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Ed Glaeser has an interesting and thoughtful piece in today’s Globe on the various stimulus ideas floating around. I am a bit concerned about the rush to spend billions of dollars willy-nilly. The stimulus package has turned into a Christmas Tree of sorts, with every group hanging their desired ornament on it. But I fear most people are not paying attention to the details. The State has cranked out its list. There are some worthy projects here, but there is also a lot that has not been fully vetted. $200 million for rebates for biomass pellet furnaces? $200 million buys you about 60,000 of those furnaces outright (against a housing stock base of around 2.5 million) and it increases as […]

Will they give the money back?

As I was walking to work this AM, a cab (thanks hackney license #385!) ran a red light, stopping only to berate me for walking in a crosswalk with a walk signal. It got me to thinking about the fare increase of this summer. Back in August, in the throes of the gas crisis, the city of Boston raised rates after a series of complaints by cab drivers and their representatives. I advocated back then for a break in the artificial monopoly that supresses the number of cabs in the city (read the comments too). As gas prices have dropped from $4+ in August to less then half that (at least where I live), the new, higher rates remain in […]

If Kant had had a nose for public policy

Passed on by a friend with a mathematical appreciation for symmetry, and for that balance of responsibility and opportunity, in public affairs is a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal: I read with interest the president-elect’s appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Mr. Duncan may in fact be the right man for the job, but if the president-elect and his new secretary really wish to fix public education, they need only push through one change: It is hereby illegal for any member of Congress to send his or her children to any nonpublic elementary, junior or senior high school. What do you think? My guess is the whole system would be fixed over the weekend. Our friendly […]

Cut the Income Tax! Raise the Sales Tax! Lower and Raise Property Taxes!

Hey, its not my idea. It’s a proposal floated by a consultant to the the Readiness Project, tucked in an appendix to the Readiness Finance Commission, released on New Year’s Eve (see “Beware the Doldrums“). To quote from the appendix itself: 1. Increase the burdens of state-level general sales taxes by 25 percent and state-level selective sales taxes by 60 percent. 2. Create a local-level general sales tax with a burden of $2.00 per $1,000 of personal income. 3. Decrease state-level personal income taxes by 15 percent and state-level corporate income taxes by 10 percent. 4. Decrease local-level property taxes by 10 percent but create a state-level property tax with a burden of about $1.50 per $1,000 of personal income. […]

Start Here Before Cutting Into the Safety Net

Common Sense Budget Actions Author(s): — Publication date: 2009-01-13 Category: Better Government Abstract: In October, Pioneer suggested $700 million in cuts that Governor Patrick could make to the fiscal year 2009 budget. A number of the cuts we recommended were included in the Governor’s $1.4 billion package of budget reductions. Unfortunately, in addition to inadvisable fiscal actions like extending the period for repaying unfunded pension liability and withdrawals from the rainy day fund, the Governor also made well over $350 million in cuts to safety net programs. It was too early in this difficult economic cycle to make those cuts. It still is. [wpdm_package id=69]