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Noah Smith @Noahpinion
, 12 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1/OK, just for fun, let's evaluate the demands of The Communist Manifesto in terms of modern economic theory:
2/Demand 1 is to abolish private ownership of land and apply the rents to public purposes.

This is EXACTLY the optimal policy recommended in a famous paper by Arnott & Stiglitz, and is also known as the Henry George Theorem.…
3/Demand 2 is a progressive income tax.

Our best evidence indicates that progressive income taxes don't discourage people from working very much:…

So this is a pretty "safe" form of taxation.
4/Demand 3 is a 100% inheritance tax.

Moderate inheritance taxes can actually raise savings rates in some conditions:…

But a 100% inheritance tax rate would probably reduce aggregate saving quite a bit. So this is a bit extreme and dangerous.
5/Demand 4 is confiscation of all property of emigrants & rebels.

Taking the property of anyone who leaves the country sounds pretty fascist. Taking the property of rebels seems to give government an incentive to classify people as "rebels".

Not much econ needed for this one.
6/Demand 5 is the establishment of a central bank with a monopoly on lending.

A central bank is great to have, but government allocation of credit doesn't tend to do well.…

Seems like an invitation to massive corruption, not to mention incompetence.
7/Demand 6 is nationalization of communications and transport.

Nationalizing communication sounds like China's internet and press control methods. Pass.

Public transport is certainly important. People go back and forth about its merits.
8/Demand 7 is A) more state-owned enterprises, and B) cultivation of wasteland.

SOEs generally aren't very efficient:

Not sure what "wasteland" meant 150 years ago, but cleaning up toxic waste is pretty good!
9/Demand 8 is collectivized agriculture with universal forced labor.

It seems pretty clear that collectivized agriculture is one of the most disastrous policies humans have ever tried.…
10/Demand 9 is A) the combination of agriculture with manufacturing (whatever the heck that means), and B) even distribution of population across the country.

Agglomeration economies - i.e. the economic benefits of urbanization - are very strong:…
11/Demand 10 is A) universal public education, and B) banning of child labor.

Universal public education is pretty great:

And child labor is pretty gross.
12/So overall, I count 3 good demands, 4 bad ones, and 3 with a mix of good and bad.

Hindsight is 20/20!

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