U.S. government spending—back to the 1930s

In popular lore, government looms large in the economy. This is mostly because it has assumed more transfer functions. In contrast, the function of governing itself, and the expense associated with it, was by 2011 smaller than at any time since the 1930s. . . . → Read More: U.S. government spending—back to the 1930s

Summer travels, short-term travails, and long-term prospects

The U.S. is too deeply mired in its problems to expect quick economic relief. Europe’s economies are withering away. The growth spurt in southeast Asia is sliding. Africa, Latin America, and Oceania are too small to boost the world economy. It’s all a bit bleak. Yet there is hope. . . . → Read More: Summer travels, short-term travails, and long-term prospects

You’re (NOT) welcome

Which service costs you more in taxes and fees than in the actual cost of the service? Answer: Airline flights. For an upcoming trip, I paid US$492.82 in taxes and fees for a US$462.25 flight. The government Moloch needs slaying. . . . → Read More: You’re (NOT) welcome

The Confusion of the Economically Discontented

The world is awash in a wave of demonstrations by the economically discontented. I am amazed at some of the folly I hear. The world financial and subsequent economic crisis was only proximally caused by business and its bankers. The ultimate blame lies with (re)election-greedy politicians and with their ignorant voters. What we need is more “free” market economics, not less of it. . . . → Read More: The Confusion of the Economically Discontented

The IRS Data Book, 2010

In the battle over federal government expenditure, taxes, and debt ceilings, what does the federal government’s tax collection agency, the Internal Revenue Service, do? Have a look with me at the Internal Revenue Service Data Book, 2010. . . . → Read More: The IRS Data Book, 2010

Social Returns to Public Spending

U.S. states still are cutting – and gutting – their state budgets in order to bring spending in line with reduced tax revenue. Legislators appears to go after high-dollar expenditures to cut, rather than to cut items with low social returns to taxpayers’ money. . . . → Read More: Social Returns to Public Spending

The Terrible 2000s Come to an End

For the United States, the decade of the 2000s has been politically and economically terrible. Here is a review, and hopeful wishes for a better decade of the 2010s. . . . → Read More: The Terrible 2000s Come to an End

A Tale of Two Countries: Botswana and Zimbabwe

From 1960 to 2007, Botswana’s average economic output has grown by a factor of more than 11; in contrast, Zimbabwe is poorer in 2007 than it was in 1960. . . . → Read More: A Tale of Two Countries: Botswana and Zimbabwe

April 15—Tax Day

This column presents a nearly 50-year look at federal, state, and local government receipts. What is the level of receipts, and who bears the tax burden? The answers may surprise you. . . . → Read More: April 15—Tax Day

Government Finances

A look at 46 years of data on U.S. federal, state, and local receipts and outlays. . . . → Read More: Government Finances

In Praise of Inefficient Government?

Privatization of government services is still all the rage. Why, then, does so much government still exist? Is it merely because politicians and bureaucrats like the power they have, or are there deeper reasons? An unusual column to ponder as you file your income-tax declaration this month. . . . → Read More: In Praise of Inefficient Government?

An Independent Fed Needs to be Complemented by an Independent Council of Economic Advisers

My proposal is to hand the nation’s fiscal policy decisionmaking powers to a revamped CEA. Like Fed governors, CEA members should be appointed for nonrevokable and nonrenewable 14-year terms, and its chair should be its chief spokesperson on fiscal policy. Its powers would include to set an annual federal budget spending limit and to set the nation’s debt limit. . . . → Read More: An Independent Fed Needs to be Complemented by an Independent Council of Economic Advisers