Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January 15th, 2012

I’ve received several versions of this over the years. I’m not sure whether I like this more than the modern fable of the ant and the grasshopper, but it’s definitely good.

============================================

Cows and Government

Socialism

Is this the hope or the change?

You have two cows. The government takes one and give one to your neighbor.

Communism

You have two cows. The government takes them both and promises you milk but you starve.

Fascism

You have two cows. The government takes them and sells you the milk.

Bureaucracy

You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.

Capitalism

You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Bain Capitalism

You have two cows. You sell one, force the other to produce the milk of four cows and then act surprised when it drops dead.

Redistributionism

You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to support someone else who already got a free cow from the government.

==============================================

As you can imagine from my previous posts, I think the Romney dig was a good touch.

Here’s a different version.

==============================================

A CHRISTIAN:

You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

A SOCIALIST:

You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

A REPUBLICAN:

You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

A DEMOCRAT:

You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

A FASCIST:

You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

A CAPITALIST:

You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

==============================================

Here’s a final version. It’s perhaps mildly un-PC, like this joke about terrorism alerts.

==============================================

A FRENCH CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.

A GERMAN CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION:

You have two cows but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION:

You have 5000 cows, none of which belongs to you. You charge for storing them for others.

A TALIBAN CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You turn them loose in the Afghan “countryside” and they both die. You blame the godless American infidels and the Jews.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION:

You have two cows. You worship them.

============================================

Last but not least, this joke about bureaucracy is a good way to close.

Read Full Post »

In the past 20-plus years, I’ve seen all sorts of arguments for class-warfare taxation.These include:

I suppose leftists deserve credit for being adaptable. Just about anything is an excuse for soak-the-rich tax hikes. The sun is shining, raise taxes! The sky is cloudy, increase tax rates!

But if there was an award for the strangest argument in favor of higher taxes, it would probably belong to a group of academics who have concluded that “progressive” tax systems make people happier.

I’m not kidding. There’s a new study making that assertion. Here are some passages from an announcement by the Association for Psychological Science.

…a new study comparing 54 nations found that flattening the tax risks flattening social wellbeing as well. “The more progressive the tax policy is, the happier the citizens are,” says University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi, summarizing the findings, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. …Well-being was expressed in people’s assessments of their overall life quality, from “worst” to “best possible life,” on a scale of 1 to 10; and in whether they enjoyed positive daily experiences (such as smiling, being treated with respect, and eating good food) or suffered negative ones, including sadness, worry, and shame. …The degree of progressivity was measured by the difference between the highest and lowest tax rates, corrected for such confounding factors as family size, social security taxes paid, and tax benefits received by individuals. The results: On average, residents of the nations with the most progressive taxation evaluated their own lives as closer to “the best possible.”

The actual study isn’t available yet, but the release from APS screams junk science – especially since a study of American states found that high taxes lead to unhappiness.

But we should be skeptical of all this research. There are myriad pitfalls, including cultural differences.

But the most obvious problem is causality. Even if we assume it’s possible to make accurate cross-border comparisons of happiness, is there any reason to think that progressive tax rates are a causal factor, one way or the other? Heck, we may as well assume that crowing roosters cause the sun to appear.

Here’s one very obvious guess about what may cause the APS results. I’m guessing that people in Sweden and Denmark say they are happy. That’s not too surprising. They live in rich countries. But those countries became rich before the welfare state began and before high tax rates became the norm. So does it make sense to say they are happy because of high tax rates?

People in Mongolia and Bulgaria, by contrast, probably aren’t as happy as people in the Scandinavian nations. They live in relatively poor nations that suffered from decades of communist enslavement. In recent years, though, both nations implemented flat taxes in hopes of spurring growth and catching up to the rest of the world. But progress doesn’t happen overnight. So does it make sense to say that they are unhappy because the tax system isn’t “progressive”?

Ironically, the APS release does include the following results.

Higher government spending per se did not yield greater happiness, in spite of the well-being that was associated with satisfaction with state-funded services. In fact, there was a slight negative correlation between government spending and average happiness.

Since we do have good evidence that economic growth suffers as government expands, this conclusion makes a lot more sense.

But I’m still skeptical about happiness studies. Seems like they might suffer from the credibility issues associated with global warming research.

Actually, I retract that statement. Happiness research may be imprecise and susceptible to bias, but I doubt people in that field would ever make a claim as absurd as global warming causes AIDS. And I doubt they would try to do something as stupid as rationing toilet paper or create something as silly as a hand-cranked vibrator.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,434 other followers

%d bloggers like this: