Say no to taxes and debt

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My friend Scott Trask sets up the following choice in his piece yesterday. “If the choice is between high spending and huge deficits (the Bush plan) and high spending and balanced budgets (the Kerry plan), I have to prefer Kerry and fiscal responsibility, even if it means slightly higher taxes. I hope all good Miseans will agree with me.”

This seems like a strange proposal: in the name of Mises, we should support Kerry so that the Democrats can be the tax collectors for Bush’s warfare state. Trask tells us that we should support higher taxes on ourselves and others, even though Misesians have been the most passionate opponents of the war and all that has come with it.

Far better to just oppose taxes, war, spending, and debt and be done with it. No need for circuitious rationales for supporting Kerry-style socialism, and no need to buy into a choice dictated to us by the state.

It is quite predictable that governments engaged in aggressive war are more disposed to raising money the dishonest way (debt and inflation) as versus the honest way of outright stealing it. All of history shows this. Bush is hardly alone in this. And telling the warfare state to fund itself through taxes rather than inflation is like insisting that the prison guard use a more direct form of torture.

Misesians have no business endorsing higher taxes under any circumstances. Rather they should embrace Mises’s antiwar writings: “War is… a destroyer and annihilator, in short, as an evil that strikes all, victor as well as vanquished.” And: “If you want to abolish war, you must eliminate its causes. What is needed is to restrict government activities to the preservation of life, health, and private property, and thereby to safeguard the working of the market.”

Bush’s fiscal policies have been a disgrace, and his “tax cuts” a cynical charade. I fail to see how supporting higher taxes gets us any closer to the Misesian ideal. Finally, it is very bad politics for Kerry: his strongest supporters should try to convince him to drop the tax-increase talk.

7:14 am on August 4, 2004
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