Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sin Tax

Tax what you don't want people to do and you get less of it. Stop taxing what you want people to do and you get more of it. People sometimes call those Sin Taxes. Now, I'm just confused by this plan from the deficit reduction Gang of Six.

Rather than taxing vices, they're going straight after the smart folks who have been doing all the right things to provide both for themselves and for others. Wonder of wonders, that seems to be where the money is.

The home mortgage interest deduction? Charitable giving? Retirement savings? I guess the new plan is for us to be uncharitable greed-mongers who are forced into government housing and a tiny Social Security check when we're too old to work, rather than having a home and a retirement fund. A concrete studio apartment in the projects is good enough for retirement, ain't it?

Still, the answer is not to go regressive and just tax booze, smoking, sleaze and gambling either. I figure it's going to take painfully deep cuts across just about everything (particularly entitlements) to get out of the hole Congress has dug for us, and I doubt many of our esteemed Senators and Representatives have the nerve to cut deep enough to solve the problem.

That's what you get for bickering over deficit reduction until the last minute. You get a poor job slapped together in a hurry by people more interested in posturing than production, which will need to be fixed again next year if it lasts that long.

Unfortunately, there is a tipping point waiting out there somewhere. A point of no return where we just can't recover without major international disaster. Even worse, we may not even know when we've crossed that threshold. Let's hope common sense can actually be common, just this once, so we can move on in a more sensible manner as a country.