Quick Roundup 322

Monday, April 21, 2008

Social Engineering through Tax Law

Yaron Brook discusses an aspect of tax law that has always made my eyes glaze over: How it manages to slip the government's priorities into every decision an individual wants to make.

Tax policy works by attaching financial incentives to a long list of values deemed morally worthy. If you want to maximize your wealth come tax time--and who doesn't?--you must look at the world through tax-colored glasses, "voluntarily" adjusting your behavior to suit social norms and thereby qualifying for tax breaks. In this way, the social engineers of tax policy preserve the impression that you're exercising free choice, while they're actually dispensing with your reason and your judgment. [bold added]
This is, of course, on top of all the wasted time and effort this obscene ritual costs Americans every year. (HT: Paul Hsieh)

Beginnings and Ends

I hadn't particularly planned on posting about taxation today, but I did unearth a couple of interesting tax-related items this weekend.

First, there is a PDF of the very first Form 1040, which is more straightforward, but might confuse graduates of today's public schools. One actually had to use arithmetic to calculate one's taxes!

And then there's this interesting map from the Tax Foundation of "Tax Freedom Day by State, 2008". You will also find a table ranking the states in terms of when Tax Freedom Day occurs as well as one that lists when Tax Freedom Day has occurred historically at the Tax Foundation web site. (There is one minor oddity with this map: The rankings are backwards. The higher the number, the faster your state reaches Tax Freedom Day.)

A Common Admission

SB does an excellent job analyzing the common Christian "argument" that reason is just another form of faith:
There is an implicit confession in this attack, which astonished me when I first noticed it. It reveals that some faithful apparently know that they are on shaky ground. They go to great lengths to evade it, but at least on some level they know that reason is valid and faith is not. This is indicated by the logic of their argument.
Burgess Laughlin also draws an interesting analogy in the comments. (HT: Kendall J)

Gear Up for Exploit the Earth Day!

Drat! On top of not having time to fire up my grill tomorrow, I'm going to be in Boston next year, where I probably won't have a yard -- or even, God forbid, space to store my own barbecue grill -- thanks to the low standard of living.

(And those damned Puritans have probably banned charcoal anyway. Bear with me. I'm still mentally adjusting to the looming move away from my natural habitat.)

So for me, the real celebration of what I like to call "Life on This Earth Day" will be delayed until some time in early May.

In the meantime, I commemorate the occasion by posting the image to the right, courtesy of Principles in Practice. Parent publication The Objective Standard is selling tee shirts and mugs for the occasion, by the way.

The Beauties of Exploitation

Via the OList, I learned of this must-see video tour of Earth's cities as seen from outer space at night:

Doug Peltz, curious as to whether a common image of Earth at night was realistic, eventually found this video.

Nine Eight years ago today, ...

... I officially started dating my movie buddy -- the woman you now know as Mrs. Van Horn!

Yes, using a personal calendar program has its advantages, but you still have to input the year correctly!

Luckily, I have a wife to correct me about such things.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

This is a bit of a "blue sky" thought, but I wonder whether a prohibition against using the revenue-gathering function of the State for social engineering purposes could ever get passed these days...

Gus Van Horn said...

I think it's morr of a "cold day in Hell" thought in today's context.

So much so that you risk giving some clown an idea for a clever way to justify some new revenue collection scheme.

Oh wait. too late!

(And I get bonus points for spotting a Republican doing it.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, I noticed on the tax map at least one mistake--the colors for Connecticut (#1) and Rhode Island (#13) were interchanged. So I'd say the map requires a little caution.

It's also worth keeping in mind that I've encountered lefties who use precisely that sort of map to argue that conservatives should keep their mouths shut, because it demonstrates a net transfer of wealth through taxes from the more leftist, socialist states to the more conservative states, and that, they say, is why industry is dying in their states and not dying so quickly in the freer states. (The fallacy, of course, lies in the fact that the federal government doesn't redistribute state income taxes across state lines.)

Gus Van Horn said...

Also, the map does not take the regressive nature of the code into account.

Many such states have a high cost of living and wages partially reflect this.