“[I]f tax rates were 100% I would still work anyway,” he writes. “Why not? It beats sitting home all day. I wouldn’t work as hard, but I’d work. The government would get revenue from me.”
Except that it wouldn’t, because no one would pay him. Writing hit pieces for a magazine that doesn’t care if they print lies is easy and fun work. Actually distributing those magazines is less fun, and many of the jobs that readers, ad buyers, and other magazine benefactors do — not to mention the jobs that keep all those people fed, clothed, and sheltered — are less fun still. The idea that Chait’s job would exist in an economy made up entirely of people who would happily work for free is sheer lunacy.
There’s a vigorous cross-blog debate going on over Chait’s new book, with Megan McArdle generally taking the side of the angels. I do have some quibbles with some of Megan’s points, but why bother wading in? Arguing over a book on economic policy seems unlikely to be an edifying exercise when the author obviously understands about as much about economics as I understand about quantum physics.