michael meeropol

Michael Meeropol: Upward Mobility On The Decline

Jun 5, 2015

Last month (May, 2015) I watched a video of a discussion about childhood poverty at Georgetown University featuring President Obama, the head of the American Enterprise Institute (Arthur Brooks), and Harvard  University Professor Robert Putnam. 

Where does Hillary Clinton stand on the various issues related to Social Security?    Does she agree with former President Bush that Social Security is going bankrupt or with former Texas Governor Rick Perry that it is a “Ponzi scheme”?   [I have commented on this issue before but just to re-iterate – a Ponzi scheme is a situation where a fraudster sells future profits of an organization that actually has no revenue stream other than the “income” from selling share to the next round of buyers.   In other words, I sell you something for $1000 and promise a 20% return.  The only way I get that money to you is to sell two other people something for $1000.  Now I have $2000 and I give you $1200 and keep the $800 for myself.   Then I have to find four people to sell “shares” for $1000 each, give, the two new people $2400 and keep the $1600 for myself.  It works until I run out of people to sell to or until someone figures out that there’s no way my organization is truly “earning” the money I claim.   Social Security is nothing like that.  It has a guaranteed revenue stream from the payroll tax.]

Michael Meeropol: Do We Really Want To Go To War With Iran

Apr 16, 2015

Let’s get real.  Do you want the US to go to war with Iran in a futile attempt to stop them from acquiring a nuclear weapon?   That’s what those who are trying to torpedo the deal that is being negotiated seem to want.   For most of the Republicans it appears that it is more important to damage President Obama than to avoid war.

When Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2008, she lost the nomination to Barack Obama because she had voted for the Iraq War and he had made a speech against it.   Should Secretary Clinton declare her candidacy for the Presidency, I am wondering if her vote in favor of the bank bailout in 2008 will come back to haunt her in a similar way.

Which Presidential candidate called for “high sustained economic growth where more people can have earned success?” and in what year?  No, it was not Bill Clinton in 1992.  No, it was not Barack Obama in 2012.  It was Jeb Bush in a sit-down with Sean Hannity during the CPAC conference.  (For details see http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/27/jeb-bush-defends-himself-on-common-core )

Today I want to talk about some of the tax changes proposed in the 2016 budget just submitted by President Obama.   It would be a great public service if we could get the predicted presidential candidates to respond to some of the specific elements of his proposals.   I wish that those interested in running for the Democratic nomination would be forced to explain which of these proposals she or he supports and which he or she doesn’t support and – most importantly – why?    The Republicans probably have it easier because they can just complain about how many billions (or trillions) of dollars of tax increases are in that proposal and leave it at that.  In fact that is just what they did when the budget was first released.  However, but even given the Republican mantra against any tax increases, it would be great to force them to get more specific about their objections.

Sometime soon, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will declare whether or not they are running for President, as will a host of others. The campaigns will probably be dominated by personalities, opposition research, an endless series of debates, one gaffe or another, one catchy slogan or another and virtually nothing of useful substance.

Michael Meeropol: Here We Go Again

Dec 5, 2014

Nine years ago, the first commentary I presented identified two competing approaches to economics.  The first one was personified by then Fed Chair Alan Greenspan who is well known as a free-market true-believer.   In fact in his youth he was a philosophical follower of Ayn Rand.   The other person highlighted in that commentary was the late John Kenneth Galbraith.  Galbraith was a strong supporter of government action to fight unemployment and poverty.  He was also a strong believer in macro-economic demand management following the arguments of John Maynard Keynes.   In that first commentary, I made it appear as if Galbraith was for “big government” while Greenspan was for “small government.”

What can economics tell us about the Ebola problem?   First it can answer the question as to why there has never been a vaccine manufactured for human consumption, even though the virus was first isolated in 1976 and there have been a number of (small) outbreaks of the disease since.  Second, it can point ways to a policy action that can lead to the widespread availability of such a vaccine.

Back in 1993, the original proposal from the Clinton Administration on how to close the budget deficits that they had inherited upon taking office included a revenue raiser called a BTU tax --- a tax on the amount of energy (measured in British Thermal Units) contained within all fuels sold.