Why taxes are important
by Linda Beale
Why taxes are important
crossposted with Ataxingmatter
The so-called tea party adherents and many libertarians, treat taxes as robbery, thinking that “it’s mine and the government has no right to it.” That crazytalk, which most would realize if they ever had the opportunity to live in the brute-force world of no taxation. It would be oligarch rule or the wild west without the civilizing influence of towns with governments and sheriffs to keep order.
With midterm election day just around the corner, maybe it’s worth reminding everybody about the reason that all advanced countries have strong tax systems. It’s likely the case that none of us really enjoys paying taxes, and some of us complain about them all the time. But most of us recognize that taxes are a necessary part of supporting a democratic government and a civil society. Without a tax system, the rich and powerful would be able to do whatever they wanted. There’d be no FBI or SEC to investigate their wrongdoing, no cops to arrest them, no courts to bring them to justice, no prisons to put them in. Most of the rest of us would be subjected to conditions closely resembling slavery–or at least the conditions of the early twentieth century, when mineworkers could be bullied, beatup and even killed by “Pinkerton” thugs hired by mineowners, when union representatives might be murdered to keep them from inspiring workers to join together to fight the owners for reasonable wages and benefits, when old people had nothing but the charity of neighbors and families to live on, because companies didn’t provide pensions and there was no Social Security organization in government.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. Luckily, there is an increasing attention to this issue in the blog world, to counter the “taxes are evil” mantra of the neo-conservative and libertarian right.
See e.g. (in addition to the information here on ataxingmatter):
I Heart Taxes (see, e.g., Baby, Taxes Drive Your Car, regarding federal funding for satellites making the GPS system possible)
Kay Bell, The Good Side of Taxes
Taxes support democracy. Taxes fund government services and goods, including court systems and national defense, which protect your life, your property, and your constitutional rights.
Taxes support economic growth. Governments use taxes to encourage economic growth in numerous ways such as maintaining a stable currency, enacting and enforcing laws that protect both workers and employers (their life and property), and helping to build and maintain large and dependable energy, transportation and communication systems.
Taxes support your daily quality of life. Taxes help you and your family buy a house, breathe clean air, have safe food and drugs, and travel safely and efficiently on highways, trains, and planes. Taxes help pay for your health care (in the form of tax benefits or direct care) and they pay to educate you and your family. Taxes help you at work (e.g. enforce contracts, provide safe workplace) and help you at play (e.g. national parks).
It’s back to square one, isn’t it?
It is not a question of taxes or no taxes, the issue is fiscal responsibility. I don’t know anyone who believes taxes are unnecessary. Through the years Social Security has been spent not on ss but to enable excess spending above and beyond tax receipts. Those IOUs can be paid off by printing $ but that contributes to further debasement and inflation. Most so called “pork barrel” spending are probably worthwhile projects but should be decided at the state level rather than the Fed collecting taxes from all and re-distributing. I read about one for blueberry research in Washington state. Important to Washingtonians but should not be funded from Fed. I could go on for days but won’t. Taxes should be as low as possible and managed well. Individuals allocate their own $ more effectively than govt. Tea Party is named that for a reason,
Should taxpayers have a right to expect efficiency and effectiveness in the use of tax dollars?
Let me put another question. Why should the Federal Government aid states and local governments? If something is worth doing it ought to be worth doing locally. Actually if you take the movement to its logicall extension its the policy of Coolidge. (In addition he believed in starving law enforcement, hey how to fix the drug war no money to enforce it, like Coolidge and Booze prohibition– See Last Call for details). It does raise a question, is it easier to raise taxes at a federal than a local level, since at the end of the day its still a tax.
Spending 40 cents (I exclude stimulus in this 40) of every discretionary dollar on the military is robbery. However, I am not sure the people complaining are willing to cut Military spending by 50-60%, which is what is needed.
some truth in what you say, but you seriously misunderstand the Social Security iou’s. You may not like what the money was spent on, but it was spent. and the money was borrowed, quite formally, from Social Security instead of collected from taxes…. so your taxes were lower than they would otherwise have been. SS was able to lend the money because it needed to build up a reserve so that the baby boom retirement would not be a “unfair” burden on the following generation under the usual pay as you go formula.
If the government is going to borrow money, saving taxes, it needs to repay the money… by collecting taxes from the people who presumably got a good deal from the money they borrowed.
as far as i know, the excess federal spending that goes to the states, goes to states like georgia which are too poor to pay for their own needs without a federal assist. it is remarkable that the poorest states are generally the ones that cry the loudest about “taxes,” even though they are getting more back than they pay in.
i’d love to see taxes “managed well,” but there are two problems. first is that human beings never manage anything well.. not even your private businesses. the second is that with government everybody has a different idea where the money should be spent, so the problem is not “government waste” but ordinary differences of opinion. that is, democracy. and the sad fact that most of those people who can’t even manage their own money well are always convinced they are the only ones who know how to manage the finances of a huge and diverse nation.
see my answer to fedup. taxpayers havn’t got a clue what efficiency and effectiveness is. this is standard six year old moaning about who got the biggest piece of birfday cake.
hard to tell which side you are on. but generally speaking southern states don’t want to pay taxes so federal officials will keep them from lynching their uppity citizens.
the rest of us pay taxes to try to bring the level of civilization in the south and mountain west up to a level where we are not ashamed of them.
or to put it more positively… some states don’t have the money to pay for their needs, and the need of the country is to make the country stronger, even if that means helping out the needy states.
i tend to agree with you. but even if a case could be made that we need a strong defense or the russians will get us, the problem is that the people who have been whipped up to hate taxes are convinced all their money is going to support welfare queens. it would be futile to look for any actual understanding of what taxes are… let alone recognize that after they pay their burdensome taxes they are richer than any people have ever been… and that they owe it mostly to the new deal and taxes.
Blueberries are very important to Maine and New Jersey as well. Research done in one place can be applied to other places.
I think it’s interesting that the Tea Party chose the Tea Party as a phrase. I think it’s really apt, but not the way the TP thinks it is. (You can look this up on Wikipedia, if you like.) The proximate cause of the original TP was a tax on tea. The British government enacted a tax on tea to help pay for British troops to protect the colonists from the French in Canada and the Indians in the west. The colonists wanted the protection, but they didn’t want to pay for it, and the tax was very unpopular. It instigated a great deal of smuggling, and was pretty much a failure. So, the British government reduced the tax rate enormously. This reduction was a problem for the smugglers, who were making a good profit smuggling tea. So, the smugglers broke into a ship with the new, lower taxes, threw the undertaxed tea into the harbor, and blamed the whole thing on the Indians.
I think this is important because the TP of today wants to continue to receive government payouts, through Social Security and Medicare mostly, but also through investments in defence businesses. But the TP members don’t want to pay the taxes to support it. It’s very reminiscent of the original TP.
“Economix” reports on state ballot initiatives on taxes. For the most part, when voters are allowed to vote to lower taxes, they do not. When asked to raise taxes, they also do not. This is not the picture we are offered by the party of fiscal cowardice. They seem to think taxes are always and everywhere reviled.
Check out this amazing result:
Washington state’s proposed tax on the wealthy had been framed as a referendum on the rich. Its resounding defeat no doubt will be seen as proof that Americans aren’t so populist after all.
The measure, known as Initiative 1098, went down in flames, with nearly two-thirds of voters against. The ballot measure would have taxed individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or households earning more than $400,000, but cut property taxes and taxes on small businesses. The money raised was to go to schools and health care.
Yes, but why should the people of Georgia care about blueberry farmers in either Washington OR Maine or New Jersey?
It’s not as if the people in Georgia eat blueberries, or that the people in Washington and Maine buy anything produced in Georgia. It’s not as if the people in Georgia have any interest in making America (remember that place?) a stronger and richer country. It’s not like they ever fought a war with help from kids from Washington or New Jersey, now, is it?
Maybe if we erased all the state lines it would help. Would Americans from the region formerly known as Georgia still get upset if “their” taxes were spent on something in the region formerly known as Washington?
Or would the people in Macon County get upset if Georgia State taxes were spent on something in Hillsdale County?
Or would Fedup feel robbed if some of his taxes were spent to help out his neighbor across the street who got laid off when the defense plant got closed down. No reason to think that neighbor might be any use to him in the future. As a customer, or an employee, or a person to pay taxes when Fedups business gets hit with bad times.
No, sir, it’s every man for himself. Or every tapeworm for himself, cause we can’t exactly call ourselves men anymore.
OK, I’m confused. I point out that voters rejected both tax increases and tax cuts. You provide a particular instance of voters rejecting a tax hike, and call it “amazing”. It’s just like all the others. Now, the hyperbole on the WSJ blog is not new, but is just hyperbole.
We don’t know why the Washington State proposal failed. Was it because it was a tax on those at higher incomes? Can’t tell, because voters weren’t asked to say why they voted the way they did. What we know is that it is like most other local tax increase efforts that were offered in ballot initiatives – not just for better off folks – in that it failed. Just like most efforts to cut taxes.
Coberly, As usual, I think you nail the issue. In my experience it is not that people do not want a civilized society–they do not want a society. It is not the complaint that they do not want to pay to have their street plowed, their garbage picked up, their food safe, their air clean etc. It is the thought that some of their money is being used to plow the street in the next block, pick up their neighbor’s garbage etc. If the neighbor’s skin is a different color or speaks a different language or believes in a different God well then you get people talking about “taking their country back”
For what it’s worth, there are many people who believe that “civilizing services” don’t inherently need to be funded through brute force tactics, i.e., taxes. These people don’t reject funding the valuable services they receive, they simply reject monopolization of these services and the coercive funding models they’re currently run on.
A good example is where I live in Baltimore. Our neighborhood has an additional special property tax that the neighborhood spends locally. Most of it goes to trash cleanup, and produces about 20 jobs locally. I argue that the fed collects national taxes, then redistributes evenly back to states based on population, so states spend on their needs. Or, you lower federal taxes so states can choose to raise theirs and spend locally. The federal government’s discretionary spending is largely wasteful, and most never see direct results.
Of course this leads to situations like that recently in Tn where because a guy did not pay his fire service fee his house burnt down. Now that one is easily fixed by the insurance company, it pays the fee and adds the fee to the insurance, or charges a premium based upon no fire coverage, and pays the fee because it reduces its losses enough to make sense.
The question becomes how do you find the end of the other fellows nose to make the distinction. That is I can do what I want as long as it does not hurt others.
I’d be interested to see what sort of governmental resistance a private fire fighting service would run into in TN. As far as I’m aware, whatever “fees” are asked by the local monopoly are pretty arbitrary. They may be outrageously high or low for all we know, because there’s no market pricing mechanism.
All of us understand the need for taxation and the benifits us as society.
What most of us are irked is by “fatter” govt. structures supported by our taxation. Especially during the time, where we have to be lean, just because it is uncertain economic times.
Now added to this if our “elected” govt. suggest for more taxation, as they are not having lot of revenue to support their fat, due to tough economic conditions, then Yes we appose TAX.
So my friends, none of us(independent) liked either democrat/republican. we voted for folks who promised to attempt fiscal reponsibility duties at fedral level
This was not a vote for “fiscal responsibility”. How many of the (mostly older) voters who elected this crop of republicans want their medicare cut? Not too many, judging from the polls – and the famous “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare” tea party sign. This was another victory for ignorance and fear and the eternal willingness of a lot of americans to be bamboozled by corporate interests masquerading as populism.
Some lines from an article on Bloomberg today, titled “Business Looks to Republicans to Block Rules, Taxes”:
* “The regulatory oversight and ability to weaken rules may benefit banks including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Bank of America , all of which lobbied against elements of the Dodd-Frank law, saying they would hurt profits.”
* “House and Senate Republicans have written at least 30 bills that would roll back provisions of the health-care overhaul Obama signed into law in March.
Such efforts may help WellPoint and rival health insurers escape regulations on how much they spend on patient care and let Boston Scientific Corp. and other medical-device makers dodge $20 billion in tax increases over the next decade.”
Whose pockets do those increased profits come out of?!? Financial and healthcare profits aren’t magically created out of thin air.
Oh, here’s another good one:
* “Republicans are likely to be more aggressive in [military] spending … devoting more money to weapons programs benefiting contractors making sea-based, anti-missile systems, such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co….”
Limited spending? I don’t think so.
The bottom line is this: No one – NO ONE – among those newly elected “fiscal conservatives” has been willing to say what spending they’ll cut. The talk is all about “lowering taxes” – which is total BS, because if you don’t lower spending you’re just taxing the future instead.
So we become a society of even greater wealth extremes, the middle class will get even madder, and most of these voters will let themselves get duped again and again and again by the Kochs and their fellow travelers.
I think the debate have been obliterated and the basis completely changed in a way to create an emotional response instead of calm answers. When looking for the libertarians, one friend remarked that during Mr Bush’s reign, he hired every lobbyists possible in every management jobs..but for my exemple the OTC…and those anti-regulators directing regulations make sure than even the slightest laws do not apply and instead of making sure that any AG could not sue any banks for…well…can we say…fudgy loans&mortgages…and see the result and luckily for them the medias do not go after their worst action as Mr Hudson in its new book talk about they make papers.. or how the system and court make it possible to repossess home of low income tease by loan than transform in mountain of debt! And nope! the market do not close them! and yep! the system protect them to a point to make kangooroo court so house can be repossesss fast…and it is one exemple…sure I can talk of liberalization of electricity….so something is wrong with the theory…as for conservatives and tax cuts…funny graphics of tax cuts years and growth in GDP do not match even in lagging years….and the best, they hate big governments but hired more and crete new structures! Sure all on law&enforcement&Intelligence&Army! and nope not more security or more money in pockets for average people or entrepreneur…just the big ole wealthies&buddies and very big corporations….
Maybe the problem lies with the purpose of tax, and whom get it and the appearance of whom get it and the real purpose of government…and the unfairness of tax..not as proscribed by media but mathematically…because as of now data presented do not correspond to reality of facts..as when talking of whom paying taxes…sure in absolute numbers the wealthy pay because they earn more! and as they play to wages suppression for a long times and income tax transfer to fees and sales taxes and make war for their needs…and create laws to maintain the rabble during their swindles…it is reasonable to say the user-payer as they like to say…and yep! as an entrepreneur seeing all kind of tax makes me want to cut it…but looking carefully the end result of people promising tax cuts and supposedly defending entrepreneurs interest at the end just make it for the ”big boys” and continue transfer tax through different techniques on us ordinary people&entrepreneurs…so maybe it is not about tax but about representation since the majority pay tax and the ”others” get bailout and control…which they used to swindle us more…and everthing covers by a moral discourse and religious undertone up to commies…when it is simple how we can decided together how to appropriate funds for the betterment of society…and nope! do not believe in liberals…
you must be a child if you think the things government does for you could be paid for by voluntary payments. or even “user fees.”
trust me on this, i hate governmet “coercion” just as much as you do. but unlike the tea partiers i have thought and thought and thought about it, and i can’t see any other way to make it work.
“no market pricing mechanism.”
boy, shows the power of brainwashing at an early age. do you honestly think either that “the market” is the only way a fair price can be found? do you honestly think the “market price” is “fair”?
ah yes, always believe the promises of politicians and other foxy whiskered gentlemen.
(in case you don’t know who i am talking about, read Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter.)
“there are many people who believe that “civilizing services” don’t inherently need to be funded through brute force tactics, i.e., taxes.”
We call these people “fools.” Or, redundantly, “libertarians.”
There are places where this sort of model is in place. Somolia comes to mind.
And neither do you or any government bureaucrat for that matter. Without a profit/loss mechanism efficiency is impossible to determine
FedupinGeorgia: “Through the years Social Security has been spent not on ss but to enable excess spending above and beyond tax receipts. Those IOUs can be paid off by printing $ but that contributes to further debasement and inflation.”
There are two issues here: Gov’t debt, and the Social Security Trust Fund. The gov’t issues a lot of debt. Maybe it should issue less debt, maybe more, but let’s leave that discussion aside. 🙂 Suppose that you are running a retirement fund for millions of people. You would like to make a good return, but one thing that your clients want even more is safety. What is the safest investment available? Gov’t bonds, right? Now, you may argue whether they should take on more risk, but investing in treasuries is a reasonable decision, right? 🙂
save_the_rustbelt: “Should taxpayers have a right to expect efficiency and effectiveness in the use of tax dollars?”
Effectiveness, yes. Efficiency? If it means something other than an aspect of effectiveness, probably not. Hasn’t the pursuit of economic efficiency left us with crumbling infrastructure, as well as other ills?
coberly: “but generally speaking southern states don’t want to pay taxes so federal officials will keep them from lynching their uppity citizens.”
You are living in the past.
coberly: “the rest of us pay taxes to try to bring the level of civilization in the south and mountain west up to a level where we are not ashamed of them.”
I never took you for one of the liberal elite.
coberly: “but even if a case could be made that we need a strong defense or the russians will get us, the problem is that the people who have been whipped up to hate taxes are convinced all their money is going to support welfare queens.”
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of welfare queens to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
coberly: “trust me on this, i hate governmet “coercion” just as much as you do. but unlike the tea partiers i have thought and thought and thought about it, and i can’t see any other way to make it work.”
On a personal note, I have not thought and thought about theses things. But when I was young, but old enough to see a lot of what was going on, I observed that gov’t generally worked. I also believed in small gov’t and deregulation. Now I observe that gov’t does not work so well, and I attribute the difference to people in gov’t who claim that gov’t does not work. I think that we ought to keep such people out of gov’t.
And deregulation has not only not lived up to its promise, it has been a disaster. 🙁
Actually, the General Accountability Office is very good at measuring effectiveness and efficiency, if anyone would listen and act.
Hermanth: “So my friends, none of us(independent) liked either democrat/republican. we voted for folks who promised to attempt fiscal reponsibility duties at fedral level”
Well, I am more empirical. Actions speak louder than words. OC, individual politicians differ, but in general the Dems are more fiscally responsible than the Reps. The Dems may tax and spend, but the Reps cut taxes and spend. In fact, they have a name for that, the Two Santa Clauses strategy. So if people are voting for the more fiscally responsible politicians, I am surprised that the Dems didn’t gain seats! 😉
The answer is yes based on the votes.
mcwop: “I argue that the fed collects national taxes, then redistributes evenly back to states based on population, so states spend on their needs.”
The Red States would howl in that case. Urban areas would benefit more than they do now.
Bringing up the concept of “fairness” in prices betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what prices are. It’s like talking about the “fairness” of arithmetic.
Coberly, you seem to lack imagination. Or, perhaps more likely, your imagination has been short circuited by the repetition of the necessity of taxes. I have yet to come across a service which fundamentally must be funded through force.
Joel, shall we judge the concept of the state by using North Korea as an example? Liberty is a necessary but not wholly sufficient element in social flourishing.
poppies: “I have yet to come across a service which fundamentally must be funded through force.”
Arpanet, the predecessor of the internet. The interstate highway system. Filling potholes, for Christ’s sake. All of these are examples of infrastructure, and the free market does a poor job with infrastructure, except for taking advantage of it once it is available (but not keeping it up).
Taxes are a necessary but not wholly sufficient element in social flourishing.
It turns out the free market is really lousy at pricing mortgage backed securities too.
But somehow the free market that couldn’t figure out how to price a mortgage bond is going to magically determine the correct price/value equation for critical infrastructure.
not much hope Fedup will understand what you said. The folks hear a soundbite and in jingles in their head, but they never, never think about what it means.
i keep hoping, here, to explain what some of it means, but the real answer if we are going to save civilization is to write jingles of our own and get them played on NPR at least.
another meaningless jingle. market pricing is a pretty good way to determine market prices. there is even an arguable efficiency to it in allocating resources to “demand” if not “need.” but human beings have been determining efficiency without profit/loss mechanisms for thousands if not millions of years.
what you are is a victim of taking econ 101 while you were still too young to think.
don’t know quite what to make of your reply? irony?
i am not quite living in the past. i think the anti-gummint fervor in the south does derive from the history of civil rights (starting in 1861). people there might think they have got over the lynching game, but they still live with the politics that grew up around those times.
as for the mountain west, howdy pardner. I am one of whom I speak. I like folks out west. they are pretty decent for the most part. and i could tell you stories about gummint idiocy that would make you smile. still, if it wasn’t for taxes from the rest of the country, we would still be too poor to build our own outhouses.
most folks wouldn’t get that.
exactly. now that we agree that prices are not “fair,” how do we go about the business of managing our lives in ways that are fair?
in other words, what do you mean by “outrageously high or low”?
sadly, the only way it can work is to let even the deregulators vote and get elected. we can hope experience will make the voters wiser.
well, we can hope anyway.
one of us lacks imagination, that’s for sure. i remember reading something about Napoleon’s “great imagination.” He could, it seems, imagine things that are real: such as the transportation of large armies across difficult terrain in order to arrive in time to win a battle.”
I like to think I have the ability to imagine what is real, and that people like you can’t seem to get beyond imagining that their favorite sound bites are profound wisdom.
good thought. paying taxes will make us just like North Korea. I’m glad you warned us about that.
“Outrageously high or low” prices result from violent protection of monopolies. That is to say, there is no way to achieve the societally optimal balance of resource use unless competition or the threat of competition in resource provision is unencumbered by force, allowing prices to act as a proxy for the relative aggregate dearness or commonness of a given resource.
I have no doubt that similarly vitriol-filled diatribes were launched against abolitionists before the societal tide turned against slavery.
I think is more basic than this. Taxes are just one part of our messy democracy. Our democratically elected government that, frankly, does a lot of things that a lot of us don’t like. But it is one price we pay to have a democratically elected government. There is a reason the Bill of Rights doesn’t contain a clause that says you have the right to never pay into anything that wasn’t your idea. You have one vote, just like the rest of us. If a huge and enduring majority didn’t want anymore federal income tax, there wouldn’t be one. Period. Elections have consequences. And most people seem to feel that taxes are necessary, even if some of that money goes to things they don’t agree with, at least most of it goes to things that most people agree with.
ONe of the questions that lurks beneath the surface is which level of govenment should do what? Should the feds downsize to the Coolidge view of the government (national defense and some law enforcement (Coolidge did not fund Prohibition enforcement however))? Let the states and local governments do it, If the citizens then choose not to do it well thats tough. Since all the coverage of candidates was for federal office what do the right think states and localities should do? I might add that part of the problem is that money routed thru the Feds gets a lot of strings attached and sufferes a significant finders fee from the feds. Nixon was more correct with his revenue sharing without strings. Give each state a single grant and let them spend it as they will.
my local grocery charges outrageously high prices to people willing to pay them. then it lowers the prices for the rest of us. which is the market price?
and what is societally optimal? say my local paper mill wants to poison the river and will do so unless it is forced not to. without meaning to be unkind, i would suggest that you think in meaningless words without ever having thought through any real situation that affects real people.
for what it’s worth, your rhetoric is the same as the slave owners used to justify slavery.
I have been hoping someone would point that out without vitriol. Thing is, without taxes the country would disappear, to be replaced by another “government” they wouldn’t like.
no. let the states tax themselves for what they will. the fed taxes us for what we want… even if it’s blueberries in Washington.
coberly: “i think the anti-gummint fervor in the south does derive from the history of civil rights (starting in 1861). people there might think they have got over the lynching game, but they still live with the politics that grew up around those times.”
IMO, the anti-gummint fervor goes back at least to colonial days when the English came and settled the coastal cities while the Scotch-Irish headed for the hills. There is a good reason that the closest modern dialect to Shakespearean English is in the Tennessee hills. 😉
But you did. 🙂
there might be something to that. but i don’t think it’s the national character so much as that the “english” who settled the south were rich, while the scotch-irish were poor. trouble with that, though, is that by the time of the civil war, the poor scotch irish were easy suckers for the planters propaganda, and they remain to this day perfectly willing to vote against their own self interest in the name of pfreedom.
tho the whiskey tax might have had something to do with it.
An amazing misstatement of historical facts..The Boston Tea Party was a culmination of many protests by Colonists who objected to Great Britain directly imposing taxes and bypassing Colonial Legislatures..Taxes protect us!? The mineworkers of 19th century America shared much in common with the Branch Davidians Bill Clinton and Janet Reno murdered…they were on the wrong side of the power nexus. Neither had anything to do or not do with taxes.
Taxes civilize us?? Please..try a little dose of reality. Income taxes have paid for the foreign adventurism in Iraq..and the completely useless quagmire of Afghanistan..They allow large doses of political payola to be handed out to Corporations who pay off political campaigns (and DEDUCT them!) while ordinary saps trudge off the work and think it’s a huge deal to go out to dinner once a month.
There is very little that benefits any ordinary person in their everyday lives that isn’t provided by their county or city governments and the direct taxes they get. Oh right..I forgot..the Federal governments uses our taxes to secure our borders and make sure that illegal aliens don’t overrun every adjacent State and suck up legal citizens services..my bad.
Well Coberly, I think you’ve made it clear you’re on a rhetorical roll and nothing I say will give you pause. Perhaps since you don’t know me you could give me the benefit of the doubt that I’ve thought through all these issues, despite reaching a conclusion you probably feel is impossible to hold thoughtfully.
Regarding your first example, there are always multiple “market” prices for any given resource. Information asymmetries and unique individual preferences result in a complex web of pricing. This reflects the complex web of human needs and desires.
By societally optimal, I mean that distribution of resources which reflects the maximum possible balanced preference satiation for all individuals in society.
As for the mill, does the force of property law magically disappear upon the wishes of industrialists? Most environmental tragedies of this type result from ill-defined property rights. If the river is not truly owned, but instead “owned” by the state in the name of “the people,” well, the real, direct river stakeholders may just have to live with poison.
Min, I’d love to hear your evidence as to how the unencumbered, completely not backstopped market has failed in infrastructure projects.
Amateur socialist, MBS were clearly backstopped by implied infinite governmental support, which was priced in. These days, such support has gone from implied to quite concrete, so it seems such pricing was pretty prescient.
poppies: “Min, I’d love to hear your evidence as to how the unencumbered, completely not backstopped market has failed in infrastructure projects.”
OC, you are asking for a counterfactual in the modern era, because infrastructure has been assigned to gov’t, in modern advanced economies. The question is why? Atomic power in the U. S. is not advanced, because of people’s fears about nuclear waste. However, during the 1950s people did not have those fears. Nuclear power was a wonderful thing. Still, industry did not build nuclear reactors without a gov’t guarantee. Infrastructure is costly to build and keep up, and the payoff is far in the future. Furthermore, depending upon circumstances, the beneficiaries of infrastructure may not be the people who build it. In the U. S., which is, among advanced economies, the most favorable to free markets, why doesn’t the market take care of infrastructure?
This would come as quite a surprise to holders of Lehman stock and corporate paper.
assume you are replying to white. probably useful to indicate that in the body of your comment as jus-kit is a bit careless about where it puts your comment with respect to others. or disrespect.
i think your observations about the incivility of government are more or less accurate. but i think white’s point… which i agree with… is that without taxes you would have no civilization at all.
sorry that it turns out to be all so complicated.
the elision of thought by which you get “clinton and reno murdered branch davidians” represents a kind of brain error that is very troublesome to too many people. governments do kill people, and chief executives are always people who are capable of homicide. but there is a very long and loose chain between bill clinton and the branch davidian thing (i’d call it murder too, but i am trying to make another point). by skipping all the dubious steps you create a thought-identity which in fact prevents you from thinking clearly. but don’t feel like you are alone.
no, it’s not obvious that you have “thought.” i think you have made a chain of word associations, and you do seem to love words that sound like they might mean something. but they all seem to be merely props to reinforce in a poetic way the idea that you think the government should not tax you.
Jack Hitt had a good segment on This American Life last week. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/417/this-party-sucks
The whole episode was pretty good but Hitt’s interview with Paul Begala really hit on something that dumbfounded me too: The complete failure of congressional dems to hold an up or down vote on extending the W tax cuts for the top 2% of income earners prior to the election. As Begala noted, it’s inconceivable that the GOP would allow congress to be adjourned without forcing a vote that breaks 2:1 for the administration’s position. As he acknowledged in the interview “Yes this is a very divisive issue. But it’s one that breaks 2:1 for democrats!”
Political malpractice should be a crime. I wish I could figure out how to get lawmakers to write a statute making it one.
this is not quite responsive to your comment.
i’d point out that besides failing to win the winnable battles, the dems seem to be nearly as clueless as the R’s about the actual facts and needs.
first, they don’t seem to understand Social Security and have at best an emotional commitment to keeping what they see as a welfare commitment to the elderly… failing to realize that Social Security works because it is NOT welfare, as well as failing utterly to understand that the cost of “saving” Social Security, by the workers themselves, is so tiny that there isn’t even a “problem,” let alone a crisis.
but second, more to your point, letting ALL of the bush tax cuts expire is what the “budget” needs. playing the rich v poor game is not good for us at this time. the poorish did not get much of a tax cut, and letting it expire will not hurt them, but it is politically the best way to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, and that, for at least the duration of the “deficit emergency”, will be the best help the poor and poor middle can expect.
No it’s not in fact you underscore another easy play (most of) the dems ignored: Protecting Social Security. Again widely popular, easy way to identify a sharp contrast with the GOP but again, not adopted as a path to electoral success. Pitiful.
And btw I’m not engaging on the specific policy prescription of whether all the tax cuts should have been repealed or not. I’m not a deficit hawk, and don’t see why anybody is with 10 year tbills at 2% and 30 year rates a little over 3%.
Hitt’s point is that this would have been a useable cudgel going into these midterms and the DNC mandarins ignored it. Quite so.