Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Club Wagner

Perhaps taking a cue from Greg Mankiw's Pigou Club, David Leonhart of The New York Times has announced the formation of Club Wagner, the purpose of which is to advocate for higher taxes to cover the costs of government:
With this post, we announce the formation of Club Wagner. It’s a (fictional) organization of people willing to acknowledge a basic economic reality: Taxes in the United States must rise.

At their current levels, taxes are too low to cover the kind of government that Americans have made clear they want — a government that includes Medicare, Social Security, a strong military and numerous other programs.
I am not against this in principle and may even be in favor of it. After all, I have called for tax increases before, believing that everyone should share in bearing the costs of government. It simply isn't healthy for democracy if a majority can use the levers of power to extract resources for themselves from a minority. As Benjamin Franklin said:
“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
The real question is exactly whose taxes Club Wagner thinks ought to be raised. If the movement is aimed at a more even distribution of the burden then count me a member. If, however, it is aimed at continuing existing trends then I'll decline.

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