Sunday, May 25, 2008

In a better world

In todays NY Times, Professor Robert N. Frank writes that "The Invisible Hand is Shaking ... How taxes can steer resources toward better uses". Most economists probably share the sentiment.

But how about adding some italics? In a better world, taxes can steer resources to better uses. Donald Rumsfeld fanously mentioned that we go to war with the military we have and not the one we want to have. Likewise, the people who will collect and spend the new taxes are the politicians we have. What if the social good that may come from reduced auto use (once gasoline taxes are raised) is negated by wasteful spending by those who collect these revenues? Plausible? Likely?