My buddy, Art Aloe, was laughing into his beer when I walked into the bar. “I’m just enjoying the AI predictions used to scare us about the future. Did you see the front page of the Indianapolis Star Friday the 28th?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Wasn’t that a great headline: “AI to place 140K Indianapolis jobs in danger”? Art said.

“Yeah,” I said. “ That’s from something called ‘’. It’s some kind of scare monger. They once did a story titled, ‘Data reveal loneliest cities in America.’ It was just a recitation of census data on one-person households. People who live alone aren’t necessarily lonely.”

“And the precision,” Art chuckled, “140,000 jobs, but no timeline.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Exactly what my colleague at IU often said: ‘Give ’em a number or give ’em a date, but not both.’”

“And,” Art said, “many experts tell youngsters to get more education to confront the future.”

“Yet the next day,” I added, “the highly respected Pew Research Center says the greater the level of education, the more likely AI will replace workers.”

“Ah,” Art sighed, “in this age of entertainment, if you wish to amuse, just confuse. It works as well for experts as for politicians.”

“Indeed,” I agreed. “Howey Politics ran a story from the appropriately named Insider Monkey’s ‘25 Poorest States’ report. This farcical piece of misused data identifies Bloomington as the poorest city in Indiana and one of the poorest in the nation.”

“Of course it is,” I continued. “While the report uses education attainment of those 25 and older, it uses all households to determine poverty.”

Art quickly took over: “That’s like comparing Brussels sprouts and plums because of similarity in shape. Bloomington has many student and young person households. If they used households of those 25 and older, they’d get a far different picture.”

Here I noted the egregious failure to adjust pensions of retired Indiana state workers with an appropriate inflation measure. But Art came back with a failure of Congress worse than the ignominious inaction of the Indiana Legislature.

“The most obvious way to avoid a crisis in Social Security,” Art said, “is for Congress to raise the cap on the level of earnings being taxed. Right now that cap is $160,200 per year. That means more than 20% of all earnings go untaxed for Social Security, but only about 7% of workers make more than the cap.”

“You want to tax high income earners?” I asked. “Won’t that strangle productivity, destroy creative activity, eliminate entrepreneurship, and repress get-up-and-go-ism?”

“No,” he replied. “It means more earnings for attorneys and accountants to figure out additional ways to avoid “earnings” and get income by other means, like capital gains and dividends.”

“Nah,” I objected. “Those jobs will go to AI, leaving today’s law and accounting students out in the cold.”

Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who Gets What?” wherever podcasts are available or at Send comments to [email protected].

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