Economics @ ITT

Big Unemployment, the New Normal?

Posted in economics, employment, macroeconomics, Policy Issues, Regulation, Taxation by ittecon on July 9, 2013

I tried to respond to a post by Don Peppers responding to this article, but LinkedIn limits the character count. I quote Don’s post here for context.

It’s common knowledge that LESS government, LESS regulation, and LOWER marginal tax rates will all improve employment. Unfortunately, the politics of envy is irresistible to some, and there are very few politicians on either side of the aisle who will vote for less of anything related to the government.

It may be common knowledge that less of these things might increase employment, but this favours a local maxima at the expense of a global maxima. It is the typical short-term benefit with a long-term detriment. Still, this argument and its subarguments are specious. I won’t even give any more attention to the dubious official unemployment figure definition and methodology.

Less government is a vague term. What government? Fewer dog-catchers? Interesting how, ad reductio, this becomes an argument for anarchy.

As for regulations, business favours regulations that shield it from the public and markets; intellectual property “rights” come to the top of my mind. Government (or a quasi-government acting entity) are necessary so as not to devolve into a situation where warlords rule. Afghanistan comes to mind. I could imagine a football match with no rules or regulations. Even rugby and UFC have rules, as do wars.

In economic terms, the lower marginal taxes argument is patently false (without even delving into marginal verse effective territory). Laffer’s concept is not false in and of itself, but it fails on two accounts. First, we can agree that at some point lowering marginal tax rates will create positive incentives, but it doesn’t follow this is true at all levels. Empirically, we can easily determine that we are below that point. On a practical level, this not only means that a reduction with not have positive effects; there will be negative effects. Second, the primary driver to hiring is demand for products or services (or at least the prospect thereof). A marginal tax rate of zero has no impact if no one is purchasing what I am offering.

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