Pro-conservative taxes

Liberals use the tax code as a social-engineering device to shape people’s behavior in order to manipulate society as they see best.  Bruce Walker asks, tongue mostly in cheek, why don’t conservatives do that?

If conservatives simply threatened to tax politically unpopular leftist behavior, that might well be enough to get the left to accept the premise that federal tax law should not be used to punish behavior.

The Supreme Court has determined that abortion is a right, but so is drinking an extra-large soda or smoking a cigar. Abortion, though legal, is not popular, and polls have consistently shown that more Americans think that abortion is immoral than moral. Taxing patients for abortions might not be a popular tax, but what about taxing abortionists? Impose a transaction tax per abortion which is high enough so that few, if any, doctors could make money murdering unborn babies.

If abortion is unpopular, pornography is extraordinarily unpopular with Americans. The Supreme Court has made it very difficult — indeed, almost impossible — to ban pornography, but nothing would prevent a 200% federal sales tax on all films, magazines, or other published materials which involve nudity and appeals to prurient interests. Draining the profit from pornography would make it much less common in society.

Taxes per transactions could also be imposed upon body-piercing, out-of-wedlock births, acts of prostitution, and countless other socially corrosive activities which may be legal (or at least not a federal offense, as in the case of prostitution) but which the rest of society pays for and which ought to be just as subject to taxes intended to discourage bad behavior as taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, and alcohol.

via Articles: Conservative Tax Hikes.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Michael B.

    I think the difference is that liberals actually have evidence that such activities are bad. There is plenty of evidence that smoking can lead to lung cancer. There is plenty of evidence that excess sugar and sugary drinks may lead to diabetes. There is evidence that excess use of gasoline can lead to higher prices and be bad for the environment.

    On the other hand, for things that social conservatives think is bad, one must take on faith. Show me any kind of peer reviewed study that shows abortion is bad for the women or society, as opposed to having an unwanted kid. Show me a study that shows how gay marriage hurts the person or society. Show me a study that shows how pornography is bad for society.

  • Michael B.

    I think the difference is that liberals actually have evidence that such activities are bad. There is plenty of evidence that smoking can lead to lung cancer. There is plenty of evidence that excess sugar and sugary drinks may lead to diabetes. There is evidence that excess use of gasoline can lead to higher prices and be bad for the environment.

    On the other hand, for things that social conservatives think is bad, one must take on faith. Show me any kind of peer reviewed study that shows abortion is bad for the women or society, as opposed to having an unwanted kid. Show me a study that shows how gay marriage hurts the person or society. Show me a study that shows how pornography is bad for society.

  • EricM

    Michael B. – I think it is pretty obvious that abortion causes death (the death of the child).

    That said – I don’t think that the tax code should be used as a mechanism for social engineering. If it is wrong for liberals to do it, then it is also wrong for conservatives to do it. It really does not matter if the reasons for the conservatives doing it are “better” or “good” or “right.” If the means are wrong, then they should not be used by either side.

  • EricM

    Michael B. – I think it is pretty obvious that abortion causes death (the death of the child).

    That said – I don’t think that the tax code should be used as a mechanism for social engineering. If it is wrong for liberals to do it, then it is also wrong for conservatives to do it. It really does not matter if the reasons for the conservatives doing it are “better” or “good” or “right.” If the means are wrong, then they should not be used by either side.

  • Cincinnatus

    Taxes have been used for “social engineering” since the invention of taxes. This is old, old, old news. Who is this Bruce Walker guy, and under what rock was he living that makes him think that using taxes as incentives is a revolutionary idea?

    Anyway, Ron Paul types have been saying that prostitution, for example, should be decriminalized and instead taxed/regulated (like alcohol) for quite some time.

  • Cincinnatus

    Taxes have been used for “social engineering” since the invention of taxes. This is old, old, old news. Who is this Bruce Walker guy, and under what rock was he living that makes him think that using taxes as incentives is a revolutionary idea?

    Anyway, Ron Paul types have been saying that prostitution, for example, should be decriminalized and instead taxed/regulated (like alcohol) for quite some time.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Nope.

    To reference Nietzche: We must be careful that while fighting monsters we do not become monsters ourselves.

    Taking the enemy’s tactic is a step in the direction of becoming the very thing you fight against.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Nope.

    To reference Nietzche: We must be careful that while fighting monsters we do not become monsters ourselves.

    Taking the enemy’s tactic is a step in the direction of becoming the very thing you fight against.

  • Pete

    I’ve long been fond of the quote (not sure who coined it) that, “talent hits a target nobody else can hit; genius hits a target nobody else can see.” I’m not sure where being better at hitting a target that everybody else can see but you can’t figures in. Probably falls into the “crazy good” category.

  • Pete

    I’ve long been fond of the quote (not sure who coined it) that, “talent hits a target nobody else can hit; genius hits a target nobody else can see.” I’m not sure where being better at hitting a target that everybody else can see but you can’t figures in. Probably falls into the “crazy good” category.

  • Pete

    Oops! This was supposed to go on the “blind archer” thread. My bad. Blind blogger?

  • Pete

    Oops! This was supposed to go on the “blind archer” thread. My bad. Blind blogger?

  • SKPeterson

    Michael @ 1.

    Here’s one on abortion and the adverse impact on women’s mental health.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/01/abortion-increases-risk-of-womens-mental-health-problems-81/

    There are plenty of others, but they rarely, if ever, make the evening news.

    The false dichotomy between abortion and having the “burden” of an unwanted child is quite glaring. What conservatives should be doing there is reducing and eliminating many of the legal burdens and costs associated with adoption; then many of the those “unwanted” babies become “wanted”. Right now, they might be wanted, but they are “unaffordable”.

    A better conservative response to gay marriage is to remove the state completely from legalized marriage. We got by without state interference for centuries; licenses were put in place in many locations to restrict and eliminate inter-racial marriage.

    There are numerous studies on the deleterious impact of pornography.

    However, all that being said, it is rather telling that the busybody lifestyle interventionists all seem to occupy the left side of the political spectrum, while the no-tax, hands-off right is vilified for constantly wanting to tell other people what to do.

  • SKPeterson

    Michael @ 1.

    Here’s one on abortion and the adverse impact on women’s mental health.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/01/abortion-increases-risk-of-womens-mental-health-problems-81/

    There are plenty of others, but they rarely, if ever, make the evening news.

    The false dichotomy between abortion and having the “burden” of an unwanted child is quite glaring. What conservatives should be doing there is reducing and eliminating many of the legal burdens and costs associated with adoption; then many of the those “unwanted” babies become “wanted”. Right now, they might be wanted, but they are “unaffordable”.

    A better conservative response to gay marriage is to remove the state completely from legalized marriage. We got by without state interference for centuries; licenses were put in place in many locations to restrict and eliminate inter-racial marriage.

    There are numerous studies on the deleterious impact of pornography.

    However, all that being said, it is rather telling that the busybody lifestyle interventionists all seem to occupy the left side of the political spectrum, while the no-tax, hands-off right is vilified for constantly wanting to tell other people what to do.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    See here is the problem as I see it. If it is immoral for tobacco companies to make money off of Cigarettes, then it is immoral for the government to do so too. The government paints “big Tobacco” as being evil, but the government makes more money off a pack of cigarettes than anyone else.
    I do not want my government being funded by taxing immoral things such as pornography or Abortions. It makes them dependent in the long run on such activities. Then they are as guilty of profiting from such activities as the perpetrators themselves.
    So if there is going to be a tax on porn for instance it should not be anymore than it is for any other magazine. I don’t think that pornagraphers should have any sort of sanction from taxes either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    See here is the problem as I see it. If it is immoral for tobacco companies to make money off of Cigarettes, then it is immoral for the government to do so too. The government paints “big Tobacco” as being evil, but the government makes more money off a pack of cigarettes than anyone else.
    I do not want my government being funded by taxing immoral things such as pornography or Abortions. It makes them dependent in the long run on such activities. Then they are as guilty of profiting from such activities as the perpetrators themselves.
    So if there is going to be a tax on porn for instance it should not be anymore than it is for any other magazine. I don’t think that pornagraphers should have any sort of sanction from taxes either.

  • Morgan

    Michael B @ 1:
    I love, love, love this response. Love it.

    I disagree with virtually every single thing you say, but I love the pure chutzpah of offering, “Yeah, but the difference between our points of view is that I’m right!”

    Absolutely priceless.

  • Morgan

    Michael B @ 1:
    I love, love, love this response. Love it.

    I disagree with virtually every single thing you say, but I love the pure chutzpah of offering, “Yeah, but the difference between our points of view is that I’m right!”

    Absolutely priceless.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I think Bror @8 brings out an important theme. The taxing unwanted social behaviors thing is more than just behavior shaping – it is profiteering. And most of us live in states that have raised the “sin tax” more than once in the past decade. I think this can be extended to traffic citations as well. Long story short, if the people doing the enforcing stand to profit from it, corruption is right around the corner.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I think Bror @8 brings out an important theme. The taxing unwanted social behaviors thing is more than just behavior shaping – it is profiteering. And most of us live in states that have raised the “sin tax” more than once in the past decade. I think this can be extended to traffic citations as well. Long story short, if the people doing the enforcing stand to profit from it, corruption is right around the corner.

  • helen

    SK @ 7
    You’ll notice that study was published in Britain.
    If a researcher actually studies one of the PC topics and comes up with results that aren’t “PC” he gets persecuted by other academics.
    We’ve got a Professor here at Austin who suggested that children raised by “same sex parents” have more problems. He’s getting told that his research methods must be wrong because his fellow academics don’t approve of his results!
    Not to mention the GLBT crowd outside academia.

  • helen

    SK @ 7
    You’ll notice that study was published in Britain.
    If a researcher actually studies one of the PC topics and comes up with results that aren’t “PC” he gets persecuted by other academics.
    We’ve got a Professor here at Austin who suggested that children raised by “same sex parents” have more problems. He’s getting told that his research methods must be wrong because his fellow academics don’t approve of his results!
    Not to mention the GLBT crowd outside academia.

  • DonS

    I’ve seen plenty of others, tongue in cheek, such as Glenn Harlan Reynolds, the libertarian University of Tennessee law professor who blogs as Instapundit, suggest such poison pill taxes. But the fact of the matter is that the conservative/libertarian view is to get the tax code out of the social engineering business, rather than just perverting it to a different cause.

    If you want to be credible, and truly achieve the goals you claim to want, it is a terrible long-term strategy to get into the sty with the pigs.

  • DonS

    I’ve seen plenty of others, tongue in cheek, such as Glenn Harlan Reynolds, the libertarian University of Tennessee law professor who blogs as Instapundit, suggest such poison pill taxes. But the fact of the matter is that the conservative/libertarian view is to get the tax code out of the social engineering business, rather than just perverting it to a different cause.

    If you want to be credible, and truly achieve the goals you claim to want, it is a terrible long-term strategy to get into the sty with the pigs.

  • helen

    Right now we’re “social engineering” the money to the top and the taxes to the middle class.
    I am beginning to see some value in a “flat rate”.

    I will never see why we subsidize taking jobs out of this country.

  • helen

    Right now we’re “social engineering” the money to the top and the taxes to the middle class.
    I am beginning to see some value in a “flat rate”.

    I will never see why we subsidize taking jobs out of this country.

  • Michael B.

    @SkPeterson@7

    “There are numerous studies on the deleterious impact of pornography.”

    Name one. No Life Site News links this time.

  • Michael B.

    @SkPeterson@7

    “There are numerous studies on the deleterious impact of pornography.”

    Name one. No Life Site News links this time.

  • http://thinkingwithareformedmind.blogspot.com/ Steven Mitchell

    The reason why conservatives do not — further, should not — use taxes for social engineering is because social engineering is antithetical to conservatism, plain and simple. True Burkean, traditionalist conservatism eschews ideology and social engineering is a tactic only useful for the advancement of ideology. Social engineering only has meaning if there is an ideology from which it stems. Because conservatism is the anti-ideology, social engineering can serve no purpose.

    From my perspective, that’s where conservatism has truly gone off the rails in the first place, in the last 20 years. By embracing ideology, it has lost the very heart of what makes it compelling and worthwhile.

  • http://thinkingwithareformedmind.blogspot.com/ Steven Mitchell

    The reason why conservatives do not — further, should not — use taxes for social engineering is because social engineering is antithetical to conservatism, plain and simple. True Burkean, traditionalist conservatism eschews ideology and social engineering is a tactic only useful for the advancement of ideology. Social engineering only has meaning if there is an ideology from which it stems. Because conservatism is the anti-ideology, social engineering can serve no purpose.

    From my perspective, that’s where conservatism has truly gone off the rails in the first place, in the last 20 years. By embracing ideology, it has lost the very heart of what makes it compelling and worthwhile.

  • jbo

    @Michael B.

    simply type “impact of pornography on marriage” into google scholar.

    note: you will need to read articles

  • jbo

    @Michael B.

    simply type “impact of pornography on marriage” into google scholar.

    note: you will need to read articles

  • Michael B.

    @jbo@16

    Which article in particular are you referring to? Where is this conclusive evidence that pornography is so bad? Nowhere.

    Also, even if you can determine that pornography may negativity affect a marriage, is it worse than say “Monday Night Football” or golf on the weekends? On the other hand, things like tobacco actually kill people.

  • Michael B.

    @jbo@16

    Which article in particular are you referring to? Where is this conclusive evidence that pornography is so bad? Nowhere.

    Also, even if you can determine that pornography may negativity affect a marriage, is it worse than say “Monday Night Football” or golf on the weekends? On the other hand, things like tobacco actually kill people.

  • jbo

    @michael b

    i wasn’t aware we were looking for “conclusive evidence.” this wasn’t mentioned before. you asked SkPeterson to “name one.” i pointed out that there are several. just sayin’ its as simple as google to find evidence for the destructive effects of pornography. i didn’t come across too many articles that touted the benefits of porn-laden marriages. well, that’s a lie. i didn’t come across any.

    also, feel free to replace the word “marriage” with other nouns such as “relationships” “families” “adolescents” “dating”. i haven’t yet, but i imagine the results will be the same. negative effects.

  • jbo

    @michael b

    i wasn’t aware we were looking for “conclusive evidence.” this wasn’t mentioned before. you asked SkPeterson to “name one.” i pointed out that there are several. just sayin’ its as simple as google to find evidence for the destructive effects of pornography. i didn’t come across too many articles that touted the benefits of porn-laden marriages. well, that’s a lie. i didn’t come across any.

    also, feel free to replace the word “marriage” with other nouns such as “relationships” “families” “adolescents” “dating”. i haven’t yet, but i imagine the results will be the same. negative effects.


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