Jeg læste en interessant artikel af én, der på kritisk facon fortæller om sine oplevelser i grundkurset i økonomi på University of Chicago (In These Times, fundet via Mankiw). Følgende uddrag (især sidste afsnit) rammer meget tæt på, hvad jeg forsøgte at udtrykke i min forrige kommentar om “Tilfælde og retfærdighed”:
(Allen Sanderson er underviser på kurset, og artiklens forfatter er førstepersonen.)
His second lecture begins with a thought experiment. Noting that there are only 26 spots left in the class for the 52 students who would still like to enroll, he asks, “How should we figure out who gets to go into the class?” The students—eager, studious and serious—shoot their hands up and offer a variety of ideas: Seniority? First-come, first-serve? Ask prospective students to write an essay? It takes about a minute for a confident young man to give the answer Sanderson’s looking for: “auction by price.”
“As a reasonable indication of how much you want something, how much you’re willing to pay is a pretty good means of measuring,” Sanderson says. “A lot of things in economics will turn in one way or another on price. Price has a lot going for it as a generalized expression of commitment. The thing we don’t like about, say, first-come, first-serve, is that if someone really wants to get in, they could start lining up now. But the problem is that I don’t really benefit from your expression of interest, whereas if you pay me, we both are benefiting.”
This makes sense, but I’m uneasy. Wouldn’t giving a place in class to the highest bidder result in the rich students getting in and the financial-aid kids being left out? And since people don’t have equal amounts of money to spend, how good a measure of desire is price in this situation?
“Random and first-come have the benefit of being fair,” Sanderson says, anticipating the objection. “There’s an interesting dichotomy of fair vs. efficient.” But, Sanderson asks, what, really, is fair? If we think some kind of random lottery drawing was a fair way of getting into the class, would that be a fair way of awarding grades? “Obviously not!,” I think. Why? Sanderson lets us mull that over, but the answer floats up immediately: because I work hard for my grades and I deserve them. In other words, those who work hard and get good grades are like those who work hard and have a lot of money to win spots that are auctioned by price.
Læs hele artiklen, for den er interessant nok, på trods af kilden.
Recent research by Rockwool Fonden has argued that reducing the marginal income tax rate for high-incomes would increase tax revenues (see article in Danish here). This is because lower income tax would induce those of higher incomes to work more than they do now, thus paying more in tax. This conclusion has sparked a minor debate in Denmark, a country in which tax cuts are deemed something evil, and has caused open disagreement between various ministers.
Just now I read a funny quote attributed to Milton Friedman, which sheds a different light on this issue:
“If a tax cut increases government revenues, you haven’t cut taxes enough.”