- Robert Frank comments on the connection between recognizing the luck and social support which lead to one's own success, and being willing to fund a state which will ensure opportunities for everybody:
I've seen even brief discussions of the link between success and luck temper the outrage many wealthy people feel about taxes. At an intuitive level, it's not puzzling that successful citizens like Schwarzman might view mandatory taxation as unjustified confiscation of what's rightfully theirs. But extensive public investment was an essential precondition for the economic prosperity of those very same tax protesters, and we can't have public investment without taxes.- Meanwhile, Dean Beeby writes about RESP grants as just one example of how programs labelled as helping people in need actually benefit higher-income families. But on the bright side, Bryan Mullan reports that a small investment by the Canada Revenue Agency in investigating tax evasion produced three times the expected return in public revenue.
Sensible views about taxes or any other subject do not reliably triumph over less sensible ones in the short run. But we should all take comfort in the fact that the long-run historical narrative bends toward truth. One reason is that when evidence for a particular view becomes compelling, the number of people who embrace it tends to snowball. Beliefs are contagious.
Public opinion shifts one conversation at a time. In my own recent conversations with highly successful people, I've seen opinions change on the spot. Many who seem never to have considered the possibility that their success stemmed from factors other than their own talent and effort are often surprisingly willing to rethink. In many instances, even brief reflection stimulates them to recall specific examples of good breaks they've enjoyed along the way.
So I hope you'll talk with your friends about their experiences with luck. In the process, you may persuade them to support a more ambitious program of public investment. But even if not, you'll almost surely hear some interesting stories.
- Karthik Ramanna and Allan Dreschel discuss the corporate war against accountability. And Chris Sagers points out that antitrust law represents a readily-available - but seldom-used - option to address the growth of unrestrained corporate power.
- David Dayen rightly asks what social purpose hedge funds serve - and suggests that it's time both to redirect public assets which currently prop them up, and to stop giving them special regulatory treatment.
- Finally, Andrew Jackson highlights the Parliamentary Budget Officer's attempts to wring information out of a Lib government whose first inclination was to be even more secretive than its predecessor - and finds that the information eventually produced shows stagnation or cuts in social investments. And CBC offers a reminder of the potential of open government.