Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Tax Whine Time Again

Matt Yglesias pointed out a conservative argument for keeping taxes annoying in order to remind people to dislike the government.

I understand that people have philosophical disagreements about what we should pay for the government to do. Lord knows I do.

But complaining about taxes strikes me as the worst sort of whiny, pig-headedness. We are a socialist democracy (despite most people's apparent ignorance of the term). We have a democratic government that regulates a free market. Everyone but the kranks agree on this. Therefore we have to pay taxes.

We want military, police, firemen, schools, libraries, roads, parks, safety regulations, etc. I am god-damned proud to contribute my share to live in one of the greatest social and political eras in history. I don't like it that half our budget goes to defense. But to sit around bitching and moaning about taxes is pathetic.

The behavioral argument over implementation is retarded. While being frustrated and annoyed might push people to not want to pay for government, it also pushes them to not want to pay for government.

I hate the fact that we don't have universal healthcare. I hate the fact that our schools are overcrowded, and the poor ones don't have the resources to end generational poverty. I hate the fact that there aren't better public parks. I hate the fact that there isn't better enforcement of regulations. I hate the fact that our transportation infrastructure is miserable. I hate the fact that there is little public funding of the arts (especially in schools). I hate the fact that scientists don't have adequate funding (especially in areas with no predictable return on investment). I hate the fact that we don't have high-speed transit in every large metropolitan area.

NONE of those things will ever get done by the private market. They can ONLY be done by taxes. I have no reason to believe that reducing taxes will grow the economy enough to pay for any of it. I'm no economist, but that sounds absurd on its face. What seems more likely is that it is simply a way of justifying not paying for programs that you don't want. I mean, when was the last time you had someone suggest cutting taxes to pay for a new bomber?

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