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Tax-Raising Insanity

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It’s an overused expression, but the fact remains that doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results truly is insanity. The amount of trust people put in “public servants” is one such example.

Even worse is the public’s continued willingness to grant politicians and bureaucrats the means by which our own impoverishment is furthered. I’m speaking specifically here about taxes.

My neighbor is a nice lady. She’s smart and highly educated. At a neighborhood party recently I overheard her saying to another neighbor that she “loves” paying taxes: “They pay for the people who take my trash away. I get a great school for my kids. Why all this grumbling about taxes?”

Apparently this is a common attitude. An Associated Press story in the Boston Globe reports that “during [the recent] elections, voters across the country opted to raise taxes to help their cities, counties, and school districts.”

“I’m OK with being taxed for making sure we don’t go under and people are taken care of,” declared Elizabeth Boyd, of Sacramento, California. “I think it’s really good for us to pay for schools and make sure they’re kept open and teachers aren’t being laid off for ridiculous reasons.”

Obviously, it never crossed Boyd’s mind that dilapidated schools and teacher layoffs are a result of politicians’ mismanagement of the incredible amount of tax money they already command.

Voters elsewhere obviously didn’t give that any thought either.

Of 240 local tax and bond measures on the ballot in California, 171 passed, along with statewide tax increases. In Ohio “all local library taxes and a majority of local school bonds” passed, along with 55 percent of school-tax increases. “Voters in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Colorado were among those passing local tax increases.”

In one Alabama county, residents voted by a two-to-one margin to renew a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax for schools. Two years ago an AP analysis “found that voters in a large cross-section of states passed 50 percent or more of the local tax initiatives that came before them.”

According to exit polls, ten percent of voters “would welcome” an income tax increase on all Americans. But “voters tend to have a more favorable opinion about increasing taxes when they can see that the extra revenue will benefit their community directly,” reports the AP. Sadly, they’ve been fooled into believing that taking money from themselves and their neighbors to fund local public-works projects is what it means to “benefit their community directly.”

No doubt President Obama expressed the sentiments of millions of Americans when he said recently that “A modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs.” In today’s America, class envy and fuzzy-headed thinking have combined to create an environment where the nation’s chief executive can whimsically speak of taking other people’s money to pay for Congress’s profligacy — and precious few see anything wrong with it at all.

It’s bad enough when people so willingly embrace the idea of taxing some abstraction called “the rich.” Combine this with a self-congratulatory, sadomasochistic fleecing of one’s self and one’s neighbors, and we are truly embracing the economics of immorality and insanity.

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    Scott McPherson is policy adviser at The Future of Freedom Foundation. An advocate of the Free State Project, he lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.