Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Instalanche Redux

Wow! Instapundit posted my questions below, and I had a ton (for me) of traffic here today.  Thanks for a great discussion in the comments, which hopefully will continue.

Instapundit definitely draws a conservative/libertarian kind of commenter, based on what was going on in the comments.  Isn't it interesting that so many comments reflected the belief that everyone should pay some tax, no matter how little.  I really think there's something to the "buy-in"  that the Swedish Social Democrats have figured out. (I think that was "Terminal Frost" who contributed that idea.)

Mostly it bothered me that these basic questions are never even offered, maybe because the answers seem obvious on the surface.  And the vast majority of commenters seemed to agree with this.  I especially liked the point about looking at taxation as a confiscation not of money but of time.  Talk about clarifying the problem!  But apparently SOMEONE believes that it's okay for a large chunk of the electorate to not be taxed.  

I really liked the house discussion.  See, I have a feeling that home ownership has changed, especially in light of the bubble.  How much worse is it to live in a neighborhood with several foreclosed, vacant houses than a full apartment complex? There seems to be room to question encouraging home ownership, even though it's been treated as a tacit good thing for many years.  Same with the college education--it is a given, isn't it, that a college degree is necessary?

Back when I was an actuary, sometimes we would get answers which didn't make any sense.  We couldn't figure out what was wrong in the wasn't until we went all the way back to the initial assumptions, to how we framed to the problem, and then we could see that we had been looking at the problem all wrong.  Maybe that's what is going on here.  There needs to be time and space to really examine our principles.  Thanks for participating in the discussion.  I'll try to keep up the questions; please check in once in a while and throw around some answers.


ZipperTPartee said...

You're on the right track, go back, examine principles (maybe even the Constitution). Sorry to be repetitive but the waters on and it all boils down to a TEA PARTY!!!!

The Dude said...

I disagree that a college education is a necessity. It really only applies to a fraction of the jobs but because so many people have the attitude that it is a necessity, more kids are going to college than is needed, driving the costs up. Since so many people have a college education, an employer can insist a job applicant have one, even though there is no real reason the person needs one for the job (thereby making it a costly, wasteful necessity by mistake). Many people would be better served by going to a trade school. For most people college is training for the job they are striving for and a trade school would be more efficient. Another thing, college educations should never be subsidized by the government. I cannot understand why a plumber and his waitress wife (for example) would be expected to use their money in the form of taxes to pay for someone else's college education. Lastly, why is everyone stressed about paying to send their kids to college? In the old days only the rich paid for their kids to go to college. The rest worked their way through. Take care of youself first, don't be a burden on your kids when you are older. That is much more important than paying for their education when you cannot afford it. That is nothing to feel bad about. A person who really wants the education will find a way to get it and appreciate it more than someone who has it given to them.

hpcc19 said...

here's a little follow up

Question: What fuels college tuition inflation?

Answer: Student loans. From the Chronicle for Higher Education: “The volume of private loans shrank by $173-million, or about 1 percent, to $19.1-billion in 2007-8. That decline reverses years of double-digit growth and does not reflect the recent credit crunch. At the same time, the volume of federal loans rose by 6 percent after inflation.”

You have a volatile mix: Inexperienced borrowers, federally guaranteed lenders and the biggest sharks in capitalism: College presidents. Hence, the double-digit inflation in price.