So Close, and Yet....
Matt Yglesias comes tantalizingly close to making sense for some of these, and then flitters away like a butterfly.
His list of "Things I Support for Policy"
— More redistribution of money from the top to the bottom.
— A less paternalistic welfare state that puts more money directly in the hands of the recipients of social services.
If these were taken as a couplet, I could sort of go along. The first by itself is nonsense; it's not wrong, it's impossible. But if we were to take all the money now spent on welfare and social services for the poor, and split it 80% to the poor, 20% tax rebates for the rest of us, AND PUT ALL THE 80% INTO A NEGATIVE INCOME TAX...then W. Pareto would smile. This is pretty much the argument I make in a paper forthcoming in Basic Income Studies. The point being we don't need more redistribution from top to bottom. What we need to do is make sure some of it actually makes it to the bottom, by preventing Robin Hood's Merry Men in Washington from drinking it all up and spending it on hookers.
— Macroeconomic stabilization policy that seriously aims for full employment.
— Curb the regulatory privileges of incumbent landowners.
I literally have no idea what the first one means. And the second one is clear, but terrifying. Good God, man, have you no shame? Have you no shame, sir? "Curb regulatory privileges" is just a straightforward taking, only without all that expensive (but Constitutionally-mandated) compensation.
— Roll back subsidies implicit in our current automobile/housing-oriented industrial policy.
— Break the licensing cartels that deny opportunity to the unskilled.
Jeez. Wot hoppint? These not only make sense, they are essential pieces of the libertarian economic program. And they are both well and precisely stated. I find it surprising that Matt Y actually believes the second. *I* certainly think the second is a huge problem, but....wow. Matt: much proper respect and love. This is good work, here.
— Much greater equalization of opportunities in K-12 education.
Put "public" and I'm with you. I don't see a reason to cap how good private schools can be (necessary to "equalize"), but I don't see why there should be such enormous disparities in public education, even in the same state. Of course, the way to do this is vouchers and charter schools. It would be fast and effective. Not sure Matt would go that far, though, 'cause he believes in government PROVISION of education, where I would go no further than government FUNDING of education, and even there I have some worries.
— Reduction of the rents assembled by privileged intellectual property owners.
Sure, yes. Don't feed the trolls. Patents and copyrights need reformed.
— Throughout the public sector, concerted reform aimed at ensuring public services are public services and not jobs programs.
Holy smokes! Not sure how this squares with the "full employment" thing, but if this be reform, give me more of it! In fact, the more I read this one the happier it makes me. Focusing on public service means you might be able to judge if it is a public good, and if it is worth something. Focusing on "jobs" means that evaluations go like this: (1) Do you have a budget? Yes. GOOD! (2) Did you spend it? Yes. VERY GOOD! Evaluation: Excellent program.
— Taxation of polluters (and resource-extractors more generally) rather than current de facto subsidization of resource extraction
Absolutely. AB. SO. LUTE. LY. Stop feeding the oil pigs, the coal pigs who rip the tops off mountains, stop subsidizing extraction with foreign wars that waste our young people and our taxes. If oil and coal were charged out at anything like their true prices, we would not need to subsidize "green" alternatives. Gas would (and should be) $5 a gallon, and coal would be expensive enough that we would find other ways to generate power. Instead, just as Matt Y says, we subsidize the pigs, and then we subsidize the "alternative" fuels. Since all we have to do is STOP spending tax money on coal, oil, ethanol, and so on, this should be doable. Sure, energy prices would go up, but they should go up. And if we had an effective basic income scheme, poor people could still afford the energy.
Overall: well done. Very solid on the list; counting 1/2 's I would say I am with him on 6 of these. I'm pretty confident that there are zero Republicans politicians that would get a 6/10 from me. So, Matt Yglesias for President!