Al Gore = Arthur Laffer?

Josh Wright —  14 October 2007

Greg Mankiw explains.

10 responses to Al Gore = Arthur Laffer?


    First, there is no question that the global climate is changing. I explicitly stated that in my original reply.

    Second, you stated that the Earth’s climate is “rapidly” changing and I contend that is totally unsupported by independent scientists. Further, as I pointed out, man made CO2 admissions are a contributor. I would go further than this individual advisor and state there is 100% chance manmade C02/etc “contribute” to global warming.

    But the debate is still “how much” do these manmade forces contribute. And that is where a factual discussion should take place.

    market failure, right here 16 October 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Even President Bush’s chief science advisor, John Marburger, agrees with opositions 1 & 2: that global climate change is occurring, and it is 90% likely that greenhouse gas emissions are to blame.

    market failure, right here 16 October 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Paul–Hmmm, I seem to remember something about the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change winning the Nobel Peace Prize recently. I’d imagine it considered things like “actual scientific evidence” when reaching its conclusions.

    The IPGC was comprised of the leading scientists studying global climate change and constitutes about as strong a scientific consensus as you’ll find on any issue you care to research.

    So I’d suggest that you’re the one who’s fallen prey to propaganda and political hyperbole, unless you care to point out where I’ve misstated the IPGC’s findings, or you can find a similarly distinguished panel that casts reasonable doubt on its conclusions.


    market failure:

    I appreciate you noting the exact problem with this debate. I’m willing to consider actual scientific evidence not propaganda or political hyperbole. Instead of discussing such evidence you are only willing to make ridiculous comments such as my views are in the “same scientific company as the flat earth society.” At this point I am going to move on to other topics here as this is not an environmental blog and as evidenced by your posts it is reasonable to conclude that you are not interested in participating in a fact based conversation.

    market failure, right here 16 October 2007 at 11:37 am

    Josh–Sure, I can agree that there is evidence to suggest that high taxes can impair macro economic performance. But I understood Laffer’s point to be an utterly dishonest one–that cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue, because the supply curve would shift outward to such a large degree. This is not mere exaggeration. It is, as Harry Frankfurt would say, bullshit.

    Gore, by contrast, has not been dishonest. At worst, he has taken a few graphic phenomena, such as Mt. Killimanjaro, where there is not a complete scientific consensus that global climate change is the dominant contributory factor.

    But his overall message is correct. That is sets him leagues apart from Laffer, who should not have any credibility left.

    Paul–You can feel free to disagree with me, but I’d note that your rejection of propositions 1 and 2 puts you in about the same scientific company as the flat earth society.

    Not even Exxon-Mobil disputes 1 & 2 anymore. They’ve shifted gears to trying to deny #3, or, suggesting that it’s too late to do anything anymore, so why even bother trying.


    Market Failure: Do you think there is a “shred” of evidence for the proposition that high taxes can cause an economy to underperform? I believe that is the analogy Mankiw is making, i.e. Laffer went well beyond scientific consensus to argue that tax cuts would be self-financing — a position Mankiw believes was never justified by the empirical evidence though there are plenty of economic reasons to support the tax cuts even if not self-financing. Anyway, Mankiw’s post on this is fairly self-explanatory.


    Frank: Chait is the same to the left as Coulter is to the right. I do not find either credible. A much more interesting perspective would be from economists who have a vested interest in efficient tax structures and not in profiting off of political hyperbole.

    Market Failure: As a leftist on environmental issues, the only assertion you make that I can agree with is the third assertion that the potential consequences of 1 and 2 are catastrophic. The problem is that 1 and 2 do not hold up.

    I would not define a portion of a degree every hundred years as “rapidly occurring” particularly when the Earth’s temperature has moved up and down since the beginning of the Earth. In terms of your second assertion, I would like to know how you define “large.” I believe a fair look at the evidence will conclude humans are maybe 3 or 4% responsible, perhaps slightly more. But there is no evidence to suggest humans are more responsible than every other factor combined.

    The problem I specifically have with Al Gore is that he is WAY overstating his case. There are lot of very useful things we all can do right away to help our environment. Eat less meat, Drive less, Drive smaller cars, use less utilities at home and work, and so forth. But, when someone way overstates his or her case like Al Gore, he almost instantly loses credibility because the facts simply do not back up his wild assertions. And unfortunately when Gore loses credibility, so does the legitimate movement he purports to “lead.”


    According to a recent editorial by Jon Chait in the NYT, Mankiw agrees with “market failure, right here”–he has rejected the idea that the tax cuts can pay for themselves. See also Chait’s book, The Big Con.

    market failure, right here 15 October 2007 at 1:05 pm

    That strikes me as a stunningly inappropriate analogy. There has never been, to my knowledge, a shred of empirical support for the concept that tax cuts pay for themselves. A few mathematical models with torturedly unrealistic assumptions are not “evidence.”

    But there is a mountain of empirical evidence that:
    a) global climate change is rapidly occurring;
    b) human activity is a large contributing factor; and
    c) the potential consequences are catastrophic.

    Gore is right. If there is any concern with the “truth” on this “market,” then a more fruitful approach might be trying to deal with it.


    I wonder if what is pointed out by Greg Mankiw says more about individuals like Al Gore and Arthur Laffer or more about our society as a whole.

    What we seem to desire as a society is an exaggeration of emotion (in Al Gore’s case fear), to trigger change. The problem is that we tend to “over correct” which only leads to more problems. A far more reasonable approach would be for both political and scientific leaders to have rational debate that will likely produce more rational results/government policy. But I am confident, particularly in our so called “democracy,” that we will not achieve a more reasonable approach anytime soon.

    On the brighter side, Greg Mankiw is essentially pointing out a potential hysteria market that we can fill to make ourselves much more powerful/wealthy. I wish I was joking.