Vertically Privileged Alaskans
Senator Wilken disputes "The
Optimal Taxation of Height"
May 18, 2007
Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, went on record today in vehement
opposition to "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study
of Utilitarian Income Redistribution."
The working paper was published by Harvard University colleagues
N. Gregory Mankiw and Matthew Weinzierl on April 13, 2007, and
publicized in the Wall Street Journal May 1. It argues that taxing
tall people more than short people neatly meets the two criteria
of an ideal tax system: it is both equitable and efficient.
"I am starting to rethink my support for increased funding
of higher education," said Wilken, who is 6 feet, 8 inches
Mr. Mankiw and Mr. Weinzierl cite their own and others' research
that there is a strong correlation between height and income.
By their calculations, a tall person (six feet or higher) earns
on average 16 percent more than a short person (five foot nine
or less). The authors argue that according to theory, height
is a great criterion for income redistribution: tax tall people
more and give the money to short people.
Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage, hailed the report as groundbreaking
and sent two letters to the governor, one to the House Speaker,
a postcard to the president, and a singing telegram to the Bundestag
urging them to immediately adopt the tallness tax.
"I've said it time and time again," Doogan said. "The
big and powerful always prosper at the expense of short people."
Doogan reports his height at 5' 11", but medical records
list it closer to 5' 8". "It's time tall people start
carrying their own weight. I'd also like to see legislation to
limit the amount of higher altitude air they breathe. By the
time the air gets down to us, most of the good stuff has already
been all breathed up."
The working paper includes two pages of references, examination
of varying risk aversion, calculations based on the empirical
distribution, an explanation of "height premium," perspective
from political philosophy, sensitivity parameters and 9 pages
of supporting charts and graphs.
On the Web:
"The Optimal Taxation
of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution"
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