Hrvoje Simic

Zagreb, Croatia

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Hrvoje Simic
Posted over 4 years ago
What are the effects of taxes on motivation and productivity?
You say "this backwardess in former communist countries", but I don't think these attitudes are specific to us. I see the same "backwardness" in the US politics too. Also, I would not say that people did "want the freedom capitalism brings". Mostly they wanted to have more - more money, more choices, more flashy stuff - and capitalism provides more. They also associated it with Western democracy, so they bought it as a package.
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Hrvoje Simic
Posted over 4 years ago
What are the effects of taxes on motivation and productivity?
It's actually funny, when you know that Croatia had a socialist economy 20 years ago, and that socialistic politics have been unpopular ever since. As a political marker, that is; not as actual policy. Recently, Croatian national TV asked the people on the street: "Should the rich pay more taxes?" The answer was a unanimous "Yes!" But the question is stupid - the rich ALWAYS pay more taxes than the poor. The sad truth is that the average people do not know how the tax burden is distributed. Their think that whatever the rich are paying now, they should always pay even more. Until there are no rich people left. Pure socialism. A few years ago there was a big rise of prices on the Zagreb stock exchange, and the issue of introducing the capital gains tax came up in the election campaign. The majority of people were against it, as it was seen back then as an easy way of making money out of the thin air. We still don't have capital gains taxes or a property taxes. Pure capitalism. I don't think this is specific to Croatia. People are socialist or capitalist depending on what they think serves their immediate interests at the time. The long-term and the overall health of the economy is not their concern.
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Hrvoje Simic
Posted over 4 years ago
Can people who deny science be educated? How?
These are common claims. I think they can be refuted, but it takes some effort. #1 shows overconfidence in subjective experience. Sometimes, simple demonstration of optical illusions, cognitive biases, limitations of memory or intuition can help recalibrate this false sense of personal objectivity. Also, basic education in statistics and data sampling can help to show difference between reliable and "freak" data. #2 is a misunderstanding of science and misinformation about scientific results. Simple use cases can show how science improves on its theories, how Newtonian mechanics has not been proved "wrong" by special relativity or quantum theory - it was merely shown to be incomplete http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm Also, people use to believe bad headlines in papers, such as "Scientist now say smoking is healthy". Teach them to mistrust journalists. Examples of bad journalism can be fun and eye-opening. Relativism of #3 usually not so much a philosophic stance as it is a demarcation line. People do not like to change their minds, so they invent these excuses as a discussion truce: "you have your beliefs, I have mine". It's more of a symptom then a cause. I think it's best, as a sign of respect, not to press on it. Still, you could gently show how everyone knows there is an objective truth out there, and that wrapping your own mind around it can be hard.
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Hrvoje Simic
Posted over 4 years ago
What are the effects of taxes on motivation and productivity?
A case study from Croatia: I'm a senior-level professional/consultant with a paycheck that is typical for that job here (which is much less than in the West Europe/US). At this level, the income taxes take away about a half of every extra dollar on my earnings. Also, there's a 23% VAT on everything I buy. But as our economic situation worsens, there have been some inovative "taxing" policies that take this further. Daycare centers in Zagreb now have prices that are roughly proportional to the household income per member: the more you earn, the more you pay. This logic taken to the extreme would price all things as percentage of income, so everybody would have the same purchasing power, regardless of what they earn. Now, this situation has severely dampened my will to work more and produce more value. A friend of mine went a step further and quit his well-paid job. Turns out he's happier now. Good for him, not so good for our economy.