Posted by: Rick | Friday, August 14, 2009

Reagan’s Pernicious Legacy

I found a web page with lots of quotes about taxation.  Here are a few that represent the higher aspirations of mankind:

Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.  We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. — Benjamin Franklin

I like to pay taxes.  With them I buy civilization. — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. — Franklin D. Roosevelt

The expenses of government, having for their object the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more a man enjoys the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in contributing to those expenses. — Anne Robert Jacques Turgot

Here is another view:

The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government. — Barry Goldwater

Death and taxes may be inevitable, but they shouldn’t be related. — J.C. Watts, Jr.  [Straight from the Republican lie-book.  There is no “death tax.”]

U.S. Internal Revenue Service: an agency modeled after the revenue raising concepts of the 19th century economist, Jesse James. — Robert Brault

The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination. — Ronald Reagan

The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  And if it stops moving, subsidize it.  — Ronald Reagan

The flat tax would be so simple, you could fill it out on a post card. A post card that would say, in effect, having a wonderful time; glad most of my money is here. — Steve Forbes   [I find this quote particularly selfish, greedy, irresponsible, un-Christian and stupid.]

Soon after our primitive ancestors crawled out of the primordial muck, they recognized that taxation was necessary.  (I won’t even use the term “necessary evil.”  There’s nothing evil about taxing citizens.  Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s . . .)  But by the time Ronald Reagan staggered off into the California sunset, a radical new philosophy had poisoned the well of politics.

This Republican view held that taxation was wrong in and of itself. Moreover, the higher one’s income, the more one “suffered” under a confiscatory system.  (The conservative assumption is that a rich man is solely responsible for every dollar in his portfolio.  He’s rich simply because he’s a superior being, and is thus entitled to have his taxes slashed to the bone.)  Supply-side economics — a preposterous theory concocted to justify the huge and wasteful deficits run up by every Republican president since Reagan — soon came to plague the country.  For conservative politicians and their wingnut foot soldiers, it became dogma to insist that taxes must never be raised (not even to pay for a war in Iraq they were selling to the public as The Last Crusade.)  Indeed, the only patriotic thing for a politician to do was to reduce taxes forever.

Unfortunately, over the last thirty years there has been insufficient pushback against the insanity of Reaganomics.  If health care reform is a public good, it shouldn’t be considered radical to propose paying for it through taxation.  That’s how civilizations have progressed for thousands of years.

Politicians — Republicans and Democrats — have grown addicted to Reagan’s “free lunch” promises.  That’s the ultimate tragedy of the Gipper’s misbegotten reign of error.

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