Sunday, December 02, 2012

Good Yglesias, Bad Yglesias

In the Good Yglesias category, we have "the spice must flow" problem in that stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and other pipeline-fighting as led to a boom in shipping oil by rail.  This correctly points the problem with a regulatory approach to carbon reduction - someone looks for a way around the regulation.   OTOH, oil is not the same as Herbert's spice - it's a lot more price elastic in the long run, and anything running up the price will reduce the quantity purchased.

Regulation is an imperfect substitute for a carbon cap or carbon tax, but it's better than nothing.

For Bad Yglesisas, we have a cursory rejection of the idea that people making over $400,000 could have their entire income taxed at the highest rate instead of just the amount falling in the highest bracket.  The flaw is a simplistic approach Yglesias takes - identify a problem and then pronounce the whole thing dead.  Yes, as he describes, a ten-dollar increase in income could result in tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes.  He fails to take the next step to see if the problem has a solution.  In this case, just alter the proposal so that the more a person's income exceeds $350,000, the larger the share of that person's income under $200,000 that gets taxed at the top rate.  It satisfies the Republicans' inane criteria of not raising the top rate while getting more tax money out of the top earners.  The solution isn't too difficult.

That's not to say it's a good idea when compared to simply raising the rate as Obama proposes, along with restoring estate tax rates to the 2009 level.  John Sides notes this proposal protects the ultra-rich by going after the rich.  That seems to be a common theme in Republican Party policy.

UPDATE:  Pat Robertson finds a nut.

Climate change would also fall under a "revealed science" category to the extent that category equals "about as proven as you're going to get in science."