Posted by | October 12, 2010 12:54 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Greg Mankiw, former Chair of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, whined that the possible repeal of the Bush tax cuts may lead him to drop his New York Times column on economics.  In short, while he is very wealthy, the decreased earnings from a tax increase are enough to make him decide it isn’t worthwhile to keep writing.  Brad Delong dismantles his argument on economic grounds:

The sooner taxes are raised in order to pay for Medicare Part D, the expanded U.S. military, other pieces of Medicare and Medicaid spending growth, and to offset the revenue lost over the past decade of the Bush temporary tax cuts, the lower the taxes on Greg’s saving for his children’s inheritance will be. That Barack Obama is taking some steps to restore fiscal sanity should diminish his view of the risk-adjusted taxes his long-run savings will pay, and make him more willing to write for the New York Times–not less.

And then on moral grounds:

Second, Greg says that it’s worth it for him to write columns if they generate $2000 in net bequeathed wealth in 2040 but not if they generate $1,000. But that shouldn’t be why anybody writes columns. Indeed, if people write columns not because they are driven to inform and educate their readers but rather because it is a way to make money to leave to their children–well, then those columns will be written not to inform but to entertain, and so they will be worthless as sources of information and education (rather than as sheer entertainment) to their readers.

I do not think society can survive if the voices writing on political-economic issues in our public sphere are doing so not to inform but merely to entertain. I think that society can only survive if those who write columns are driven by a geas to make Americans better-educated citizens but rather to leave more wealth to your children. We ought to write columns not because we think our children will need extra money in thirty years, but because we think our fellow-citizens need better information now.

Fortunately for Alan and you dear readers, my income is below the $250K threshold so I will keep blogging here even if the tax cuts expire.  Also fortunately for everyone, I’m doing this for free so you can count on me trying to inform rather than entertain!

Note from Alan: Stuart is worth it at many times the price.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.