I'm no economist. Thank God. Which means that I haven't had my veins pumped full of economism (a religion that is very much the opiate of the academies, and a much more effective soporific than Christianity, Islam, or Judaism).
"I never met a tax cut I didn't like," said the Nobel-winning Chile-miraclizing Milton Friedman. Yeah? Well I've met a few. For instance, every single one of George's gifts to the ultra-wealthy. I know, I know: "a rising tide raises all boats." Which is great if you own a yacht. If you don't own even a dinghy, then a rising tide merely destroys your home and drowns your neighbors, as we've just witnessed in New Orleans. If those tax cuts (along with the Iraq war) hadn't gutted FEMA's budget, then perhaps we might have seen an adequate response.
Even Reagan met a few tax cuts he didn't like, which is why he raised taxes during his administration. Not to mention George's Dad, who read his own lips, carefully, and discovered that they in fact whispered: we need more revenue.
Nevertheless, mainstream economists (not those Krugman firebrands) will tell you that the economy cannot withstand a high tax rate. The economy. Not the wealthy — who cannot stand a high tax rate — but the nation's economic health, and competitive edge, require taxes to be mean and lean. Since I never took ECON 101, let me detour around those damned statistics and turgid prose, to present an interesting little fact:
Finland has the world's most competitive economy. Finland. Edging out even the United States. This from a survey of 11,000 business leaders, in the Global Competitiveness Report, released today by the World Economic Forum.
Augusto Lopez-Claros, chief economist and director of the Geneva-based institute's global competitiveness program, "said the Nordic nations were disproving the common belief that high taxes hinder competitiveness:
"'While the business communities in the Nordic countries point to high tax rates as a potential problem area, there is no evidence that these are adversely affecting the ability of these countries to compete effectively in world markets, or to provide to their respective populations some of the highest standards of living in the world,' he said. 'Indeed, the high levels of government tax revenue have delivered world-class educational establishments, an extensive safety net, and a highly motivated and skilled labor force.'"
Damn. And if I had a PhD from Chicago, I'd know that was false. I could marshal impressive models and statistics (and some truly bad writing — ever read Friedman?) to demonstrate the counterfactual nature of that, um, fact. I might even win a Nobel Prize for my tendentious special pleading.