The economist Arthur Laffer recently received an award from President Trump. Laffer wants to deceptively “cartoonize” reality by arguing that as taxes “go to 100%” (i.e., confiscation), output will go to zero and conversely as taxes “go to zero” output will go to “infinity.”
This is an example of playing with “bad infinities.”
This Laffer argument has been naively compared to David Hume’s economics:
“Back in the eighteenth century, the wise Scot David Hume anticipated David Hume in these 1756 words of sooth:
“‘Exorbitant taxes, like extreme necessity, destroy industry by producing despair; and even before they reach this pitch, they raise raise the wages of the laborer and manufacturer, and heighten the price of all commodities. An attentive disinterested legislature will observe the point where the emolument ceases and the prejudice begins.’”
(David Hume, Writings on Economics, ed. Eugene Rotwein, Edinburgh, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1955, page 87)
(quoted in Greed is Not Enough: Reaganomics, Robert Lekachman, Pantheon Books, 1982, page 49)
Reaganomics and Laffer-nomics have nothing to do with David Hume and facile “then-and-now” comparisons, all of which are false since the “anarcho-capitalism” of Reagan/Thatcher views has noting to do with Hume.
Thatcher said: “properly speaking, there is no such thing as society. There are only individuals.”
But Hume believes the exact opposite as a socially conscious brand of conservative:
“Hume cherished the structures that sustain our social life. He was in this respect deeply conservative, in the good sense of the conservationist of the shapes and forms which these institutions have taken.
“And of course he was deeply mistrustful of any scatterbrained project of doing better, by promoting anarchism or society without government or law, or dismantling the institutions of contract or private property.
“He would have had absolutely no patience whatsoever with the contemporary takeover of social ideals by monetary and market values.
“When free-marketeers say that there is no such thing as society, they are denying the very arches needed to sustain contracts, law, government, and markets in the first place, and then knavery loses its stigma, and we may well expect the worst, as their practice becomes ‘answerable’ to their ‘speculation.’”
(quoted in How to Read Hume, Simon Blackburn, Granta, 2008, page 70)
Deceivers make duplicitous linkages between hallowed names and ideas of the past and the dangerously “tricky” present.
Thus, Hume-to-Laffer linkages and trajectories makes no sense whatsoever. This is an example of “then-and-now thinking” used for “concept-fraud.”