Wednesday, April 09, 2014
John Stossel writes a
column -- I mean, just barely scratches the surface -- about what's wrong
with the tax code (and would be, even if taxation were a
proper function of the government). A quote from Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand
Institute within sums things up quite well on that score:
"What the tax code is doing is trying to choose our values for us," complains Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute. I think I choose my own values, but it's true that politicians use taxes to manipulate us. Million-dollar mortgage deductions steer us to buy bigger houses, and solar tax credits persuaded me to put solar panels on my roof. Brook objects to every manipulation in the code: "It's telling us charity is good!" [bold added]That's annoying enough to me, but what really drives me batty is the fact that you have to go looking for most of these "breaks" (or waste money paying someone to do so). And then media people and other fans of paternalistic government act like these scraps -- I learned last year that many tax "breaks" are chump change compared to what one must fork over to get them -- are good deals. News flash: Having less of my own money confiscated is less of a bad thing than it could have been. That is not a good deal or a gift or a windfall any more than having a branch in my window (rather than a whole tree) is a good deal from a tornado.
Not to sound like I'm castigating anyone who (as he should) tries to minimize his wallet's exposure to Uncle Sam, the family kleptomaniac, but ...
It's bad enough to see government manipulation of private spending decisions carried out on such a massive scale. It's worse, in the same embarrassing way watching a bad comedian is, to see people so enthusiastically lap up such government "largesse". Do people check their brains at the door en masse at tax time, or does the habit of doing everything with an eye for scamming a few cents' worth of tax relief just make most people more pliant?
This is a serious question. It's one thing to live in the world as it is, but quite another to forget that we aren't living in the world as it might and ought to be. The tax code is huge and it is the law, but it is a law made by men and subject to change -- not a law of nature.
4-10-14: Corrected a typo.