Most Americans dislike the income tax, now more than a century old. The rates are too high. The provisions are unfair. The record-keeping is onerous. The revenues are wasted.
But there are fans, certainly, such as the politicians of both parties. What good would it do to serve in Congress if you didn’t have money to spend?
The beneficiaries of the politicians’ largesse also share in the income tax lovefest. Uncle Sam needs money to write checks. He can borrow, but there’s a limit to the credulity of investors. Borrow too much and they might doubt Washington’s ability to repay.
Then there are the fans of expensive and expansive government. Never mind the endless mess created by Uncle Sam. Something he does must work!
More dangerous may be the social engineers. For instance, Yale economic professor Robert J. Shiller suggested using the income tax to mitigate “some of the worst consequences of income inequality.” He proposed indexing taxes to income inequality.
It’s a genuinely nutty idea. Inequality measures are sensitive to data distortion. Moreover, they incorporate no moral judgment as to how the inequality arose. Were opportunities obstructed and systems manipulated, or did a generally free society operate naturally and deliver ever-changing income and wealth patterns?