Taking a Ride on a Cycle
September 20, 2012 Economists

My colleague Steve Landsburg points out today:

Paul Krugman gets this one exactly right; among the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax in a given year, most do pay federal income tax at some point in their lives — and thus have at least some stake in the tax system.

Then one of the folks commenting on his site (Matthew Lesich) points out:

 Given that Krugman believes that incomes over the life cycle are relevant when discussing tax policy, does this mean he should apply the same principle when discussing income inequality?

And then finally David Henderson (former U of R professor, he also visited here last year) makes the following interesting offer:

So here’s my challenge: prove me wrong. Provide a link to something in the popular literature in the last 12 years–NY Times, etc.–that has Krugman pointing out that there’s a life cycle to income. It has to be in the context of the discussion of the controversial topic of income inequality and not just in the narrower context of technical economics, consumption functions, etc. If someone provides me a certifiable quote, then I will do something that probably some of you would love to see me do: write another post in which I apologize to Krugman. And not just the mealy-mouthed politician’s non-apology apology–“If I have done wrong, then I apologize”–but a real apology.

Well, I for sure would like to see more of this in the public discourse. But even if we did see more of this, I don’t think it would materially change a darn thing. This is all aside of course from the interesting issues raised by the substance of the comments above.

"1" Comment
  1. It is tough to reply without a fallacious ad hominem Phillipic against Paul Krugman. I have not read him much. The last times, for example, were on cruises where the NYT digest was the only paper available.

    I prefer the ruminations of economists who wake up every day testing their ideas and willing to acknowledge that they have not found the secrets to run the world justly. That is perhaps the biggest lesson I got from reading Hayek, and my guess is that WC would second that motion.

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