Assorted Links (7/20/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately: 

Taking apart the federal budget

“(Graphically) Explore the various facets of the government’s budget and see how revenues and spending have changed over time.” Basically, this is a lesson in real world public finance in only 5 slides!

Michael Boskin: Obama’s Economic Fish Stories –

“Michael Boskin writes in The Wall Street Journal that when it comes to unemployment, the president claims that the stimulus bill was several times more potent than his chief economic adviser estimates. Such statements hurt his credibility.”

Beware Greedy Relatives If You Hope to See 2011

Thanks to a quirk in the federal tax law, the estate tax this year is zero, but starting on Jan. 1 all taxable estates exceeding $1 million will be taxed at the rate of 55 percent. The author of this article notes that the perverse incentives may mean that “Plugs get unplugged, do-not-resuscitate orders are placed. Maybe worse.” Furthermore, there is an empirical literature which shows that monetary incentives influence death rates; specifically, “…a 2003 paper in the Review of Statistics and Economics by Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan and Wojciech Kopczuk of the University of British Columbia…examined the number of estate-tax returns immediately following changes in the law since 1916 and found that death rates change with the estate tax.”

Economics One: Government Policy and the Slowdown

Professor Taylor on the causes of (and the cure for) the slowing economy: “Like many economists, I am concerned about the slowdown in the economy which prolongs the high unemployment rate. I think uncertainty about the growing federal debt and the increased government interventions-from health care to financial markets…-is the cause of the slowdown. In my view the best stimulus right now would be a clear and credible plan to reduce the deficit and bring down the growing debt.”

Labor Pains — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“Europe’s taxes punish working outside the home, so Europeans don’t work as much as they would otherwise.”

Martin Feldstein: The ‘Tax Expenditure’ Solution for Our National Debt –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein says that the credits and subsidies that make the tax code so complicated cost big bucks. Reduce them by third and the debt will be 72% of GDP in 2020 instead of 90%.”

Bret Stephens: Why Hasn’t Israel Bombed Iran (Yet)? –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens says the military risks of a raid on Iran are large, but the political risks could be even bigger.”

Notable & Quotable –

“Reuel Marc Gerecht discusses how conversations about Islam in the U.S. have become boring, lightweight, and sometimes inane under the Obama administration.”

Michio Kaku: What We’ve Learned from the Gulf Spill –

“In the Wall Street Journal, Michio Kaku writes that in the future, relief wells should be drilled simultaneously with the main well.”

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