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February 22, 2008

Megan McArdle on Voluntary Taxation

Scan down to the 10:52 post and then read up.

It's a question that's always interested me. If the left is so fucking hell-bent to pay more in taxes, what precisely is stopping them from doing so?

They do not need a higher tax rate to pay higher taxes: I assure them it is not illegal to overpay taxes, to send the government far more than it demands. They will take the check, and no liberals will be imprisoned for doing so.

Chicken-tax-hikers, perhaps?

I find this a much more interesting point than, it seems, the left (and the media, but I repeat myself) does. But it's worth considering.

The argument offered by the left is that it is "unfair" or something that they should pay more while others pay less. Let us ignore the question of whether or not there is any unfairness in asking those who wish to pay more to actually pay more while permitting those who wish to pay less to also pay according to their preferences and beliefs.

Let's consider that this question -- of taxes, of government spending on social programs -- is almost always phrased by the left as a moral imperative. It is unconscionable that people don't have [this new subsidy] or [this fresh benefit]. It is immoral that this person is forced to eat [this brand of cat food] in order to have [this type of life-saving medicine]. It is repellent that in the [insert current] century we actually have people forced to choose between [food staple] and [essential consumer electronics product].

Well, I have to say, if this is all a moral imperative as it is claimed, what the fuck does it have to do with the price of tea in China that you might be paying more while someone else pays less? If it's a moral imperative you are required morally (see: moral... imperative) to do all you can to reverse this immorality. You can't claim a moral imperative and then say, "Oh, well of course I'd like to help, but only if I can force my neighbors to do so too; otherwise, shit, I'm socking my money away in tax-free municipal bonds."

Anyway, read it. I didn't. I never do. But I did glance at it briefly, and I have to say it made a very compelling skim.

McArdle makes some very subtle points. I assume.


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posted by Ace at 05:13 PM

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