CorruptUser wrote:I don't hate taxes, so long as I see it as being justified. Tax rise to hire new teachers, replace the police force's aging fleet, repair streets, acceptable. Tax rise to prop up doomed companies like GM or Chrysler*, or banks that didn't do their due diligence**, or wasting money to screw the poor***, unacceptable.
- Why should we have to raise taxes to support our capital infrastructure? That's why business budgets include depreciation as an expense, cause that shit has to be replaced eventually. Replacing police cars, roads, and government monuments aren't, on their face, a good reason to raise taxes. Their maintenance should have been accounted for from the get go. That replacing them could be considered a good reason to raise taxes is a great example of how misleading cost estimates are for government projects. If a public company used the same style of accounting as the government uses, its officers would go to jail.
So, no, I don't think replacing infrastructure should be acceptable as a reason for raising taxes. At the least it would require a mea culpa from the government, a change of their accounting standards, and a change in the way government project cost estimates are made to include lifetime maintenance and replacement estimates, as well as the estimated life of the project.
- Hiring new teachers, is that a "It's worth it because it's for the children," reason, or "It's OK because it's for a cause I agree with," reason or is it a "It's OK because it's a good investment and will pay off in the future," reason? Nothing I can say about the first two possibilities, I'm not going to argue with your opinions and priorities. But if it's for the latter, you might want to question your assumptions.
Government spending per pupil on education (in real, constant dollar terms) has more than doubled, "[rising] from $3,400 in 1965 to $8,745 in 2001."
(See point 5.). But despite that massive increase in funding, educational achievement has been essentially flat for 40 years.
So while there may be some places where more money can improve educational outcomes, there is no solid argument linking raw spending numbers to general outcomes. The fact of the matter is that we don't have ANY empirical model that consistently links anything (at least nothing the government can control) to long term educational outcomes, not spending or class size or teacher abilities, I'm pretty sure even the effects of Head Start are gone before the kids get out of grade school.
Again, color me unconvinced for a need to increase taxes in order to improve education.
- Bailouts for private firms and programs that hurt the people they were intended to help? I'm 100% with you on that.
- Finally, isn't the idea of raising taxes based on the assumption that there has been some failure by which revenue hasn't kept up with spending? But that's fallacious thinking, after all, tax revenue has been a pretty constant, between 17% and 21% of GDP since at least 1952
(excepting 2009 and 2010, but I think that was due to stimulus-related tax cuts. I'm looking at table 1.3.)
We aren't running WWII level deficits because tax levels are lower than they were in the 50s, we are running massive deficits because spending has skyrocketed since the 50s. We've been cheating by increasing government spending without paying for it. These deficits are entirely due to increased (one might say profligate) spending, not revenue shortfalls. I'm not even convinced that increased revenue would be used to reduce the deficit since there doesn't seem to be much correlation between revenues and expenses recently, (a quick Excel regression shows an R2
of only 0.24 between revenues and expenses between 1990 and 2007. I stopped at 2007 to keep the stimulus from confounding the statistics.)
So again, I'm not convinced that we need to raise taxes to account for our spending. Indeed, looking at recent government behavior, the spending rate will just continue to grow and we'll get no deficit reduction from the raised taxes.
Here's the 1950s revenue, expenditures and deficit as % of GDP:
Year | Revenue | Expenses | Deficit/Surplus
1950 | 14.4 | 15.6 | -1.1
1951 | 16.1 | 14.2 | 1.9
1952 | 19.0 | 19.4 | -0.4
1953 | 18.7 | 20.4 | -1.7
1954 | 18.5 | 18.8 | -0.3
1955 | 16.5 | 17.3 | -0.8
1956 | 17.5 | 16.5 | 0.9
1957 | 17.7 | 17.0 | 0.8
1958 | 17.3 | 17.9 | -0.6
1959 | 16.2 | 18.8 | -2.6
1960 | 17.8 | 17.8 | 0.1
Compare that to the 2000s:
Year | Revenue | Expenses | Deficit/Surplus
2000 | 20.6 | 18.2 | 2.4
2001 | 19.5 | 18.2 | 1.3
2002 | 17.6 | 19.1 | -1.5
2003 | 16.2 | 19.7 | -3.4
2004 | 16.1 | 19.6 | -3.5
2005 | 17.3 | 19.9 | -2.6
2006 | 18.2 | 20.1 | -1.9
2007 | 18.5 | 19.6 | -1.2
2008 | 17.5 | 20.7 | -3.2
2009 | 14.9 | 25.0 | -10.0
2010 | 14.9 | 23.8 | -8.9
It boils down to a question of "how much spending do you want?" If you think we should have a significantly higher rate of government spending than we historically did, much higher than the "golden years" of the 50s with a chicken in every pot and a Ford in every driveway, then yes, raise taxes. But if you have any other opinion, even that spending should be somewhat higher than historically, we should first cut spending. Our current spending is WAY out of line with any other non-war period in our history, even with liberal or progressive priorities, you should probably look at cutting spending before raising taxes since our tax rates are on the high side of the historical average.