Economic Notes

– The Heritage Foundation has their 2009 Index of Economic Freedom.  The US slipped from 5th place to 6th, but Hong Kong & Singapore are still 1-2, as always.  Ireland has jumped an amazing amount the last several years and landed in 4th place.  Of the top 10 countries, 8 are Anglosphere countries (including Singapore, which is probably a bit of a stretch).  Estonia is #13, with rigid labor markets their weakest point.

– The Heritage Foundation also has a basic idea of how to reform our entitlement programs.  For Social Security, they’d like to see the retirement age go up to 70, lower benefits on people who can afford it, and decrease the cost of living adjustment rate.  For Medicaire, they’d like to see means testing added for certain sections, as well as changing the billing structure of Medicare to make it a defined-contribution system.  For Medicaid, they want to change it to a block grant, which means that the federal government would no longer reimburse states for Medicaid expenses and this would no longer give states an incentive to have clients use Medicaid services quite as much.

– The Republican Study Committee has an alternate stimulus plan, one which looks much better than $700 billion of spending and $300 billion of transfers disguised as tax cuts.  Cutting corporate income taxes and indexing capital gains to inflation are very good ideas.  The others are fine as well, though not as powerful.  I also like the 1% spending cut, especially if this is a true 1% cut and not a “instead of budgets increasing 5% next year, they will only increase 4%.”  State governments are actually cutting their budgets (I haven’t kept track, but I’m thinking that this upcoming fiscal year’s budget will be roughly 10% below the one two years ago), and the federal government should follow suit.

Bryan Caplan is looking at doing a book club on Murray Rothbard’s For A New Liberty.  I’m going to try to take part and follow along with the reading, even if I don’t necessarily make any comments on it.  It’s better than the book Tyler Cowen’s covering, at least…


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