Book Bits: 26 March 2022

In Defence of Wealth: A Modest Rebuttal to the Charge the Rich Are Bad for Society
Derek Bullen
Q&A with author via Grit Daily
Q: When you speak of wealth creators you refer to “the few who can invest, take risks, innovate and transform their ideas into successful businesses that create wealth and employ others.” Do you think that would grind to a halt if the earnings of hedge fund managers were taxed as income instead of as capital gains, or if the marginal tax rate were increased a few percent?
A: Yes, I do believe that unfair taxation is extremely costly to the society that imposes it. Taxing the rich has been popular over the centuries, yet always with disastrous consequences. Wealthy people know when they are overtaxed and either move or stop buying. This isn’t my opinion, this is fact. Here are two recent examples of how a tax increase of a few percent was enormously costly to the governments of France and the US….

Pandora’s Toolbox: The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention
Wake Smith
Summary via publisher Cambridge U. Press
Reaching net zero emissions will not be the end of the climate struggle, but only the end of the beginning. For centuries thereafter, temperatures will remain elevated; climate damages will continue to accrue and sea levels will continue to rise. Even the urgent and utterly essential task of reaching net zero cannot be achieved rapidly by emissions reductions alone. To hasten net zero and minimize climate damages thereafter, we will also need massive carbon removal and storage. We may even need to reduce incoming solar radiation in order to lower unacceptably high temperatures. Such unproven and potentially risky climate interventions raise mind-blowing questions of governance and ethics.

New Democracy: The Creation of the Modern American State
William J. Novak
Summary via publisher (Harvard U. Press)
In the period between the Civil War and the New Deal, American governance was transformed, with momentous implications for social and economic life. A series of legal reforms gradually brought an end to nineteenth-century traditions of local self-government and associative citizenship, replacing them with positive statecraft: governmental activism intended to change how Americans lived and worked through legislation, regulation, and public administration. The last time American public life had been so thoroughly altered was in the late eighteenth century, at the founding and in the years immediately following.

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