I’m still waiting for Nick Kristof of the NY Times to write a column explaining away the rising dictatorship by his beloved Arab Spring.

Until then, we have to suffer through a mind-numbing series of non-sequiturs in which the decline in marginal tax rates over the last 50 years is responsible for … well everything that has gone wrong in the real or perceived world, including the supposed failure of the electric grid during Hurricane Sandy, A Failed Experiment:

In upper-middle-class suburbs on the East Coast, the newest must-have isn’t a $7,500 Sub-Zero refrigerator. It’s a standby generator that automatically flips on backup power to an entire house when the electrical grid goes out.

In part, that’s a legacy of Hurricane Sandy. Such a system can cost well over $10,000, but many families are fed up with losing power again and again….

So Generac, a Wisconsin company that dominates the generator market, says it is running three shifts to meet surging demand. About 3 percent of stand-alone homes worth more than $100,000 in the country now have standby generators installed.

“Demand for generators has been overwhelming, and we are increasing our production levels,” Art Aiello, a spokesman for Generac, told me.

That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.

It’s manifestly silly (and highly polluting) for every fine home to have a generator. It would make more sense to invest those resources in the electrical grid so that it wouldn’t fail in the first place.

Wait, what? Sandy was not a grid failure, it was a hurricane. 

I just visited relatives on Long Island for Thanksgiving, and the stumps of downed trees were everywhere.  There was a failure — most likely of prophylactic tree trimming, lack of emergency planning by LIPA, and failure to coordinate outside help — but none of that has anything to do with federal spending on the national grid. 

Moreover, a back-up generator is like insurance, there when you need it, not a substitute for the grid.  Why would someone like Kristof consider it a bad thing for individuals to self-insure against the next Sandy?

But most of all, where is the link between marginal tax rates and (a) the percentage of total taxes actually paid by top income earners, which has risen in the last 50 years, and (b) the electric grid.  Assuming the false arguendo that higher marginal rates would have resulted in more tax revenue, where is the evidence it would have been spent on the national electric grid, rather than pork projects and giveaways for political constituencies?

The column goes on with a long list of similar non-sequiturs involving police services and gated communities, schools systems and private schools, and so on.

Completely ignored is that government spending is going through the roof, including on police and schools, yet we have little to show for it.  The answer for Kristof, more of the same.

Kristof cannot see that government failure cannot be cured by more government.

Kudos to the generator-buying public.  Protect yourself against the failed vision of the Nick Kristof’s of the world.

And the next time a hurricane hits and the power lines are felled by trees, don’t invite Kristof over for a hot shower.


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