Jeff Bezos’s Charity

This pitiful advocacy article masquerading as “news” in the NY Post by Isabel Vincent shows how little she knows. Vincent gets a quote from a local NYC legislator:

“The record of both Amazon and Jeff Bezos reveals that they are takers, not givers,” said Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Long Island City, where Amazon plans to set up a corporate headquarters. “When they make promises of how generous they will be, I look at what they have done in the past to know what the truth really is.”

A politician calling another person a “taker”. ROFL. Politicians are the biggest takers anywhere. Government, by definition, takes. And politicians are the biggest takers.

Bezos, and other business-people are by definition givers — they build businesses, create jobs and products and services, and these give joy and meaning to their employees and customers.

Bezos, as well as others who have built fortunes, know better how to allocate resources for their optimal use better than any politician or other critic.

As for the people who make larger donations, they must demonstrate their donations provide a tangible benefit or else they’re merely making themselves feel good — virtue signalling. Do they wish to receive accolades and be feted at gatherings and balls and events? Giving will do that. Is there a lasting, durable benefit? Are they bereft of ideas for growth and resigned to just giving it away?


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) Proposes Annual ‘wealth tax’

There she goes again. The new Lizzie Borden, also from Massachusetts.

This should be good. I’d love to hear the response from Sen. Warren’s and other Democratic constituencies. This will hit directly the most Democratic districts and states: California, Massachusetts, and New York. CA has Hollywood and Silicon Valley; MA has financial firms in Boston, as well as and IT and Biotech firms in the state; NY has financial firms and real estate firms in Manhattan. As well, Palm Beach County, FL is another Democratic stronghold — except for one Republican out of four who represent the county in the federal government.

Can you imagine the lobbying that would occur if this is seriously debated? The legislation would contain loopholes made specifically by Democrats to exclude their constituents, or at least minimize the taxation.

She is like a neglected child screaming for attention.

Meaning of a 70% Income Tax Rate

Several Democrats have proposed a top income tax rate of 70% on incomes over $10 million.

Samuel Hammond argues that it is NOT about the optimal tax rate, soaking the rich, the rate in the past. It is a symbolic attack on the legitimacy of wealth accumulation itself.

Its goal is not about tax-fairness or raising revenue efficiently (which it fails at on both counts). Its goal is to popularize a strict egalitarian view of wealth accumulation as prima facie evidence of personal corruption. If that view catches on, it would represent a major setback in the public’s understanding of the differences, both normative and economic, between productively acquired wealth and rent seeking.

The Democratic Socialist’s economic model is Scandinavia. But we in the U.S. have our own economic model, and culture based on our own history. We are more individualist.

With the countercultural rebellions of the 1960s and 70s, followed by the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, the left and right eventually reverted back to America’s historically more individualistic ethos of self-expression and entrepreneurship.

In Scandinavia, the dominant conformist zeitgeist is called the Law of Jante, a reference to a fictional Danish town that enforces being ordinary in every possible way. “Tall poppy syndrome” is perhaps the closest concept in American vernacular, although it doesn’t do the oppressiveness of Scandinavia’s egalitarian milieu justice. Excessive ambition is frowned upon while non-conformists are treated with suspicion, as illustrated by the expression, “You are not to think you’re better than us.”

The cost of this strict egalitarianism. In Scandinavia, the rich stay rich and everybody else is stuck. They’re economic opportunity is a snapshot frozen in time. Nobody can rise up because they are taxed too much to save anything that can be invested.

In short, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus on soaking the small number of Americans who make more than $10 million in a year has earned her socialist bona fides while ironically sparing — if not threatening to entrench — the closest thing America has an to emerging nobility. That’s not radical. Far from it. It’s conformism to the most mundane progressive politics imaginable.

We are Americans. They are trying to force 300+ million people to behave the way they deem worthy. No. Move to your utopia. Leave us alone. These people are tyrants and must be stopped.

Hammond’s piece here.

Three Widely Believed Economic Fallacies

Steve Horowitz:

The Fallacy of the Zero-Sum Game

The first of these fallacies is the belief that market activities, especially exchange, are zero-sum games. Zero-sum games are those in which the total gained from playing the game is zero. So, for example, if each of five people playing poker buys into the game for $100, there is only $500 to be won.

. . .

We see this misperception of markets in a variety of forms. At the most general level, the belief that the rich get rich by impoverishing others is a species of zero-sum thinking.



The Fallacy That Order Requires Design

The second fallacy is the belief that economies require someone or some group to design and/or control them. Often this belief is linked to an argument from complexity: only a simple economy could be left to its own devices. Complex, advanced economies like those across most of the globe require human monitoring and regulation to function properly.

. . .

The flaw at the heart of this fallacy is that it ignores the idea of spontaneous or undesigned order.


The Fallacy that Consumption is the Key to Growth

The final fallacy is the belief that consumption is the source of economic growth. This belief is widely held by everyone from the citizenry at large up through economic journalists and politicians. We hear it every time the economy enters a recession and begins to recover. Pundits declare that consumers need to start buying things to generate a recovery, and reports about the latest data on consumer spending make the headlines.

. . .

In fact, consumption expenditures vary the least as economies go through booms and busts. The component with the greatest variation is private sector investment. If anything is needed during a recovery, it is more investment by the private sector, not more consumption.

. . .

The heart of the fallacy, however, is that consumption consumes things! When we consume goods and services, we destroy their value by using them up. Consuming food does not create anything valuable, it eliminates something valuable.

Excellent work. Read it.

How Self Interest Builds Prosperity and Community

She’s happy and self-interested. The customer says “Thank you”, she, the producer, says “Thank you” and both are happy they got what they wanted.

Don Boudreaux:

Markets guided by prices daily lead each of us to share happily and abundantly with each other despite the reality that we are, to each other, mostly strangers. Familiarity, affection, and brotherly love are virtuous feelings but these feelings do not contribute as reliably to our material well being as does market exchange.

Here is a parable to make the point.

Read the whole thing.

Better, Faster, Cheaper

Ronald Bailey, conclusion: 

One very crude way to measure just how much improved technology has increased consumer well-being would be to consider the discount en masse. To purchase a refrigerator, a color TV, a record player, an air conditioner, a microwave, and a calculator roughly five decades ago, the average family would have had to spend $12,155 in today’s dollars. Buying similar (though vastly improved) products today would cost just $1,404. That’s a reduction in real prices of more than 88 percent. And of course, virtually every household now has at least one cellphone and/or computer—two categories of products that could not have been acquired for any amount of money in 1968.

Amazing progress.

The ‘discount en masse’ includes a refrigerator, television, air-conditioner, microwave, and consumer calculator. And, as Ronald wrote, that list does not include cellphones or computers.

Note the improvements in quality, choice, and concomitant decreases in prices. Products that are in competitive, global markets, and lightly regulated. We don’t even know if the industries are subsidized.

Again, amazing progress.

The laggards, not noted in this article, are those with heavy government regulation such as health insurance and other healthcare products and services. This disparity disproves the theory that increased demand causes only price increases, as witnessed in the healthcare products I mentioned. It is government involvement that is preventing the improvement.