A non-statist would never write something like this:
We had a big surplus. It was time to do something with it. Brad DeLong, a former Clinton administration official and an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, didn’t want to see the surplus spent on tax cuts. He wanted to see it spent on public investments.
To a statist, all resources belong to the state. The government doesn’t tax 40 percent of your earnings; it magnanimously spends the other 60 percent on you. When the government reduces your taxes, it isn’t taking less money from you; it’s spending more of its money on you.
This will become an increasingly important distinction as Congress grapples (as it eventually will, hopefully) with overhauling the tax code and reforming explicit and implicit subsidies. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any Republican on the national stage who is able to articulate the free market case as well as Mitch Daniels did at CPAC:
We Hoosiers hold to some quaint notions. Some might say we “cling” to them, though not out of fear or ignorance. We believe in paying our bills. We have kept our state in the black throughout the recent unpleasantness, while cutting rather than raising taxes, by practicing an old tribal ritual — we spend less money than we take in.
We believe it wrong ever to take a dollar from a free citizen without a very necessary public purpose, because each such taking diminishes the freedom to spend that dollar as its owner would prefer. When we do find it necessary, we feel a profound duty to use that dollar as carefully and effectively as possible, else we should never have taken it at all.
Before our General Assembly now is my proposal for an automatic refund of tax dollars beyond a specified level of state reserves. We say that anytime budgets are balanced and an ample savings account has been set aside, government should just stop collecting taxes. Better to leave that money in the pockets of those who earned it, than to let it burn a hole, as it always does, in the pockets of government.
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