Sunday, November 25, 2012

Opposing Tax Increases on the Rich

It has been argued that the Republicans are foolish and obstinate to oppose tax increases on the rich in the face of substantial majorities supporting the idea. The thing that such arguments over look is that this will not be the last time. The entitlement state is growing far faster than tax revenues, far faster than inflation. This will not be the last crisis. This is one in a series of 'crisises' that will continue, that will not, in fact, be crisises but which will inevitably become the standard order of business as we do nothing about a welfare state that metastasizes out of control. The state is permanently brooke, brooke by design. Tax increases on the investments and investors that create jobs and growth will make the desease worse, which will only lead to more calls for sacrifice from those who can most afford it to deal with the lastest 'temporary' emergency.

The question is not the proportion of spending cuts to tax or revenue increases, it is whether the spending 'cuts' (which I put in scare quotes as such cuts are almost always simply reductions in the rate of increase) solve the underlying problem: the permanent tendency of the welfare state's outlays to grow faster than our means of paying for them. Until that is dealt with in a permanent way we will only lurch from one crisis to the next with the latest emergency calling for shared sacrifice from those best able to bear the burden. Until the problem of stable financing of the welfare state is permanently solved every concession on taxes is simply another step down the steepening incline toward a sclerotic welfare state, stagnant and divided by envy, hate and despair.  

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