I was disappointed that the initial discussion of the "darwin economy" was so short. Matt seemed about to prod Robert into discussing why we should care about what MBAs spend on their suits, and then suggested they talk about something they agree more on. No! Disagreement can spur people to elaborate on their positions and the justifications for them. Dare I say there is a dialectic process?
And I say that as someone who thinks Frank is wrong about a lot, such as the income-happiness link
, home envy
, and within-firm inequality
Any libertarian who complains about introducing congestion fees should be kicked in the shins, and yes I know that is a violation of the non-aggression principle we can pay a small fine in reparation later :P. A congestion fee is a kind of user fee, and libertarians should always advocate that the government finance its operations with user fees as much as possible. That's how a private sector market would work, and if you think those work better than the government it only makes sense to say that the government should be forced to ask What Would Markets Do
. That's also the way to formulate proper monetary police, ask how a free banking system would work. As long as there is a central bank there is no such thing as "not doing monetary policy". The latter point is one a lot of libertarians haven't yet grasped, but the congestion fee objection is relatively new to me.
Stop signs may be a bad example
for Frank's cause.
I don't see how the ordinary worker disregarding safety regulations is analogous to the hockey player. The hockey player is playing a zero sum game against other players. If they all wear helmets there is basically no cost (I am assuming fans don't care, I don't know that for a fact but nobody brought it up). Ordinary workplaces are not zero sum games. In fact, the more money available the more employees that can be hired. And adhering to safety regulations costs more than hockey helmets. I suppose he might argue that the workers are bidding down safety, but the same logic applies to wages (with the complication that I'm not so sure safety costs increase with the number of workers). That's not considered a market failure, although some advocate unionizing workers so as to form a monopsony.
I think he has something of a point about schools. It is actually an indictment of a system that assigns people to schools based on where they live rather than letting them choose, which in turn leads to not only bidding wars over real estate but attempts to lock undesirable families out of school districts. But I don't think that's pure waste, some people like those without children or who were going to homeschool or private school anyway don't care about local school quality and can choose to live in other neighborhoods.
He mentions a consumption tax at the end. In as far as we can't fund the government with user fees (and would a head tax count as a user fee?) consumption taxes are vastly superior to income taxes. Mostly because income is one of the last things you want to tax, and sometimes supply curves are pretty inelastic so we wouldn't lose much.