Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Perhaps there is to much commentary on a single economist here.

Should Americans embrace a more robust social safety net at the cost of much higher marginal tax rates, reduced work incentives, and a smaller economic pie? From a strictly economic perspective, there is no right answer to this question.


Put simply, the healthcare reform bill would make the United States more like western Europe. That may mean more security about healthcare, but it also means that future generations of Americans will likely spend more time enjoying leisure.

I love the way that this is expressed. I thought at first that he may have meant that final clause sarcastically, referring to potentially increased unemployment, but his link is not about that potential effect.

For the most part, if the nation as a whole works fewer hours, that is indicative of some percentage of the population losing their jobs, and some working fewer hours than they'd like to to maintain a standard of living. However, if we found that a system could be devised in which the fewer hours could be distributed more evenly – if, for example, everyone worked just a little bit less – we would be more likely to describe it as more time enjoying leisure, instead of "underemployment."

This system would also be predicated upon our ability to maintain a standard of living with fewer national work hours. I'd think advances in technology alone would be enough to accommodate the loss, but again, we currently have a system in which labor-saving technology does not benefit the laboring workforce.

In other news, happy thanksgiving:

You can also read about economic systems that the pilgrims tried.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009