Some of my best friends are hippies

Here’s Noah Smith, who for some strange reason Paul Krugman recently labeled a “good guy”:

.  .  . monetarists like Scott Sumner often spend a lot of time “punching hippies” on every issue other than monetary policy, trying to avoid being tarred as hippies themselves for their lack of fear of inflation. (Note to Sumner: This strategem has quite noticeably failed to convince most conservatives to support anything remotely resembling NGDP targeting.)

Yeah.  That’s why I’ve advocated carbon taxes, universal health care, progressive taxes to redistribute income, drug legalization, more immigration, etc. I’m hoping to piss off all those hippies and win over the conservatives.  (Memo to young bloggers–wait until you are at least 50 years old before trying to judge the motives of other bloggers.)

But the second statement is what really set me off.  When I started blogging I had no expectation of having any impact at all.  After all I’m at Bentley (which is a college, not a car.) I still don’t really know how much impact I’ve had, but no one can deny that NGDP targeting has become the hot idea in macro, with lots of supporters on both the left and the right.  I’ve recently done not one but two NGDP targeting papers for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center (the 2nd on NGDP futures is coming out very soon), and you see lots of conservative journalists jumping on the NGDP targeting bandwagon.  I’ve also done pieces for Cato, AEI, the Adam Smith Institute, etc.  Yes, I’ve failed to convince Taylor, Feldstein, and Meltzer, but I’m seeing lots of interest from younger academics.   Noah Smith should check out my email inbox.

It’s clear to me that old monetarism is dying.  It might be replaced by Austrianism, but I believe that bright young conservative academics will find market monetarism to be more appealing.

PS.  Otherwise Noah’s post is mostly right, except he gives the unwashed masses too much credit in focusing on the redistribution effects of stabilization policy.

PPS.  I’ll bet I own more Bob Dylan albums that Noah.

HT:  Saturos.


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46 Responses to “Some of my best friends are hippies”

  1. Gravatar of colin colin
    18. July 2013 at 09:22

    What happens when you’re 50? Everyone’s mailed a Leo Strauss Secret Motive Decoder ring?

  2. Gravatar of brendan brendan
    18. July 2013 at 09:33

    What BS from Noah. Most economists influence absolutely no one. A small minority provide partisan fodder, pushing folks who already agree with them to further extremes. And the smallest minority actually change minds towards the truth. Scott’s blatantly in that last category.

    Example. I always thought Dave Henderson over at EconLog was a bit of an ideologue, stuck in his beliefs. Scott changed Henderson’s mind on money matters.

  3. Gravatar of Becky Hargrove Becky Hargrove
    18. July 2013 at 09:42

    …And on a lighter note, Morgan has never been afraid to hang out with hippies either, even if he gives them a hard time!

  4. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    18. July 2013 at 09:43

    PPS. I’ll bet I own more Bob Dylan albums that Noah.

    I’ll bet you own them on vinyl, too.

  5. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    18. July 2013 at 10:05

    He’s only hurting his own credibility.

    We should not be surprised that he is following the PK ad hominem style: as far as I can see, there is no downside to bad faith analysis and personal attacks – we still treat the bad faith as somehow separate from their “serious” analysis.

    If they show bad faith in trivial matters, I suspect that they are also showing bad faith in their economic analysis.

    If PK and NS want to behave like clowns, then I for one believe them. Goodbye credibility.

  6. Gravatar of D D
    18. July 2013 at 10:05

    You do have to commend Noah for getting through that entire post without saying “derp”

  7. Gravatar of J J
    18. July 2013 at 10:09

    Professor Sumner,

    With regards to convincing the likes of Taylor and Meltzer…

    I’m sure they will never be convinced. Similarly, Krugman will never be convinced that Japan wasn’t in a liquidity trap or that the US isn’t in a liquidity trap. But, that doesn’t matter. There are many issues (drug legalization, free trade, and switching to consumption taxes) that are well accepted amongst most economists but are far from being politically feasible. On the other hand, in the past, sometimes one economist (Laffer) has had a major political influence. You have been successful where it counts; NGDP targeting is definitely getting traction in the political/central banker world.

  8. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. July 2013 at 10:23

    ‘After all I’m at Bentley (which is a college, not a car.)’

    I’m honored.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    18. July 2013 at 10:37

    colin, I said at least 50, preferably 100 years old.

    Thanks Brendan and J,

    Saturos. Have they replaced vinyl?

    D, Thank God for that!

  10. Gravatar of rbl rbl
    18. July 2013 at 10:45

    Noah is conflating Krugman punching and hippie punching. The thing is, later in the same post he talks about the unnecessary polarization of stabilization policy. It is quite possible to be a monetarist and be in favor of serious gov’t wealth redistribution, single payer, etc. I suspect that if Sumner and Krugman were locked in a room and told to come up with a list of policy reforms that they can both agree on, the list would be rather long. Noah generally is pretty good, but his hip, snarky persona occasionally leads to comments like the one in question.

  11. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    18. July 2013 at 10:47

    Back on June 20, 1999, someone wrote, under the title ‘Stop worrying and learn to love inflation’;

    ‘Japan, having fallen in its liquidity trap – unable to recover by means of conventional monetary policy, because even a zero interest rate is not low enough – and having exhausted its ability to spend its way out with budget deficits, must now radically expand its money supply. It must convince savers and investors that its current deflation will turn into sustained, though modest, inflation. Once the Japanese make up their mind to do this, the results will startle them.

    ‘….For advanced countries, the solutions to these problems do not seem to involve any especially painful trade-offs. There is no economic evidence suggesting that inflation at the 2 per cent rate that seems appropriate for Europe and the US, or even the 4 per cent rate I believe Japan should target, does any noticeable harm; and the things advanced countries need to do to counter depression economics do not involve any compromise of the commitment to free markets.’

    The piece finished with;

    ‘In 1930, John Maynard Keynes wrote that “we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand”. The true scarcity in his world – and ours – was therefore not of resources, or even virtue, but understanding.’

    Anyone need three guesses, who?

  12. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    18. July 2013 at 11:00

    “Noah Smith should check out my email inbox.”

    Maybe Noah Smith, Agent already has. A very suspicious name.

  13. Gravatar of mpowell mpowell
    18. July 2013 at 12:00

    You could argue for certain definitions of ‘most’ that his statement is true. Conservative politicians and the commentariat as a group seem to strongly prefer much tighter monetary policy.

    But that’s also a really unfair measure of influence. Given events, this was a very likely outcome. It’s not like this blog made things any worse. And instead, as Scott points out, people are now taking NGDP seriously where they certainly did not before. I don’t agree with everything Scott says, but I think its possible that his tactics (including whatever it is we’re calling hippie punching) may be making NGDP targetting more palatable to conservatives, which would be really helpful.

  14. Gravatar of Lars Christensen Lars Christensen
    18. July 2013 at 12:53

    Scott,

    I normally don’t write bad things about other bloggers – and certainly do not just want to stir up trouble. However, Noah’s comments are total bullshit.

    NGDP targeting was completely unknown among central bankers five years ago. Today most central bankers have heard about the concept. The fed is effectively trying to target NGDP GROWTH (not level targeting). You have had a huge impact on that thinking.

    Furthermore, Noah apparently think that we are all driven by an desire to be loved by US conservative institutions. But why is then that we chose to argue are case that is hated by most conservative. Market Monetarists started out with very few friends. The right hated us for arguing for monetary easing and the left hated us for favouring fiscal consolidation and the Sumner Critique.

    I can think of very few economists – including Noah’s hero Paul Krugman – who have changed the policy debate in the US more than you have in the past 4-5 years-

    PS It will be another 8 years before I am 50 so I am not sure what I say really counts…

  15. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    18. July 2013 at 13:29

    Think for a second, what is hippie-punching, anyway? It’s a “stratagem” where you gratuitously attack X to ingratiate yourself with Y, having (in your own mind, at least) caused yourself problems with Y by having displayed the incorrect attitude toward X.

    Then consider, what is Noah Smith really up to? He doesn’t have any examples of SS’s hippie-punching, which could be due either to his lack of knowledge, or his lack of interest, in SS’s views. Either way it’s hard not to see his real intent here as doing some “Sumner-punching,” i.e. this comment of his was merely a stratagem designed to ingratiate himself with certain readers or fellow bloggers who understand that SS is a Bad Guy and who might be suspicious of NS for some of his past comments where his attitude toward SS (and maybe others, like Tyler Cowen) has not been entirely appropriate.

    I believe they call this “irony.” Whatever it is, it’s as beautiful as any sunset. Noah Smith is not just a “good guy,” he’s the highest possible expression of academic genius.

  16. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    18. July 2013 at 13:55

    Smith is wrong about so many things so often that there is absolutely no reason to ever become upset, irked, or bothered, or even influenced, by anything he says.

    Also, the fact that Krugman called him a “good guy” pretty much reinforces that.

  17. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    18. July 2013 at 13:56

    I read your blog fairly regularly and two of the five “liberal” things you mention are news to me (universal health care and redistributive progressive taxation). The other three are pretty standard libertarian/economist fare. They are on the long list of things about which there is reasonable intellectual consensus but close to zero political traction.

    I’m glad to hear you’re having success with young conservative economists. It will be interesting to see if that ever translates into success with conservative politicians.

  18. Gravatar of TheMoneyIllusion » Why Noah Smith is way smarter than me (or is it I?) TheMoneyIllusion » Why Noah Smith is way smarter than me (or is it I?)
    18. July 2013 at 14:18

    […] After being criticized by Noah Smith, I foolishly got all defensive.  Meanwhile Noah was laughing all the way to the bank.  Here’s commenter anon/portly: […]

  19. Gravatar of xtophr xtophr
    18. July 2013 at 14:19

    Given the five things for which you list your support, what things are left that make you consider yourself a conservative? These are almost litmus tests for conservatives arent they? I’m guessing anti fiscal stimulus and belief in EMH are still conservative.

    I’m honestly curious about what puts you in the conservative camp. Thx.

  20. Gravatar of rbl rbl
    18. July 2013 at 14:34

    Adam, I know he has expressed appreciation of the Scandinavian welfare states, especially Denmark. This post from last August https://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=15667 seems to show his views pretty well: “A utilitarian like me views the redistribution from the rich to the poor as a good thing, and the effects of high MTRs as a bad thing.”
    Also, in my post above “Krugman punching” s/b “disagreeing with Krugman”

  21. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    18. July 2013 at 15:00

    @xtophr: He doesn’t. To further what rbl is saying:
    https://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=16999#comment-196079

    It’s the great/terrible thing about the blogosphere. It’s great as it allows open-minded individuals to communicate ideas and rise to prominence and it’s terrible because it seems to, every now and then, force people into camps. People who have been reading Tyler and Scott for a few years know them both to be open-minded, and yet the blogosphere seems like it’s doing it’s darndest to pin them as conservative.

  22. Gravatar of Ryan Vann Ryan Vann
    18. July 2013 at 15:41

    Can’t understand the econphilia for carbon taxes. As far as I can discern, they are just a way to scam money from actual productive industries (those that actually expend energy) to the benefit of bogative industries that don’t expend much energy (lawyers, financial scammers, etc). Fuck carbon taxes.

  23. Gravatar of Mike Sax Mike Sax
    18. July 2013 at 16:27

    “Yeah. That’s why I’ve advocated carbon taxes, universal health care, progressive taxes to redistribute income, drug legalization, more immigration, etc. I’m hoping to piss off all those hippies and win over the conservatives. (Memo to young bloggers-wait until you are at least 50 years old before trying to judge the motives of other bloggers.)”

    I would agree that you’re game is more subtle than simply trying piss off the hippies in favor of the conservatives-though Morgan Warstler thinks that’s the winning hand. Not that I don’t love you Morgan. er

    Still while you support a ‘progressive taxes to redistribute income’ many liberals would disagree with your version of a progressive tax code-the ‘progressive tax code.’ I’m not neceesarily saying you’re wrong about a PTC-honestly I’ve read some about it and am still not wholly decided though remain skeptical-just that many liberals consider the idea of a PTC a contradiction in terms.

    Some of those issues like immigration reform I totally agree with you on-do you support the Senate immigration bill then? I even agree with the Wall Street Journal on immigration reform.

    I see that almost all economist support the carbon tax very strongly.

    I’m currently reading Jude Wanniski’s ‘The Way the World Works’ and was struck that one thing he disagrees with you on is there being no such thing as public opinion in economics.

    His chapter 3 is called ‘The Electorate Understands Economics.”

    In particular on pg. 43 he writes:

    “… we argue that while individual members of the electorate do not seem to understand economics, in the aggregate they not only behave economically be understand the process. Individuals always behave as if they understand economics and the concept of marginality, but very few intellectualize their behavior.”

    http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2013/07/jude-wanniski-way-world-works-and.html

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    18. July 2013 at 17:20

    Patrick, And he was right!

    Lars, I find it easier to simply laugh these things off.

    Adam, I mention those two items almost every time I talk about optimal health care regimes or optimal tax regimes. However this blog is mostly about monetary policy.

    xtophr, I’m a right wing liberal, which is roughly a utilitarian who understands economics. I have no interest in pleasing any particular camp.

    Mike Sax, You said;

    “I would agree that you’re game is more subtle than simply trying piss off the hippies in favor of the conservatives-though Morgan Warstler thinks that’s the winning hand.”

    I’m not sure what you agree with. My claim is that my game is much less subtle. I simply say what I think.

    You said:

    “Still while you support a ‘progressive taxes to redistribute income’ many liberals would disagree with your version of a progressive tax code-the ‘progressive tax code.’ I’m not neceesarily saying you’re wrong about a PTC-honestly I’ve read some about it and am still not wholly decided though remain skeptical-just that many liberals consider the idea of a PTC a contradiction in terms.”

    I’ve never met a liberal who thought progressive taxes were a contradiction in terms.

  25. Gravatar of rbl rbl
    18. July 2013 at 18:26

    Ryan Vann,
    The appeal of carbon taxes is thus: power plants and other carbon emitters don’t pay the full cost of their production, some of it is payed by society in the form of pollution, global climate change, etc. Since power plants aren’t paying the full cost of their production they will produce more than the socially optimal amount. Carbon taxes make polluters pay the full cost of their production so they no longer overproduce As a bonus, the revenue can be used to fund nice things like roads and police so the deadweight loss from taxation on the rest of the economy is reduced.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigouvian_tax

  26. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    18. July 2013 at 18:52

    The Obama EPA says carbon has an external cost of $40/ton. The DOT says $7/ton.

    Meanwhile, oil is worth ~$1000/ton of carbon, and the federal gas tax already exceeds the Obama EPA cost of carbon.

    My guess: the $40/ton carbon cost is a stalking horse for a $1000-$2000/ton carbon tax that could fund national health care.

    The funny thing is I agree with the theory that externalities should be taxed. But I also agree that the carbon tax is political bs, designed to tax productive industries and redistribute to office space industries. It’s hard to know how to tax an externality when there is a multiple orders of magnitude discrepancy in the magnitude of that externality.

  27. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    18. July 2013 at 18:58

    BTW, I hate tribalism. Which is why I also hate the idea of pursuing a PhD. You spend a decade of your life, studying researching, studying, and researching. Along the way, you have to pick a tribe so that the fellow tribesmen will have your back when you spew out garbage research.

  28. Gravatar of rbl rbl
    18. July 2013 at 19:14

    Steve, Greg Manikew says that gas taxes should be much higher, mostly for road wear and congestion, since highways don’t pay for themselves. If there is any evidence that anyone with a chance of being taken seriously supports a $1,000/ton carbon tax I would love to see it.

  29. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    18. July 2013 at 19:41

    rbl,

    That’s why it’s called a STALKING horse. The stalkers don’t show their face until they have you cornered… $1000/ton is required to incentivize the renewable/EV/urban densification that is the objective. But no one will say that until the tax infrastructure is in place.

  30. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    18. July 2013 at 19:43

    “any evidence that anyone with a chance of being taken seriously”

    If you want to be taken SERIOUSLY, you LIE. That’s the American political way.

  31. Gravatar of Mike Mike
    18. July 2013 at 22:38

    I’m pretty sure that you just punched a hippie.

  32. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    19. July 2013 at 01:57

    Scott: “Adam, I mention those two items almost every time I talk about optimal health care regimes or optimal tax regimes. However this blog is mostly about monetary policy.”

    Actually I am more with Adam on this. Yes, you always mention how you prefer progressive taxation and universal healthcare – but with Singaporean model on your mind. I do not know how many hippies would call for abolition of capital taxation or for Singaporean healthcare (as opposed to let’s say Scandinavian one) but I bet that not too many.

    It is like saying that I am for “progressive taxation” by taxing everyone’s consumption by 5% tax. And if there are some eyebrows risen I will say “Hey my taxation model is progressive relative to lump sum tax that my fellows in AEI and Cato and other think-tanks prefer. In absolute number rich pay more than poor, so why so much hate? I am with you on this guys.” Only you are not. Try to think why.

  33. Gravatar of Why Noah Smith is way smarter than me (or is it I?) | Fifth Estate Why Noah Smith is way smarter than me (or is it I?) | Fifth Estate
    19. July 2013 at 03:24

    […] TheMoneyIllusion:  After being criticized by Noah Smith, I foolishly got all defensive.  Meanwhile Noah was laughing all the way to the bank.  Here’s commenter anon/portly: […]

  34. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. July 2013 at 05:13

    There are all sorts of externalities from driving:

    1. air pollution.
    2. global warming
    3. congestion
    4. road wear
    5. higher import prices for oil
    6. possibly even more political instability in the Mideast, although that’s debatable.

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. July 2013 at 05:18

    JV, Do progressives support the Nordic model? No inheritance tax? 100% school vouchers? Privatized fire departments, airports, etc? That’s good to hear.

    You are flat out wrong about progressivity as I’m defining in the normal way. Higher tax RATES on the rich. Plus wage subsidies for low income workers. I’m a utilitarian, just like other liberals.

  36. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    19. July 2013 at 06:59

    There are all sorts of externalities from driving:

    1. air pollution. 2. global warming 3. congestion 4. road wear 5. higher import prices for oil 6. possibly even more political instability in the Mideast, although that’s debatable.

    Building a home (or a skyscraper), has all 6 of these externalities due to material use and transport as well as ongoing maintenance. Going to sporting events, conferences, lunch at noon causes congestion. Importing any good causes higher import prices for that good. Etc.

    The key is quantifying these effects, rather than binary judgements. And deciding what kind of society you want.

    BTW, I would support a $40/ton carbon tax (Obama EPA number) in theory. But only in theory. In practice, it would eventually get an extra zero or perhaps someday two. And then there will be a patchwork of exemptions for politically connected people and popular industries, all directed out of the executive branch.

  37. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    19. July 2013 at 07:12

    Scott: Please do not insult yourself with these silly examples, you can surely do better than this. But let me address at least one of your examples – vouchers because it has some bearing on what I want to say later on.

    Out of all Scandinavian countries as far as I know only Sweden uses voucher-financed private school system. And jury is still out on this one as there are increasing doubts of impact of this reforms on things like segregation and other things that are novel to egalitarian society such as that of Sweden.

    But if there truly is a role-model country which school system that is touted as universal success than it is Finland. With virtually no private schools and comprehensive care for students they have excellent results.

    So if some random US guy praises “scandinavian education model” what country do you think he is talking about:

    1) Sweden with scores in PISA tests below USA
    2) Finland which is third in this ranking beating even such education powerhouses like Hong-Kong or Singapore

    Anyways, it is not my purpose to pick up fights with you. I am long-time reader of your blog and while I think that “hippie-punching” is too expressive and too close to actually accuse you of dishonesty, I would say that you have very strong right-leaning priors.

    So for instance I would be extremely surprised to read anything about Finish education on you blog (unless it is about how it failed). So like it or not you do belong to a tribe and it is no accident that you give presentations in AEI. I do not say that it is wrong. Only that you should stop pretending that you are something that you are not.

    If there is some pundit who I think is closest to what I view as “objective” – meaning one who is less likely to be involved in “derp” than it is Matt Yglesias.

  38. Gravatar of rbl rbl
    19. July 2013 at 07:53

    Scott, if the US could trade and get Scandinavian levels of social democracy, income inequality, and environmental protection, then I’d happily privatize fire departments and get rid of the inheritance tax. I can’t speak for all progressives, but I want a system that satisfies my Rawlsian sense of justice, any given tax or institution is a means and not an end.

  39. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    19. July 2013 at 12:07

    I think that you flipped Lawrence Kudlow. That is pretty impressive.

  40. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    19. July 2013 at 12:16

    A leftist might judge your proposed form of universal Health care as more right wing than what we have today. They do not like deductibles, they do not want bills going to individuals at all.

    1. Eliminating all tax subsidies (which amount to roughly 40% of private health care costs.)

    2. Universal health insurance at the catastrophic level, and HSAs for smaller procedures. Subsidies for the poor.

    3. A Singapore-style high savings regime, which means I’d probably never once in my entire life have to dip into the government catastrophic insurance system, as I’m a high saver with a good income. I’d also never have to deal with annoying insurance companies. And I wouldn’t be forced to buy coverage I don’t want. I suppose I’m OK with companies keeping their current health care benefits programs (insurance, HMOs, etc) as long as there was no tax subsidy.

    4. I’d also deregulate the provision of health care services. Completely.

    Because Singapore has price controls, there is currently no example of the system I propose. But the HSA approach as been used, as has the universal coverage of major health expenses. So I think various parts of the proposal have been tested.

    Why support universal health care if it doesn’t improve health?

    1. Utilitarian grounds””it helps those who are devastated by major medical expenses, especially lower income people.

    2. Pragmatic grounds””I see it as the only way to get a sensible system that can begin to reduce the massive waste in our current system.

    3. I hate insurance companies and government bureaucracies. I want to pay out of pocket.

    I have my own right wing scheme:

    The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to the family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300. A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $55,300. Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs. They could opt to pay for most health-care out of pocket while the poor often less capable would be protected.
    It is not a perfect plan but it might help. Some deregulation of health-care would also help the poor gain access. The gauntlet that Doctors have to run these days to get to practice seems like an anachronism in today’s world. Let smart people get to practice medicine after on the job training. Let the medical businesses decide who is qualified to practice medicine. 12 years of training to tell if my child has an ear infection is overkill and reduces access to health-care for the poor.
    Another benefit of my plan is that it would encourage capable Americans (the rich and middle class) to be a counter weight politically against the providers.

  41. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    19. July 2013 at 13:27

    Ryan Vann,
    An interesting way to do a CO2 tax is to pay the taxes collected out to those who remove CO2 form the air. Schemes exist (enhanced weathering, biochar, deep ocean iron fertilization etc.) for doing this. It might be quite cheap and you avoid the problem of politicians looking at it as source of money to use to buy votes.

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. July 2013 at 05:58

    JV, I expected more of an apologetic approach on your part after making false statements about my views.

    Test scores are a lousy way to measure school quality. I prefer the market test—and Swedish consumers are very happy with vouchers.

    Actually my policy views are fairly close to those of Yglesias. I’ve never denied that I am a libertarian, but I’ve always claimed to be a pragmatic libertarian, who supports government intervention in areas of market failure (externalities, inequality, etc.) That’s also Matt’s approach. My blog is nothing like the typical conservative blog, obsessed with Obama-bashing.

    The right accuses me of being a socialist and the left thinks I’m a conservative. I’m fine with that. I really don’t care what people think of my views, but I do care if they question my motives.

    rbl, If we adopted the Scandinavian policy regime we wouldn’t get their levels of inequality, not even close. And I think progressives would be horrified by a system where taxes for healthcare are raised at the local level.

    Floccina, I’ll be on Kudlow in an hour. (11:00 EST)

    And that sounds like a pretty good health care plan.

  43. Gravatar of With Friends Like Me, Sumner Doesn’t Need Enemies With Friends Like Me, Sumner Doesn’t Need Enemies
    20. July 2013 at 07:44

    […] as Scott himself points […]

  44. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    22. July 2013 at 00:31

    Scott: If I insulted you I am really sorry for that. Somehow it is always so that written communication seems to be more aggressive than it should have been (and I admit that after re-reading my post this was probably the case)

    My “5% flat tax” argument was not meant to represent your actual views. It was meant to demonstrate that some of your tax views (abolishing capital gain taxes) are not something that most people on the left would agree with.

    Anyways it is interesting to see how you evaluate your views. I have an impression that your opinions are closer to the likes of Tyler Cowen/Bryan Caplan (albeit you approach them from the “left”) not with Matt Yglesias.

  45. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. July 2013 at 05:13

    JV, You may be right about me being closer to Tyler, but then he doesn’t seem all that far from Yglesias, at least to me. Don’t put too much weight on the blogosphere debates, that’s where people disagree. They agree on much more. As I recall Yglesias supports a progressive consumption tax, which is my view as well.

    I don’t think you were insulting, but you did distort my views.

  46. Gravatar of eccentric-opinion eccentric-opinion
    24. July 2013 at 20:42

    How is economic inequality an “area of market failure”?

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