J.D. Tuccille on Economic Freedom and Shadow Economies

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Shadow economy

Reduced, if only figuratively, to shaking the dust from their piggy banks, government financial types from California to Copenhagen have turned their eyes to that ever-elusive dream: Dragging those who have fled into the shadow economy back out into the open where they can be induced to keep the machinery of the state running just a little bit longer. Is there enough money out there to merit the taxman's interest? Almost certainly; California officials are salivating over the prospect of $7 billion in revenue, while the European Commission estimates that €2 trillion is hiding out there. Can the taxman actually collect any of that money? Well … That's another question entirely. Left largely unasked by government officials, though, says Reason 24/7 Managing Editor J.D. Tuccille, is this: Why have so many of their subjects chosen to operate in the shadows, forsaking the protections of legal status and effectively painting large targets on their backs? Could governments be chasing away the objects of their interest with excessive attention?