Economics

"He Tried to Warn Us"

Hayek had  politicans' number:

Rise of the Unscrupulous and the Uninhibited

“Why the Worst Get on Top” is the title of Chapter 10 of The Road to Serfdom (1944), and it lays out the problem. In describing the dilemma of the collectivist who cannot implement his plans without inflating his authority, Hayek’s concern is not with planning so much as with power. He cautions that the supposedly gentle and compassionate morality that induces collectivism does not correspond to the morality of those who run it:

Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.


"NC has a budget surplus. Should it fund tax cuts or ‘better schools and a stronger middle class’?"

This could be a result of many factors, but Republican political control of the state probably helped.

“Even as the majority of other states face revenue shortfalls and budget crunches, Republican state leaders’ tax cuts and disciplined spending have generated a $552 million revenue surplus for North Carolina – making us one of just four states in the country expecting surpluses,” Berger said in a news release.


"No escaping Downs' Law"

They just never learn:

Some years ago, Anthony Downs elaborated and popularized the idea with his "Law of Peak Hour Congestion."  Here is a nice summary. Without pricing, extra road capacity will simply attract traffic from other sources (other modes, other routes, other times of day, new trips, etc.). Congestion will not be "solved." The idea is simple -- and the lesson has been ignored a thousand times. Officials are loathe to price but love building things. This is "bi-partisan". Crony capitalism is non-denominational.


"Wackiness Aside, Unions Still Our Biggest Problem"

Steven Greenhut continues warning Californians:

California’s roads and other infrastructure are crumbling, even as we spend far more than other states per road mile. Our education system is among the worst in the nation, as unions clamp down on competitive alternatives. The unfunded liability problem imposes soaring costs on local governments, which leads to cutbacks in services. And the state budget grows in part because of this spending pressure.

Related: "California schools may face cuts amid skyrocketing pension costs".


"The Real Truth About Washington"

Robert Samuelson discusses an underappreciated fact about the federal budget: the majority of it is devoted to income transfers.

But his portrait is an absurdity. It bears little relationship to two overriding realities. First, the rewards of government go mostly to "the people" through massive transfer programs such as Social Security. Second, the costs have been borne mainly by the rich and upper middle class, who pay most taxes, and foreign and domestic lenders who cover chronic budget deficits.