Månedsarkiv: marts 2010

Skævt? Nej, uærligt!

Medierne for forleden i flint over, at socialministeren ikke meddelte på sit CV, at hun sad i Cepos’ centerråd. Det var, mente blandt andet Socialdemokraternes evige grædekælling Mette Frederiksen, dybt uærligt. Vi spurgte ved den lejlighed, om man ville behandle venstrefløjen på samme måde i medierne. Svaret var ’næppe’, men vi kan jo tage et mere konkret eksempel: 3F’s skræmmekampagne, hvor man ikke blot misbruger Skat’s logo, men også spreder decideret misinformation. Dén af plakaterne, der hænger på lygtepæle og andre steder for tiden, har teksten ”Først Store Skattelettelser til de Rigeste, så Nedskæringer for 24 Milliarder”. Begge dele er løgn.

Regeringens omlægning af skatte- og afgiftssystemet afskaffede mellemskatten, ikke topskatten, som ellers er relevant for de ’rigeste’ 40 % af arbejdsmarkedet. Dernæst omfattede omlægningen et væsentligt afgiftshop på en række varer, som rammer alle danskere. Bundlinjen var, at omlægningen skulle være indtægtsneutral for staten, men vel at mærke uden at man regnede de politisk kontroversielle dynamiske effekter ind. I bedste fald var der derfor tale om en omlægning, der bevarede statens indtægter uændret, og med dynamiske effekter en effektiv stigning i skatte- og afgiftstrykket. Hvordan kan man kalde det en skattelettelse for de rigeste?

For det andet er der ikke tale om, at regeringen vil skære ned. Man forsøger sig derimod med at implementere nogle få års nulvækst i et land, der allerede har den frie verdens største offentlige sektor. Det 3F kalde nedskæring er således et forsøg på at forhindre en yderligere ekspansion. Men ligesom visse mongoler ikke får en klar fornemmelse af mæthed, uanset hvor meget de spiser, lider 3F øjensynligt også af uinformerede vrangforestillinger om hvad nedskæringer er.

Har medierne taget fat i disse latterlige påstande med samme vigør som de angreb Benedikte Kiær? Nej, der har været larmende tavshed på trods af, at et af landets største fagforbund spreder ideologisk misinformation, og endda ved hjælp af misbrug af Skats logo. Må man tillade sig at spørge, hvor de upartiske og kritiske medier er gået i hi?

Optimisten Gary Becker

Wall Street Journal har i dag et stort opsat weekendinterview med nobelpristageren Gary Becker, som giver en frisk indsprøjtning af historisk perspektiv og optimisme til avisens læsere.

Om sundhedsreformen:

Here in the United States, we spend about 17% of our GDP on health care, but out-of-pocket expenses make up only 12% of total health-care spending. In Switzerland, where they spend only 11% of GDP on health care, their out-of-pocket expenses equal about 31% of total spending. The difference between 12% and 31% is huge. Once people begin spending substantial sums from their own pockets, they become willing to shop around. Ordinary market incentives begin to operate. A good bill would have encouraged that.

Om midtvejsvalget i november:

One of the points Secretary Paulson made earlier today was how outraged – how unexpectedly outraged – the American people became when the government bailed out the banks. This belief in individual responsibility – the belief that people ought to make their own decisions, but should then bear the consequences of those decisions – this remains very powerful. The American people don’t want an expansion of government. They want more of what Reagan provided. They want limited government and economic growth. I expect them to say so in the elections this November.

Om Milton Friedman og nutidens økonomer:

When Milton was starting out, people really believed a state-run economy was the most efficient way of promoting growth. Today nobody believes that except maybe in North Korea. You go to China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, even Western Europe. Most of the economists under 50 have a free-market orientation. Now, there are differences of emphasis and opinion among them. But they’re oriented toward the markets. That’s a very important intellectual victory.

Om fremtiden:

When I think of my children and grandchildren, yes, they’ll have to fight. Liberty can’t be had on the cheap. But it’s not a hopeless fight by any means. I remain basically an optimist.

Læs hele interviewet her.

Fattigdom i Danmark

2010 er EU’s fattigdomsår, så der kommer masser af fokus på og debat om fattigdom i Danmark, herunder at Danmark ikke har en ”officiel fattigdomsgrænse”. I MSM vil det formentlig blive fremført, at Danmark har set stigende ulighed og det vil næppe blive  diskuteret om det er en god eller dårlig ting (for det er selvfølgelig skidt), eller boret i tallene. Så Punditokraterne må hellere komme sagen lidt i forkøbet.

Først lidt om ulighed i indkomster. Typisk prøver man at sammenfatte ulighed i et tal ved hjælp af gini-koefficienten. Gini-koefficienten er den andel af den samlede indkomst for en  gruppe af individer/familier, der skal flyttes rundt på, for at indkomsten i en given periode er den samme for alle i gruppen. En Gini-koefficient på nul betyder, at alle har præcis den samme indkomst. En koefficient tæt på én, betyder at et enkelt individ har al indkomst. Tabellen herunder viser Danmarks Statistiks opgørelse af Gini-koefficient efter skat for danske indkomster i udvalgte år siden 1939. Det slående er selvfølgelig at den er faldet markant – fra  0.34 i 1939 til 0.23 i 2006. Den er steget fra 2000 til 2006, men det er en ret marginal stigning i et historisk perspektiv. Fordelingen er stadigt mere lige end i f.eks. 1980. Det skal så i øvrigt bemærkes at fordelingen ikke tager højde for sort arbejde, som formentlig jævner fordelingen yderligere ud.

Ginikoefficient, efter skat, Danmark:

1939 1944 1955 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006
0.34 0.31 0.28 0.27 0.26 0.21 0.21 0.23

Kilde: DS, Danmark i 60 år.

I et internationalt perspektiv er der kun få lande med ginikoefficienter under 25. Danmark hører til blandt de 5 lande i verden med mest lige indkomstfordeling, se figuren herunder. Da Danmark samtidig har et af verdens højeste indkomstniveauer, er det nemt at konstatere at der er få fattige i Danmark i forhold til alle andre lande i verden, med de øvrige nordiske lande som undtagelser.

Gini_Coefficient_World_CIA_Report_2009

Læs resten

Er Obamas sundhedsreform forfatningsstridig?

I forlængelse af min kommentar ovenfor om forfatningens centrale men oversete 10. tillæg:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
–har min gamle ven gennem 23 år, Randy Barnett (professor i jura ved Boston University og næppe én, der kan ses som værende ude i et partipolitisk ærinde), argumenteret for, at sundhedsreformen meget vel kan være forfatningsstridig.  I et indlæg i Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/19/AR2010031901470.html) skriver han bl.a.:
“Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty? The answer lies in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” Historically, insurance contracts were not considered commerce, which referred to trade and carriage of merchandise. That’s why insurance has traditionally been regulated by states. But the Supreme Court has long allowed Congress to regulate and prohibit all sorts of “economic” activities that are not, strictly speaking, commerce. The key is that those activities substantially affect interstate commerce, and that’s how the court would probably view the regulation of health insurance.
But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.”

I forlængelse af min kommentar (i kommentar-sektionen her) om, hvorvidt Obamas sundhedsreform i virkeligheden måske er forfatningsstridig, er det vigtigt at være opmærksom på USA-forfatningens centrale men oversete 10. tillæg:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I den forbindelse har min gamle ven gennem snart 23 år, Randy Barnett (professor i forfatningsret ved Georgetown University og næppe én, der kan ses som værende ude i et “konservativt” eller partipolitisk ærinde), argumenteret for, at sundhedsreformen meget vel kan være forfatningsstridig.  I et indlæg forleden i Washington Post skriver han bl.a.:

“Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty? The answer lies in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” Historically, insurance contracts were not considered commerce, which referred to trade and carriage of merchandise. That’s why insurance has traditionally been regulated by states. But the Supreme Court has long allowed Congress to regulate and prohibit all sorts of “economic” activities that are not, strictly speaking, commerce. The key is that those activities substantially affect interstate commerce, and that’s how the court would probably view the regulation of health insurance. But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds. If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink. Senate Republicans made this objection, and it was defeated on a party-line vote, but it will return.

At der kommer en større sag ud af det, og at sidste ord ikke er sagt, er klart.  Spørgsmålet er så blot–hvis Barnett m.fl. har ret–hvorvidt forbundshøjesteretten vil have mod nok til at erklære en så stor lov forfatningsstridig?  Historien taler imod det, og det forudser Barnetts kollega og med-blogger, Orin Kerr, også.  Efter min mening desværre.

Barnett er mere optimistisk:

“[Although some] of the potential constitutional challenges to health-care reform have a sound basis in the text of the Constitution, and no Supreme Court precedents clearly bar their success, the smart money says there won’t be five votes to thwart the popular will to enact comprehensive health insurance reform.

But what if five justices think the legislation was carried bleeding across the finish line on a party-line vote over widespread bipartisan opposition? What if control of one or both houses of Congress flips parties while lawsuits are pending? Then there might just be five votes against regulating inactivity by compelling citizens to enter into a contract with a private company. This legislation won’t go into effect tomorrow. In the interim, it is far more vulnerable than if some citizens had already started to rely upon its benefits.

If this sounds far-fetched, consider another recent case in which the smart money doubted there were five votes to intervene in a politicized controversy involving technical procedures. A case in which five justices may have perceived that long-established rules were being gamed for purely partisan advantage.

You might have heard of it: Bush v. Gore.”