Category Archives: Taxes

Question 1: Rent Seeking Run Amok

Mailboxes are flooded with direct mail fliers.  The roadsides are littered with plastic signs.  We are admonished to Vote Yes On Question 1 on November 7.  This is one of the clearest examples of rent seeking behavior I have ever seen.  It is text book quality. Rent seeking occurs when an economic actor, in this […]

Is the U.S. Economy One Big Ponzi Scheme?

When I was teaching, I used to joke with students that my classes were particularly demanding because I wanted to be sure they would succeed in the real world so that they could pay for my Social Security checks.  Economists are supposed to believe that self interest is the dominant human motivator. I was only […]

What’s Wrong With This Story?

The narrative goes something like this: The Maine Legislature and Governor require all Maine schools to provide certain “essential” services.  This is out of a sense of fairness for all Maine school children, wherever they may live.  Everyone is entitled to a minimum education. Many localities struggle to pay the costs of these minimum services […]

Political Courage and Cowardice on Taxes

The trouble with taxes is that no one likes to pay them.  We want the services of government (good roads, public schools, national defense, a functioning court system, etc.) but would rather that someone else pay for these things.  Yet taxation is necessary in modern society.  Taxes are needed to fund what economists call public […]

Be Happy You Didn’t Live in 1870

Robert Gordon’s 2016 book The Rise and Fall of American Growth is a comprehensive history of “the U.S. standard of living since the civil war.”  Gordon, a Northwestern University economist, details changes in consumption of food, clothing, shelter, and transport during a period when Americans experienced unprecedented improvement in quality of life.  From brutally difficult, […]

Actually, A National Energy Tax Would Be Good for Maine

In this season of interminable political ads, one Bruce Poliquin TV ad berates his opponent Emily Cain for supporting a “national energy tax.”  The ad says such a tax would be bad for Maine.  I do not know whether Emily Cain supports a national energy tax or not, but I do.  Contrary to the Poliquin […]

Class Warfare?

A key issue in the upcoming (and seemingly interminable) Presidential campaign is supposed to  be inequality.  Major candidates are already talking about their solutions to the problem of increasing inequality in the U.S.  Not surprisingly, most of the proposals are for tired prescriptions from the past.  Democrats call for increasing minimum wages while Republicans talk […]