Here’s an idea sure to earn me the everlasting scorn of my fellow conservatives: I want taxes to go up. Dramatically. How can I say such a thing? How can any good conservative root for an increase in taxation? Allow me to demonstrate.
Now, if you’re reading this, you are probably like me in the sense that you don’t really need too many reasons to hate big government. For many of us on the right, it simply makes sense that you should do everything in your power to resist the spread of any entity that would presume to tell you what you can do with your own property, what foods you can eat (see trans fat bans) or tell you that you have to buy health insurance. Sadly, as the election demonstrated, average Americans don’t seem to see government this way. Why should they?
As infuriating as needless laws and regulations are, they only affect a small number of Americans at one time, never enough to build a strong political backlash against them. Who really cares about the historic and beloved ferry line that is getting shut down by the EPA simply because the regulatory agency isn’t giving them time to comply with new environmental standards? How many of us are really affected by the Department of Agriculture’s irritating insistence on making school lunches “healthy” at the expense of their edibility? Even granted the possibility of real political resistance to such practices, chances are it would be resistance only to the government agency responsible not government overreach as a whole.
Americans, on a day to day basis, have no reason to see the government as the pushy, arrogant, ungrateful entity that it is. The only universal image of government in this country is of a government that “helps” people with things through Obamacare and various other social programs.
What’s wrong with this? Shouldn’t people see the good things their government does?
We could argue indefinitely about how “good” the government’s deeds really are, but that would be beside the point. What needs to be more clearly presented is the cost of the “good” the government does. Any law-abiding citizen can simply turn off the news and otherwise tune-out reports of the government’s profligacy. Sixteen trillion dollars, at the end of the day, is only a number. On the other hand, no law-abiding citizen can escape the obligation of paying taxes. What better way of making people aware of a cost is there than to make them pay it themselves.
Naturally, I say this with not without some trepidation. The costs would be enormous, and not just on one’s wallet. Surely even good old fashioned Keynesians like the leftists in Obama’s administration can appreciate the dire effect tax hikes would have on consumption, and therefore the economy at large.
Of course, one could opt to spare the common man the onerous burden of such taxes by raising taxes only for the rich. Such a plan would, in all honesty, work… for about a year. And only barely at that, after having destroyed any mechanism for the generation of future taxable wealth. Realistically, such an indescribably huge burden would have to be shared, albeit perhaps unequally, by the entire population.
I do not fancy myself much of an optimist at all, but it is my sincerest and, I think, not unreasonable hope that under the crippling weight of the requisite taxation, Americans might sit up, look at programs like the EPA’s $141,450 study on swine manure and ask “does the government really need to be doing this?”
Will McMahon | University of Missouri at Columbia | @WilliamAMcMahon