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George Scialabba profiled in Inside Higher Ed.--

At Cliopatria, Ralph Luker points us to Scott McLemee's profile of George Scialabba (and his newly published book of essays) in Inside Higher Ed.--and to what Rick Perlstein calls Scialabba's "masterpiece": "Message from Room 101."

In reading the essay Message from Room 101, I agree that it is indeed powerful and well written, marred only by its naive views about how easily redistributive economics can work.

Scialabba fans: Is there another essay of his that is both online and worth reading?

Henry Schaffer (mail):
I just read it - it's worth reading. However I'm not sure that his ideas are so clearly "redistributive economics", unless one considers all progressive taxation to be included. He's suggesting increasing the progressiveness of our income taxes, plus some national service which I guess could also be labelled redistributive.
8.11.2006 9:06pm
James Lindgren (mail):
I favor reducing payroll taxes on the poor (something that would work better than the minimum wage). And I also favor a more limited estate tax than we used to have, though it produces very little revenue. I was referring mostly to his Rawls hypothetical. First, having an estate tax mostly takes away money from the very rich. It causes so many distortions of economic activity and costs so much to administer that it is not clear whether its abolishment would make poor people any richer rather than poorer. In other words, its only justification is to reduce the influence of inherited wealth, but its leveling benefit may be bought at the cost of making everyone (rich and poor) a little poorer.

As for giving substantial income or tax forgiveness to the depressed, I'm sure that you can see that this would be so hard to administer that it would lead to much unproductive behavior in order to qualify for the benefit. More general income leveling would be easier to administer with fewer disincentives and definitional problems.

I found his Rawls hypothetical economically naive.
8.11.2006 11:38pm