This seems like a bizarre way to argue. It's true, obviously, that the country was much more prosperous in 1912 than it had been in 1790, but it's grown far more prosperous still in the dread income tax era. Were the horse-and-buggy days really good enough for Mitchell? After all, without the need for paved roads we were able to keep the tax burden low, low, low. The near-total absence of useful medical technologies helped keep health care expenses low. And with the population ill-educated by contemporary standards and wage rates much lower than they are today, it was easy to run a school system on the cheap.Speaking of bizarre ways to argue. Less than 3% of the federal budget is spent on transportation, and the paving and maintenance of roads is up to states and municipalities. Medicine has gotten more expensive, in part due to advances in technology and the lengthening of lifespans, but come on. Ever seen the coding department in a hospital? Health care in America is so goddamn expensive in equal part due to spiraling administrative costs. As liberals are fond of pointing out--correctly, I should add, just so as to prove to younz that I'm no economic dogmatist--nationalized health systems in the EU spend substantially less per patient and per capita than does the "mixed" American system, with identical or superior health outcomes. As for education, it doesn't cost much anyway. Again, less than 3% of the federal budget. Most education is paid for by local property taxes. Bada bing, bada boom. You know what costs a lot of money, Matt? War and the service on debt incurred in pursuit of war. Man. It's almost as if giving up our overseas empire and foreswearing "responding to continencies" in this or that "region" would allow both a major reduction in individual tax burdens and a concurrent increase in spending on national infrastructure and health care and, fuck, education, should one be so inclined.
-Yglesias, in way, way, way over his head