It's Weird That People Don't Defend Taxes

"You didn't build that" was one of the bravest, boldest things—in context or out of it—to be said in this election cycle. But don't expect...

"You didn't build that" was one of the bravest, boldest things—in context or out of it—to be said in this election cycle. But don't expect anything like it to be said again.

Few people really defend taxes as paying for the things they pay for, like security, health, education, infrastructure and everything else. It happens a little, but it's pretty quiet. Why don't people, by default, understand that a policy of blindly, aggressively cutting taxes makes about as much sense as blindly, aggressively raising them? Are taxes that hard to understand?

I guess it's a little complicated. You pay in, and what do you get? A note later that says you didn't pay enough. Or maybe a small refund. Not really as effective or straightforward as a McDonald's-style "Over 50,000 students taught" outside a public school might be.

There's plenty of bluster around what the enormous defense budget does, and that there oughtta be more of it, but even that doesn't result in saying that taxes serve a purpose—you could get thrown out of office!

Over to James Kwak:

It doesn't have to be this way. We can continue to pay for our modest social insurance programs, so people who are laid off have time to look for good jobs, poor people can get health care, and the elderly can retire with a minimum of security. It's just a matter of choice.


In other words, there's nothing wrong with a society and an economy where we vote ourselves increasing levels of security and we pay for it with higher tax rates. Rising productivity means that our real after-tax wages will still go up and the incentive to work will remain at least as strong. It's a choice we can make. It's just not a choice we have in this election.


His post at The Atlantic (titillatingly titled "Yes, We Can Afford Higher Taxes—Here's Why") does, in fact, defend taxes. But he does so while saying that while they have many differences, neither major presidential candidate thinks that more taxes are a good idea. It's a fight that just isn't happening on a large scale right now. Isn't that strange?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Center for American Progress Action Fund

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