Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gruber's downfall

American readers have no doubt been following the story of Jonathan Gruber, a 'liberal' (in the corrupted sense of the word) economist who helped put together Obamacare and has since been caught on tape saying that the legislation was deliberately convoluted because voters are "stupid".

I know Gruber for a different reason. By the end of 1990s it had become very clear that US revenue from tobacco taxes amply exceeded the healthcare costs associated with smoking-related diseases. The anti-smoking lobby therefore needed a new excuse to raise tobacco taxes and Dr Gruber was eager to provide it.

In a series of articles, Gruber set out a 'modern economic view of tobacco taxation' which took the concept of hyperbolic discounting and piled on a bunch of dubious assumptions. To put it very simply, he assumed that smokers didn't really want to smoke and secretly wanted the government to take them firmly in hand. In a 2008 article, he described smokers' latent desire for abstinence and compulsion:

First we develop the reasons that tobacco taxes should exceed the level of pure interpersonal externalities. In particular, we will focus on failures of individual self-control which lead to excessive smoking relative to desired levels. In such a case, tobacco taxation can provide a corrective force to combat failures of self-control... under the self-control model, tobacco taxes can make smokers better off by providing them with the commitment device they crave (but cannot find without government compulsion).

It is true that people tend to put more value on the present than the future, but Gruber's theory - though highly influential in tobacco control circles - went far beyond that. In his assault on Gary Becker's theory of rational addiction, Gruber assumed that smoking is irrational per se and that nobody really wants to smoke. By his logic, it was incumbent on wiser persons such as himself to administer compulsion to those dumb smokers. It was for their own good.

The theory was a clever and elaborate justification for illiberal paternalism under the veil of economics but, as I wrote in The Wages of Sin Taxes, its arrogant assumptions were bollocks.

It rests on the belief that, as Cummings puts it, “the government can increase individual welfare more efficiently than individuals themselves”. This is a proposition that can most charitably be described as debatable, but even if we accept the contention that the “future self” will one day regret smoking and eating too many crisps, it is not clear why we should take the hypothetical “future self” more seriously than the flesh-and-blood “today’s self”. Whose desires are real? The geriatric future self, with his regrets which require no sacrifice and no action? Or today’s self, with his revealed preferences of a lifetime’s smoking and overeating? It is easy to repent on one’s death bed, but there are enough examples of people going back to their old ways after making a miracle recovery for us to question whether the sentiments of the future self should carry more weight than the actions of today’s self. Can we really assume that people spend their whole lives as irrational beings and only become rational in their final days?

The future self is attractive to health campaigners because any words can be put in his mouth. Under their ventriloquism, he becomes a rational actor who desires only to eschew sinful pleasures. He might say that he enjoys binge-drinking and eating potato chips, but this is a form of false consciousness. Haavio (2007) took this logic a step further by adding a third group of people who are in denial about their lack of self-control. These “fully naïve individuals” would always oppose sin taxes, whereas the “sophisticated” individual would always vote for them. Thus, the ‘healthist’ worldview always triumphs; those who support it are sophisticated people while those who oppose it are fools. The very fact that they oppose sin taxes is evidence of their foolishness. Quod erat demonstrandum.

We now know that Gruber really does think that people are idiots and was most amusing to watch this smug little man make a snivelling apology in which he claimed that he insulted the American public because he wanted to look clever. You really should watch it.



And these are the comments that started it all...



18 comments:

Christopher Snowdon said...

Heh! That Trey Gowdy initially came across as 'just another redneck', but he was in fact sharp as a razor. And he wasn't about to let Gruber off the hook, either! Most entertaining. :)

Christopher Snowdon said...

Michael Bloomberg Funded Pro-Tobacco Tax Study by Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber – Breaking…
With just days until Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber testifies before Congress, a 2008 study has resurfaced which reveals that former New York City…
http://cnmnewz.com/michael-bloomberg-funded-pro-tobacco-tax-study-by-obamacare-architect-jonathan-gruber/

Christopher Snowdon said...

CDC chief Friedeman pushed it everywhere........another rof Bloombergs henchmen.

Christopher Snowdon said...

Gov Cuomo is setting up a statewide so called Elliot Ness styled UNTOUCHABLES Squad of G-MEN…………
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo is out to kick cigarette smugglers in the butt.
In an effort to crack down on the sale of illegal smokes in New York, Cuomo is set to announce Monday a 13-agency task force dedicated to keeping illegal cigarettes out of the state.
“This new law-enforcement strategy will help to crack down on these illegal cigarette sales and capture those smugglers who seek to evade the law and rob the state of the revenue it is rightly owed,” Cuomo said.
Read more at http://libertycrier.com/ny-profit-margin-smuggled-cigarette-cartons-higher-cocaine-heroin-marijuana/#5LLsw6QOybDOtDkR.99

Christopher Snowdon said...

All the 1920s styled repercussions are here from good old Prohibition again! Get the popcorn they was warned…………
Hearing on Tobacco: Taxes Owed, Avoided, and Evaded
Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Hatch, and members of the Committee:
The high tax burden on tobacco results in de facto prohibition of the products, bringing all the undesirable outcomes associated with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. In our research we have found evidence of substantial tobacco smuggling from low to high tax jurisdictions, violent crime, theft of tobacco and tobacco tax stamps, corruption of law-enforcement officers, and even funding of terrorist organizations through crime rings.
http://taxfoundation.org/article/tobacco-taxation-and-unintended-consequences-us-senate-hearing-tobacco-taxes-owed-avoided-and-evaded

Christopher Snowdon said...

Since the poor are who they steal the money from he claism belongs to the state that sort makes bootleggers FOLK HEROES in the eyes of the public.

Christopher Snowdon said...

"Rightly owed"?

Christopher Snowdon said...

One of Bloomberg's "boys"

Christopher Snowdon said...

Aren't you forgetting who created Romneycare? It was not liberals. http://americablog.com/2013/10/original-1989-document-heritage-foundation-created-obamacares-individual-mandate.html

Christopher Snowdon said...

Romneys no Republican either,he is a liberal in GOP clothing....a RINO

Christopher Snowdon said...

What about the Heritage foundation?

Christopher Snowdon said...

I have to agree as the last ime I voted I had to hold my nose to vote for him! Hopefully we will see a true conservative nominee this next time.

Christopher Snowdon said...

This dialogue between Gowdy and Gruber is truly devastating.

Christopher Snowdon said...

I don't know enuf about them to have an opinion.

Christopher Snowdon said...

I read the CDC operational plan for doing these smoker numbers awhile back.
They pick a state and in that state they pick a few select cities calling anywhere from 600-1200 numbers.
The problem here is they tend to choose cities with high liberal leanings but also because that’s where they are able to maximize their propaganda to the masses more heavily and also impose enforcement more strongly.
Yes these people will lie on both sides of the study.
In Iowa just 6 months ago they discovered and OMG moment when they did ZeroCare signups and found the smoking rate had dropped in half from other surveys that had been performed in the past.
The reason zerocare charges you out the ass for premiums doubling and even tripling if you state your a smoker……….
Now this is likely the same thing NATIONWIDE………………
Since they meaning the zerocare exchanges are desperately trying to sign up everyone they can in fact you don’t even have to pick a plan this year they said,just sign up and you wont be hit with penalties……..
So knowing this and knowing its the poor as well as the rest as zerocare caused 10s of millions to lose their own insurance who will now have to sig up too or penalties.
Point here is ZEROCARE is forcing people to identify themselves as non smokers and theyd do it on any survey form these days because they know any survey might get their name if they have your phone numbr they can simply cross reference it to zerocare applications and your PERJURED!
Then we have the fact that the GOP just got control and thye are no lovers of the prohibitionists at least for the most part and the way its looking they plan to cut funding to these groups.
So CDC and all of the anti groups have every reason to create a dramatic drop in smoker study to say see our tactics do work and we need more money bla bla bla……..
SMOKE Aand Mirrors doesn’t even describe it well enuf.,,,

Christopher Snowdon said...

Finally at the very end the whole point I was sitting there thinking Is NAIL this guy that him and his kind think they are better than everyone else and can call them stupid all we want. WE ARE BETTER THAN ALL OF THEM.......Then the final voice on the video makes that point.
The libtards literally believe they are better than everyone else and re the privledged class.

Christopher Snowdon said...

I wish I had had the opportunity for a university degree not to get the uppity attitude Im better than everyone else from some IVEY LEAGUE group butto be able to express my thoughts in better form......

Christopher Snowdon said...

When your born poor and not much opportunity and in the right cliques its hard. So I took the easy way out and joined the military.
But the one lesson I learned there no Ivey League University can ever teach is how to defend your fellow man and his rights and liberties against all enemies foegn or Domestic like this Gruber asshole!