Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Libertarians for higher taxes

One of the reasons that Libertarianism drives me nuts is the Libertarian tendency to act as a Liberal "fifth column" undermining the Conservative movement. In this article, the Libertarian journal "Reason" actively encourages these suspicions by arguing against proposals for a summer gas tax holiday, here citing Liberal economist Dean Baker:
Actually, almost all economists would agree that the tax cut proposed by Senators Clinton and McCain would save consumers nothing. With the supply of gas largely fixed by the capacity of the oil industry (they claim to be running their refineries at full capacity), the price will not change in response to the elimination of the tax. The only difference will be that money that used to go to the government in tax revenues will instead go to the oil industry as higher profits.
Here we have the argument that Libertarians should oppose a gasoline tax cut on the grounds that it will put money in the pockets of the people who actually went to the trouble of investing the time, capital, and labor to produce the gasoline in the first place! If this makes you suspect that the Libertarian movement has been abducted en masse and replaced by shape-shifting alien skrulls, then you're not alone.

The comment board at "Reason" even raised this exact point, which the article actually goes to the trouble of rebutting:
Clinton and McCain aren't challenging the existence of the tax: They are implicitly saying it's a good tax that we should all relish paying in the non-summer months. Clinton is doing this and arguing that higher taxes on energy companies should be part of the bargain. It's phony populism in the service of a "tax cut" that would fund one meal for two at Applebees, which may or may not include dessert.
If you read between the lines, you can almost sense an elitist disdain for the bitter, economically frustrated people clinging to their tax cuts.

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