SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Vertically Privileged Alaskans Defended
Senator Wilken disputes "The Optimal Taxation of Height"


May 18, 2007
Friday PM

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 tall.

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"


Source of News:

Senate Republican Caucus


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska