The Closet Moderate: More Slate inanity

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

More Slate inanity

This article on Slate caught my eye.  It's about an obscure country, Mauritius, which is always interesting, and it says how much America sucks, which always generates a lot of comments.  As expected, it was stupid and shallow.  It is basically an article about how to succeed by being a free rider. Finance your government by letting other countries' citizens avoid tax, and reduce military spending to zero by depending on other countries to rescue you from foreign aggressors, should the need arise. Great plan, but the nature of free riders is such that only a few can do it.  The thesis is shallow, and ends with a non sequitur about the naval base at Diego Garcia.  It read like a leftist's postcard from a tropical vacation, and such was the depth of research that I half-expected the final sentence to read "sent from my iPhone."

So, I intended to comment on the ignorance of the journalist who authored it and close the browser, feeling smug and satisfied.  Then I read the byline: Joseph Stiglitz.  This is the work of a Nobel Prize-winner?  Could he be serious?  Can such a learned man believe that the solutions found in a tropical tourist destination and notorious tax haven are scalable and applicable to the world's largest economy?  I was truly disturbed.  I know it's not a scholarly journal, but didn't any editor at Slate ask the author why this little island has so much money flowing in from other countries?  The article doesn't even mention it, which would have sent up a huge red flag at the journal for which I once fact-checked.

Tax dodges, sugar cane, textile sweatshops, and beach vacations can employ a lot of people, but I doubt that they can support an economy that provides "free" healthcare and university education to 308 million.  I mean, look at this place.  You could walk from one end to the other in a day.  That's the kind of place that can afford their ridiculously high gas taxes.  Here, not so much.  And even with all of this free riding, the per capita GDP is $12,100.  Not bad, as that neighborhood goes, but a country like the United States (per capita GDP: $47,132) doesn't need to take lessons from them.

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