Don’t Know Much About History Meets Math Is Hard


Jeff Dunetz has a post over at The Lid about ¡Ocasio! She Guevara’s “tax fairness” proposal. He quotes her as saying.

You know, you look at our tax rates back in the ’60s, and when you have a progressive tax rate system, your tax rate let’s say from zero to $75,000 may be 10 percent or 15 percent, etc. But once you get to the tippy-tops on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent …

Uh, wrong! The 70 precent top rate on incomes above $100,000 was a holdover from the ’40 and ’50s. One of the key accomplishments of the Kennedy Administration in the ’60 was to get the top rate lowered to 50 percent as a means of stimulating economic growth. Even corrected for inflation, her imagined threshold income for the top rate is an order of magnitude higher than the ’50s value. She’s set her definition of rich too high.

In any event, her numbers don’t add up with the current distribution of incomes. Jeff includes the following table—The top marginal rate is now about 40 percent. If doubling the rate didn’t result in the rich moving more of their their assets offshore and the taxman could take twice as much money from them, one could expect about a 20 percent increase in revenue. Personal income taxes would increase 40, but personal income taxes are only about half of the government’s take. That would provide roughly 800 billion dollars a year, which would not quite offset the deficit expected before implementing She Guevara’s Green New Deal. In fact, doubling everyone’s taxes wouldn’t provide enough money to fund her schemes.

TANSTAAFL!

UPDATE—With her congressional pay, Ms. Occasional-Cortex will be entering the upper 5 percent of income earners. Perhaps this will provide her with the same sort of practical education experienced by other who have climbed the income ladder.

Math Is Hard, Facts Are Stubborn, …


… and socialist claims don’t add up. She Guevara’s latest silliness suggests that converting to a renewable energy economy will establish … oh, here are her own words—

As a matter of fact, it’s not just possible that we will create jobs and economic activity by transitioning to renewable energy, but it’s inevitable that we are going to create jobs. It’s inevitable that we’re going to create industry, and it’s inevitable that we can use the transition to a hundred percent renewable energy as the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America.

Ummm, I suppose Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is relying on the “fact” that the socialism being practiced in other countries isn’t the real thing, and that she and her comrades would finally get it right here in America. After all, the real world facts show that the proles in France (the intellectual cradle of Marxism and Post-modernism) are rebelling against a carbon fuel tax. And the socialist destruction of the carbon fuel industry in Venezuela has not had a positive effect on that country. (However, wrecking that industry was probably an unintended consequence of other socialist policies.)

Whatever.

What does seem to be true is that she’s been reasonably successful selling her brand of snake oil. She’s been elected to Congress. She’s developing a national following. And there seems to be a group of uneducated young people who are rallying to her promises of free stuff. It’s been suggested that she could be the Left’s answer to Donald Trump, a brash upstart who doesn’t play by the rules and who intuitively understands how to sell her program to a large segment of the voters. If that’s true, let’s hope that Reality catches up to her before she can do real damage.

Don’t Know Much Biology


There’s a post up over at Watts Up With That? which takes a look at She Guevara’s proposal for a Green New Deal. I suppose it’s “green” because the “thinking” behind it isn’t ripe yet. One of the goals for her Green New Deal would be “decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries” within ten years. Let’s set aside the financial cost of decarbonizing agriculture and simply consider biology and physics.

Human beings are carbon-based life forms. The vast majority of the energy that our bodies use to keep us alive is derived from chemical reactions that amount to burning the carbon in the food we eat. That food, whether plant or animal, was from other carbon-based life forms which, in turn, were alive because those critters grew by burning carbon. (Many plants actually store more carbon than they burn. That’s why animals eat them or humans burn them for fuel.)

Over my lifetime (I’ll be 71 on New Year’s Eve), hunger and malnutrition around the world have been greatly reduced by the mechanization of agriculture and the use of chemical supplements to fertilize and protect crops. All of that required an expenditure of energy that wasn’t possible by manual or animal-powered labor. How many windmills would it take to power a tractor and planting and harvesting equipment on a farm? A windmill is a set of sails catching the wind. Image a sail-powered tractor. Now add the additional losses of power transmission over wires and charging and discharging batteries. How much hydro? How large a solar array? And how much farm land would be lost to solar arrays? Most crops don’t do well in the shade. Oh, and most man-made pesticides are organic (that is, carbon-based) chemicals; so are most natural bug killers. Where will we get the energy needed to produce and distribute those chemicals to farms and apply them to the crops? Or will more of our fields’ produce go to feeding insects and less to people?

We’ve used so-called carbon-based energy over the past couple of centuries to power the revolutions in industry and agriculture that have drastically reduced hunger and made life better around the world. Actually, all of that energy has come from the Sun. The energy in sunshine from tens of millions of years ago was stored in chemical reactions in living organisms which were turned into coal, petroleum, and natural gas. We’ve been tapping into that stored energy. It may be that we’re returning carbon in the form of combustion products into the environment at an unhealthy rate. If so, we have other options. The uranium and thorium here on Earth are the decay products of heavy elements forged in stars that went supernova billions of years ago. We can tap into that stored energy, but there’s a different set of dangers in those sources.

Every time we do something, anything, the amount of entropy in the Universe increases. Everything has a cost. Thus far, the free market has shown superior performance over all other economic systems. Efficient agriculture developed in the US—but not in the USSR. The free market puts less of a drag on society than its competitors. Going to a what amounts to a green command economy seems doubly foolish—likely poorer performance in food production and proven worse efficiency in economic resource management.

Here’s an iron law of nature: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Congress lacks to power to repeal it.