Funniest sentence I’ve read today

“This sort of thing drives me crazy because it’s just so thoughtlessly arbitrary — intellectual empty calories.”
Economist blogger

Actually, the whole post is worth it. He (she? it?) riffs on the idea that negative externalities should be taxed (e.g. carbon emissions) but that some things are only externalities because of previous government intervention.

4 thoughts on “Funniest sentence I’ve read today”

  1. Junk food is a funny one. I understand that snacks are so cheap here because of big subsidies on corn. Corn -> corn syrup = cheaper sweetener, also more fattening than sugar. You could cut the revenooers out of the loop by trimming the subsidies. Same end effect by cutting government in two places.

    Also – why didn’t this writer also go into the substantial taxes we already have in place on tobacco and alcohol? Aren’t those taxes pretty much identical to the ones proposed?
    (I’m not in favor of taxing junk food, just saying…)

  2. Yeah, sin taxes are silly. One might argue these sins are externalities e.g. drunk drivers kill people, etc. But if you admit these as externalities, you pretty much have to say ever other type of consumption is an externality to some degree. The thing about taxing externalities is that its hard to know how big the tax should be and the question for activities producing smaller negative externalities becomes when do the costs (administrative and so called dead weight losses) of the tax outweigh its revenues.

  3. If that’s the case, what’s an acceptable method of discouraging someone else’s voluntary behavior when it’s harmful to you? “Leave the area” is only reasonable up to a point; I can’t be expected to sell my house every time a smoker wants to flick butts on my lawn.

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