Smart Links 21 October 2012

Commentary on fun with facts, immigration mistake, central bank worries, goner Greece, and inequality.

Romney and Ryan play wac-a-stat.

Business Week -- The War Over Economic Facts
Lies filled the Long Island air on Oct. 16 at the second debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.


“In the heat of political combat, “studies” become weapons. Romney and Ryan cite a study by consulting firm Ernst & Young that found restoring higher rates in the top tax brackets, as Obama has proposed, could cost 710,000 jobs in the long run. But that’s only if the proceeds go toward more government spending. Romney and Ryan fail to mention that E&Y said the hikes would create 570,000 jobs if the proceeds went toward reducing rates in the lower brackets.”


Economist -- The Democrats play hide and seek with Mitt Romney
The new tack is to stress, firmly and repeatedly, that Mr Romney is a serial concealer of truths and hider of inconvenient facts. I think this could be a useful tack.

The US is dropping the ball on immigration.

Telegraph -- Keeping foreign talent in the US is an issue on which both sides must agree
America's recovery has been one hampered by political strife. It took a stark warning from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke for a quarrelling Congress to pass a $700bn rescue package in September 2008 even as a presidential election loomed.

More worries about central bank uber-easing.

Project Syndicate – The Only Game in Town
What should central banks do when politicians seem incapable of acting? Thus far, they have been willing to step into the breach, finding new and increasingly unconventional ways to try to influence the direction of troubled economies.

Greece comes to end of the line.

Spiegel -- Top German Economists Say Greece Is Lost
Several top German economic institutes on Thursday warned that German growth is slowing as the country continues to be hampered by the ongoing euro-zone debt crisis. And Greece, they say, will be unable to "free itself from its debt burden" and will need another haircut.

Thinking about inequality.

Globe and Mail – Poverty Gives Way to Inequality and Great Frustration
Former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos recently told me a story to explain why he, like a growing number of political leaders, has stopped viewing poverty as his primary problem.


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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.