think about Baumol's cost disease: If productivity is increasing economy-wide, labor costs have to rise in sectors where … [Read more...] about Learning to love Baumol’s cost disease
I've been following with interest the evolving crisis over the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, not because it affects me in any way but because it's less depressing than the American political system which I still have to rely on for my health insurance, retirement security, food safety, and environmental hygiene. However, the Brexit crisis has led me to … [Read more...] about Why have capitalists lost faith in capitalism?
At least not the way you want it to. I've been thinking a lot lately about two related stories that recently crossed my desk. In one, our top Chinese scientists are apparently genetically engineering babies "with the goal of making the babies resistant to infection with H.I.V." The second is simply headlined, "Deformities Alarm Scientists Racing to Rewrite Animal … [Read more...] about Human Genetic Engineering Can’t Work
Over the course of 2018 we've seen increasing clarity about the so-called "Opportunity Zones" included in the Republican smash-and-grab tax heist of 2017. Over at Alpha Architect they have an excellent breakdown of the tax advantages of these investment vehicles, so I'll stick to the roughest possible outline: taxable capital gains (e.g. from the sale of an appreciated … [Read more...] about “Opportunity Zones” are a terrible idea, poorly implemented, but big ambitious policies can and do work