Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Private Sector Employment by State

How did Wyoming perform compared to other states?

Based on preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual change in private employment by state is calculated and reported in Figure 1. Wyoming lost private-sector jobs in eight of the months in 2017, with only Alaska seeing as many months of decline. Seven other states experienced job losses at least one month: Kansas (6), West Virginia (5), Oklahoma (4), Louisiana and Mississippi (3), North Dakota (2) and South Carolina (1). For the entire year, only three states experienced a net loss of private-sector jobs: Kansas (-0.08 percent), Alaska (-0.89) and Wyoming (-0.94). The unweighted average state-level private job growth for 2017 was 1.48 percent:

Figure 1
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The employment numbers for Wyoming improved steadily through the last quarter of 2017:

September -0.24 percent
October -0.05 percent
November 0.15 percent
December 1.13 percent. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has not yet published numbers for January 2018. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Venture Capital and Economic Growth

Does venture capital help private sector growth? 

Figure 1 below reports venture-capital investments per business establishment in all 50 states, over a period of eight years: 2009-2016 (columns, right-hand axis). For comparison, real private-sector growth rate is also reported (line, left-hand axis) for the same period of time, and also for all 50 states. The 400 resulting pairs of data are then grouped by deciles, from highest to lowest amount of venture capital per business establishment.

Figure 1

Sources: State Science and Technology Institute (Venture capital); Bureau of Labor Statistics (Business establishments); Bureau of Economic Analysis (State private-sector growth).

The correlation is imperfect, but does suggest that states that attract considerable amounts of venture capital relative the size of their private sector, tend to see more growth in their private sector. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Redundant Left

My latest article on Larson's Political Economy is about 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

SF118: Yet More Economic Development

Government economic planning is never a good idea. Unfortunately, for some, the abundance of experience from the 20th century of varying degrees of economic planning, both in Europe and here in America, do not seem to be convincing enough.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Work Requirements in Medicaid

My latest blog article for Wyoming Liberty Group discusses an idea brought forward in SF97, namely 

This is a good bill with a good idea, though it is important to keep in mind that work requirements are an instrument more for political signaling than for any substantial budget cuts.

Alternative Currencies in Wyoming

Thanks to HB0019 and SF0111, there is a discussion under way about the use of alternative currencies, primarily digital, here in our state. 

I am happy to see this discussion, especially since it means opening up Wyoming to a possibly new industry of technological innovation. It would be a great accomplishment if we can attract businesses without throwing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars after them. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bills to Be Keep an Eye On

Now that the legislature has closed the introduction window, it is time for a first review of the bills to be aware of.

Before we do that, though, let me once again point out that the defeat of Taxmageddon was only a battle victory. The political war against tax hikes continues.

With that in mind, here is a quick rundown of important or interesting bills to keep our eyes on:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Liberty Takes Courage

As I mentioned yesterday, our fiscally conservative friends in the legislature here in Wyoming, as well as conservatives running for governor, have yet to show some backbone when it comes to spending reform. The situation is even worse in Congress, where Republicans are almost tripping over their Democrat friends in an effort to perpetuate growth of the welfare state. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Beware of a Special Session

As of this morning, the apparent tax threat to the Wyoming economy is not as urgent as it was before the session. There are still two bills to keep an eye on, HB0051 about gross receipts collections and HB0176 creating a "tax reform 2020 committee". It would be great if they both failed, as that would raise the bar further for the statists in the legislature. While I am all in favor of a state tax reform, I would not want it to happen until the legislature has appointed a "2020 spending reduction committee".

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Do We Need a TABOR in Wyoming? Part 2

In my blog article on February 6 I explained the fallacy of relying on the regular business cycle for budget balancing. My points were:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Do We Need a TABOR in Wyoming? Part 1

Representative Gray has brought up a very important issue in his HJ0007. Called a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, this bill brings a constitutional feature to Wyoming that we have seen at work in Colorado since the 1990s. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Governor Mead's Political Selfie

Yesterday, in his last State of the State address as governor, Matt Mead choked up when he wanted to thank his wife for standing by him during his gubernatorial tenure. He showed a great deal of love for both her and their children. 

I want to recognize this, and express my respect for the governor for being a genuine family guy. In politics and public policy, the tone is often hard, almost unforgiving, to a point where we forget the person behind the politician.

Sometimes, the person also comes across as a bright contrast to the politician. That is more often the fault of our political culture than the individual, but it is nevertheless a feature of political life that discourages many from running for office. Personally, I left that side of politics almost a quarter century ago, for precisely this reason. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tax Hikers Have Not Given Up

Our legislators kick off today. Due to the threat of major tax increases, this is the most important session in recent Wyoming history. With an economy in a state of fragile stability after a very tough downturn, a pile of tax hikes will throw us right down into the hole again.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Paid Leave Will Speed Up Social Security Crash

The Social Security fund will be fully depleted by 2034. A conservative think tank has found a way to get there even faster:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Delusional Conservatives for Paid Family Leave

In my weekly article for the American Institute for Economic Research, I explain the - frankly - delusional nature of Senator Rubio's and the Independent Women's Forum's plan to expand Social Security with a shiny, new entitlement program. 

Hint: they are already admitting that your taxes will go up. 

Fiscal Panic in Wyoming

We are now ready to look at the state budget through the prism of fiscal panic.

The point here, of course, is not to endorse panic-driven budget cuts, but to explain in what situation our legislature will find itself if it does not take appropriate measures here and now to permanently, thoughtfully and predictably reduce the size of our state government.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fiscal Panic, Budget Cuts and LSRA

In my previous article on austerity and fiscal panic here in Wyoming, I explained that we have already seen the very first signs of it: the efforts by legislative statists and Governor Mead to raise taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars is, in fact, a panic-driven attempt at responding to a macroeconomic and fiscal crisis. It is the first real example we have seen in this crisis, so we are still early enough in this crisis that we can pull out of it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Taylor Haynes and the Federal Government

Before we continue the series on austerity, I need to make a comment on something that Taylor Haynes said regarding our relationship to the federal government. I believe that Haynes, whom I know, appreciate and respect, is painting with rosy colors regarding the benefits of our state government taking over federal land and thus getting 100 percent of the mineral royalties. 

Here is what Haynes wrote on Facebook on Monday, February 5:

Fiscal Panic: It's Already Here

This week is dedicated entirely to articles about austerity and what will happen if we continue to spend as usual and just raise taxes as we go along. Yesterday I gave an example of what can happen to a person who entrusted her life to the welfare state, and was then thrown to the wolves when big government, no longer able to pay for all its promises, goes into fiscal panic. When that happens, people who depend on government are discarded as irritating cost items.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Should Wyoming Go with the Flow?

The threat of tax hikes is not over. We taxpayers won a major, first victory when the Revenue Committee killed the Taxmageddon package, but rumors - persistent rumors - suggest that most, if not all, of those proposals may surface as individually sponsored bills during the session. Other rumors hint of a special session, although we have heard those rumors off and on since at least June last year. I doubt our governor would make such a big mistake as to call a special session just to get tax hikes past. He strikes me as smarter than that.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

More Conservative Surrender

I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but yet another conservative bastion has surrendered before the mighty, egalitarian welfare state. This time, it is the Independent Women's Forum who have constructed an idea for a paid family leave system. Another government entitlement, paving the way for the left to turn America into another social-democratic Scandinavia:

There Is No Special Session Coming

The following scenario is completely hypothetical. Nobody in Wyoming would hatch such a devious plan. Absolutely not. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Gross Receipts Tax at Five Percent?


I need your help. I have in my possession a formula that, according to a credible source, defines how a future Gross Receipts Tax would be calculated. 

Let me stress right from the get-go that I have not been able to independently verify this formula, so I am not - I repeat, I am not - saying that this is the real deal. However, the source is credible and the very formula itself suggests that this might actually be what a future GRT would look like. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Senator von Flatern Talks Taxes

It never ceases to amaze me what arguments people will resort to in order to raise taxes. What is even more remarkable is how, here in Wyoming, the debate over tax base reform has been entirely confused with the debate over the level of taxation itself. 

Senator von Flatern, whom I have a lot of respect for, offers a case in point. He was recently interviewed by PBS Capitol Confidential. There, he explained that low taxes do not attract new businesses. Tax stability, on the other hand, is what businesses are looking for. 

The Welfare State and the Totalitarian State

Ayn Rand once said that "the difference between the welfare state and the totalitarian state is a matter of time". In my weekly article for the American Institute for Economic Research I explain that this statement is more than just clever rhetoric:

What's Next: A Package of Important Reforms

Over 13,000 page views last month:

Thank you!!

Now that we have had time to celebrate our first, major victory over the tax hikers, it is time to set focus on the next big challenge: to turn our state away from steadily growing government, and begin the work to permanently reduce its size.