John Horgan says pessimism is immoral: During adolescence, I was sometimes so gloomy that my mom called me Eeyore. … I mocked … Peter Medawar for declaring, “To deride the hope of progress is the ultimate fatuity, the last word in poverty of spirit and meanness of mind.” Now, perhaps because I’m a father and teacher (and hence, dare I say it, a role model), I’ve come to agree with Sir Peter, at least about social (as opposed to scientific) progress. …
Of course where and when you have reasonable cause to be pessimistic, that is when you need a measure of optimism to lift you, and where and when you have reasonable cause to be optimistic, that is when you need a measure of pessimism to bring you down to earth. It is more a question of intellectual clarity than morality. Say you are pessimistic about the continuing ability of humanity to feed an exploding population: it's a worry, no doubt about it, and a strong case might worthily be made in the negative. Nonetheless you obviously need to find some optimism if you are going to do it. On the other hand a lackadaisical optimism could allow the monstrous immensity of the challenge to sneak up and catch off-guard, and that is when some timely doom-saying will not go amiss. In life generally it is when a cause seems hopeless that we need to summon the greatest hopes, and in days of triumph when preparations for disaster ought to be made.
There may well be benefits from higher average education, e.g., faster technological progress which would yield even greater prosperity in the future...
If religious people both reproduce and participate in the technical advances that have advanced prosperity, then the whole thing still works. That's the great thing about natural selection, it is not aiming at what you want or think is good, but rather at what works. (And no, I am not religious. But my logical side doesn't let me conclude from my own state that I am the current direction of evolution.)
Actually it is opposite. Low marginal tax rates in the highest bracket make it more difficult to acquire wealth because the tax burden is then shifted from the extremely wealthy to the less wealthy.
Look at the figure on productivity growth and median income growth.
Until 1982, productivity growth and median income tracked each other. Since 1982 productivity growth has been much higher than median income growth. What happened in 1982? The top income tax rate went from ~70% to 50%.
What happened in 1988 to 1992 when median incomes dropped? The top rate went from ~39% to ~30%.
What happened in 1993 to 1999 when median incomes went up? The top rate went from ~30% to ~40%.
Income tax rates don't even consider FICA + Medicare which is only on waged income and only on the lowest paid workers and amounts to an additional 15.3%.
The point is that the necessities of life, food, housing, utilities, medical care take up a much larger fraction of the income of the non-wealthy than they do of the wealthy. Any kind of a flat tax or non-progressive tax or a regressive tax (like FICA) is going to have a much larger burden on those who have to spend a larger fraction of their income on necessities.
Okay so you understand that income tax rates aren't going to affect the position of the wealthy significantly - but very high marginal rates are going to make it real hard for others to become wealthy.
Yes I do understand the difference between income and wealth.
Income is how much you take in.
Wealth is what you have left over after you have paid for everything that you need to pay for, like taxes, food, housing, medical care, FICA, etc.
Another problem with this claim is that the countries with HDI's above .9 that are increasing their fertility have a total population considerably less than 1 billion. What about the other 6 billion people?
Malthus claimed that population growth was unsustainable, since it would always outstrip resource utilization potential. His timing was bad - at the same time he seemed to have proven that, the Industrial Revolution started, and suddenly this was no longer true - human population has exploded, yet living standards are better pretty much everywhere. The Industrial Revolution changed the game.
But is the party over - are we re-entering a Malthusian world? Personally, I'm a pessimist - I can't imagine we could support 14 million people in 90 years. Hopefully birth control becomes a worldwide fad real soon.
John Horgan is a science journalist. Translation: if your name's not Tierney or Wade, you're an idiot.
"Reduce income tax rates from 91% to 35% is like getting an investment to earn 7.2 times more. That is an increase in yield of 722%."
You seriously don't understand the difference between income and wealth?
Yes, I agree with you, and the “stock” that pays the richest and surest dividend is “government”. Reduce income tax rates from 91% to 35% is like getting an investment to earn 7.2 times more. That is an increase in yield of 722%.
With increased yields like that, mere investments can't compete. No surprise that corporations and wealthy individuals pay a lot less in taxes than do the middle class. Why? Because for the wealthy, “investing” in government pays the highest dividends.
Of course lowering taxes on the rich doesn't reduce government spending, it simply compels the poor to pay for it in increased taxes or reduced services, both of which make becoming rich more difficult.
The easiest way to stay rich is to prevent other people from becoming rich.
Wow, do you really believe that? I think that the easiest way to stay rich is to buy buy a word wide diversified portfolio of the safest divided paying stocks.
I guess that you could be talking on the country level, but as far as I can see increased wealth in poor countries is good of wealth in rich counties.
I bet that recent world recession has reversed that trend, at least temporarily.
Becoming rich is a bottom-up process, but staying rich is a top-down process (which the rich can do because they are at the top). The easiest way to stay rich is to prevent other people from becoming rich.
Our "our non-Malthusian era"? We are all resource-limited, no?
I don't think Malthus ever claimed that growth was impossible, just that it was unsustainable.
Look up entropy. There's a difference between resources and waste.