Friday, April 8, 2011

Right Title, Wrong Argument

We saw this article on, called "Tax System Relies on Wealthy", and for a moment our spirits rose a little bit. Is Brian Joseph of the Orange County Register so inspired by the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged film that he can state a really obvious point that's so often lost on the majority of Californians?

Not quite. The article correctly points out that a large share of General Fund revenues come from income taxes on the small number of Californians earning $300,000 or more. But the point of the piece isn't to discuss the extent to which the most productive citizens increase the quality of life the rest of us enjoy, or the necessity of not pissing them off too much. Joseph is only interested in this situation from the perspective of the state; for him, "California suffers" whenever an economic downturn hits the capital gains of the wealthy, because this means less tax revenue. The real problem? Not enough sales tax revenue.

We appreciate it any time someone's willing to stick up for the interests of the productive in places like California. On the other hand, we can't stand it when they employ the same lame consequentialist logic that the lefties use. A better consequentialist argument, of course, is that capital is a necessary component of economic growth, and taxing it away to pay for dubious government spending is a good way to ensure that recovery never comes. We were surprised Joseph didn't think of this. But the best argument against taxation isn't consequentialist at all: there's simply no way of justifying the confiscation of someone's property by force, because force and justification are mutually exclusive.


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