David Henderson is correct: capital is so far from being a homogenous glob – a “K” – that there is no analytical advantage, and far too much analytical confusion, to be had by treating it as such. (And, I add, much the same holds true for labor – or, if you prefer, for “human capital.”)
Vincent Geloso writes about an under-appreciated trend in mortality and inequality. Here’s his conclusion:
What used to be a major source of inequality is now a minor source of inequality in human development. The unhealthy focus on income inequality makes us blind to these great developments in human well-being. This is not to say that analysis of income (or wealth) inequality should be abandoned. However, it ought to be complemented with other indicators of inequality. A great number of indicators would constitute a dashboard for sober analysis. At the very least, it would give us the capacity to appreciate how we are living in a more equal and richer world than we used to before.
It’s undeniably true that housing, health care, and college are too expensive in this country, but because it [Cass’s index] exaggerates the cost of college and fails to include health benefits as compensation, the index overstates its case when it claims the four essentials to a good life are out of reach. And it completely ignores many other important expenses, from food to computers, whose prices have fallen. Also worth noting is that in treating male wages as the benchmark, it leaves out the upward trends in female work and pay, though these issues are discussed in the report itself (and get complicated because two-worker families take on new costs through daycare and the like).
On trade, Clausing challenges the mercantilist fixation on exports and trade balances. She notes that imports benefit American families, especially lower-income households that spend a larger share of their budgets on tradable goods such as food, clothing, and shoes. As a consequence, tariffs are one of the federal government’s most regressive forms of taxation. “In the United States,” she writes, “tariffs take a bite out of the after-tax incomes of the poorest 20 percent of the population three times larger, in percentage terms, than they take from the top 20 percent.”