David R. Henderson  

Jacob Hacker Admits that Government Wastes Our Taxes

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Americans who have the means should refuse to surrender to Senate Republicans. We should act, together, to give back our Bush tax cuts, by making donations to organizations that promote fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class. GiveItBackforJobs enables joint action, by all visitors to this site, to redirect our Bush tax cuts to the wise and just programs that our government would promote if it had not been hijacked. As more and more Americans do so, GiveItBackforJobs will begin to replicate good government policy, outside the government and free from the grip of Senate Republicans.
This is from a new web site "Give it Back for Jobs," started by Yale professors Jacob Hacker, Robert Hockett, and Daniel Markovits and by Will Gaybrick and Lukasz Lysakowski.

Notice something interesting? If they really believe that the tax "cuts," that is, the decision by Congress not to let taxes increase, were a bad idea, wouldn't they want to give the money to the government? After all, it's the government, not the four private charities they list--Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, the Children's Aid Society, and the Nurse Family Partnership--that would have taken the money.

So what are Jacob Hacker et al telling us? That they think those four charities will spend the money more wisely than the government would. I agree. I think it's much better to give to the Salvation Army, for example, than to keep the troops in Iraq an extra day. That argues for more choice and lower taxes, not for higher taxes.

And what about the concept of giving it back. I assume that they're going to make contributions and not just ask the rest of us to. So if they're giving it back, from whom did they take it?

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CATEGORIES: Property Rights , Taxation

TRACKBACKS (1 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4449
The author at Roth & Company, P.C. in a related article titled That's not what I meant writes:
    Villanova tax prof blogger Jim Maule ponders the Yale law profs who have set up a web site "Give it... [Tracked on December 30, 2010 11:54 AM]
COMMENTS (8 to date)
Ben Bursae writes:

Exactly...in their very wording, they are implying that the government is not an "organization that promotes fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class." If they did, they could certainly write checks to the government.

I felt the same way when Warren Buffett stated that he should be paying more in taxes. Fine, he's free to write a check to the U.S. Treasury. The travesty is when that gets used to support the idea that others should be paying more in taxes (and therefore forced to do so when they don't come to that conclusion voluntarily).

GU writes:
So what are Jacob Hacker et al telling us? That they think those four charities will spend the money more wisely than the government would.

They think the charities will spend it better than Republicans would (or at least a Republican-influenced Senate would). If both houses were firmly controlled by Democrats, I doubt this stunt would be pulled. It looks like classic "our guys syndrome" as opposed to a structural or more holistic critique of public policy (like public choice).

I'm getting pretty annoyed by scholars playing (electoral, not theoretical) politics; I prefer scholars to stay above the fray.

Ryan writes:

GU has a point. If it is "our guys syndrome", wouldn't their money be better served going to the DNC?

jeff writes:

These may all be noble charities, but I'm not quite sure that their primary effect is promoting "fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class."

For that matter, they're not even much related to job creation, so I'm not sure why they named their site "Give it Back for Jobs."

Yancey Ward writes:

Yikes! What a telling oversight on their part.

DavidinOC writes:

Here's my response those who think the "rich" are preying on the formerly "vibrant" middle class:
-When I look at the deductions from my paycheck in the form of payroll taxes being used not for the general welfare but the specific benefit of privileged demographic groups, I blame the government, not the rich.
-When I look at the size of my mortgage and property taxes, and try to understand why real estate prices accelerated so quickly here in So.Cal., I blame the government, not the rich.
-When I look at the diminishing number of places in SoCal where I can afford a home and send my kids to decent public schools, I blame the government, not the rich.
-When I have to pay more for household energy, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, reusable shopping bags, etc. I blame the government, not the rich.

Michael writes:

I fully support them voluntarily implementing their desired programs with their own money.

joe Cushing writes:

This whole idea of giving back has been bugging me for a while. I think the language used here is the key to understanding the left's Robbinhood ideas. They don't see taxing one group more than another as stealing because they believe rich people somehow stole the money from the rest of us to begin with--so taking their money, by taxing them, is just taking back what is ours to begin with.

I recently heard a leftist in congress refer to the tax increase to the middle class and to the giveaway to the rich--as if the money we don't take from the rich really belonged to us in the first place and that by not taking it; we are giving it to them.

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