Taxes

The Moral Case for Tax Cuts

The ownership of tax money before the government confiscates it is a moral consideration, or at least ought to be.

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Say you walk into a store one day and there's a big sign inside: "Everything Now 20 Percent Off." What is your reaction?

(a) "This is great! I am going to save some money today!"

(b) "This is terrible! I demand to know how the store is going to make up the revenue. And I am outraged, because people who are richer than I am buy more stuff, which means they will save more money than I do!"

If you are a normal person, your reaction is more likely to resemble (a). But a lot of people—including most members of the media—apparently have a reaction more like (b), at least when the subject turns to taxes.

On Wednesday, President Trump laid out some general themes for tax reform, including cuts in the rates for corporations and small businesses and a hike in the standard deduction for individuals. The reactions were telling—and even a bit surreal.

Much discussion revolved around how much the tax cuts would cost. That is a funny question to ask, from the taxpayer's perspective. From the taxpayer's perspective, a tax cut doesn't cost anything. Like a price cut at a department store, it saves you money.

The only entity for whom a tax cut could be considered a cost is the federal government. But an impressive number of people in the media also see it that way, which tells you much about where their sympathies lie.

Along the same lines, debate erupted over whether Trump's plan would "pay for itself," a discussion Republicans foolishly invited with the Laffer Curve. So you get policy wonks arguing over whether the Congressional Budget Office should judge tax proposals using static scoring or dynamic scoring, and just how much we can expect the economy to grow under scenarios A, B, and C, and so on.

All great fun for those who see politics as a team sport. The trouble with such an approach, though, is that it turns taxation into a purely utilitarian issue, and one in which every perspective is just as valid as any other.

Which is simply not the case. Imagine a stranger walked up to you on the street and said, "Let's talk about the best way to spend your paycheck, shall we?" You would be entirely justified in replying, "Buddy, that's none of your damn business. Now go away before I call the police."

Most discussions of tax policy overlook a crucial initial condition: the ownership of the money before the government confiscates it. That is a moral consideration, or at least it ought to be. Pundits go on at great length debating whether the government can afford to let people keep a bit more of their own money. Very few ever ask whether the taxpayer can afford the high cost of government.

Sure, partisan hypocrisy enters the equation. Republicans don't care much about deficits unless Democrats are in charge, and vice versa. Let's take that as a given and set it aside for another time.

Any discussion of tax policy ought to start with the recognition that taxation entails taking the earnings of some people for the benefit of others. We need some level of taxation; government can't function without it. But the level should be kept as low as possible.

The standard objection here involves noting that tax cuts benefit the rich. Well, yes—they do. That is because the rich pay most of the taxes in the first place. The wealthiest 20 percent of American households earn 51 percent of all U.S. income but pay 66 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 45 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. It is hard to cut taxes for people who don't pay them.

This is, indeed, a question about greed. But not in the way it is normally framed. As George Mason University economics professor Donald Boudreaux once said, it's an odd value set that considers "I want what's mine" to be selfish and greedy but "I want what's yours" to be selfless and noble.

Over the next two decades federal spending is set to soar from 20 percent of GDP to 28 percent, and much of that spending growth is on automatic pilot. Nobody ever asks how that spending is going to "pay for itself." Given that taxes already cost Americans more than food, clothing, and shelter combined, maybe they should.

The column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  1. (c) Why has this store been overcharging me all this time???

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        1. Or we should ask why some should get to earn $90/hr. I think we can all agree that no one needs more than $25. In that case, the additional dollars left over should go to the government to properly allocate such I’ll gotten gains equitably among those that don’t earn as much. /sarc

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            1. Come on, somebody deliberately planted this here, right? It’s just too perfect a comment.

  2. The problem is that empirically it’s a bad idea. Ever since Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981, every tax cut has caused the economy to tank and every tax increase has caused the economy to revive. It’s pretty clear we’re below the point where further tax cuts improve the economy.

    It would be better to focus on reforming the tax code to eliminate all the social engineering and crony capitalism rather than trying to further reduce total taxation.

    1. Is this sarcasm?

      1. No, just an idiot I think. Same idiot posted idiot stuff on the ‘climate change’ thread involving the NY Times.

        1. Even though his first point is stupid and counter-factual, I agree with with Stormy’s 2nd point.

          I’d rank reforms to make a simple, broad-based tax code that eliminates social engineering and crony capitalism ahead of lower taxes. Seriously, because I’d get at least three extra weekends per year (two for tax analysis, planning, and execution, and one to prepare the return.)

          I imagine that we’ll get a simple, broad-based tax code that eliminates social engineering and crony capitalism right after we get world peace.

          1. I think he’s just being sly. What he wants is to “reform” the tax code to get rid of the “tax cuts” for the “evil” people. That way when you leave the tax rate at current levels you simply are more broke.

            The other side of that is the supposition that any significant decrease in such tax friendly cronyism wouldn’t be affected by simplified tax codes that eliminates shelters, reduced burdens, and offsets. If a tax reduction truly were at the heart of economic downturns, wouldn’t the same be true for any burdens that are created by other such reforms?

            And yes, let us all conveniently forget that Tip O’Neill was responsible for the mass overspending by Congress which is how Reagan was able to get the tax changes to begin with. I’m so tired of everyone just blaming Reagan or giving him all the credit. And lets also forget that the savings and loan issue also had impacts to the GDP late in the period. But at least with the S&L problem government just let the banks fail so the toxic assets cleared quickly, unlike the 2008 bubble that still hasn’t cleared.

          2. I don’t care how (where) govt. spends. I can’t control it so why obsess? I can boycott govt. on principle at every chance. I resist because resistance is good for the spirit. I avoid taxes where possible, for example.

    2. I agree with your second point.

      Your first line has a sample size of, what, three truly significant tax changes? Seems a pretty bold statement with limited data.

    3. Of course it’s empirically a bad idea – as long as the government is spending the same amount (or, as is usually the case, more). Spending cuts have to happen in concert with tax cuts. This is obvious.

      1. Only if you assume that tax cuts equal lower tax revenue which continues prove out not to be the case time after time.

    4. Ummm, so can you explain how the economy tanked during the 80s? because I recall a lot of growth after the tax cuts. I remember businesses being able to hire more people. It seems that you’re speaking about some myth that the left has created to demonize the other side, and to try and confiscate more money from people without their permission.

      And tell me again, how government helps an economy? Because last I recall, all those tech companies that have improved all of our lives as well as the lives of smaller businesses are not run by the government. Google, Apple, Uber, etc. And raising taxes seems to push some of those companies to relocate their corporate offices to say Ireland, where they pay less taxes. Sooooo in reality, what you’re saying is completely wrong.

      1. The 80s boom was driven by 2 things – more women entered the workforce and borrowing rules were relaxed under Reagan. It used to be that 20% down was the rule for home ownership, but no more.

        What did we do with all that new borrowing firepower? Bid up home prices and build more houses. Then the S+L crash proved that banks aren’t a panacea – they don’t produce wealth.

        1. 20% want a requirement in the early 80’s. Hell, my parents bought a house in the 70’s with zero down. Now, if you want a conventional loan you’re going to need some capital.

      2. These companies depend on the physical, legal, and security infrastructure provide by we the people acting through our government. We created intellectual property right and enforce them, without which these companies could not exist. Government projects spurred the development of computers and the internet. Government built the roads Uber drives upon and protects its drivers from robbery and hijacking.

        1. IP is debated wildly. A lot of open source folks will staunchly, and with good reason, argue with your reasoning in IP. However, that is tied to our laws at the Fed level.

          Nearly no one argues that general welfare laws protect folks from others robbing then, much less just Uber drivers (nevermind a limo drive couldn’t rob you? A taxi driver? Bus driver? Etc) Regardless, that function isn’t served at the federal level…yet. Not sure at all what your point there was.

          To say that many of these inventions wouldn’t exist without government is a stretch. How many inventions happen outside of government? How many originate outside of government only to have military or other government functionaries deem those unavailable to the public?

          How much of the railroad system was financed by government at the federal level? How much by private companies? How much of the current roads are financed by states and municipalities?

          Just trying to point out how pithy your paragraphs were not.

        2. You drive on roads, therefore you can’t complain about taxes. And if the NYPD strangles a man to death for selling untaxed cigarettes, you should endorse it, unless you want to go live in Somalia.

    5. The problem lies with spending. Even when money starts flying into Washington when taxes are cut our congress just spends more and more and more.


  3. “The only entity for whom a tax cut could be considered a cost is the federal government. But an impressive number of people in the media also see it that way, which tells you much about where their sympathies lie.”

    It is rather sickening that ‘The Media’ think that letting your average Joe keep more of their income is a patently bad thing sans any details at all. The very idea of letting people keep their money would appear to be anathema to these types. Even if revenue goes up (which is exactly what we should expect) they have a problem with it.

    1. It’s not even a “cost.” If you get $10 this week, and $5 next week, it hasn’t “cost” you $5. You’ve simply acquired less. Or in this case, stolen less.

  4. I have started answering the charge “The Rich need to pay their share” by saying; “they have been, and most of YOUR share too, oxygen thief.”

    1. It is crazy how many people simply believe that rich people (or more correctly, high income people) don’t pay very much in taxes. It’s just the opposite of the truth. The top 10% of earners pay over 70% of federal income taxes. The top 1% pay almost 40%. This article has some very interesting charts.

      Of course a lot of state taxes and other taxes are a lot less progressive. But people claiming that the federal income tax is insufficiently progressive either have no idea of the facts or are insane.

      1. Can’t they be both insane and ignorant of facts?

        1. Yep! Piece of cake.
          For simplicity, I call them democrats.

          1. I call them: statists or socialists or authoritarians or voters (opps, did I go too far?). Nah, I should know, I used to be one.

    2. Since poor people use most of the tax dollars, they should be taxed at a higher rate.

  5. Cutting taxes sounds like a great idea. But if you don’t cut spending first then you’re imposing taxes on future generations, who aren’t represented in Congress.

    1. Why is that, exactly? Are we conflating revenue with tax rates?

      1. If you spend money you’re not taxing now, you have to fund it with debt that must be taxed for later.

        1. So it’s taken as a given that revenue will fall if taxes goes down, then? Odd that this isn’t what usually happens when a tax cut is passed after it’s first year dip.

        2. Easy fix: you can only spend this year what you took in last year. No more budget projections and guessing.

          1. That much I can agree with DLAM. Only spend what you make in revenue (with possible borrowing in emergencies like natural disaster or other unexpected expenses). I know this doesn’t really apply to currency issuers, but it’s still a good starting point for negotiation.

            The point remains that the United States government could, theoretically, spend eighty gazillion dollars tomorrow afternoon. Sure, that amount of money doesn’t technically exist but it could at the whim of the Fed. No one is that stupid, of course, but that doesn’t remove it from the ‘technically possible’ column.

            1. No one is that stupid, of course

              Jesus, dude. The people we got in Washington are likely to take that as a challenge.

              1. It sure looks like they have taken it on already.

              2. I thought we called it quantitative easing.

          2. This year’s revenues typically are about the same as expenditures five years prior.

            Cuts are not necessarily needed, just a complete and utter freeze on all spending increases, and let growth catch up and eliminate the deficit in 4-5 years. Cuts would be even better!

            After that, just do what you said and hold the line on spending no more than you took in last year.

          3. There goes counter-cyclical spending to shorten and soften recessions. There goes collecting your social security and eating in bad years. There goes the professionals working in government to make things work, including the military.

        3. You assume the debt must be paid? I assume the debt will eventually be defaulted on. Isn’t that what has been happening in other countries?
          I would’t loan to govt. or vote or support the initiation of violence so I have no sympathy for those who do.

    2. If you are forcing me to pay taxes for things I think are wrong, then I’m not represented in Congress now.

      If it comes to the choice of imposing taxes on the very real me in the here and now, or some hypothetical future generation that may be on permanent vacation because automation has made the world a paradise, I’ll take my tax cut and say thank you, may I have another.

      I’d rather, of course, cut spending.

  6. “Any discussion of tax policy ought to start with the recognition that taxation entails taking the earnings of some people for the benefit of others. “… the Mother of All Trickle Down Economics Explained

  7. Most discussions of tax policy overlook a crucial initial condition: the ownership of the money before the government confiscates it. That is a moral consideration, or at least it ought to be.

    The Left is unyielding on this point. They insist that the government owns all the money, period.

    1. Well, the government printed it, of course they own it all.
      [/snark, for the sake of the thinking impaired]

    2. In the sense that the currency doesn’t have any value unless the government says it does, the government owns it.

      1. It’s not called a fiat currency for nothing.

        Fiat Currency

      2. Well if people will accept dollars for replacing the struts on my Honda or fixing the deck out back, then they have value.

    3. They print it after all… :p

  8. Sidenote that I couldn’t find any better article to comment it on: I dashed off a quick email to my Republican Congresscritter Bob Latta the week before AHCA was shelved basically urging him to follow the Freedom Caucus’ demands even though I know he’s corporate as fuck and wouldn’t even think about it. Just to have it on the record for him that there’s one libertarian in his district.

    The bill has been dead for over five weeks and he emailed me back this weekend with a freaking thesis on how great it is. Between the extreme lack of timeliness and his touting as strong points of the bill the exact things I wrote to him in opposition of (community rating, preexisting condition coverage, etc) I was laughing my ass off that I got his form letter in such a silly and tone-deaf context.

    Anyone want to compose my sarcastic reply to him for me?

    1. Fuck you, cut spending?

    2. paste in the billy madison game-show quote.

  9. RE: The Moral Case for Tax Cuts
    The ownership of tax money before the government confiscates it is a moral consideration, or at least ought to be.

    Here’s a better moral case.
    Eliminate the archaic and counter-productive income tax and replace with a national sales tax.

    1. Should that apply to stocks bought and sold as well?

    2. Eliminate the archaic and counter-productive income tax and replace with a national sales tax.

      (laughing) The income tax provides a massive subsidy to the middle class.
      The middle class spends roughly it’s entire income (including consumer debt, as a group)
      The rich consume a very small portion of their income.
      So … libertarians can rise to governance by proposing a massive tax CUT for millionaires and billionaires … paid for by a massive tax INCREASE on the middle class.
      But capitalism is not a con game for the wealthy! The earth is NOT round. And Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya

      The sales tax bullshit was best exposed (simple charts) by those progressives at Forbes

      Now tell us about your visit by the Easter Bunny a few weeks back!

      1. 0BAMA IS A KEYNESIAN!

  10. If I subscribe to taxation is immoral in the manner that article suggests, I must also agree to the system that produced the inequalities between owned things by people to be moral.

    That is, everyone earned, fairly and squarely everything they owned, and were not the beneficiary of lack of rule of law, and there is a right to dictate which future lineage of humanity continues to benefit from that.

    At which point why change ANY laws? Life is and has been fair and moral, so why single taxation as the one immoral thing in those laws?

    1. You can’t fix the evils of the past. Any attempt to do so will involve new injustices and create a cycle of retribution. All you can really do is basically say “no more stealing/fraud/cronyism from now on”. There will always be inequality in material wealth because people have different skills, motivations and life circumstances. You can’t change that. Even if it were possible to right the wrongs of the past, we would rapidly return to a state of inequality. And that’s a good thing. I want there to be rich industrialists and entrepreneurs in the world who will create new and interesting things and enrich all of humanity so I don’t have to. It’s no skin off my nose if there are people in the world who make 1000x what I do.

      1. You can’t fix the evils of the past

        Hmm, but we do try and do offer fixes, don’t we? Otherwise, why have any system of justice? All crimes are in the past, and some of them are evil.

        So it is not so much as we can’t, but that we can’t always but still do so selectively.

        Consider you steal my cell phone from me. “no more stealing” does what? What about the trades I could not make while you had my phone.

        It seems that “past” is malleable, and your refrain from fixing seems to apply at some arbitrary period in the past. Nothing wrong with it, but if we are willing to debate what the arbitrary point should be, why the absolute nature of “taxation is immoral”?

        There will always be inequality in material wealth because people have different skills, motivations and life circumstances.True, but if we accept that, then what moral basis do we have to carve out exceptions for taxation only, in that sphere? If we spent (as in all taxpayers) spent money in the past to bomb a brown country to protect “national interests” and some specific people benefited, well, they are recipients of inequality rather fortunately.

        1. “True, but if we accept that, then what moral basis do we have to carve out exceptions for taxation only, in that sphere?”

          Because all of the other sources of inequality come about as a result of the abilities of and choices of the individuals involved? Taxation basically amounts to a do over with your thumb on the scale. You made more money than me almost certainly based on your life choices. Not fair! Gimme the money I lost through my own laziness and stupidity!

          1. Bullshit! No one chooses to be born to poor parents, or losing property because some other assholes collaborated to decide who owns what. Theft from generations ago is still theft. The loss of that property contributes to the generations of the future. The Sooners basically usurped property. Forming laws later that such cannot be “redistributed” means they created and legislated inequality as fair.

            No one chooses to be robbed. If you say that taxation is robbery, well, they had a choice: do not elect the government to represent you that’ll so tax you. If you say no, that is bullshit, that is the same for people who were shafted in other ways. Paying for stuff I do not want, but someone else does.

            Fairest way: 0 taxes and 0 spending. Everyone for themselves.

            1. I was born to poor parents. I am no longer poor because I made good decisions. Your final point is idiotic. Anarchy lasts for about 5 femtoseconds.

            2. Re: past theft impacts current conditions of a descendant of the victim.

              Wealth generally stays in a family for roughly 3 generations. This is why family business often fail when the grand children take over. There is nothing in having unearned wealth that ensures future wealth. Also… the likelihood of the bottom 20% to stay there is not as high as one might think (comes from the KC Fed I believe).

              Thus… a past theft is usually a negligible factor in one’s condition. Same with being poor. There are too many people born to poor families who become rich for this to be considered some sort of rule. Same for rich parents whose kid does not end rich. Exceptions can only DISPROVE rules.

              1. Cute amateur social engineering discussion.

      2. I agree completely. But the very act of recognizing what has occurred in the past will mean you have to fix it going forward. Otherwise you are just perpetuating it. In the case of the income tax, the biggest distortion has always been the difference between ‘effective tax paid’ v ‘marginal tax on paper’. That cannot be fixed WITHIN an income tax. At the bottom, income itself can be too erratic and it is profoundly unfair to extract taxes at the expense of surviving. At the top, wealthy people can pretty much decide what their income is and whatever it is is kinda irrelevant. Warren Buffet is not known because he has a $10 million income. He is known – and gets big bailouts in 2008 – because he’s worth $70 billion. That is what will never be taxed – and he’s a sleazy cronyist fuck when he plays genial grandpa who thinks income tax should ‘solve’ that problem.

        Switzerland understands this. Different people – different circumstances. The primary function of taxes is just raise needed revenue without retribution or distortion.

        VAT tax of 3% on food/nec and 8% on everything else.
        Income tax of 12% on everything over roughly 30k or so.
        Wealth tax of 0.5% (50 basis points) on everything over 500k or so.
        Hard debt cap of 30% of GDP so bills can’t just be sent to future generations.

        The more I look at the impact of this system, the fairer it appears.

  11. I want to know how the rest of the lower 47% isn’t paying any taxes.

    1. So did you ever educate CB on the wonders of the ideal gas law? You were dealing with a special kind of stupid. Pure sophistry is amazing to behold.

    2. I made $96k last year. It was the first year I lost all dependents (my youngest kid graduated college, and is on her own), and lost head of household status. I paid $26k in state, fed, SS, and Medicare, and paid my own medical premiums (thru my employer).

      So, I quit my job. Rented my house (along with another I’d rented). Bought a place with my GF and rent out that basement.

      I will make about $28k in 2017, but with deductions and depreciation, will show $12k on taxes. I will pay zero taxes, and I qualify for ACA.

      My girlfriend has two kids in college, made $32k in 2016 (after deductions, dependents, etc), qualified for Earned Income Tax Credit and educational credits, paid zero tax, and the government GAVE HER over $4k in refundable credits.

      Does that answer your question?

  12. The only problem with your example is that the store with 20% off doesn’t belong to me. My government, to a certain extent does so I would like to see it stay solvent. If the store goes bankrupt because of mismanagement it really isn’t any of my business.

    1. “My government, to a certain extent does so I would like to see it stay solvent.”

      Gods not me. Die, government, die.

  13. Hypothetical: Suppose only men paid taxes and the president proposed to cut taxes. Would it be ‘fair’ to argue against the plan because it would only benefit men?

    I don’t know why bringing up the Laffer curve is foolish. 0% taxes net zero revenue. 100% taxes net zero revenue. Somewhere in there there is a tax percentage that nets the most revenue.

    1. Yes, where?

      The Laffer curve may have multiple peaks.

      To answer your hypothetical: no, it would not be unfair at all. As long as the spending did not benefit just the men who paid taxes in excess of the revenue.

  14. The standard objection here involves noting that tax cuts benefit the rich. Well, yes?they do. That is because the rich pay most of the taxes in the first place. The wealthiest 20 percent of American households earn 51 percent of all U.S. income but pay 66 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 45 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. It is hard to cut taxes for people who don’t pay them.

    The non-standard objection is that there is not a corresponding cut in spending, spending that also disproportionately benefits the rich. Wars benefit Halliburton. National defense (or rather aggression) benefits some rich companies.

    Seriously, an honest proposal would be no taxation and no spending by the government. Every person for themselves.

    Fairest way of all. After all, life is not fair, right?

    Or accept the fact that if you tax, you will redistribute it, and unfairly. That is fucking point of taxation in the first place: collective good. Someone will pay more. Tax for a highway? Fuck it, I do not use it, why should I pay for it?

    Or move to a pay as you go “consumption tax” Want national defense? Pay for it.

    All the bickering amounts to arguing “how much more?” why something is unfair.

    1. The budget is actually dominated by spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. SS is 25%, Health Care (Medicaid/Medicare) is 28%.

      Yes, Defense/Homeland Security is 16%, but the majority of all federal spending, around 60% counting SS/Medicare/Medicaid and all other transfer programs, is not going to Haliburton, et al.

      We can dick around at the edges and shave off a few 10s or even 100s of billions of dollars. But unless and until mandatory entitlement spending is considered, that’s all you’re gonna ever be doing: nibbling at the edges.

      1. All you are doing is bickering about the amounts being fair when used for X.

        I did not say ALL of the national aggression benefits Halliburton, but that wars benefit Halliburton, in that there is a chunk of money going towards it. For some reason you decide that such is fair.

        And before you continue with your spiel on what should be cut, I said it up front: cut all of it, and cut taxes to 0.

        That is the fairest. Any movement from that, and you need to make a moral case for it. Can’t just say it is only immoral to tax.

        1. No, you claimed that spending …disproportionately benefits the rich. This is pure bullshit as CBO itself states. The rich are net payers including transfers. The poor and middle class are not.

    2. You keep spouting this shit with absolutely no evidence to back it up. Spending massively benefits lower income over higher income.

      1. Wars benefit Halliburton. National defense (or rather aggression) benefits some rich companies.

        …. who have no employees? THOSE companies?

        1. Are you seriously telling me that Halliburton is anywhere near the size of SS, Medicare, Medicaid or even SNAP? Grow up, Hihn.

          1. No, I am not even jokingly telling you that Halliburton is anywhere near the size of those things.

            Are you reading something that you wished I had written?

            1. Do you even understand threading? It’s clear that you don’t understand spending.

              1. It’s clear you cannot read

          2. Are you seriously telling me that Halliburton is anywhere near the size of SS, Medicare, Medicaid or even SNAP?

            Ummm, those companies have employees.
            And the employees benefit far more than their employers.

            1. You’re right, David. I misread your post.

              1. Thank you.

        2. Wait, you read somewhere that they have no employees? Or that I said it?

          1. Wait, you read somewhere that they have no employees?

            I read what you wrote … which ignores that rather obvious fact that employees/jobs are much higher than the profits of those employers,

            “Wars benefit Halliburton. National defense (or rather aggression) benefits some rich companies.”

            Or that I said it?

            Did I quote you incorrectly?

            1. Not when you quoted me correctly.In which I make NO mention of them not having employees

              I read what you wrote … which ignores that rather obvious fact that employees/jobs are much higher than the profits of those employers,
              Which changes little about wars benefitting Halliburton. But given that they do, and their employees benefit from them (more), it is still THEIR employees who are benefitting from taxes collected from everyone who pays.

              Why is that moral? If taxation is immoral, why is redistribution of the uses of that taxation also not immoral.

              0 taxes and 0 spending. That is fairest.

              Anything that adds to either of those two needs a moral justification. All the article argues is that anything that goes from 0 to x on taxes is immoral.

              1. So you’re claiming that all Halliburton employees are rich now? Still waiting for you to provide a single citation that the rich benefit disproportionately from spending…

                1. Hey moron, I am done with you

                  1. Don’t just go away, go away angry.

              2. Not when you quoted me correctly.In which I make NO mention of them not having employees

                Umm, you lied about who benefits.
                One more time. Employees and jobs benefit MANY TIMES more than the employers do. You can not fix a problem by lying about it — in terms to impress progressives?

                And now you’re changing the subject to a totally different issue.
                (I shall now ignore any more denials and diversions, since I’ve now proven my point THREE times.)

              3. Not when you quoted me correctly.In which I make NO mention of them not having employees

                Umm, you lied about who benefits.
                One more time. Employees and jobs benefit MANY TIMES more than the employers do. You can not fix a problem by lying about it — in terms to impress progressives?

                And now you’re changing the subject to a totally different issue.
                (I shall now ignore any more denials and diversions, since I’ve now proven my point THREE times.)

              4. Redcard:
                Not when you quoted me correctly.In which I make NO mention of them not having employees

                Umm, you lied about who benefits.
                One more time. Employees and jobs benefit MANY TIMES more than the employers do. You can not fix a problem by lying about it — in terms to impress progressives?

                And now you’re changing the subject to a totally different issue.
                (I shall now ignore any more denials and diversions, since I’ve now proven my point THREE times.)

      2. You are a moron. This is the first I have opined on cutting all of taxes and spending. The topic is “Taxation is immoral”

        So when I say cut taxation to 0, and spending to 0, and then you convince me changing either of the two to > 0 to be moral, you can start.

        1. You claimed that spending disproportionately benefits the rich. You have provided zero evidence of this claim. It’s a bit rich calling others morons when you can’t even keep a coherent thought in your own head.

          1. Are you confused about Halliburton being rich? Are you confused that Halliburton has not gotten nop bid contracts from taxes collected disproportionately?

            1. Tell me, what is Halliburton? Is it the corporate officers? The other employees? The shareholders? I’m quite sure that many of the two latter groups are not rich. You’re the one confused by this.

              Look, I get it. You made a claim that you can’t back up and now you’re desperately trying to move the goal posts. It’s human nature, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re wrong.

        2. So what’s immoral about consent of the governed?

          1. Consent of some of the governed. Not all.

            If that consent is what determined the morality of taxation, why complain of morality that the consent is to tax some people a lot more, and some not at all?

            1. Consent of the governed.

            2. If that consent is what determined the morality of taxation, why complain of morality that the consent is to tax some people a lot more, and some not at all?

              NOW you get it!
              Especially when there’s no better alternative proposed. Ever.

    3. Or move to a pay as you go “consumption tax” Want national defense? Pay for it.

      National defense is one of the few expenses for which national taxes make sense.

      Tax for a highway? Fuck it, I do not use it, why should I pay for it?

      Highways are more than paid for by users already, through gas taxes. These days, however, it would make more sense to have actual user fees using transponders. And they should be paid for by state taxes, just like other roads should be paid for by local taxes.

  15. A few problems with this article…
    1. You can both give everyone a 20% tax cut AND then go to spend even more – which most Republicans do.
    2. One can also argue that the 55% that do pay taxes benefit MORE from participating in our economy. A small percentage in fact do far better.
    3. The poor just dump money they obtain back into the economy – only the wealthy pay for tax dodging cross-border schemes from the likes of E+Y or Deloitte. In fact, many of the wealthy make their money from the poor – they are excellent consumers of all sorts of products.

    There is no moral imperative for low taxes – if there were then Italy would have caved to Catholic pressure centuries ago.

    1. And yet you provide zero evidence. What does CBO say? I know you desperately want to steal and spend other people’s money. Just be honest about it and admit that you’re envious and greedy.

    2. “There is no moral imperative for low taxes…”
      You almost got it right. Delete the “low”. It’s so simple when you analyze using a moral premise: Theft is immoral. Taking by force is theft. Taxation is taken by force, not paid or given. It follows, taxation is immoral.

  16. Is there a moral case for “consent of the governed?” Natural Law is bullshit? Is “all taxation theft” if 90+% of a society consents to it? (Not that it’s too high, but that it exists at all.)
    When will libertarians get the balls to stop dancing around the massive middle-class subsidies paid by the rich?

    The wealthiest 20 percent of American households earn 51 percent of all U.S. income but pay 66 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 45 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all. It is hard to cut taxes for people who don’t pay them.

    And ……..? Blankout.
    What would happen if the wealthiest 20% paid 51% of the income tax, a 25% cut for ONLY them…..? Blankout.

    Libertarians must never learn that progressive tax rates subsidize nearly half the entire tax burden for the core middle class ($40k-100k) … or else the libertarian bullshit of a ‘flat tax’ (on either income or consumption) would be exposed as the same bullshit suffered by Team Red and Team Blue, all three Pander Bears.

  17. What is the federal government spending money upon? For example the “War on Drugs” is a total waste of resources. We used to operate (relation wise) on a basis of “minding our own business” with the rest of the world. Probably 2/3 rds of our “defense budget” is spent upon “policing the world”. Why? Seems to me that we are making more enemies than friends. 9-11, Homeland Security, trends towards “Your papers, please” don’t seem to be the best way to go. Federal agencies that duplicate the same tasks performed by state agencies. I wonder how much money is wasted on this stuff?

    From 1789 to 1913 we financed the federal government without personal taxes. Excise taxes and tariffs on imports were used. Why can’t the states finance the roads instead of the federal government? Why did we have Obamacare when the states could have done the same job better? I suspect that when you consider other things than “defense” and relations with the rest of the world, the states could probably do a better job of things.

    1. Last I knew, the states mostly did finance the roads. Federal contribution’s substantial, but still a small chunk of the total.

  18. It’s a good article, but it understates the problem.

    The real moral case: Federal taxes do not pay for anything. Upon receipt, they no longer are part of the money supply. In effect, they are destroyed.

    (This applies only to federal taxes. State and local taxes remain in the money supply)

    The federal government is Monetarily Sovereign. It creates dollars, ad hoc, each time it pays a bill. That’s how the Federal gov’t creates money.

    Even if all federal tax collections fell to $0, the government still could spend forever. Being Monetarily Sovereign, it has the unlimited ability to create its sovereign currency by paying bills.

    More ludicrous is the idea that the federal government needs to borrow. It doesn’t. Federal “debt” is the total of DEPOSITS in T-security accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank. These deposits do not fund federal spending.

    The primary purpose of T-securities is interest rate control.

    Worried about the “sustainability” of federal “debt.” Don’t be. The Fed gov’t could pay off the entire “debt” (deposits) tomorrow if it wished. It simply could transfer all the EXISTING dollars from those T-security accounts, back to the checking accounts of the T-security holders. No new dollars needed.

    So why all the BS about federal debt and deficits? Because the rich run the government, and they want you to believe that such benefits as Social Security and Medicare are limited, so that the Gap between the rich can be widened.

    See: https://goo.gl/NLcNiF

    1. So why all the BS about federal debt and deficits? Because the rich run the government,

      The diabolical bastards run a massive conspiracy … where they subsidize nearly half the entire share of income by the core middle class ($40k-100k), Proof:

      https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/13in11si.xls

      REPORTED INCOME = $8,426B
      $40,000 to $49,999…..$422
      $50,000 to $74,999…..1,111
      $75,000 to $99,999…..1,067
      TOTAL………………2,601….30.9% of personal income)

      INCOME TAX PAID $1,218
      $40,000 to $49,999….31 billion
      $50,000 to $74,999….95
      $75,000 to $99,999….102
      TOTAL…………….294….(18.8% of personal income taxes)

      18.8%/30.9% = 60.8%. the ENTIRE core middle class pays only 61% of their own share of taxes. Who subsidizes the other 39%, Venezuelans?

      So you’re pissed … and rightly so .. that Bill Gates has conspired to have you sucking his teat to survive. The bastard.

  19. Glad you wrote this article; great to see a dialog happening on this subject. When the US first started out there was no income tax; the founding fathers left it out of the constitution. I wonder why? Did they just forget it? Or maybe they knew a federal income tax would give the gov way to much power of the people? Maybe they knew an income tax is incompatible with freedom … ? After all, income tax means the government owns your income and decides how much you can keep … this philosophy aligns brilliantly with socialism … I don’t see how an income tax – no matter how small – can ever work in a nation of free people. Either you’re free or your not. When the gov “owns” your income, how can you call yourself free?

    1. the founding fathers left it out of the constitution. I wonder why? Did they just forget it? Or maybe they knew a federal income tax would give the gov way to much power of the people?

      It had never existed!
      And the mother-fucking founders stupidly gave us the power to amend that constitution. THAT is what caused our downfall into Hell.

      Or is that power innate, and they merely guaranteed it?

    2. Maybe most people put food on their tables without using markets and relatively few people earned an income in an agrarian society?

      1. JZHess, yours is better!

    3. “…an income tax is incompatible with freedom…?” Yes, and so is all tax, imminent domain, and a monopoly on power. But the monopoly was only implied at first. The revolt left mostly independent citizens who were well armed enough to overthrow a govt. too repressive. Therefore, a de facto freedom, a Yankee Spirit, and the American Dream existed.

      No spirit is left. The dream is dead along with freedom. Repression is worse than under the king.

  20. It’s clear who truly owns our earnings; any earnings we are allowed to keep is defined as a “tax expenditure.”
    This may deemed only a bookkeeping term, but I consider it a statement of ownership.

    1. Now convince more than MAYBE 5% of Americans!
      Throughout all of human history, NOTHING positive has EVER happened, until AFTER the peolple were persuaded.that it is right. Even Ayn Rand taught that. We call it liberty.

  21. This is so simplistic that it stands as an indictment against the state of civics and economic education. Anybody who is a college graduate should be embarrassed to associate their name with it.

    This considers only the cost of taxes, not the benefits. This fails to acknowledge the moral obligations of the individual to the community. It pretends that the government is an independent external agent rather than the expression of the will of the community, and that no one is forced to remain part of the community.

    So the “moral” argument fails for lack of any serious consideration of the moral dimensions that do exist.

    1. And “consent of the governed!”
      This is PARTLY why libertarianism is rejected by 91% of libertarians. (Cato survey)
      We have a clique (or cult) who gets very nasty if anyone disagrees with their core premise — that 2% of a society can dictate to 90%+ of that society — which is, ummm, authoritarian, not libertarian.

    2. “…no one is forced to remain part of the community.”?? Everyone (except those in power) are forced to be part of the community of the ruled, and anyone who is not represented by govt., i.e., does not forfeit his sovereignty to others, is held hostage by all who do.
      As a part of the community I hereby testify that the govt. is not an expression of my will. Your argument is refuted.
      Govt. is a gang which represents those “deciders” in it officially and some unofficially. I don’t join gangs.

  22. A. Theft is immoral.
    B. Taxation is theft.
    C. Lower taxes mean less theft.

    And there’s your moral case for tax cuts.

    1. A. Theft is immoral.
      B. Taxation is theft.
      C. No taxation means one less way govt. hurts us.

  23. Any size federal tax cut can be “paid for” by reducing federal spending. At the extreme, zero tax rate, zero spending.
    Just lay down a copy of the constitution, and a copy of the budget. Highlight the spending mentioned in the constitution, cut the rest. Done.
    Well, maybe a bit of legislative debate among the power hungry and the true statesmen over “general welfare”. Oh, right, politicians are elected, therefore no statesmen.

    1. Good point. Well presented.
      Now, all we need is a govt. that is based on reason, not brute force, and we all win. Ah, there’s the rub.

  24. I’m sorry, but there are a great many reasons for tax cuts, without making arguments so bad it seems like a false-flag attack on libertarianism written to make it look stupid.

    The analogy is incomplete, because it’s more like walking into a store with a 20% discount if you also OWN SHARES in the store; you may not like some of the other share-holders, or agree with how the store pays out dividends, but that’s still your store!

    So walking into that store and seeing a 20% discount and NOT asking whether that money is going to be taken from welfare cheats, medicaid or the army/police is not just incredibly stupid, but goes against your responsibilities as a share-holder!

    1. Your analogy only works if you can prove a net benefit from govt. and it’s your govt., e.g., you are a bureaucrat or politician.
      It’s not my govt. I don’t get a net benefit. And I don’t get a choice to buy or sell an interest. If I vote “no govt.” I get govt. However I vote, I get the same govt. paradigm, which I find repulsive, immoral, institutionalized violence. So I don’t vote. I don’t support compulsion but I recognize your right to self enslave to it. I don’t recognize anyone’s right to violate my right to opt out. Do you recognize my rights?

  25. “Any discussion of tax policy ought to start with the recognition that taxation entails taking the earnings of some people for the benefit of others.”

    I agree with you generally, but this bit gave me pause. It’s that “for the benefit of others” bit that bothers me. To be sure, the taxes I pay benefit others, but they also benefit me and mine, as do the taxes paid by others. When I pay my annual taxes, I have already had a year ? Hell, a lifetime! ? of benefit. If The Government came to me and said, “OK, buddy, you don’t have to pay one penny in income tax this year [“Yay!”, I cry.], but in exchange you won’t receive any government benefits this year. [“Uh, what?”] No police, no fire trucks, no government help of any sort. In fact, we’re going to publicly announce that, in the case of alien invasion, you’re toast.” [“Uhh, waitaminute!”] So, you’ll be free to hire bodyguards, fire folk, doctors, ambulances, et cetera, whatever, as long as they, and you, stay off the streets and sidewalks. Oh, and take care of your own water and garbage problems.” [Curls up into small ball, whimpering pitifully.]
    Other than that little caveat, though, yeah! Right on, brother, or sister as the case may be!

    1. I can’t live without food and shelter but I don’t want govt. to forcibly take money from some to provide it. I trust the market, crippled by regulation and taxation, to provide. The USSR and a dozen other countries didn’t trust the market to do anything. They all ruined their economies.
      You haven’t been benefiting for a lifetime. All the prosperity you have is in spite of the govt., not because of it. But if you can’t see that, then by all means keep letting your rulers take whatever they demand.
      I disagree with your conclusions and want to be free to provide for “me & mine”. Will you allow me the same consideration I allow you? Or will you force me to pay or leave? I’m not forcing you to leave or do anything except live & let live.
      Which one of us is so insecure that they resort to violence when they can’t sell their paradigm?

  26. “We need…taxation… govt. can’t function without it.” Do we need a govt. that can only function by institutionalized violence, e.g., income theft?
    Now there’s a question you will not ever hear in the MSM.
    Is the economy better off with the income tax? Or has that tax, like the Fed and the abandonment of the gold standard bankrupt the country? Would repeal of the FRA, the income tax, and the legal tender act bring back prosperity?
    It would be a good start. But the system that stuck us with that legislation is the problem, not the solution. Until that failed political paradigm is replaced by boycott of the voters, the century of decline will continue until complete collapse.

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