Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On 'stimulus,' taxes and morality

Responding to an argument from Matt Yglesias over tax cuts vs. new spending, Philip Klein of The American Spectator says:
Liberals believe that the best way to stimulate the economy is for the federal government to spend taxpayer money on pet projects, while conservatives believe it's better to allow families and firms to keep more of what they earn and that permanent tax cuts are better because much economic planning is done over the long-term. Furthermore, liberals fail to grasp the moral argument for tax cuts. Liberals see tax cuts as inefficient because people who end up with more money may either save it or spend it on something like new Blu-ray players, which wouldn't be as effective at boosting the economy as government spending, so they argue. But the the fact remains that it's the taxpayers' own money, and they should be able to do whatever the heck they want with it.
The point about the morality of markets is one I've made myself:
Whereas transactions in a market economy are voluntary and peaceful, the actions of government are essentially coercive, backed with the threat of violence to those who disobey. What government does, it does "at the point of the bayonet," so to speak. Therefore, the fearsome power of government ought to be constrained to limited and specific purposes -- defending the life, liberty and property of citizens.
When government begins to meddle in the economy, picking winners and losers, using appropriations and fiscal policy to transfer money from one group of citizens to another, it divides society into two classes, taxpayers and tax consumers, punishing the former in order to reward the latter.
Such a policy is not merely misguided, it is immoral -- indeed, it is sinful . . . and by displaying the spectacle of government engaging daily in legalized theft, the welfare state tends to corrupt the morals of its citizens.
If conservatives are unwilling to defend the market economy on moral grounds, if they are unwilling to denounce coercive expropriation as immoral, all that remains to be settled is the question Lenin bluntly summarized as "Who, whom?"

1 comment:

  1. while conservatives believe it's better to allow families and firms to keep more of what they earn

    I love my government, and my government loves loving me, but one wonders if we could take a foray into forceless foreplay.