Clever Taxation: Reprise

John J. Walters Mar 22, 2012

This weekend I got an email from a reader about a post that I wrote a ways back that sparked a miniature debate on our blog back in February  of 2011. The reader that reached out to me had also written a blog post in December that covered a similar subject (and generated a lot more comments, I must admit) – while referencing the same Wall Street Journal article by Scott Adams.

Revisiting my post and the entertaining article by Mr. Adams got me thinking about how little has changed in the past year. Sure, the economy is a little bit better than it was (it’s about time!) and there are some more jobs out there. But the same core issues are still being hotly debated as if we can solve them using the same “solutions” we’ve been implementing for generations.

Our problem is a not a new one. We want more than we have. We want more government services. We want a more equitable society. And, in general, we want to pay as little as possible for it. For a while, that worked. We had a lot of able-bodied workers and not too many entitlement recipients. The ratio of inflows to outflows was manageable, if not perfectly sustainable.

Not so much anymore. Bills are coming due, just in time for a large amount of our labor force to switch from being tax-payers to transfer-recipients. We are not on a sustainable path, and anyone who doesn’t admit it is either ill-informed or living in denial.

Republicans tell us that we need to simply spend less money. That might be true, but we’d need to spend a lot less than they’re advocating to start course-correcting. Democrats tell us that we need to simply tax more. That might be true, but we’d need to tax a lot more than they’re advocating to start course-correcting.

So what are we to do? We do what Scott Adams suggested a year ago: we start looking for new and creative solutions. If we want to raise money for transportation, we don’t just slap a new tax on gasoline and pretend it’s going to solve the problem. We go back to the drawing board and redesign the whole system.

If you’re looking for specific ideas on how to redesign all of the incredibly far-reaching and complex government agencies out there, look no further than the internet. There are niche research organizations all over the place that have written well-thought-out papers on how to solve almost every problem that our nation faces.

Take our report on rethinking the gas tax increase, for example. We’re not just whining about a tax increase, here. We’re analyzing spending and taxation patterns and proposing new, different, and sustainable solutions.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that there’s only two ways to do things: the Right way and the Left way. There are always other options – we just need to start voting for them.