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Laffer Curve vs. Phillips Curve

by Christopher Chantrill
March 13, 2006 at 11:32 am

THERE’S one thing about economic guru Larry Kudlow. You could never accuse him of pessimism. And, he points out, there’s every reason not to give in to the MSM drumbeat of bad news. You know the story. There’s

the insurgent-ridden reconstruction effort in Iraq, the looming Iran threat, the failed Dubai ports deal, the twin deficits, the president’s sagging poll numbers, the Jack Abrahamoff scandal, and on and on — there’s one thing they just can’t taint: This U.S. economy remains very healthy.

Now why would that be? To Kudlow, it is a tale of two curves. There’s the Laffer Curve, the notion that the economy does best when marginal tax rates are low and uniform. Then there’s the Phillips Curve, the notion that there is a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. Senator! A question! Which one is a notion and which one is a practical guide to policymaking?

No contest. We tried an economic policy based on the Phillips Curve back in the 1970s. What was the result? We got both inflation and unemployment. But then Ronald Reagan came to power and applied the Laffer Curve. He lowered marginal tax rates—in the teeth of mocking criticism from liberals—and the result has been twenty years of prosperity.

In the months ahead... President Bush will continue to embrace the pro-growth Laffer curve. And the anti-worker Phillips curve will be pushed into the dustbin of history. In other words, economic growth principles will keep American capitalism on the prosperity path.

You can’t say fairer than that.


Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

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©2007 Christopher Chantrill