I Do Not Care About Income or Wealth #Inequality

Economist Don Boudreaux writes:

I care – very deeply – whether the process for pursuing one’s life’s goals is fair or not.  I want everyone to have as fair a chance in the economy as is humanly possible.  I despise special privileges that stack the deck either in favor of Jones or against Smith. …  But I do not care about differences in monetary income or wealth as such.

If (by whatever criteria) the process is fair, then the outcomes are fair.  If the process is not fair, then at least some outcomes are lamentable. …

Worrying about income (or wealth) differences as such has always for me smacked of childishness.  It’s envy elevated into public policy.

More: I Do Not Care About Income or Wealth Inequality.

What if Politicians Infringed the Right to Have Sex the Same Way They’ve Infringed the Right to Bear Arms?

Absurd, our legislative leaders might say? Indeed not. [Rob] Natelson points out that the annual number of deaths due to sexually transmitted diseases is comparable to the number of deaths involving firearms.

via What if Colorado’s Democrats Infringed the Right to Have Sex the Same Way They’ve Infringed the Right to Bear Arms? – Ari Armstrong’s Free Colorado.

We Should Be Embarrassed by #Sequester Debate

Yaron Brook and Don Watkins write:

Historically, substantial cuts in the rate at which government spending grew, such as the one in Canada in the 1990s, have led not to economic collapse but economic expansion. …

Spending doesn’t drive an economy. Prosperity comes from production – from free individuals discovering new and better ways to create wealth. …

Is it any wonder that spending is out of control? If there are no limits to what government does, how could there possibly be any limits to what government spends?

Read more: We Should Be Embarrassed by the Sequester Debate.

Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things?

At Reason.com, Ronald Bailey writes:

[W]hat you believe about a scientific debate signals to like-minded people that you are on their side and are therefore a good and trustworthy person. Unfortunately, this means that the factual accuracy of beliefs is somewhat incidental to the process of moral signaling.

Read more: Why Do People Believe Scientifically Untrue Things? – Reason.com.

Federal Fuel Tax: A bad deal for Colorado. Drivers sends $1, get only 84 cents back.

The Denver Post recently advocated that Colorado increase its 22 cents per gallon fuel tax.  But why tax drivers even more when much of what they are taxed does not support roads (or even mass-trensit) in Colorado?  I’m talking about the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal fuel tax.  How about fighting to let Colorado keep federal fuel tax revenue, instead of sending it to D.C.? After all, as I show below, Colorado sends more than it receives.

The Federal Fuel Tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. The Federal Highway Administration publishes state-by-state data on tax receipts and apportionments for the Highway Trust Fund. Here’s data from 2010 for Colorado:

Colorado, paid into fund: $461,516,000 (not including general fund taxes*)
Colorado, apportionments & allocations from fund: $598,641,000
The data table says: “The $14,700,000,000 transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund is not included in the data.”

From the above, you cannot tell how much Colorado gets back compared to how much it pays in to the Highway Trust Fund.  We need to know how much of the $14.7 billion in general fund money came from Colorado. The most recent data I could find on this is from the Tax Foundation‘s report: Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received by State, 1981-2005.  More recent data would be nice, but it’s what I found. (Please  link more recent data in comments if you find it.)

The Excel spreadsheet in the link above includes a worksheet that breaks down the federal tax revenue by state. So it’s easy to compute what percentage Colorado contributed. In 2005, it was 1.69%.  This percentage (1.69%) of $14.7 billion is $0.284 billion, or $248.4 million. Add this amount to the amount Colorado drivers paid into the Highway Trust fund ($461.5 million), and you get a total of $709.5 million.

Ah, but Colorado only gets back 598.6 million. That’s a shortfall of $110.9 million, or 84% of the tax dollars taken by the federal government.  By comparison, Colorado governments collected $1.56 billion in “state and local fuel and vehicle taxes” in 2010. If Colorado could keep the $110.9 million it loses to the federal Highway Trust Fund, it would have 7% more revenue (100*110.9/1560).

This is one reason the Ronald Utt, when he was with the Heritage Foundation, published this memo: Federal Highway Program: How Opting Out Would Help States. In this proposal, Colorado would retain all the tax revenue – from both the federal fuel tax and the general fund – that would otherwise be placed in the Highway Trust Fund.

For more on Colorado transportation policy, see the chapters on transportation and CDOT debt in the Independence Institute’s Citizens’ Budget.