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Yet Another Cheaply Asserted Profit Opportunity

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Dear Editor:

Hunter Blair opposes cutting corporate income taxes because, as he puts it, “Corporate income-tax cuts are supposed to boost wages by incentivizing investment in plants and equipment, which boosts economy-wide productivity.  But for most of the past few decades, increases in economy-wide productivity have not translated smoothly into wage increases for the vast majority of workers.  Instead, the fruits of this productivity growth have disproportionately accrued to workers at the very top of the salary scale” (Letters, August 31).

Forget that, as Liya Palagashvili and I argued in your pages not long ago, it is a myth that worker pay hasn’t kept pace with increasing worker productivity.  If it is true that the increased worker productivity brought about by more investment has not yet been, and will continue not to be, matched by increased worker pay, then Mr. Blair should quit his job at the Economic Policy Institute and launch his own business to take profitable advantage of the legions of underpaid workers who he so confidently insists populate the land.  If he’s correct, he’ll make a mint!  If, however, Mr. Blair refuses to exploit in some form or fashion, using his own money, this profit opportunity that he himself avers is real, then he has no business advising government to continue to tax away huge chunks of money from other people – other people who, unlike Mr. Blair, put their own skin in the market.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

I find it to be intensely maddening that so many intellectuals are so confident in their views about economic reality that they feel justified in recommending government interventions based upon the assumption that these views are accurate, but simultaneously refuse to risk their own time and money in seeking in the market the ready profits that their views in many cases imply are there for the taking by private parties who have the information that these intellectuals insist that they have.

There are many beliefs that I have about reality – beliefs about which I merely write and pontificate and never, ever actually back with my own money, time, and sweat.  But not only is it the case that most of my beliefs are that real-world markets work pretty darn well and, therefore, there aren’t any profits for me to make if my beliefs are correct, it is also true – and more importantly so – that I never use my beliefs as justification for the state to restrict other people’s freedoms or to take other people’s property.