The indomitable K-Thug, aka Saint Paul, had a great idea that I wish he would explore more often. Especially since the original brain child of the bit nearly canned it not too long ago.

To satisfy K-Thug’s request of his readership, I’m adding to the canon.

So without any further ado:

Worse:

by Lawrence H. Summers

“Empirical evidence shows that two causes [of long-term unemployment] are welfare payments and unemployment insurance. These government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment in two ways.”

“First, government assistance increases the measure of unemployment by prompting people who are not working to claim that they are looking for work even when they are not. “

“The second way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work.”

Worser:

By N. Gregory Mankiw
Fortune issue: November 13, 2000

This is so silly it should be read in full. And published just in time for the first Bush Recession & one of the worst bear markets in US stock market history. Being chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors isn’t going to be the strong point of his CV.

Worst:

Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer
Wanninski was a political economist & WSJ alum, while Laffer is another worthless piece of rodent excrement from the rotting litter box we call The University of Chicago School of Business. Both idiots are the fathers of supply-side theory.

TNR did a long form write up about the dynamic duo, which I encourage you to read in full:

Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer were laboring with little success to explain the new theory to Dick Cheney. Laffer pulled out a cocktail napkin and drew a parabola-shaped curve on it. The premise of the curve was simple. If the government sets a tax rate of zero, it will receive no revenue.

And, if the government sets a tax rate of 100 percent, the government will also receive zero tax revenue, since nobody will have any reason to earn any income. Between these two points–zero taxes and zero revenue, 100 percent taxes and zero revenue–Laffer’s curve drew an arc. The arc suggested that at higher levels of taxation, reducing the tax rate would produce more revenue for the government.

The napkin that caused this mess.
The napkin that got us into this mess.

The article’s author, Jonathan Chait, dispenses this nonsense with the swiftness:

Yes, a zero tax rate would obviously produce zero revenue, but the assumption that a 100-percent tax rate would also produce zero revenue was, just as obviously, false.
Even if the Laffer Curve was correct in theory, there was no evidence that the U.S. income tax was on the downward slope of the curve–that is, that rates were then high enough that tax cuts would produce higher revenue.
(You can almost picture Donald Rumsfeld, years later, scrawling a diagram for Cheney on a cocktail napkin showing that only a small number of troops would be needed to occupy Iraq.)
From 1947 to 1973, the U.S. economy grew at a rate of nearly 4 percent a year–a massive boom, fueling rapid growth in living standards across the board. During most of that period, from 1947 until 1964, the highest tax rate hovered around 91 percent. For the rest of the time, it was still a hefty 70 percent. Yet the economy flourished anyway.
Apparently, nothing in human history defies Wanniski’s attempts to involve the Laffer Curve. He goes on to write: “When Hitler came to power in 1933, fascinated with Mussolini’s syndicalist style, he–like Roosevelt–left tax rates where he found them…Although he left the explicit tax rates high, [Germany] did chip away at the domestic and international wedges. The economy expanded, but in so distorted a fashion that it compressed the tension between agriculture and industry into an explosive problem that Hitler sought to solve through Lebensraum, or conquest [sic].” You, dear reader, may have thought that

    Nazi ideology led to the invasion of Poland, but, thanks to Wanniski, you can see that the underlying cause turns out to have been high taxes.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the recent history of the United States would have been far different were it not for Jude Wanniski,” wrote Robert Novak.

Indeed. I find myself in rare agreement with Mr. Novak.

Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer.

Today’s worst.

Economists.

In the world.
jest

jest

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