Monday, 10 September 2007

Supply side arguments

In case I ever give the impression that I think all bloggers are blinkered zealots determined to "prove" their case by ever noisier assertion and invective rather than argument (pause for breath), I also have The Economist to draw on. Its blog requires subscription, I suspect, and I have no illusions about its bias (at one point, I thought it could have saved the trouble of actually publishing itself and simply written "we think vouchers solve everything this year"). But it introduces me to debates I would not run into normally; what I run into normally is of course the standard cat-fights and gossip of glorious British blogotics.

I tend to find left-wing hysteria about the dreadful state of American inequality a bit shrill, but this fellow Jonathan Chait at least writes well, which should forgive him anything. His point is that the Republicans are still suckers for the Laffer curve, which has caused them to adopt policies that have massively increased American inequality. That this inequality exists is clear, and that it matters is also, at least to me; the excellent Catalyst paper "Why Inequality Matters" makes a strong enough case for this simple mind. For me the most startling fact is this: at $33,800, the US has by some way the highest GDP per head amongst large developed countries, at least 20% above most. But if you only looked at its lowest decile, its income of $10,922 is behind nearly all of the rest: Switzerland has $15k, Belgium $13k, France $12k. That bottom decile is the reason we watch so many US crime movies; it dies early and lives horribly. I guess an important criteria for my vote will be: does the party in question reckon this matters too?

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