My friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently took issue with my friends at the Tax Foundation. The subject was whether tax increases harm economic growth. The Foundation published a piece written by Will McBride in December 2012 which concluded that “nearly every empirical study of taxes and economic growth published in a peer reviewed academic journal finds that tax increases harm economic growth.” The Center countered with a piece written by Michael Mazerov which asserted there is no academic consensus on the impact of tax cuts on economic growth.
You should read both papers and decide who is right. The political debate over taxes has been largely along these lines for some time. Everyone seems to want to know whether a tax increase or decrease will harm or hurt the economy. No one ever cares about the individual involved when it comes to taxation. Perhaps this is a libertarian cause long lost. But no one seems to be concerned about what happens when you take MY money and use it for things you want. I would like someone to remind me once in awhile exactly what “right” society has to my money. Is it purely a matter of majority rules?
Mazerov and McBride can go at it over whether Keynesian economics works or not. I do know that when I am taxed more, I have less money for, well, me. I would pause here to say I use my money for family, God, and country, not to mention charities that support veterans and small children and adorable kittens. In reality I spend my money on Canadian Club, Marlboros, and time at the gun range. But what I spend my money on is none of anyone’s business.
I am no anarchist. I believe that government has a role to play in society. I also believe that government should be paid for with taxes. So I am all for debating the appropriate levels of government and taxes. But, all things being equal, I would rather have the money in my pocket than in the hands of the government – and nothing the esteemed scholars who opine on macro economics say will change that. I suspect most people think that way, although those on the left are quite closeted about it.
When I raise the issue of my taxes, people, particularly my liberal friends, immediately assume I am greedy, selfish, and uncaring. I would like to think I am none of the above. But that argument – which is seen a lot, particularly in social media, implies that supporting higher tax burdens makes one more charitable and ultimately a better person. Yet, paying because you are forced to pay is hardly being charitable. I am all for paying for government. I just wish those deciding how much I pay thought a little more about me.
Tax Analysts Blog
I Am Not Ayn Rand, But What About Me?
Posted on Jun 26, 2013