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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Make the world safe for mediocrity and make your city the nation's largest slumlord

Jesse Myerson is to economics what Miley Cyrus is to creative dance. One wonders if Rolling Stone takes this guy seriously or if it feels compelled to offer up an occasional absurdity to just to keep its readership from abandoning them for the National Inquirer. This is not the guy who is going to make their readers forget about Michael Hastings but it could be management thinks it has found a new wunderkind. With the characteristic leftist's lack of modesty Myerson claims to speak for the entire millennial generation just as Sinead O'Connor took it upon herself to speak for all of us and to apologize to Mother Earth. Realizing that Myerson would be a short sell on any generation, I'm inclined to cut the rest of them some slack.
Myerson, who learned economics in the Occupy movement, published his manifesto, Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For, a few days ago and has been basking in media attention since. His great reforms are really just recycled, without attribution, the hackneyed bs that would do Gus Hall and the old left proud.
  1. Guaranteed Work for Everybody
  2. Social Security for All
  3. Take Back The Land
  4. Make Everything Owned by Everybody
  5. A Public Bank in Every State

Aside from his writing style the most off-putting feature of this pedestrian prose is the sense of entitlement. Previous utopian tracts always argued from a moral point of view. Myerson seems to think a college degree confers on the holder the right to the "time to cultivate new needs for pleasures, activities, senses, passions, affects, and socialities that exceed the options of working and saving, producing and accumulating."
Pleasures, activities, senses, passions, affects, and socialities be damned. Who the hell is going to bus the tables? Who will pick up the garbage? The liberal arts major with a minor in lesbian dance? If one is guaranteed a job why would anyone at Rolling Stone want to bother with spell check or punctuation editing. How can one expect a concrete finisher to labor 10 hours a day, 6 days a week in searing sun building an Interstate Highway when he has new socialities to cultivate?
Take back the land. Myerson seems to have a personal aversion to paying rent. Since landlords are deemed to be immoral and not the legitimate owners of the property the government should levy a land value tax that would eventually allow municipalities to be big time landowners.
The value of the land has nothing to do with my idle, remote landlord; it reflects the nearby parks and subways and shops, which I have access to thanks to the community and the public. So why don't the community and the public derive the value and put it toward uses that benefit everyone? Because capitalism, is why.
You didn't build that!
Public housing for all? Wow! So called "land reform" has a dirty and dark history. Read Economics Professor Stephen Bainbridge's post Jesse Myerson offers up the dumbest article written to date in 2014 to see how well it worked in Stalinist Russia and his somewhat less than enthusiastic assessment of Myerson and his muddled thinking.
 I realize millenials think history started when they were born, but those of us of a certain age remember a country that tried most of these 5 things. It was called the Soviet Union:
Now the piece de resistance of this incredibly light utopian recipe.
This detachment means that there's a way easier way to collectivize wealth ownership than having to stage uprisings that seize the actual airplanes and warehouses and whatnot: Just buy up their stocks and bonds. When the government does that, it's called a sovereign wealth fund. Think of it like a big investment fund that buys up assets from the private sector and pays dividends to all permanent U.S. residents in the form of a universal basic income.
Yes, maybe they can call it the Solyndra Fund. When the government announces it will be buying up all stocks and bonds one can imagine what that will do for the Dow averages. Millionaires will become billionaires in the course of an afternoon but after they all move to Belize and Singapore we'll be rid of income inequality.Yeah, and then they can buy up the few T-bills that Janet Yellen leaves on the market.  If you have a passion for lofty rhetoric and economic illiteracy you may want to check out Mr. Myerson's brilliancy.

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