Bryan Caplan  

Write Your Calhounian Class Autobiography

I am Not as Turned On... Scion of Tax Consumers: My Cal...

Last year, I convinced quite a few econo-bloggers to post their "class autobiographies." (Here was mine). One thoughtful reader suggested that it would have been more fruitful to build on John Calhoun's theory of class. For Calhoun, the relevant classes are not rich and poor, but "tax producers" and "tax consumers":

The necessary result, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is to divide the community into two great classes: one consisting of those who, in reality, pay the taxes and, of course, bear exclusively the burden of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into tax-payers and tax-consumers.

But the effect of this is to place them in antagonistic relations in reference to the fiscal action of the government and the entire course of policy therewith connected. For the greater the taxes and disbursements, the greater the gain of the one and the loss of the other, and vice versa.

With apologies for my tardiness, I now propose to write my Calhounian class autobiography.

If anyone else want to take the Calhounian challenge, let me know; I'll link to you.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (4 to date)
ed writes:

Isn't this dichotomy way, way too simplistic?

Consider the tax revenues that pay for roads. Do you drive on the roads? Lots of taxes pay for services or programs that we all enjoy to one degree or another. Even the development of the internet used lots of tax money. So how do you figure out if you're a net "tax producer" or "tax consumer?"

Rex Pjesky writes:

I also think it is difficult to calcualte one's status as a tax consumer/producer.

My family has received thousands in farm subsidies. But how much of that money has gone to land owners and equipment dealers? The farm subsidies have just increased demand for tractors and land.

Matt writes:

I'd be willing to bet that in the next 20 years, the Calhounian class difference will outshine regular class distinctions, especially given the crowding out effect of Medicare and Social Security. People are already discussing the debate in those terms, albeit in an indirect way.

TGGP writes:

Ed, larger populations should result in more roads, so you should try to estimate the marginal amount of road spending resulting from your residence. Money has to come from somewhere, so there will always be Calhounian tax consumers and producers.

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