There’s Good News, and There’s Bad News


The Foundation for Economic Education has a post up explaining how the rich could pay for that list of Progressive freebies: $47 billion on free college tuition; $1 trillion for new infrastructure; $1.4 trillion to write off student loan debt; at least $7 trillion on a Green New Deal; $32 trillion on “Medicare for All.” We can simply adopt tax schemes similar to those used in countries such as France, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.

If Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Warren want the federal government to collect European shares of national income, they will have to adopt European tax systems. That means higher income taxes on the middle class, higher payroll taxes, and higher consumption taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising $32 trillion in tax revenue would require adding 36 percentage points to the marginal tax rate of every federal income taxpayer in the United States. Not just the rich—everyone. The single woman earning $82,500 and the couple earning $165,000 would see their rates soar from 24 percent to 60 percent.

To borrow from P. J. O’Rourke, the good news is that the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that you’re rich.

Finland collects about 43 percent of GDP in taxes, and that isn’t enough. Fuzzy Slippers reports at Legal Insurrection that Finland’s government has collapsed because of the cost of universal health care: #Bernie2020 hardest hit.

Finland has long been touted by American socialists as the socialist Nirvana, where everything is free and everyone is happy, happy, happy.  Sadly, fiscal reality hit Finland’s government as it collapsed Friday due to the rising costs of its universal health care.

The warning signs were on the wall last spring when Finland … ended its experiment with “universal basic income.”

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been hanging his socialist mantle on the “success” of Finland’s socialist structure, may be the hardest hit.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

That’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature


Joel Kotkin has a piece over at City Journal about the failure of the California high-speed rail project. Reality has finally set in, and the new governor is pulling the plug on the wasteful endeavor which has been emblematic of the state’s elite class’s mismanagement of their fellow citizens’ subjects’ lives.

Some greens and train enthusiasts, such as the deep-blue Los Angeles Times editorial board, have criticized Newsom’s move, and others remain adamant in their support of the plane-to-train trope. But California, which has embarked on its own Green New Deal of sorts, has seen these results:  high energy and housing costs, and the nation’s highest cost-adjusted poverty rate, and a society that increasingly resembles a feudal social order. Attempts to refashion global climate in one state reflects either a peculiarly Californian hubris or a surfeit of revolutionary zeal.

It was the early warning signs of the attempt by rich Progressives who were certain that they knew better to take over California and make it in their own image that led Mrs. Hoge and me to move out of the state in 1990. Being in the upper 5-% of the income spectrum was clearly going to be insufficient to allow for protection from the coming changes. Indeed, it made us prime targets of upper-middle-class “wealth” to be taxed. We joined the first cohort of economic refugees.

California is now becoming a feudal society with rich Progressives and Democrat politicians at the top, a growing class of serfs at the bottom, and a disappearing middle-class. That’s fine for the folks at the top. For now. But it can’t and won’t be stable, and that instability isn’t a bug. It’s a Real World feature resulting from the Laws of Thermodynamics. What can’t go on forever, won’t go on forever.

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.