Thursday, December 17, 2015
Martin Feldstein Argues That Inequality Is Less Than People Think
Martin Feldstein, who was Ronald Reagan's economic adviser, makes two conservative arguments that don't make any sense, but the Wall Street Journal provides him with a platform to logic chop his way into nonsense. Feldstein argued that the future benefits from entitlements have a present value. If we include that value into our calculations there is less inequality than people think. He then argues that we do not get a good return on entitlements. There would even be less inequality if we got rid of social security and let everyone invest in the stock market. Noah Smith, who is not a celebrated economist, is much smarter than Feldstein. He explains why inequality would be greater if we ended entitlements. He also argues that the return on risk free entitlements is not as bad as Feldstein argues. Feldstein does not consider the risk side of private accounts. He assumes the average return on stocks in his calculations. That assumption does not account for investment return fluctuations within an individuals time horizon. Most people are better off with the return they get on entitlements.