Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Less Tall Megan: Drugs and Taxes

Shorter Megan McArdle: Get rid of corporate taxes and only tax individuals.

Money quote:

To sum up, the best way to react to the fact that Apple shelters income abroad is to get rid of the corporate income tax, and at the same time, get rid of the special tax rates for dividends and capital gains.  That would not only remove the incentive for these sorts of shenanigans, but also give other companies incentives to headquarter here.  And as a bonus, it would collect more taxes from individuals, progressively, so that Warren Buffett doesn't pay the same tax rate as the widow with a few utility shares.

Bonus Material: Shorter Flashback Megan McArdle: You  can't raise taxes on individuals; they would just find some way to avoid paying them.

Money quote, made while discussing the possible repeal of the Bush tax cuts:

Too, this basically assumes that there are no dynamic supply-side effects from the tax increase.  And it assumes that the multiplier from a tax cut is the same as the lost GDP from a tax increase, which is not necessarily the case--where you start matters.  In this case, we're starting in the middle of a recession, when people may find a tax increase more worrying, because they're already feeling more financially insecure.  To be sure, that worry might push them to work harder, or to hunker down and do as little as possible.  But there's no reason to think that it's somehow steady state through good times and bad.

So we should repeal the corporate tax and tax individuals instead, which would also be impossible because they would just avoid paying higher taxes.

Another Shorter McArdle: Drug companies should not have to pay for clinical trials. The government should pay for them. Money quote:

It's also possible that it's time for a broader rethink: why are the companies, rather than the FDA itself, conducting the clinical trials required to approve a drug? The answer seems to be that clinical trials are very expensive. But the clinical trials get paid for anyway, by all the taxpayers who take drugs at some point in their lives--which is to say, most taxpayers. The tradeoff hardly seems worth the obvious problems with effectively asking industry to conduct their own inspections.
Yes, since almost all of us take drugs at one time or another, we should pay the drug companies' expenses, since they pass on those expenses to their customers.  Likewise, if you see Jamie Dimon getting out of a taxi you should pay his fare because almost all of us have money in banks and he'll just write off the business expense anyway.


Lurking Canadian said...

Corporations are exactly like people.

Except when they're not. I mean, that's obvious.

Also, the government already pays the basic research costs of pharmaceutical companies, why shouldn't they pay the development costs, too? That way the companies could save money on accounting by only having to count up their profit! Efficiency, y'all!

Susan, how do you do this every day? I'm getting to where I can't even read the shorters without feeling physically ill. Are we *sure* Megs isn't a reptilian invader from Arcturus?

Substance McGravitas said...

Gosh tariffs were great. BUT FREE TRADE!

Susan of Texas said...

"Consistency is the hob- goblin of little minds.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

She's a reptiloid...that explains everything.

Daniel Harper said...

Personally, I'd be happy to see clinical trials paid for with taxpayer dollars... assuming that the resulting drug patent is also owned by the taxpayers.

We as a society already pay for a lot of the fundamental research that goes on in pharma companies -- why not just gut the whole system, remove the patent process altogether, and turn pharma companies into little more than pill factories employing organic chemists to find ever-more-efficient synthetic routes? (Itself a difficult and cutting-edge scientific process.)

Give pharma companies the option to either pay for their own damned research, tip to tail, or else accept public dollars, but the acceptance of public money anywhere in the chain means the resulting product is public domain, meaning they'll end up charging a few cents per pill more than the cost of the ingredients used to make it.

Susan of Texas said...

One of my favorite McArdle dodges is the way she says drug profits aren't excessive because their profit margin is small. Dishonesty with numbers in the service of the rich!

By the way, for about a minute, every time I clicked on her drug article I was redirected to an ad for ordering drugs on the Internet.

Batocchio said...


'It's also possible that it's time for a broader rethink: why are private insurance companies, rather than the government itself, providing payment for health care? The answer seems to be that health care can be very expensive. But universal health care is cheaper and more effective. Medicare and Medicaid are already funded by taxpayers. And emergency health care also gets paid for anyway by taxpayers, who would get a better deal if basic preventative care were offered and simple ailments were not treated in the emergency room. The tradeoff hardly seems worth the obvious problems with effectively asking private industry to act as a parasitic middleman adding no actual value to the health care system.'

(McMegan doesn't want the government to provide any useful services to citizens; she only wants it to subsidize private industry.)

Susan of Texas said...

Excepting herself, of course, since the rules for her class are different.