Policy: Economy

Big Ideas: Erasing the past, foreign policy and tax cuts

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Taxes,John Kerry,PennAve,Joseph Lawler,Economy,Foreign Policy,Isolationism,Magazine,Censorship,Internet

Steven Titch for R Street: The European Union’s highest court has ruled that Internet search engines must give serious consideration to users who request they remove links to any content or article that is personally or professionally unflattering, unfavorable or embarrassing.

The EU court attempted to give itself some wiggle room by saying search engines could weigh the deletion request against the overall “public interest” in the information. But its signals were mixed, because the decision principally concerned links to published newspaper articles reporting on events in the public record. The first case involved a 1998 account of a real estate auction that contained details of the complainant’s social security debts. The second involved a plastic surgeon who was the subject of an unsuccessful malpractice suit.

One can be sympathetic to the people involved, especially when the events in question occurred years in the past and long have been resolved. But you can’t help but wonder what happens when you give public servants selective veto power over access to documented history. Even the EU’s advocate general thought search engines had no obligation to honor such requests. In the wake of this ruling, one can imagine, at the very least, every two-bit European politician demanding Google, Bing and Yahoo remove links to any media containing embarrassing comments, gaffes or issue flip-flops.

 

DON'T KERRY THE WORLD UPON YOUR SHOULDERS

Christopher Preble for Cato at Liberty: Yale senior John Kerry, speaking in 1966 (courtesy of Politico):

“What was an excess of isolationism has become an excess of interventionism,” Kerry told Yale graduates in his Class Day speech. There’s a “serious danger of assuming the roles of policeman, prosecutor, judge, and jury, all at one time, and then, rationalizing our way deeper and deeper into a hold of commitment which other nations neither understand nor support.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at Yale this past weekend (from The Hill):

“In 1966 I had suggested an excess of isolation had led to an excess of interventionism,” he said. “We cannot allow a hangover from the excessive interventionism of the last decade to lead now to an excess of isolationism in this decade.”

Maybe Kerry, and other foreign policy makers, shouldn’t be so quick to reach for the term isolationism? And maybe avoiding excesses on both extremes — neither reckless military interventions that undermine U.S. security, nor a foolish attempt to separate from the rest of the world — is the goal that critics of U.S. foreign policy are actually seeking? If Kerry and others ignore this sentiment, or continue to mischaracterize it, they will bear much of the blame if true isolationism takes root.

 

KANSAS FALLS OFF THE LEDGER

Chris Mai for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: When Kansas enacted a major tax cut in 2012, many state lawmakers predicted it would spur economic growth. Instead, economic performance in Kansas has been unimpressive, and updated projections from its Division of the Budget offer no reason to expect that the state's economy is about to boom. Personal income in Kansas will grow more slowly than U.S. personal income in 2014 and 2015, according to the new forecast. ...

The state’s budget office also projects that gross domestic product (GDP) in Kansas will lag the nationwide rate in 2014 and 2015. That would mark a downward departure for the Kansas economy, which over the last two decades has generally kept pace with the national economy.

There’s no evidence to believe that the tax cuts will improve the economy in later years, either. The vast majority of research finds that differences in interstate income tax rates have little or no impact on state economic growth. For example, when six states made large tax cuts in the 1990s, their income and employment grew more slowly than the rest of the country.

The new forecast wasn’t the only bad news that Kansas received in the past few weeks. Moody’s Investors Services downgraded Kansas’ credit, citing the revenue loss from the tax cuts as an important reason. A lower credit rating could mean the state will pay higher interest rates in order to borrow money for public spending. Moody’s also downgraded the credit of both the University of Kansas and Emporia State University, two of the state’s six public universities.

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